Well, this virus thing is getting out of hand.
We have shut
down large parts of the country. Sports, meetings, churches,
restaurants, bars, athletic clubs, and retail shopping are closed
indefinitely. All in the name of slowing the spread of the COVID-19
virus and saving some number of lives.
Currently there is no
end in sight for the shutdown. Will it be weeks? Months? Some sources
are now saying it might be as long as 18 months.
The economic and political costs are potentially severe if we keep this up for very long.
will happen to our society if we are shut down indefinitely due to the
virus? Best case scenario, a deep economic depression that takes years
from which to recover.
Worst case scenario, the end of Western Civilization.
You scoff. I am being ridiculous, you say.
people were stabbing each other over a few rolls of toilet paper last
week. What do you think is going to happen when the food and the toilet
paper run out for real?
Modern economies in the information age
are built on a lot of exchanging of goods and services. Only a very
small fraction of the population actually grows food or makes stuff.
The rest of us are pretty far removed from those basic industries.
current set of policies has thrown millions of people out of service
work, and the next set of impending bans (air travel, for one) will put
millions more out of work. Basic civil liberties will be destroyed as we
enforce our bans and quarantines. The government will need to step in
and provide income and basic food supplies for these purposefully
The government at every level is already
straining under the burden of trillions of dollars in debt. Many
states, like Illinois, are already at the verge of bankruptcy. Tax
receipts will fall and social services costs will skyrocket, and the
government will run out of cash. When they try to raise taxes and borrow
more money, they will soon find that there is no one to buy the debt
and no more transactions to tax. Then what happens?
implosion of tax receipts and the massive wave of new people on the
public dole will collapse state and local governments. They will not be
able to meet their obligations. They will lay off hundreds of thousands
of workers, stop providing basic services, thus contributing to the
vicious cycle of collapse.
The Federal Government will go
through the same cycle. Within months, the government will default on
debts and be forced to shut down. They will pump copious amounts of
currency into the failing economy, but this will only kick off massive
inflation. The currency will collapse, and with it, the Federal
government’s ability to borrow or pay its bills.
grind to a halt. The government will step in and nationalize entire
industries to keep things going. If you doubt this, note that there are
already calls for the Federal Government to take over the manufacture
and distribution of medical ventilators, and we don’t even have a real
shortage of them yet, just an imagined shortage!
disappear off shelves like if does in every other government planned
economy. Real panic buying will set in, and not just for toilet paper.
Stores will be looted. The government will stop basic policing (This
has already happened in Philadelphia, just in case you think I am
exaggerating here), and mayhem and civil unrest will set in.
civil liberties will vanish. Well, many of them are gone already.
Want to worship in your faith? Nope, churches are closed. Want to
peacefully protest? Nope, even small gatherings are banned. Want to
own a gun to defend your stockpile of toilet paper? Nope, there are
bans on gun sales and ownership being imposed. As of a few moments ago, the Governor of Illinois just confined the whole state to our homes for three weeks (!!!). Is any of this reasonable? Constitutional?
Within a very
short time span, the entire system will collapse. Bands of pillagers
will roam the streets, looting and burning buildings will drive people
out into the night, and the complete collapse of civil society will
ensue. Again, if you believe I am exaggerating, think of what happened
when a there was a jury verdict people didn’t like in LA. The Rodney
King riots will look like a lark compared to what will happen when the
pay checks bounce, the food runs out, and the police are not enforcing
It took 70 years for the Soviet Union to collapse. 20
years for Venezuela to descend into starvation and anarchy. And those
countries were trying to make things work. We are actively and
purposefully shutting down the economy, with nationalization of key
industries to follow. The collapse of the highly leveraged,
consumer-driven, US economy will be far more rapid, measured in months,
I hope the price of avoiding ‘death by flu’ is
less than the complete collapse of the entire system. If this dark
vision comes to pass, tens of millions will die, and it will take
centuries to recover, if ever.
Oh, and if society collapses and
we are living amid the ruins roasting rats on a stick over a burning
rubber tire, we few survivors in the wastelands will probably all die of
the flu anyway.