Believe it or not, I'm sanguine bordering on ebullient... long term. Short term?
So that graph says two things without you even really needing to know what it's graphing: (1) "holy shit" (2) "that can't continue." There's an aphorism in commodities markets: "the cure for high prices is high prices." We're all in the commodities market now, bubba.
You and I have talked about this at length for several years now: automation is coming and that right soon. There's been a steady pressure to unstaff. Hey, great! They're letting you work from home! That means you're now competing against the entire goddamn world for your job. Which means if they can fob it off on a bot rancher from Bangalore to save 20%, they'll do it. And now everyone who could barely afford Silicon Valley is looking at Nowhere Gulch and dreaming of owning serfs, and he'll happily pay for the house with a check because this'll be easier if the wife and five-year-old can get settled in before school starts.
Food? You're literally asking "what happens if Democrats cut entitlements for some reason" and they ain't. They ain't ever. They learned that shit under Clinton - when you fuck with poor people you get Newt Gingrich. Which isn't to say every Republican governor out there isn't going to try on every possible variation of "fuck poor people" because it's "important to their base." Performative evil - that's where the Right is right now.
I used to say "there's opportunity in the Delta." Now I say "It's just the Churn." I was in the music industry when MP3 happened, the movie industry when Netflix happened, and tried to write a book when all the publishers sued Amazon. Before I ran off to join the circus, I interviewed with every acoustical consultancy in Seattle. When I came back, the only one still in business was the one I left.
We knew this. We saw it coming. We looked at the graphs, we looked at the lines, we looked at the empty streets and restaurants and we knew it would be seismic. Now? Now we're all trying to pretend COVID is over as if that fundamental a crash isn't going to leave some deep and lasting scars.
Michael Lewis wrote an entire book about the skeletonization of the federal government under Donald Trump. Any semi-competent bureaucrat was able to evaluate that there was no room for competence in government, so they left or retired. This was also documented by Bob Woodward in Peril - there was literally zero vaccine distribution plan by the Trump white house. None.
Trump knocked over the sand castle. Dude three-finger-saluted the entire goddamn government for us. 'cuz I tell you what: opportunistic hangers-on don't hang on after the opportunity is gone. Which left an entire ecosystem open to exploitation by pie-eyed, opportunistic Lefties driven by mission.
And now? Now every crisis is gonna be an "add moar socialism" moment.
- Student loans. The Biden administration can literally forgive all of it through executive order. They won't, but they'll definitely fuck with it. They'll wait until things are really painful, though, so that they "won't have a choice."
- Medicaid. Can be expanded aggressively to anybody who got any pandemic assistance whatsoever under emergency proclamation, which is over when Biden says it's over. I'm currently paying $2 a month for healthcare because I cashed an unemployment check. I believe that rate is good for a calendar year at least, and that's only because nobody's pushed it out further. I'm effectively on nationalized healthcare and the Republicans didn't even notice.
- Housing. They've already started murdering the flood insurance subsidies. They could come after the mortgage interest deduction, too. They could also dump money into rural broadband to improve work-from-home feasibility.
- Food. Republicans have been picking away at SNAP for decades but the pandemic gives the Democrats an excuse to expand it, keep it expanded, and nationalize its management. Every state that fucks over its poor people is a poster child for "government overreach."
Don't get me wrong. Everything - everything - is gonna get worse before it gets better. A whole lotta lives gonna get destroyed. Personally? I've already mourned them. This was evident in the data eighteen months ago. All these disruptions are going to fuck up some lives, and I say that with 700,000 dead.
The people flying the plane actually care about the passengers and have actual flight hours under their belt. It's not a state I'd want any of us to be in, but we're here, and I feel like we're looking at the least worst option.
I've been kinda shellshocked since this.
That bill? Right there? Was the first time the Republicans went "actually we don't have the juice to block socialism anymore." They fucking gave up every principle - BEFORE Trump lost! because they knew in their very bones that small government market capitalism would go up like flash paper in a national emergency. Every bill since has been small, un-speechable death-by-a-thousand-cuts socialism and they haven't had shit to say about it because the kinds of guys who really just want Trump to be president because he's Trump are going to cock their heads quizically at some Buckley National Review diatribe against the risk against innovation by subsidized broadband as if they were Jack Russell terriers hearing Their Master's Voice. it's over their heads, man. The "base" barely believe in the gospel of Number Go Up. What they know is their grandsons are doing better with Gamestop puts, whatever they are, than they are with their social security.
I think this has a happy ending. I think it has a happy ending the way Game of Thrones has a happy ending in that a lot of people are gonna die, a lot more are gonna get fucked, everyone with a short attention span is gonna be mad that they didn't see it coming but the world will be a better place and generally-good people will get a generally-good outcome but it's still a happy ending.
We just gotta be among the survivors.