Thursday, April 16, 2020

The Future...

Let's talk about the future. You're about to see a ton of "experts" predicting their favorite end of the world scenarios and pushing their pet peeves. Let's cut through the bullspit!
"We will need to wear masks from now on."
"Hand shaking will be gone."
Good luck with that.
"We will all work from home!"
"Restaurants will need to change forever!"
"This is the new normal" - New Jersey
"People will flee the major cities!!" - Yahoo experts
Hardly. Idiots.

Let's start with an obvious observation that few of the "experts" understand: basic human nature has not changed in recorded history. What is popular changes... the causes of stress or fear change... but the human reaction to popular things, hated things, fear, stress, imposition, end of fear, and hard work does not change.

A corollary to this: there are patterns in human conduct which repeat every. single. time.

Cities will be abandoned! No. Human beings will not leave cities because they like cities. They like crowds. Young people need cities to find mates. Old people like cities because they don't need cars. Minorities gather in cities to find their own kind. Businesses gather in cities because that is where the workers are, which brings workers to cities. Cities will not change.

This is the new normal! The "new normal" dies the moment this ends. The "new normal" exists because of an immediate fear combined with police power enforcing new behaviors. The moment either of those fades enough, the new normal dies and people go back to the old normal. The idea of the "new normal" or "new (Soviet/feminist) man" is a myth that utopians and ideologues push when they want to see a world that isn't stacked against their deepest desires. It has never once proven true. Never once.

People will be more cautious! We will all wear masks! Ha. We wear masks now because we don't want to get sick. They are uncomfortable. They are an imposition. The moment I no longer think my chances are high enough to get sick, the mask vanishes. As more and more remove the masks, social pressure dies. Human nature seeks comfort and convenience. We only abandon those when force, intense social pressure, or fear force the change upon us. Once those abate, we go back to seeking comfort and convenience. Think people will wipe down their grocery carts next year? Nope. Limit who they can be with? Ha! People are barely doing that now under threat of jail and death. Good luck making us adopt inconvenience forever.

That said, there will be some changes, but mainly at the corporate level. Stores will examine safety practices and keep those that (1) work really well and aren't too expensive -- pre-shift temperature checks, for example (which reduce corporate-wide sick days), (2) those that appeal to the public ("We wash our carts"), and (3) those that make money. Look for all fast food restaurant and lots of stores to start curbside service, a trend beginning long before this and accelerating now because it lets you reach customers who are too lazy to come inside and lets restaurants sell more food than they could with the limits of their seating. Now you can sell it as safety too. Look for increased barriers between customers and clerks, provided they aren't to intrusive because they cost little, look responsible and make robbery harder. Look for architects to study virus proofing new buildings with better air systems and better distancing. This likely will be the end of the emerging trend of group work stations... back to cubicle, b*tches! Look for some regulation of industries that became high profile for unfortunate reasons, like the meat packing industry and cruise ships... but regulations are largely style over substance.

People will be more cautious! (Part 2) This is the end of travel! Ha! People aren't even being cautious now. And the moment this crisis ends, people are going to do what they have always done when a disaster ends: party to excess to celebrate. Cruise ship bookings for next year are already 41% higher than they were last year because people want to party. Business travel will take a huge hit, but vacation travel will boom.

We will all work from home! Doubt it. Whether or not companies will make people work from home will depend on two things: (1) can the job be done at home, and done more cheaply than at an office, and (2) what did the data show during the shutdown. Did the productivity of all those people working from home go up or down? Where it went up, look for more work from home. Where it went down, it's not going to happen. And for those working at home, look for monitoring software to get even more intrusive.

People have become reliant on experts and government! Sheeet. Have you not been paying attention? The experts have made total fools of themselves. No one... no one is trusting any expert because they've all been laughably wrong... every time. They can't predict the numbers within an error factor of 40 million people. They can't even tell you the symptoms. Even the experts people like (e.g. Dr. Fauci), people only accept their opinion when they like them. When they say something people don't like, we ignore them. Oh, he's wrong on that.

As for the government, they caused this, failed to stop it, made it worse, can't handle any of this, screwed up the bailout, screwed up my check, etc. They can't figure out what is essential -- pot? booze? fast food?, and don't know when to back off. The government looks utterly incompetent. All they do is fight and blame and make doomsday predictions. And everyone on every side is screaming that. No one trusts them. Who are people trusting? Grocery stores. Walmart. Amazon.

Amazon is worth $1.1 trillion now for a reason.

Let's talk politics.

The stimulus spending will cause hyper inflation! Wheelbarrows of money! Germany 1930! Sell dollars! Buy gold!! Nein. Pumping out extra money hurts when it adds purchasing power to an economy that has a limited number of goods and no excess capacity. That's when inflation happens. Right now, the economy has crashed. It's like someone took a bite out of it. That missing bite is excess capacity. The money the government is handing out fills that missing bite, it does not pile on top of the economy. With a similar amount of money chasing a similar amount of goods, there will be no inflation. In fact, the real danger is deflation. That will depend on how fast the jobs that got shut down come back, or if they do at all.

The Right is, of course, freaking out that people are now socialist. I Radio Host will save you if you listen to me stoking your fears! Unsurprisingly, the Left is even more worried. It's a battle of paranoids, but one is more right than the other. Who is right? I suspect this will hurt the Left a lot. Let me do a separate article on that though.

Any other changes?

Why, yes. The most interesting changes will come from the environmental effect of the human shutdown. Venice's water is clear... dolphins and swans have returned. Venice was on the verge of severely restricting tourists before this began. I think this clear water change will speed that up and make it more extreme. Look for Venice to close itself off to all but a few thousand tourists instead of the ten million they had been getting. A few other places may follow suit.

The problem in the oceans is overfishing. But commercial fishing is down 95% right now. Fish populations spring back fast. Six months to a year of a 95% drop in fishing may do wonders for the fish population. I will be watching this with great interest. If it does happen like I think, expect future fishing bans.

Going the other way, this is going to kill the anti-plastics movement. That worked when they talked about plastic straws killing fish and plastic lowering sperm counts, but it's DOA now that the world is going to discover the value of plastics in terms of sanitation devices... medical screens... antibacterial shelves and counters, etc.

I see a lot of cool medical improvements coming out of this that are technology related. The ability to track outbreaks with fever reports from digital thermometers around the world opens new avenues for preparedness. Look for lots of research into ventilators too and patient positioning (beds put people on their backs, which is bad), which will help millions of people in the future.

The vast amount of data will lead to lots of really interesting studies. Too many will be done by idiots but there will be some good ones and this really is an amazing economic/psychological/medical experiment. Will flu rates drop? Will small business recover? What happens to personal spending? Where did all the little herd-like Nazis come from? And so on.


Next time, I'll tell you how this will affect politics and I'll explain how this all ends. Hint: the end won't be caused by gun toting Libertarians.


AndrewPrice said...

Feel free to add anything you can think of

ArgentGale said...

That answered a lot, and as always thanks for keeping cool and sane here, Andrew. That's not easy these days, especially online. I'm seeing a bit of what you're saying offline, though. Most people I talk to are pretty much over this and are ready to get back to their normal lives and are finding a lot of this ridiculous now. Aside from meetings and some rules for the break room nobody really pays attention to the six foot rule at work and even our managers have other priorities when they're actually out on the floor. Masks are a thing, mostly on women, but I think some of them are enjoying showing off their crafting skills and what kind of fun things they can come up with as much as they are protecting themselves. That part might make them a thing during flu season but I doubt they'll become a part of American culture the way they are in Japan.

Curiously enough one of my co-workers actually noticed the same thing you did about how the elites are getting Kung Flu a lot more frequently than us average types when I mentioned your observation to her. It'll be interesting if more people catch on to that.

Your comment about people wanting to party when this is over actually reminded me of a conversation I had with the owner of my favorite downtown spot when I was getting some takeout last week where he said he's expecting some excellent business once he can completely open back up. If he's feeling confident that's a good sign provided the hide under your bed order doesn't extend beyond April 30, and as of right now I don't have any reason to believe it'll be extended past that for us down here in Georgia.

Good point on the work from home angle; most people talking about it haven't considered the productivity angle or how intrusive upcoming monitoring software might be. It does sound nice in theory but my cats can't keep out of my play time so I can only imagine what they'd do if I was actually trying to work!

The governments really have proved Reagan's nine most terrifying words in the English language to be correct, haven't they? The fact that protests are already starting in Ohio, Michigan, and North Carolina should give their governors pause, though it's doubtful that it will. Like everything from there it's anecdotal but people at work were actually laughing at the CDC talking about the Kung Flu traveling 13 feet when they were worrying about directions from them just a few weeks ago.

Anyway, looking forward to the detailed political article! Heh, I suspected as much on how it all ends. Thanks again for the post!

AndrewPrice said...


I haven't seen a gender difference on masts. It's about the same out here for either sex. I agree with you on the 6 foot thing though. Different cultures have different "personal space" bubbles and ours is about 3 ft. I think most people are just too used to that to change.

(Interesting aside: One of the things that bothers Americans about Arabs and Indians is that their bubbles are 1 ft, which makes them feel invasive to us.)

The elite thing seems really obvious to me, but the media is working to pretend that this is really a poor person's disease, so that might cover it up for most people. Even with blacks, look at the number of celebrity blacks who have it compared to the number of blacks generally. This is definitely an elite thing that has drifted down.

The human tendency after a disaster is to WAY overdo the party... to do what they have been denied and to do it to excess until they can't do it anymore. That's who we are, and that is how people will react.

Business is about the bottom line. Having people work from home is great -- saves the business rent, utilities, office expenses -- if they do the work. A lot of things like telemarketing and call centers are working from home now for these reasons and because they use highly intrusive monitoring systems to make sure the work gets done. So business loves the idea, but only if it is more profitable than building an office.

The government, as always, is a mess.

Unknown said...

22 million US jobs wiped out in 3 weeks
Many millions more worldwide

Greenies happy

AndrewPrice said...


Wiped out isn't correct yet. Paused is correct. The question will be how many come back. Will all, most, some or few spring back to life when this ends? That will decide a lot economically.

As for the Greens, they should be worried, and the smarter ones are.

tryanmax said...

This is what I needed to read after listening to some health expert the world has never heard of describing the dystopia we will all embrace in multiple phases. I'm sure some were lapping it up, but with every line I was thinking "hell no." A phased recovery didn't make people happy and neither will a phased return to not-quite-normalcy.

Masks will be interesting. There are a lot of people who want Americans to embrace masks like Asians do, but I just don't think that's possible. The East/West cultural divide cuts across history and I think the mask thing sits firmly on the eastern side. There are dozens of concepts I could tie it to: collectivism vs individualism, face vs law, reservation vs openness. It doesn't matter where you look, masks just fit better with Eastern culture and go against Western culture.

AndrewPrice said...

tryanmax, This is the moment the idiots and self-interested run wild with their wishes to remake humanity. Everything is going to change and it will be glorious!

The reality is that they are wrong. That's not how humans work. Our nature's stay the same... changes occur only when they add to our convenience, comfort or bottom line.

You're right about the culture. Western culture puts too much value on our faces and the openness of our faces. We instinctively do not trust masks. Asians have a different culture where it is more important to serve the collective.

tryanmax said...

Also on the subject of face masks, I believe it was the governor of Georgia who wrote an order exempting medical face masks from a law from 1951 banning masks in public. Guess how it was reported? “GA suspends anti-Klan law.”

AndrewPrice said...

Why am I not surprised? For some propagandists/journalists, it's all about the smear. Nothing else matters except finding a way to smear.

BTW, I saw one I knew was coming today: public to turn against cash! Cash is on a long, slow downward spiral, but it's not going away anytime soon and definitely not over this.

ArgentGale said...

I hadn't heard about the mask thing despite living here but why am I not surprised? As far as these jackasses are concerned the South hasn't changed since the 60s...the 1860s, that is. That smear's not going to bother anyone down here but Governor Kemp starting to waffle on opening the state back up will and with Texas, Arizona, and Colorado joining in the protests now he'll be facing one himself soon if he doesn't get a grip about all of this. Also, Andrew, this makes two people that I've met who noticed the same thing about the elites and Kung Flu that you did, too, this time when I was getting some takeout from my favorite downtown spot yesterday. It'll be interesting to see if enough people end up seeing it to where it catches on with the public.

AndrewPrice said...

Daniel, It will be interesting to see if enough people notice. Right now, they're trying very hard to make this sound like something that goes after blacks (Hispanics got in the act today), and that will probably become conventional idiocy on the left, preventing them from seeing what's going on.

As an interesting aside, even in the black community, a very disproportionate number of celebrities caught the virus.

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