Thursday, April 02, 2020

The Lessons Most Won't Learn From The Wuhan Virus Economic Shock

Note: This was originally a FaceSpace post that a friend suggested should be more widely available. They were comments made while sharing The Federalist article, 7 Major Cultural Shifts The Coronavirus Crisis Should Make Happen


I've trimmed a ton out of this snippet, hit the link to read it all, but I left all of #5 in because it's exactly what regular readers know I'm all about. Major sermon after the excerpt.
FTA: "The coronavirus pandemic is a social stress test exposing many Americans’ lack of responsibility for our lives, our willingness to hold other people’s lives hostage to our own, and our national unpreparedness to manage danger. What are some long-term positive steps this moment of unexpected reflection and improvement should inspire us to take to address that? Here are a few ideas.

1. Massive Shift in Education

As schools and universities attempt to maintain learning through screens, it’s an opportune moment to consider whether one’s schooling is really ideal....if a layperson can do the job of a credentialed teacher in half the time, maybe that’s an indication of serious lack.

We’ve discovered that many Americans value it mostly as a babysitting service. Many governors immediately disbanded classes for a third to a half of the school year — possibly to be renewed this fall — then continued collecting children in the same buildings for daycare and government feeding, even though congregating people like that is supposed to be too dangerous to hold school itself.

2. Prepping for Emergencies, Government Incompetence

Lots of people just discovered they might go hungry without a weekly shopping run and open restaurants, and can’t manage common illnesses without using medical resources that might be needed for people with worse problems.

Hopefully the shock of realizing these things will encourage at least some people to upskill. Keep a few weeks of food in your pantry at all times, and rotate supplies. Keep basic medicine on hand, and learn how to help people sick with common illnesses that won’t need a doctor if well-managed. And keep more than one roll of toilet paper in your bathroom.

Long-term, at least someone in your family should regularly practice with a gun for self defense...Think ahead. Take responsibility for your life and family.

3. More Flexible Work Environments

The coronavirus offers workers an opportunity to do just that by forcing many into work-from-home arrangements. Many people, especially working mothers, would like to work from home more or completely, and have been either afraid or unable to leverage their employers into it. Showing their capability during this time gives them more leverage for this kind of negotiation in the future.

4. Better Social Norms About Sickness

We all have heard people at some social event talking, as their kids stick fingers in the snack bowl, about how their family has been sick all week and they just ditched the fever yesterday. We all know people keep working while they are sick, and keep their kids in school although the kids are sick, because they want to bank their sick leave for vacations.

Now this kind of petty selfishness is widely recognized as such, hopefully people will continue to take more care about spreading germs to others.

5. Basic Financial Responsibility

Congress just sent billions of dollars to Americans they stole from the next generation without their consent because neither Congress nor Americans prepare for emergencies. It is a crying shame that we live on borrowed money and have nothing stored away against inevitable disasters, so dip our hands into the next generation’s pockets every time “something comes up.” This will lead to an unstoppable national financial disaster sooner or later.

Half of Americans say they couldn’t pay for a $1,000 emergency out of cash or savings. Excluding their mortgages, the average American has $38,000 in debt. That’s just plain irresponsible. This irresponsibility just cost the next generation $2 trillion plus interest for precisely zero government services to them, and the bailouts aren’t even close to ending.

Pre-coronabailout, American kids were already on the hook for $132 trillion in federal unfunded liabilities. Is there any limit to the money we’re going to demand from future generations for zero services in return? How is this not selling them into indentured servitude?

Before you dare to take money from other people — which is the same as taking a part of their lives because money equals labor equals time, which is priceless — you should cut all expenses that don’t keep you alive as cheaply as possible, and work as hard as you can at as many jobs as are necessary. I don’t want to hear you whining about how high your expenses are and how low your income is. Do you pay $100 a month for your cell phone? How old is your car? How big is your house? Do you eat out? Did you take out loans for college that you now want me to pay for because I cut eating out, travel, groceries, clothing, and other expenses to pay my own loans off faster while you didn’t?

Congress may be alright enabling Americans to steal trillions from children for basically everything it authorizes, but lots of Americans are aware that a house of debt like that is going to crash someday, and no amount of money-printing will stop it. Smart people will haeve gotten themselves out of debt, not planned to rely on bankrupt government services, and saved up an emergency fund and supplies beforehand.

6. Learning How to Live through Deprivation

Just like athletic training is no pain, no gain, it’s often not fun to develop self control, to think of and serve others above ourselves, repent for our bad decisions, and reconsider our life priorities. But it is very healthy, both for body and soul. Our nation corporately, and all of us individually, could use that now and always.

7. Revitalization of Community Relationships
When our governments finally hit the debt crisis they’re storing up even more speedily now for us, it will end the pretense that it’s someone else’s job to solve our personal problems."
While the other items may not apply to everyone, no one has an excuse to not seriously consider the list in #5.

As you may know, I grew up extremely poor on welfare to a single mother and that made thrift, bargain hunting, deferring gratification, and taking care of one's stuff basic survival skills. But we worked and took advantage of opportunities to get off the dole (because unlike now when it's a badge of honor for some how they're ganking the system with their EBT card, it was embarrassing to pay for groceries with food stamps) and I started working while in high school to pay for my stuff because no one else was going to.

But I didn't truly learn the lessons until I got caught short with insufficient savings when I was 24 and my job abruptly vanished. I was so broke that if girl's wanted to see me, they'd have to give me gas money. (Luckily, I was hot enough then to pull that off! I miss thin me. ) It was a very lean year (no pun) until I got another job many months later, but once I'd dug myself out of the hole, the mission was to have at least X amount of dollars in the bank. As time went on X has become ever larger where I'm not at the point that if I don't have....let's just say an amount to withstand a prolonged income disruption...then I get antsy.

Being a broken record, but I genuinely don't understand how people put themselves behind the 8 Ball after a certain age. I get being young and dumb and thinking the money will never stop coming in because I was that dumbass once. But I stopped being that dumbass and now I'm living a reasonably comfortable middle-class life with plenty of the latest toys and comforts and zero debt outside of my mortgage which is lower than a lot of people pay in rent. All because I know the difference between needs and wants and spend as little as possible on both.

I have to remind myself constantly that many aren't as blessed as I am. I still have a job; I'm still getting paid; I don't have to worry about paying my bills or put food on the table; other than people STILL thinking Wuhan virus causes explosive catastrophic diarrhea which makes the tsunami in Deep Impact look like a ripple in a puddle and thus buying up all the damn toilet paper, I'm OK.

But many people aren't OK and the massive mismanagement of Hot Fad Plague 2020 has them scared and eager to look to Uncle Sugar to provide succor. But if/when we get through this asteroid strike to our lives and economy, how many are going to return to the bad habits that put them in this state this time?

Most, is a safe bet. People resist change, especially if they feel it will make them the least bit uncomfortable. "What? Buy 2-liter bottles of pop for 99 cents on sale instead of a 20oz bottle for $1.59?" (I've seen people buy two singles for what three 2-liters would cost, getting 1/5th of the beverage for the money. Why? You're going to eventually drink it, aren't you?)

You don't have to live the life of an ascetic to save money; you just need to make choices as to what's actually important and bargain hunt a little. I saved a family I know $140/mo by changing their ISP to a 2/3rds cheaper and 2X faster plan, dropping down a tier on their cable package and adding a streaming app version of the ONE CHANNEL they'd been paying for that higher tier to get. They paid something like $600 per year for one channel! (NFL Sunday Ticket isn't that much, is it?)

It took me less than a half-hour to find alternatives and now they have almost $1700 in their pockets and sacrificed nothing they really wanted to get it. How much money are you overpaying every month for various things. A little here, a little there, it adds up.