Waked by the trumpet sound,
I from my grave shall rise;
And see the Judge with glory crowned,
And see the flaming skies!
— Old “shape note” song
Who’s buying a new car these days? Auto sales fell 27% last month… the largest decline ever recorded.
This, of course, sent shock waves back to Michigan, where a quarter of the workforce has already filed for unemployment benefits… so many that the state’s unemployment benefits website crashed.
Yahoo Finance adds:
“The economy is literally in free fall with consumers unable to get out to the shops and malls in March, and about the only retailers smiling are grocery stores with consumers stockpiling food for the coming economic apocalypse,” MUFG Chief Financial Economist Chris Rupkey said in an email Wednesday. “This report today breaks all modern-day records for the consumer who has dealt the economy a body blow from which it will be difficult to recover.”
JPMorgan economist Michael Feroli writing in a note Wednesday, “all the toilet paper in the world can’t clean up this [retail sales] report.”
But now, we will leave the horror that is the U.S. economy for a moment… and get in touch with our sensitive side.
Shocking Beauty, Appalling Ugliness
The sunset yesterday (pictured below) was so flamboyant, we stopped in our tracks. Nature has her moments… of exquisite, shocking beauty. And appalling ugliness, too.
A virus is a natural thing. It mutates, it evolves, it finds ways to get around defenses… and it kills.
The current death toll from the COVID-19 virus is nearly 138,000 worldwide. That is still only a fraction of the 650,000 who die each year from the flu. But The Washington Post insists that the comparison to the ordinary flu is a “zombie claim”:
The reason the numbers are leveling off in certain areas of the country is because of the severe measures taken.
If that were so, why do we not use the same severe measures against the flu? If saving lives is such a priority, why not save the lives of flu victims too? Or those who die in auto accidents? What makes the coronavirus so special?
Whether the virus is all that it’s cracked up to be… or has been thwarted by public policy… we’re not sure.
But we’re quite sure that the cost of those policies has not yet been fully felt.
Meanwhile, back in the valley…
Wenesday, Elizabeth rode over to see our neighbor. The river is still too high to cross in a truck. We get around on horseback.
Ramon had appeared on horseback after lunch the day before. He reported that his wife was in tears.
Elizabeth went over to see if she could be cheered up. Her report:
“Marta’s okay. She’s been isolated there for a month. It’s getting to her. Ramon is always out with the cattle or the machinery. He’s happy. But she stays inside and watches too much TV.
“She’s not afraid of the virus. She just misses her children and grandchildren… and is afraid that this lockdown is ruining their lives. And she thinks it’s unfair — since apparently almost all the deaths are people over 60 — that their lives are put on hold to protect her.”
The young always pay for old men’s mistakes. For war. And for war debts.
Old people have made their beds; now they will lie in them. But the young haven’t had time to even buy the sheets.
The war on COVID-19 has cost many young people their earnings. And their jobs. And many of those jobs will never come back. Their careers are being stifled. Their families are being delayed… or not happening at all.
One of our own children can’t finish his master’s degree; his school is closed. Another is a performer, but she has nowhere to perform. One’s business startup has been delayed… and one is unemployed, wondering what to do next. One wants to get married but cannot even meet friends for coffee.
Of course, it’s not only the young who suffer. A friend sends this note:
My mother is in a senior center that is locked down — no visitors, meals in your own room, no mingling between residents. She might as well have been put in solitary confinement! Millions of seniors have been treated like this — in an effort to save their lives. The irony is unfathomable. I get why it was done but am not sure it was the right way.
The Flaw of the Masses
We’ve mentioned in these pages that the federales have a fatal flaw.
They alarm the public — citing bogeymen and hobgoblins — and then use the crisis to extend their own power and control. (Command and control may be a good way to fight a real war. In a fight with an economic crisis, however, a heavy hand is always disastrous.)
But the masses have a complementary flaw. They want to be scared. Then, too pusillanimous to face the risk calmly, they beseech authority… vote for bullies and windbags… and support jackass protection rackets.
The mob is always timorous… and always ready to give up its dignity, common sense and independence in exchange for “security.”
We wear our seatbelts — it’s the law! We let goons in airports frisk us, even though we’ve never once planned to blow up an airplane. We’re afraid to drink a beer before driving — for fear the cops will arrest us.
And now, we cower in our homes — under house arrest or in solitary confinement — because the feds tell us to.
Once, a few years ago, our own mother was suddenly sick. She could barely breathe. We took her to the hospital in Baltimore.
After checking her out, the doctor said she would have to stay in the hospital. She was 92. There was not much he could do for her, he admitted, but it was not “safe” to take her home.
Mother, still sharp as a tack, resisted.
“Not safe? What’s the worst that could happen?” She smiled knowingly. “I don’t care. I’d rather die at home than live in an emergency ward.”
Alas, now… we are all in an emergency ward.
• This article was originally published by Bonner & Partners. You can learn more about Bill and Bill Bonner’s Diary right here.