I can add pandemic to my list of experiences I’ve seen firsthand. Being from Florida, I lived through quite a few hurricanes, and in my years in California, I was present for two earthquakes. I’ve lived in three states and seen politicians and trends come and go. I’ve never been in a horrible accident of any kind, and I’ve never had a major disease, but I did live through the painful death of my parents and grandparents. I was in a few fights. I’ve had to hire a few lawyers and I was divorced. So, one can say that my survived tragedy list has gotten longer thanks to Covid.
Except, of course, it’s hardly a tragedy when you get more free time and get richer than ever, and your company thrives and your house becomes more valuable, which is what happened to me. And it wasn’t just me; this pandemic has produced some real winners across the spectrum of society. There is a strong sense that the virus was a good thing and it has ushered in some sort of Great Reset. Reset means many things to many people.
As of today, the global death toll from Covid stands at 1.76 million people, out of a worldwide population of around 8 billion. 1,760,000/8,000,000,000 = .00022 is the death count for this massive resetting virus. The country with the highest number of deaths is the United States, at 316,000, though the United States is presumably a wealthy country with a highly developed medical system.
Cars, cigarettes, cancer, suicides, wars, and domestic violence against women carry on day in and day out without producing the sort of reaction that Covid has produced, and from that, I conclude there is something really different going on here, something that is far more profound and difficult to understand than just a killer virus. It will make sense in time, but as of now, there are incredible contradictions everywhere.
Here are a few observations:
The virus originated in China, as have other recent viruses. How it came to be in China has been the source of much reporting, or at least it was in the beginning. Did it come from bats, or some sort of pig, or did it escape from a lab? Was there any intention behind it? I would like to know if this virus was a weapon, but at a certain point, it hardly matters because it has been an effective weapon if it was the intention of the Chinese to further their economic expansion by harming rivals. The virus has economically paralyzed much of the world, and harmed the United States in particular. The biggest economic winner in this debacle is the Chinese who are showing more and more, in multiple ways, that they are the dominate nation on earth now and the Western powers are a spent force. This day has been coming and now it is here, and Covid just got it here a bit faster. For the time being, the Chinese have bucked every trend the consultant class said was impossible; they are highly centralized but also highly dynamic. They are effective, and Covid was either an incredible accident, or a master stroke of subterfuge and strategy.
The virus has shown how weak the United States has become. There are many unmistakable sings of this.
Since the beginning, in spite of the incredibly confusing and contradictory messages published by the press, it has been known that Covid deaths were the product of Covid plus additional factors, and those factors are age and obesity. Much of the US population is fat, full stop. Aging in the United States produces an entirely optional frailty. Add in a virus, and death is the result. Remove the fat and frailty, and the virus is a sort of mild flu for the majority of people. These fundamental health conditions are true worldwide but exacerbated in the United States. Every country is an aggregate of its population and the US population is overweight because of overeating that goes on every day, for a lifetime.
The virus has revealed just how far the collectivist mindset in the United States has advanced. Lockdowns and mask mandates could have been put on the well known vulnerable populations, but instead, they were put on entire populations, including kids. What would have been appropriate war time propaganda messages appeared everywhere: “We’re all in this together!” Using powers granted to governments that were reserved for emergency conditions, restrictions that would have been unthinkable a generation ago were deployed and widely accepted with barely any law enforcement. People complied with orders that seem to be positively Soviet, and dissenters were shamed in social media. Americans formerly headed in to the wilderness with their entire family with the intention of carving out a home. Americans traveled to the moon and returned. That spirit is gone, and now, vast numbers of Americans are perfectly willing to spend weeks and weeks at home and cover their face when they are allowed to leave, and they will report their neighbors that don’t do the same. The virus has revealed in stark and shocking detail the cultural shift in the United States. The bold, confident pioneering country that rolled over rivals is gone. Leadership that tries to marshal this spirit is vilified. The consequences of this change are just getting started.
A curious thing has happened with the public stock markets. In the early days, the market dropped significantly as one might expect. Clearly, business was about to come to a halt as the government restrictions began. The price of oil, long a benchmark commodity, went in to negative territory. What was a critical resource actually was priced as a waste product briefly. But over time, the markets recovered and are now at record levels. How can this be? The pandemic isn’t over; in fact, the death rate is higher now than ever before. Why aren’t the markets reflecting this? I suspect it is because the markets have now priced in many humans as a needless waste product and millions more as structurally unemployable. Technology has replaced their ability to work and investments in that technology has never been more valuable. Amazon is now a company like no other on earth and the price of its stock reflects that. The day of technology pushing aside millions and possibly billions of people who will have no economically valuable work to do is upon us now.
What happens next is difficult to tell. Will cities like New York and San Francisco thrive once people get used to working from home and fear of others becomes normalized? Will the government restrictions go away entirely or is some form of social control here to stay? Will Covid morph in to a far more deadly virus in time? I’ve noted a sort of happiness in people economically harmed by the virus that is reported as a sort of freedom from the life they were living before the virus. Many people report losing weight, or ending relationships that were not bringing any joy, or moving out of places that were difficult and expensive. Many people love working from home. I’ve noted for some time that there is no History; there is just history. Nothing is foreordained or inevitable. Now, I have seen a pandemic, and I might see more. I might come to see a meteor strike on the earth, or some technological breakthrough will allow humans to jump to the stars. The best we can do is set and reset continuously, focusing first and foremost on our bodies and then on our minds so that when disaster strikes, we don’t become another data point in the statistics.