SOUTHERN CROSS HAIRS

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It’s no one person’s fault, other than my own. The Twitter exile, self-imposed, that is.

Certainly I’ve been combative, cranky, contentious, combative (yes, that one gets two mentions), supercilious and impatient. And that’s just at home with my mom. So as for the blame, it falls squarely on me.

Also, in more than a few fits of pique, I’ve tweeted stuff that I’m just plain embarrassed about. And I’m sure it’s not very smart in terms of looking for work or keeping it. Maybe it’s best to keep feisty me out of the public arena. I’m sure a lot of people who know me think so.

The Trump presidency, mixed with a 4-ounce pour of coronavirus updates, has proven to be a toxic cocktail. From my perspective, I could no longer deal with the delusion, the cult-think, the selfishness, the willful ignorance, the cruelty, the avarice of it all. I got tired of dealing with those who still defend him or play the “biased against the President” card, or the “all politicians are alike” card. No.

Even when everything that the President said as recently as three weeks ago (or yesterday) has proven him to be a buffoon, a blowhard, and an ignorant jackass, there are still many on Twitter who come to his defense. Or look to point blame at others. Let’s put it bluntly: the things that he is saying, the actions he is taking and has taken, are going to be responsible for thousands of deaths (he doesn’t care, by the way, no matter what Mike Pence says, as long as the stock market climbs).

He’s the President. The Buck Stops Here. He even tweeted as much himself back when he was just a drive-by critic of the executive office. But now that he’s President, it’s “I don’t take responsibility at all” and “Try to get it yourselves.”

I don’t care if you’re Democrat or Republican. If you voted for Trump or did not. At this stage of the game, if you cannot see that his behavior is childish, irresponsible and deadly, I’ll probably have a difficult time taking your arguments seriously. And that’s when I become impatient and, yes, kind of a jerk.

Let’s begin with the scientists, the epidemiologists, the Dr. Fauci types. Let’s just collectively refer to them as Dr. Fauci, only because his traits embody them as a whole. They are sober. They are responsible. They are fact-driven people. And here’s what we need to remember: EVERYTHING they have predicted and warned us thus far has come true.

Two weeks ago The New York Times was supplying a bar graph of cases where the horizontal lines were in increments of 10. Last week, in increments of 100. Today, each horizontal line is an increment of 2,000. And those are just for NEW cases that day.

In New York, which as of today has about half the total of America’s reported coronavirus cases, more than 25,000, the number of cases are doubling at the rate of every three days. Every three days.

On March 19th, just last Thursday, the U.S. had 4,000 new cases of the coronavirus diagnosed. Today? 8,000.

And here’s what Dr. Fauci is saying: We need to social distance, self-quarantine, isolate, what have you for the foreseeable future. And here’s what Donald Trump is saying. We need to get the country up and running by Easter.

Dr. Fauci is Chief Brody. Donald Trump is the mayor of Amity Island.

I don’t pretend to know about the nature of infectious diseases or pandemics, but much like Kramer and write-offs, I know that Dr. Fauci knows, and he’s the one writing it off.

So when I hear someone, a tweep who’s followed me for years and who lives in the South, echo Donald’s refrain about America needing to get back to work ASAP, I get a little salty. No one who wants America to get past this pandemic is cavalier about the economy or financial hardships people are going through; it’s just that we should have our priorities in order and, oh by the way, it’s actually, long-term, the more economically feasible thing to do. Unless you believe Donald Trump Magical Snake Oil Salesman, who’s only been wrong with every original thought he’s had about this pandemic thus far.

So let’s think about a few things. One, the economy. Yes, it’s grinding to a halt. But to ignore the pandemic and put everyone back to work will mean that we’ll likely get five to ten times the number of cases which, forget about the greater number of deaths, will tax hospitals and doctors and nurses, who are already toiling past their breaking points, that much more. My guess is that if you were to ask any health-care professional what we should be doing, they’d say to extend the quarantine.

Second, the stock market is not the economy. If you’re in the top 20% of American earners or wealth, you probably care about the stock market (I’m not, but I do have a lot of money in the market and I have been somewhat crushed in the past month). You want America to get back to work because you want to see your portfolio go green again but chances are you are not one to two weeks away from being broke. Maybe one to two years, but not one to two weeks. So why should America prioritize your needs here?

If you are not wealthy but you want to get back to work, I get it. We all do. And that’s where Congress should be spending its money: giving Americans of modest means a weekly stipend to help get us through this pandemic while we do the smart thing: wait it out away from others. Use the money on essentials: rent/mortgage and food. You don’t need a new pair Nike Vapor Fly trainers right now.

As for big business, hold off on collecting debt, etc. We’re all in this together.

Buuuuut, if we all go back to work soon, it’ll be not unlike that guy in the lifeboat who leans over the side of the railing and takes a swig of sea water because he’s just that thirsty. The momentary sense of refreshment will lead, soon after, to an exacerbated thirst that was amplified by introducing more salt into his system. The quick fix is the bad fix.

Will there be pain in April and May if we all can’t work? Yes, but we’ll get by. We all have family or neighbors or, hopefully, a smart government. Oh, and by the way, there are plenty of jobs out there if you’re not too proud to work at Walmart or a major chain grocery store for a couple months (I’m not and will be happy to work at one).

Life is really very easy when you base your decisions on what’s right versus what will happen to your wallet. And something else I’ve noticed: when you make a decision based on what’s what’s morally imperative there are unforeseen consequences that almost exclusively are beneficial, either to you or to the greater public. When you base your decision on what’s economically feasible in the moment, the unforeseen consequences are almost always disastrous or at least corrosive long-term (I give you the bailout of 2008 which made corporations and banks even more reckless, which is why so many of them find themselves in trouble right now).

This thought occurred to me: an antagonist from the South was telling me that, bad as the outbreak is, that our emphasis right now should not be on stemming it but on getting people back to work. And I had to think, Has there ever been a moment in the history of the South where people chose what was economically expedient over what was morally right? Hmm. I wonder. Maybe someone can help me with that (there I am being condescending again; it’s true) and tell me how it all turned out.

A final thought, to end this on a positive note: We will get through this. As a country. In all of our history, through all of our crises, what has gotten us through is not worrying about our bottom line, but rather by doing what was right. We are bending as a nation right now because we have leadership, in the White House and the Senate, that is primarily concerned with the economy. But that’s not the emergency here. There are plenty of good and decent people, doing what needs to be done in spite of those people. They are the leaders.

I always revert to Winston Churchill, the greatest leader of the 20th century. When the Nazis were stockpiling arms in the mid-1930s, he tried repeatedly to urge England and the rest of Europe to censure Hitler. To stop him. Nobody wanted to hear it. Why? Because England was just coming out of a Depression and no one wanted to be bothered with the existential threat. Churchill was laughed out of Parliament, sent home to be Chicken Little in private and roundly mocked.

And we know what happened after that. And his country came to him on its knees and begged him, at first, to become Secretary of War. And later, Prime Minister.

Churchill had four things going for him, and they are what got him, and Great Britain, through many a crisis: 1) He was intelligent and informed 2) He was steadfast and principled 3) He was courageous and 4) He had a great sense of humor. All of his traits he transferred onto the British populace and they followed his lead.

Churchill started out as a soldier and journalist, by the way. Did both careers simultaneously before he moved into politics.

3 thoughts on “SOUTHERN CROSS HAIRS

  1. Well said, got a little worried when I hadn’t seen anything from you on Twitter. Keep your sanity and stay healthy John.

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