By David Glenn Cox
Whenever I get depressed about the state of the world, I turn on Wall Street TV. The death toll from the coronavirus passes ten thousand, and Wall Street soars. Oh, boy! It’s not as bad as it could be! It’s gonna be alright. We can all go back to work and everything going to be just like it was! Then Santa’s coming, and we’re going to have Grape Kool Aid and watch Mr. Wizard’ s World! This morning they had the chairman of a luxury hotel chain. “Only ten percent of our reservations for June have been cancelled. We see a strong recovery in early summer.”
Famously in the movie, “Gone with the Wind,” Scarlet O’Hara says at the close of the Civil War, “I bet cotton will go sky high!” Magical thinking, it’s all going to go back to the way it once was. Back before the country was ravaged and the barn burned, and the equipment stolen. The slaves have all run off and the systems broken. And all we need do to set the world right is to put in a crop of cotton. And they put him in charge of a hotel chain with over five thousand empty rooms!
Stephen Hawking liked to talk about black holes and worm holes in his books giving as example, imagine you’re and astronaut on the edge of a black hole. I used to think what a poor example. What are the chances I’m ever going to find myself in a spacesuit on the edge of a black hole? Or falling through a worm hole into a parallel universe? Well, now it’s happened and more to the point, it ain’t gonna happen back. Smile, you’re on historical camera. The live stocks gone, and the cotton gin is ashes. Most eras are marked with an asterisk, while this one has an exclamation point.
This is that point in history, 1815 and the end of Napoleon. Cue the Pearl Harbor footage, but this is the old one two punch. Fight World War Two during the Spanish Flu epidemic and the crash of twenty-nine while living at the World Trade Center. “Do you think it’s going to be alright?” Sure, they’ll be reserving hotel rooms in June! I bet he didn’t even see the wormhole. If you blinked, you missed it! You live here, so you’re home by now.
We and I say we. While we were so engrossed with our petty little concerns, our pandemics, economic shutdowns and insane Orange Simian Clown Posse. India is locked down, five times the US population without its resources. The government announced the lock down to take affect with only four hours’ notice meaning for migrant workers to grab your shit and git. The largest migration since India and Pakistan were divided. Millions walking the roads in cities shut down.
The smaller countries of the Asia Pacific region have basked in the glow of Chinese economic growth and invested heavily. Why not? The skies the limit, get ahead of the economic curve. The same thing happened to Frank Boreman as the head of Eastern Airlines. After the first fuel shock Boreman invested in newer fuel-efficient airplanes. As those planes came online and the payment books arrived the economy went into a recession and they couldn’t afford them. Doing the right thing but it comes out all wrong. But these aren’t airlines these are national banks. The story behind the story behind the story.
Ninety percent of the world’s commercial aircraft are grounded, and the payment is due. The Love Boat has turned into “The Alcatraz Experience!” and the payment is due. Sixty-five million Americans have payments due and don’t know what is going to happen. Waiting in the trenches for the signal to advance and won’t be booking rooms in June. Just close your eyes and click your heels together three times and say, there’s no place like home, there’s no place like home.
But you don’t understand! The money’s not here! It’s in Joe’s house and Frank’s house! A 2008, redux where we feast on a banquet of our own tail and punch ourselves in the head for being so smart. I was reading that the super-rich were toughing it out on their yachts hoping to stay at sea until the virus goes away. Now class don’t laugh, we all give wrong answers. The virus will wait for them at the shoreline and will not exempt them. It’s that magical thinking again.
A time to build up a time to tear down. Now class, please turn in your books to chapter twenty-seven, The Great Pandemic of 2020. A brave new world.
This is a test of the emergency broadcast service, if this had been an actual emergency you would be directed to listen to the radio or something. I don’t know, we haven’t had a planning meeting since 1994. People, some people wanted tax cuts. And some people thought a lean government was a better government. Public health? Who talked about Public Health six months ago? Medicare for all has gone from a radical to a mainstream opinion overnight. Maybe the people who stock the shelves and load the trucks are worth fifteen dollars and hour and workers realize it too with Wild Cat strikes and walk outs.
Did you ever wonder why the great General Motors sit down strike in Flint, Michigan, happened in 1936? That’s still the depression! Adversity knitted the workers together. Once the forest fire is out, comes the new growth. The old world is gone, we’re through the worm hole. In the new world now, like it or not. Like a Woody Guthrie Sojourn, off to find America riding the rails of our times.
“I wonder why progress looks so much like destruction.”
― John Steinbeck