Post#: 068-20 – Words: 2045 – Audio: 18:54 – Podcast Episode #3

Supposedly we are in an “epidemic”, with a “pandemic” unfolding.  Make sense?  Consider the pic above from the movie “Outbreak”, which readily comes to mind in this affair.  That’s Dustin Hoffman on the right, (defrocked)Kevin Spacey in the middle, and Cuba Gooding, Jr.for preserving it.

As of this post the general scientific consensus is that the coronanavirus is about at pandemic level, although not officially declared yet.  Regardless, the effects of the bug seems to have been far more one of impending fear and subsequent caution than actual statistical worry.. IF you are in an area of the world with adequate health care, and many folks are not.  Ill-preparedness and inadequate medical care seems to have been part of the problem in areas.. countries… with little medical technology available.  On the other hand… here in the good old U.S. of A. it seems we haven’t been all that prepared with the government  communicating with the public nor having a solid plan in advance for detection of the virus… those “test kits” that don’t seem readily distributed, and few labs with the ability to analyze those tests for a quick turnaround diagnosis.  But we are America.  We will manage.  Although, one can’t help but wonder what we as a nation will have to endure in our attempt to do that managing.  How many Americans could end up being casualties of this virus until we figure out how to fight it?  How much more fear can we absorb into our decade long economic recovery with the markets around the world plummeting?  How will all this affect our national political divide?  How will all this affect the coming election, if at all?

Now.. you might be thinking like many Americans do, how can you think about the economy and comparatively “petty” politics when Americans might get ill and/or even die from this thing?  We should rally around the President and support his efforts to make the nation safe!

That’s certainly a valid rally-the-troops viewpoint… IF we are about to send our troops to defeat the spread of Fascism in Europe.   Keeping a disease from spreading across the land is a lot different.   But events of any kind that affect the safety of the nation… from destructive storms, quakes, rapidly advancing disease, or economic calamity… all have a political component.  Events do not occur in a vacuum.  Of course we focus on saving lives as a priority… but the politics enters into the picture as to how quickly those lives can be saved.. and are we doing our best to save them and contain the danger threatening them.  It’s that process that any president must assume the responsibility for implementing.  After all.. he’s the leader of the country and the buck stops with him/her.  A perfect example of this was Bush’s response to Hurricane Katrina.  He certainly had no idea that the system would fail.. yet he’s the guy in charge at the time.  THAT becomes the politics.

Having been born and raised in Chicago I was aware early on that there are two things a snow belt big city mayor MUST be sure he/she does if they want to get re-elected.  The first.. make sure the snow gets plowed, and the second, make sure garbage collection doesn’t stop.  This means no delays caused by labor strikes or weather.     The mayor is expected to solve the problem.  The president is also judged on the ability to lead.. and being able to select people around him with similar leadership skills to work through the bureaucracy.  Most important, a president in a national crisis of any kind MUST be able to rally the population, communicate convincingly, and present a take-charge,”I-got-this.” persona.  The president himself must rise above the politics and focus totally on the needs of the nation in dealing with a national event.  He/she will invariably be judged on his/her performance because this is what we do in a democracy.

Having said all that, it’s rather obvious our current President is not one who generally displays these attributes… at least to the 50% of the people who want him out of office.  The other 50% is likely believing he is demonstrating all those leadership traits… and more… in spite of daily evidence to the contrary on this crisis alone.  Trump’s response to the threat posed to the nation by this virus has been one of diminishing the threat, accusing the (Liberal) media of creating unnecessary alarm, and weaponizing the crisis against Democrats and the Dem candidates.  His son even felt the need to lash out and blame the Dems for apparently thinking there are some who go so far as to “hope” millions die in order to push all that negative responsibility onto Trump.

Speaking of the politics of the election having an impact on this looming virus crisis, the Democratic primary process has been in full swing for weeks what with the all the debates and town halls having been a part of the daily news cycles.  One of Trump’s major concerns that is taking all his thought (sadly) is the tumbling markets as it’s his perception that he is losing public favor and thus the re-election if it’s perceived the economy is going into a recession.  Again, it’s his lashing out to assign “blame”, if not for the virus threat itself (as crazy as that sounds) then most assuredly toward all the Liberal media fake news hype and Democratic anti-Trump election fervor.

So, yes, whether we like it or not, crisis events such as this coronavirus can and do have political ramifications and repercussions even as the crisis unfolds.  If this virus crisis takes a turn for the worse and literally engulfs the nation in a grip of desperation, then you would begin to see a growing shift away from politics and more about personal survival.  Disease is a numbers game when  establishing a priority, and we are still trying to access how this disease will unfold.  As of this post it’s being reported that the coronavirus has been detected in a dog.  This opens up entirely new apprehensions and worry on how this virus spreads across the planet.

A moment ago we were talking about political, social, and even economic ramifications and repercussions of any crisis event.  This current virus threat, even if we presume the predictions of a 1-2% mortality rate, terrible as that might be being much higher than the common flu (.1%)… life will still continue.  Right off the bat there will be certain economic changes.  International air and sea travel will drastically be reduced, vacation travel especially.  If for nothing else that there’s the inherent fear of getting sick in a Third World nation, or nation with lower standards of health care.  As time progresses, and the disease itself moderates on its own, vacations domestically will increase dramatically, and a greater appreciation of vacationing inside the U.S.  While that sounds generally good, this could lead to a further crowding of the more popular national parks, regionally popular tourist destination cities and towns, and posing more problems there.  The airline and cruise ship industries will feel it hard.  Cruise lines have already been feeling a pinch from their exposure to various diseases prior to coronavirus; floating petri dishes has been one description.  Also, most cruise lines sail under registries from other countries and are subject to the laws of those countries.  One can’t expect a typical cruise ship of foreign registry to simply be an extension of U.S. sovereignty even though you boarded it at a U.S. port.  Quarantines and evacuations will be subject to laws of the country of registry… or the U.S. Coast Guard if inside our waters.  Foreign tourism to the U.S. will fall sharply, especially to the larger theme parks.  Hotel/motel industry will be affected.  As I mentioned already, air travel will be reduced both as tourism falls and business is conducted via the Internet as a result of revised corporate policy.  Possible airline layoffs.

It’s already being recognized that China could very easily restrict trade and manufacturing as a result of people staying home to avoid catching the virus.  Many common American products manufactured in China may be severely impacted; Chinese exports not going anywhere simply because manpower is not available.  Domestically here in the States, a cutback in Chinese imports will definitely affect a wide range of industries… from agriculture to hi-tech.  Our economy WILL change.  Loss of jobs, more people seeking welfare and unemployment assistance.  No question a recession will result.  The thing to remember here.. all this economic impact directly results through politics, local and national.

Another consideration… we are hearing that staffs tending to persons with exposures and possible exposures have to be quarantined themselves, even if wearing protective garb.  That suggests to me that emergency personnel, first responders, even police… could very easily end up in some 14 day quarantine.  Who fills in for these absent staff people for two weeks… and who takes their place should they become exposed and need to be quarantined?  If a plane load of folks traveling from overseas back to the States has one infected person detected… that’s an entire plane load of people with work commitments from a wide variety of industries.. that have to be sequestered for two weeks somewhere.  It’s easy to see how this quarantining could end up affecting not only the availability in first responders responding when needed for usual emergencies, but also law enforcement and other critical services.

The thing about disease is that until it’s understood it’s completely unpredictable.  What will very likely happen to alter this doom & gloom possible economic  future is a vaccine.  As of now the reporting is that a vaccine wouldn’t be tested and ready for another year to 18 months.  After that it becomes a production and distribution problem given the quantity required… around the world.  Will the impact of coronavirus be slowed by seasonal changes like the common flu?  Hopefully it will, and the economic forces  at play can adapt with little effect.

I mentioned earlier that a measure of public desperation could offset any political or even economic pressures.  Simply put, the more desperate we become as it pertains to the survival of ourselves and our loved ones, the less likely we will care about how a crisis gets politicized.  Returning for the moment to that 2% mortality anticipated for coronavirus…. that’s 2% of those getting the disease until we can come up with a vaccine.  Think of it this way… how many people infected with the virus would it take to inundate your local hospital or medical center?  100? 500?  No question that many who might be infected with this virus might be able to weather it out just fine being at home, with symptoms no greater than the usual flu or common cold.  But many will also suffer far worse.  Here’s another hit-in-the-gut revelation… the primary treatment of this virus in the more serious cases is the use of a respirator.  Hospitals just do not have enough respirators to go around to meet a crisis of this magnitude (how many hospitals have 100+ respirators just sitting around?).  This could easily make the staff consider decisions of life and death… and there will be NO time to call a lawyer or write your congressman to keep dear Aunt Edna connected.  At that point the politics of a crisis means nothing.

Look, I don’t pretend to know everything about diseases spreading but there are certain everyday common sense speculations one can make from taking simple observations and drawing some speculative conclusions… speculative meaning… until facts replace the speculation, speculation is all we have to decide what to act upon, or not.  Hence the need for strong and credible communication directly to the people.  But we live in times where facts and truth are matters of opinion… and credibility from our leaders is seriously and continuously questioned because of past performance.

In  any crisis, politics is alive and well… and we truly do not want to get to the point where it doesn’t matter anymore.  Our job as voters is to make sure the politics don’t become part of the problem but rather part of the solution.

For now………… wash your hands, then maybe put them together in prayer.