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Good luck to you all

Posted March 18 by John Birmingham

It's weird watching one of your books play out in real life. The last time I had this experience it was fun. The stage play of Falafel was running at the Bridge Hotel in Sydney and every now and then I would take an old flatmate through to see themselves on stage. Good times.
Now I read the news and see plotlines from my books being plagiarised by reality. Mostly Zero Day Code, of course. But bits and pieces from The Wave and The Dave trilogies too. The bits about things falling apart. We haven't got to the chapter in Zero Day where a free range militia shoots up the grocery store, but that's probably only a couple of weeks away in the US; once the supply chains start to break down. Once people can't get the money to pay for food.
This is what I've been thinking about recently. Money. The virus is bad and it's going to kill a lot of people, not all of them in their 80s and 90s. But the economic Holocaust is going to make the 1930s look like a pool party. With complimentary hookers and blow.
In Australia, hell, in most places that aren't America, we congratulate ourselves for our civilised workplace culture. Sick leave, annual leave, personal leave, and so on. But those things have limits. They usually tap out at about four weeks. What happens after that, because this thing is going to go on for months. The economy is a perpetual motion machine. It is never stopped before. We have no theories to explain what is about to happen. What's happening already. Nobel prize-winning economists are as clueless as talkback radio hosts. If I was plotting this out for a book however, and coincidentally I am, I would project forward to massive, massive job losses, bankruptcies, financial Armageddon. And then, Hobbesian violence.
Perhaps my view is skewed because I work in the arts and I look around me and I see people whose annual income has just evaporated. Mine has shrunk, but I still have options. Lots of people don't. And there are no boltholes. All of the shitty, low status, no future options in the gig economy are rapidly disappearing. Even Uber Eats and deliverroo are going to disappear because the café's and restaurants on which they feast like parasites are all going out of business.
Governments are talking about handing out money. Not much money, because they don't have much. Most of the world's wealth is hidden away in a PO Box in the Seychelles, or Bermuda or the Dutch Antilles, where a bunch of billionaires hid it to avoid paying tax. So maybe you'll get a cheque for $1000 in the next couple of weeks. And may be $2000 a couple of months after that. But then the well runs dry.
I'm not quite sure where I'm going with this. Nowhere, probably. I just needed to get off Twitter, and the never-ending shit show of my news apps.
I have plenty of things to be getting on with. Books mostly. So I suppose I should get back to it.
Good luck to you all. If anybody decides to put a raiding party together to go after Clive Palmer or the Walmart or Murdoch families, let me know.

33 Responses to ‘Good luck to you all’

Vovchara puts forth...

Posted March 18
Good luck to you too mate.
I am thinking about grinding my Japanese kitchen knife down to more useful form, due to lack of firearms in Germany :D

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Murphy_of_Missouri swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted March 19
Oh, I don't know. Gloom and doom Debbie Downer that I can be, we'll get through this. We've gotten through worse.

Per money, at the moment, those entitlements that people like to complain about (I know I am nominally right of center so stand by) are held by people that still have to buy food, supplies, services, and the like. In my household, all three of us get something (we EARNED THAT, by the fucking way, I especially earned mine).

We've been busy buying what we normally buy, groceries, fuel, services, and the like.

Further, we have multiple revenue streams, not just from the government. I have revenue that is secure until May at the earliest. Then it is just a matter of seeing if the pools open.

If they don't, worst case, I could always fall back to security work, better trained now thanks to my time in Aquatics than I ever was during the Uniguard era.

That, plus a massive influx of government spending means, I suspect, that the apocalypse probably isn't upon us yet.

Too early to be this gloomy.

Murphy
On the Outer Marches

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insomniac is gonna tell you...

Posted March 19
If there's any silver lining, it's that we might delay catastrophic global warming by a few years. This current crisis will be small fry compared to that. Hopefully the clear skies and things like clear water in Venice will give us the impetus to keep those going and be more responsible towards the environment.

Murphy_of_Missouri is gonna tell you...

Posted March 19
We could control that with some properly placed, controlled nuclear detonations. I have a few targets in mind.

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Naut puts forth...

Posted March 19
I think it's interesting that we all assume worst case end game is anarchy.

The reality is that if things get too bad we could just go back to normal operations and a bunch of vulnerable people will die. It will have a hugely negative impact on society as a whole, but not the complete breakdown of civilisation.

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Barnesm mutters...

Posted March 19
Wasn't the Economic Collapse, The Great Depression and World War II followed by some of the most progressive and social reformist changes the west had ever embraced - hopefully, that can happen sooner rather than later if we have to ditch the 'devil take the hindmost' attitude that seems to be at the heart of neo-liberalism/Riech wing ideology.

Drew mutters...

Posted March 19
You'd hope that the by the end of this the world is going to be brought kicking and screaming to a universal basic income with huge wealth taxes to offset inflation.

A previously unthinkable change is now immediately and obviously thinkable.

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Barnesm mutters...

Posted March 19
You post had a bit of the cadence of Edward R Murrow's I expected you to finish with "Good night and good light".

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Barnesm puts forth...

Posted March 19
my apologies
"Good night and good luck"

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Halwes ducks in to say...

Posted March 19
We've got fishing gear and a freshwater creek running into an estuary. Seems the blackfellas really have had it right all this time ! As for social isolation, I'm a single, grouchy, old man. Social isolation is my preferred default position. To be honest though, the stock market runs on fear and greed and I'm starting to believe that that's what society runs on as well. "We'll all be rooned" said 'Anrahan.

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FormerlyKnownAsSimon swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted March 19
I want my fluffy dog pictures JB! I thought you were running this place as a new optimistic channel. : ) I was joking to some mates to see if they wanted to run a pool for how long it takes for people to start stockpiling petrol. I have to fill my jerrycan up tonight because i have to mow on the weekend - i do not want to start a stampede. It's coming though - we all know it is.

Dave W swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted March 19
I'm feeling super-smart right now. Mrs W and I just invested in an EV, plugs right into a wall socket. Yes, yes, I know that the power might go off. But given that Oz runs only a few weeks of reserve of fossil fuel stuff and doesn't have any refineries, all the stockpiling in the world won't get you more than a few days worth of driving.

I'm betting that if this shit-show really gets going, the power will stay on longer than the petrol supply will last.

she_jedi asserts...

Posted March 19
We have refineries, there's one in Kwinana in WA...

Dave W ducks in to say...

Posted March 20
My bad. I've definitely read that we simply don't hold best-practice reserves here in Oz.

she_jedi has opinions thus...

Posted March 20
We definitely don't; we count the stuff in transit on ships as being part of the reserve, which just boggles the mind. How can it be part of the reserve if it's not IN THE COUNTRY?

Dave W reckons...

Posted March 20
Ahhhh, so that's the situation. Yeah, so in that sense my original point does stand.

EVs for the win?

she_jedi swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted March 21
Hell yeah, EVs will help save us

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she_jedi puts forth...

Posted March 19
I’m going to skew more optimistically than most. The thing is, money is an artificial construct. A country like Australia technically can’t run out of money, the Reserve Bank can just keep ‘printing’ money as they see fit, which is what our American cousins did with quantitative easing during the GFC/Great Recession. Australia could go into complete lockdown, keeping open essential places like supermarkets, chemists and petrol stations, but otherwise shut down the economy and pay everyone, regardless of wealth or income, to stay home until the pandemic passes. Yes, this will drive the country’s debt levels into the stratosphere, but it’ll ensure that businesses and people don’t go bankrupt, and more importantly ensure that we strangle the pandemic. With interest rates now essentially at zero the government could borrow trillions at 0% for DECADES to prop up society and prevent the collapse and Hobbesian violence/decay curve.

Once a vaccine has been developed, we can reboot the economy and re-open everything. The productivity and demand boost we’ll get when lockdown is cancelled and we can all socialise safely again will start to pay down the national debt as company and income tax receipts start flowing; the important thing is that we’ll still have a working and productive population because we wouldn’t have lost 30% of it in the pandemic (how’s that ‘herd immunity’ theory going UK?). Australia’s national debt is sitting at around 27% of GDP, which is a historical high, but other countries are continuing to function at 150%+ debt levels (hello Japan and USA)!, so we have a lot of room to move, even if the AAA credit rating, another artificial construct, takes a hit (it will literally mean Australia pays a slightly higher interest rate on its borrowings, but we would’ve just borrowed at zero so...)

One of the interesting outcomes of the pandemic so far is the slow dawning realisation that we live in a society, not an economy, an uncomfortable realisation for the proponents of neoliberalism, who’ve been ignoring that inconvenient truth for 40 years. The economy exists to serve society, not the other way around. The side effects of this huge money printing binge might be an increase in inflation (at the moment a good thing, since we’re bordering on stagflation at the moment at well under the RBA’s 2 – 3% target range), and a collapse in asset prices, which will really only affect the billionaires hoarding all our assets anyway. The tide is about to go out on the obsession with small government and ‘efficiency dividends’, and the notion of a community driven fiscal policy will return (it was the norm after WW2, until Reagan and Thatcher shattered it in the 80s and replaced it with the exultation of the individual, which has led us to this happy place today).

So, in short, the outcome of the current crisis might be a re-ordering of the world to a more community focused, socialistic, one for all, all for one form of policy and politics, where the purpose of public policy is to actually serve the needs of its people rather than its ‘taxpayers’/rent seekers/corporate parasites. Less Venezuela, more Scandinavian utopia! Like I said, optimistic.

insomniac puts forth...

Posted March 19
I agree with most of that. Instead of waiting for a vaccine for 12 to 18 months, we could test everybody asap much earlier than that, and round up and isolate anyone testing positive (and household members too I guess), and treat them until well and negative. Then practice social distancing until the vaccine gets here.

she_jedi would have you know...

Posted March 19
Exactly! South Korea is leading the world in containing the virus because they're testing EVERYONE. They're managing 15000 tests a day!

Dirk swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted March 19
Though testing everyone is a good thing, there is a small side issue with that. You need a fluid for it to test, and over in the Netherlands we are running out of that stuff according to our local CDC.

We were also running low on facemasks, however with China restarting production on those the first fresh new batch of those has been airlifted in last night.

FormerlyKnownAsSimon asserts...

Posted March 20
i live in a rural very loose community - we had a thoughtful neighbour checking that no-one has needed to self isolate yet but he is collating a list of people who want to put their hand up to help if/when needed. I think i turned a corner this morning - the feeling of dread has lifted and i've moved back a few stages into Bemusement about the shopping supply thing. Still scratching my head trying to figure out what i'm going to do with all my pumpkins in the veg patch (there are a lot!). I have a few choice zucchinis growing into nice huge marrows - i want to make my grandfathers marrow rum recipe for my dad. He's getting on a bit . . 84 but still hale and hearty and compos mentis. I never met my grandad but heard a lot of stories about him. Tee totaller that would make 'rum' out of marrows to give away to people in merry ol england.

jl is gonna tell you...

Posted March 20
Pumpkins are great ground cover, a source of roasted pumpkin seeds, and pumpkin pies, of course. Plus hogs love them as feed, and you can cook them like squash at need, although it is a bit bland. Pumpkin soup, too. I use them as the "squash" leg of the Three Sisters Garden (corn, soup beans and squash), a traditional staple here in the US. Maybe expand the garden a bit this year. Plant only the proven stuff. Not a good year for experimenting.

FormerlyKnownAsSimon swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted March 20
Ohh yeah there is other stuff in there - i have this rotating chicken tractor thing going in my veg patch. Move the dome (4m diameter), plant behind, and eventually it comes full circle (6 pads) and the chickens eat what is left. With the massive drought here in Aus i was planting normally but not really succeeding just keeping things alive with my watering regime. Trying to keep wallabies, possums and kangaroos off them. Then it rained and hooboy - the pumpkin vines exploded. I didn't have the heart to contain them and let them grow to see how far it would go. Lol. A long way. Pumpkin soup is a staple (and storing has worked in the past) but i will have way too much - time to trade with the neighbours.

jl mumbles...

Posted March 20
Yeah, every year I have an amazing surplus of zucchini and cucumbers. Like you I keep chickens as well, no tractor, they have a large enclosure instead. I use their manure and household compost on the garden. Works well. Can't imagine keeping out wallabies and other exotic animals, dogs, deer and foxes are bad enough. Pumpkin vines are the best for a weed-free patch. They're pretty, too. I got lucky last year. My ancient roto-tiller died and I'm going into this season with a brand new machine. Honda engine, it should last for decades. Probably see some hard use this year.

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Drew asserts...

Posted March 19
Something to think on JB. I heard on a podcast yesterday that Gina Rinehart personal wealth (13.8 billion USD) is larger than the stimulus packages that the government is putting together to save the country.

She, herself personally, could foot the 12 billion dollar stimulus...and STILL have a billion left over.

Eat the rich.

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Bondiboy66 swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted March 19
Yes good luck to you all! Stay healthy! Regarding fuel - my default transport is a motorcycle (car is for family purposes and lives in the garage mostly),,,but we have the world's supply of pushbikes here (many of which are worth more than my motorbike!), so at least Shank's Pony gets some relief.

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andrew asserts...

Posted March 19
Well, the Spanish government just nationalised their private hospitals, so things _could_ swing in hopeful directions.

On the other hand, our leading lights in the US subtitled their presentation about on-line screening advice something like "new options for consumers", and had big-business CEOs on hand to make the presentation. So sure: as a consumer you can choose between a coronavirus test or a new car. It's up to you. Oh, and one of the testing equipment manufacturers has been sued for patent violation, with an embargo request. So that's working well.

Here in AUS, the "stimulus" package has been doled out colour-coded-spreadsheet style to businesses, who were asked very nicely not to spend it on new labour-reduction technologies or equipment, but instead use it to fund payrolls. Of course you can guess where that's going. Straight into those PO Boxes in the Bahamas that you mentioned.

On the positive side: you don't have to keep everything shut down until the cure is found, just until you've tracked down all of the actually infected. The new infection rate in Wuhan reached zero today, and my Chinese colleagues are heading back to their offices. They'll be wanting to buy more of our red wine and baby formula (or whatever it is that we sell them) before long.

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Dirk puts forth...

Posted March 19
"never waste a good crisis".

I have to concur to the more positive tone in the comments. But we are not out of this minefield yet.

Sitrep: Here in the Netherlands, there is a defacto lockdown. Schools/Bars/Restaurants/Fitness and wellnesscentres are closed, retail is shutting down, and supermarkets had a spike in sales last Friday and Saturday. By scaling up the logistics train (with less deliveries to the restaurant sector - which do cater now in a take away fashion - there was spare trucking capacity available) stocks are being replenished. A 20 billion euro package has been fast tracked through parliament, to keep everybody afloat. That includes the arts, small business owners and small coffeeshops (those that sell coffee as well as our "local pot trading variety") and alike. And money isn't the issue: a government and a central bank can make more if needed.

A hopeful sign is that what I would call a "social reserve" is springing up. Like reservists in times of war, students, former nursing staff and in general everybody that now has time on their hands is reaching out to help. Simple things like grocery shopping for those that can't (including for medical staff), home schooling and virtual social contact.
The latter is due to having access to one of the better broadband and mobile networks in the world; so that will be a thing for other countries to implement. It has become a vital piece of infrastructure now, not only to watch 4K Netflix but also to communicate, shop and educate.

This also has side effects for the future. European air quality improves drastically at the moment. Traffic is less then 10% of normal and the populous is learning how to work from home. Sure a couple of blabbering 4 year olds or bank-hugging millennials don't improve productivity (and I thank the supreme being, I am not blessed/cursed with having either). But when schools and daycare centers reopen (and that is at least after April 6th, over here: my personal bet is that will be May though) some of the experience gained will be integrated in the normal way of things.

Weapon of choice here to combat the virus is like in the UK ‘herd immunity’. And that will entail we will suffer causalities. Nothing to be callus about (predictions are that worst case 40-100.000 will die of this in the Netherlands alone, which is about 75% of the body count we suffered during WW2 - including our share of the Holocaust). On a population of around 17 million that is brutal.

The alternative of locking down the complete country however isn't an option. First the time it would take: without a vaccin it would take 4-6 weeks at least and as soon as an infected person steps over the border, the whole shebang starts from square one, and the quarantine would have been useless. With a vaccin you will need to innoculate 4-8 million people as of yet not infected. And there we come to uncharted waters: how many people can you give a shot per day? Estimates range from about 250,000 - 300,000 per day maybe, half a million if you make it an industrial process. Can you employ robots to help? All unknowns.

Will this in the long run change things? Maybe and I hope so. A step back from a polarized, neo conservative, "make no prisoners" capitalist mentality to a more down to earth and social one, would be imho better for the world at large. Added in maybe a little self reliance, and self confidence, be it energy wise (solar, water wind etc) in food production and transport. But maybe also mentally: we are all in this boat together, and being a selfish bastard isn't the best thing for the whole group.


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jl reckons...

Posted March 20
There are some really good comments on here. Thoughtful.

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Murphy_of_Missouri asserts...

Posted March 22
Vaya con dios, bitches!!!!

It'll work out, or it won't!

Murph

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Rob mutters...

Posted March 26
Both my kids have lost their jobs. A bit too quickly I think. Just tossed out the door because the pubs they were working at closed. One kid had to remind the owner that they still had to pay them out, and supply them with separation certificates. His boss just blinked and feigned ignorance.

On the other side , my wife is being exposed to an almighty nightmare as a nurse in an ED. She is stressed, and out of duty she is going to work. She doesn't want to deal with assholes yelling at her, or finding people have stolen all the facemasks and handwash.

Nurses aren't going to get a bonus for danger money or pay rises. As the hospitals are shuttered to virus cases only , doctors will be losing money as they are mostly (in private hospitals anyways) contractors, no surgeries no work.

Me on the other hand, I'm just thinking hey kids its okay, you can get the dole and sit back watch TV, pay your rent, eat cheese toasties, game on and listen to guitar laden punk rock and relive your Dad's formative years.

GenX was built for comfort not speed.

Dave W reckons...

Posted March 26
This is truly some bad ju-ju going on now, Rob. All the best.

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