Come 8 o’clock tomorrow evening, all non-essential business in New York will be locked down, upon order of Governor Andrew Cuomo.
“I want to be able to say to the people of New York — I did everything we could do,” Cuomo said. “And if everything we do saves just one life, I’ll be happy.”
The time-tested “save just one life” has long sufficed to justify all manner of government overreach and policy making. This time, it rings hollow. Maybe not as hollow as Trump’s dissembling or “feeling” that a drug that works as a malaria prophylaxis will work even though, as Dr. Anthony Fauci explained immediately afterward, it’s scientifically nonsensical to discuss a “feeling” about a drug’s efficacy, but still hollow.
There are secondary effects of decisions. For a long time, nobody cared about secondary effects. We had problems to which we demanded solutions, and we were willing to do whatever was necessary, no matter what the cost. Well, the bill is coming due.
If farmers have no migrant labor, they can’t pick the food in the fields. That means there will be no food for truckers, who can’t get gas or food on the highway because their truckstops have been shuttered, to deliver to supermarkets to put on their shelves. They are opening up early in the morning for us olds so we don’t have to come in contact with the young, drinking
Corona Dos Equis off each others behinds, except there will be no one to stack the shelves, no food to stack them with and no money to pay for food even if it were there to be purchased.
There are many conspiracy theories about the pandemic, and even more people who believe we’ve fallen for a sham by ignoring the calming voice of Dear Leader, who promised us it will all be fine. If that isn’t enough to soothe you, what is?
I’m no Doomsday prepper, but I’m also not about to let my family die of starvation or disease. As much as I did my best to position myself to take advantage of opportunity, I always kept my eyes open for problems. It’s one of the characteristics of people who have lived a long time, who have some experience under their belt.
Like many of you, I’ve lived through three stock market crashes before, and am now watching a fourth in real time. I’ve seen what unemployment means and what soaring interest rates do. I know what it’s like to have your existence depend on other people’s largesse and to be in control of one’s own fate, although no one is ever really in control since our fate is intertwined with everyone else’s.
For those of us who had choices to make and bet that the day would never come where our house of cards fell, where problems that seemed distant arrived at our doorstep, this will be a hard time. No, you may not get coronavirus, whether because it’s not the pandemic some hysterics on TV tell you it is or you’re young enough, healthy enough, lucky enough to weather the storm. But you will struggle when your wallet is empty, the shelves are empty and all the baristas have gone home.
Some of us have been trying to warn you to prepare for the storm. You thought we were shaming you, because you lack the capacity to grasp any advice that’s less than adoringly supportive of your self-absorbed feelings as harsh criticism. It wasn’t. Worse yet, we knew that despite your best efforts to prepare, you would still fall short. No one is ever prepared for every eventuality.
Man plans. God laughs.
But at least you would have given yourself a fighting chance. Instead, you find yourself staring into the abyss of helplessness. You can wrap yourself in the righteousness of believing that it’s not your fault. It’s the pandemic. It’s Trump. It’s racism, sexism, and a world destroyed by the olds. But it’s still your stomach that’s empty.
The New York Times offers a surprisingly comprehensive view of what to do about the secondary effects of the pandemic that Gov. Andy’s facile “save one life” nonsense ignores. It may be right or not, sufficient or not, but there is no magic bullet that will fix what we are facing. When you have no job to go to Monday morning, no paycheck directly deposited into your account come Friday, and your employer regretfully informs you that it won’t be there when this is over, what will you do?
Employers, facing a revenue drought, are laying off workers at a record pace. Preliminary data indicates that more people filed for unemployment benefits last week than in any previous week in the nation’s history, shattering a record set back in 1982.
That year, 1982, was the year I graduated law school. There was massive unemployment then. Interest rates reached 21.5%. That was the world I stepped in when it was time to be a big boy. The AIDS epidemic was about to hit, flowing from gays to straights as bi’s bridged the gap, and there was no cure. Everyone who got AIDS died. Welcome to adulthood, they told us at graduation.
Young people today inform us olds that our world was great and theirs is horrible, the worst ever, so we don’t get it. It wasn’t that great back then. It’s not great now either. But it was wonderful then and is wonderful now and will be wonderful again, because we are resilient, we find joy wherever we can and we learn from adversity how to overcome it.
This will be a very hard time for many, from the contraction of COVID-19 to the fear of financial failure to, well, going hungry. There will be pain. Some will die. Hopefully not too many, but some will die. Whether more will suffer from secondary effects than Gov. Andy’s insipid “save one life” appeal to your Utopian tears, who knows.
But if you thought someone using a hated word was too triggering to endure, sit down. I have something to tell you and it’s going to make you sad. Welcome to adulthood. The bill for your childhood just came due. Now put away your toys and do what you have to do to survive. I warned you this day would come.
RIP Kenny Rogers, 1938-2020