Wednesday 27 May 2020

Day 73 of self-isolation - The New World Order

The New World Order

I'm reposting a message written six months from now, 28 November, 2020, which fell into a chronosynclastic infundibulum and emerged on my desk just now.

The last twelve months

We now know that the Covid-19 virus was first detected on November 25, 2019, exactly a year ago, so it's time for a retrospective on the events of the last twelve months.

The virus was ignored for a long time, and then not taken seriously for several weeks - as a result, it was able to infect so many people that it was impossible to deal with it on a case by case basis. Instead, governments all over the world responded by telling everyone to stay at home. This, of course, led to a huge world-wide depression, the like of which has not been seen since 1929.

Now, we're in a New World Order. We have a vaccine at last (thanks, Oxford University) and billions of doses have been manufactured and distributed ... except in the USA. Unfortunately, the USA has suffered an epidemic of disinformation (mostly, locally sourced, although some people suspect that a foreign actor has taken advantage of the pre-existing widespread gullibility), and half the population have refused to be vaccinated, for fear of a non-existent microchip being implanted with the vaccine, courtesy of Jervis Tetch (aka the Mad Hatter).

The world has learned to live with the peculiar people of the New World; every American travelling abroad has to be quarantined for two weeks on arrival. You'd think that the Certificates of Vaccination would have made this unnecessary, and so they did ... until the anti-vaxxers learned how to forge them.

But every cloud has a silver lining, and evolution works. People with the anti-vaxxer gene are gradually dying out (measles, mumps and rubella have made a strong comeback).

Some other countries have had the same problem, especially those that also have a tendency to religion. Many of the Islamic countries have preferred to trust to Allah than to take a Western vaccine, which is rumoured to cause infertility and impotence. Again, evolution is culling the unvaccinated.

In the sane parts of the world, Covid-19 is a thing of the past, but we are aware and alert for the possibility that a second wave of a mutated version might hit. So we've built up our stockpiles of PPE and medical equipment, and we're ready in case it hits again. And we won't be caught napping again. Next time, whether it's the same virus mutated, or something completely new, we won't be asleep at the wheel.

Life has, in many ways, changed.

During the lock down, we discovered that it's a lot cheaper and easier to have meetings electronically, and many international conferences can be done the same way. And working from home, for at least a few days each week, has become the norm for many occupations. The lock down gave us the impetus to install the infrastructure to make that happen, and we've learned how to use it.

Internet shopping and banking turned out to be easier than many people had thought, and now that we've become used to buying many goods that way, including groceries, that will continue. It means that many small retail outlets have failed, are failing, or will fail, but that's what happens when a new technology replaces the old.

Cash is no longer king. There is an awareness that handling something that has been handled by several other people is not a great idea; contactless payment and use of the RFID chip has become widespread.

The reduction in travel has led to a big fall in car usage and airplanes. This has led to a sudden fall in pollution and oil prices. The slump in oil prices has been great for most people, but catastrophic for many small oil producers, especially those using an expensive extraction system.

As cars left the roads during the lock down, it became more economic and safer to travel by bike (or electric bike) and people who have now discovered the pleasure of electric biking through a city, are unlikely to go back to the unpleasant old ways.

Many industries will never fully recover. Who would buy the folly of locking yourself into a cruise ship and breathing in the air that a thousand other people just breathed out, and risking a lengthy quarantine on board with nothing to do but hope that you don't get infected. Who would cram themselves into an aluminium tube for hours on end, sharing the bacteria and viruses of hundreds of other people? These industries won't go back to normal. And that will put the kibosh on the industries and supply chains that lead to ships and airplanes.

Other industries have become a lot more hygenic. There was a time when at the supermarket checkout, there was nothing between you and the cashier - now there will be a perspex shield, and non-cashier checkout is greatly encouraged. Barbers and hair stylists are masked, and gloved, and new gloves for each customer.  In all sorts of ways, there have been small changes that have already been adopted, and which will persist. Because would you rather go to a hair stylist that is very careful about hygene, or one that isn't?

People's social habits have changed. People no longer shake hands (and the awkward "bump elbows" never caught on). But the nod (or slight bow) is the new handshake. It has also become socially unacceptable to go barefaced in public, just as public spitting vanished a century ago. And everyone carries a small bottle of hand sanitiser.

Unemployment worldwide is still at disastrous levels, although our politicians are telling us that everything will be great in 2021.  But after the lies that they have been telling us for the last twelve months (and many years before), we don't believe them. Do they think that saying so will make it so? And the large number of closed shops and restaurants attest to that. Too many businesses went bust during the lock down. This has also meant that rents on those properties are not being paid, and the landlords are desperate to get the occupancy up. This has led to a crash in rents, and consequentially in property values.

The financing of the lock down is now starting to catch up with us. Governments are reluctant to raise taxes to cover the expenditures (that would deepen the depression) and financing via borrowing would raise interest rates (and would deepen the depression). So we're beginning to see the inflation that is the only way to cover the hole.

The US election was held three weeks ago, but arguments continue about who won. Both parties have claimed victory, and several lawsuits are working their way through the courts. In my opinion, the winning party will be the

At that point, the chronosynclastic infundibulum closed, so that's all we have of the message from November 28th, 2020.

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