Mail: Economic fallout part zero.

My bank sent me this. It’s interesting, because we are only one week into a four week planned lockdown.

Our most recent COVID-19 survey was sent out in the first few days of lockdown, and this is what we found:

  • The Government daily updates are a very effective source of information about COVID-19 – 64% of you said this is one of the most useful sources of information for you. This was topped only by news stations (either online or TV) at 67%.
  • Over one-quarter (27%) work in essential services – thank you!
  • Nearly one half (46%) are now working from home, and 31% are not currently able to work.
  • The community spirit is alive and well, with 22% having offered to help others who are in self-isolation.
  • Many of you have been washing your hands (75%) or using hand sanitiser (48%) more frequently.
  • Nearly half (45%) have either had to cancel or change your travel plans.
  • Two-thirds (66%) of people say they are likely to be at least slightly impacted financially as a result of COVID-19 and the lockdown.
  • What do you want banks to focus on? Number one is keeping their staff safe (65%), followed by financial help in the form of deferred mortgage payments (49%) and waiving bank fees (42%).

Well, that’s public relations for you. In the meantime, Chris Trotter is saying we should re-nationalize journalism: the listener was a state run rag for state run media from its inception until the Thatcherite revolution in New Zealand. He neglects to note that we were bankrupt then.

And that most of the senior journalists employed there are converged boomers.

Where were the Prime Minister, the Minister of Heritage and Culture, the Finance Minister, and the Attorney-General when we needed them? Where was the cease and desist instruction to Bauer? Where was the threat of instant nationalisation if it failed to heed the Government’s clear directive? Where was the reassurance to all of Bauer’s New Zealand employees that this nation’s most venerable and beloved periodicals would not be permitted to simply blip-off the nation’s radar screen like so many downed airliners?

The answer, of course, is that none of these responses were in evidence. It impresses me not one whit that Kris Faafoi released a media statement clearly signalling his displeasure at Bauer’s decision. It might have made him feel better, but it did nothing to preserve The Listener, North & South, Metro, and the NZ Woman’s Weekly – or the jobs of the journalists, artists, designers and administrators involved in their publication.

New Zealanders are now entitled to know why the need for a functioning national airline (however shrunken) was accepted by this government, but the need for a functioning media industry (without which no democracy can long survive) was not. If close to a billion dollars could be diverted more-or-less instantly to the preservation of Air New Zealand, then why wasn’t $100 million made available to purchase – at the very least – the mastheads and the archives of Bauer’s New Zealand operation?

Chris Trotter, Bowalley Road

Enough local stuff. The USA is crashing hard, and we have figures. The rest of the Western world does not have the same kind of figures available as easily because those bureaucrats are in lockdown, away from their computers (and probably doing far less harm).

The personal pain and tragedy that level of unemployment represents is astonishing. In previous posts, I told you the economic fallout would be Great Depression bad, but this is worse. The Federal Reserve Bank is projecting 32% unemployment at the high end. 25% was the highest unemployment rate during the Great Depression.

At the height of the Great Recession in 2009, the unemployment rate hit 10%. Total. Not 10% additional two weeks. The Great Recession is the biggest economic emergency that many people remember, and this is projected to dwarf it.

The jobs we’re already losing aren’t all low-paying jobs, either. Oil has dropped in price to $20 and I don’t think it’s done dropping. Oil production companies, the folks that drill the wells for the sweet, sweet oil? They’ll be shedding jobs nearly immediately. The average oilfield job pays $100,000 per year, but $20 per barrel won’t pay for $100,000 per year jobs. Or pickup trucks. Or houses.

The economy is crashing faster than at any point in recorded history. Daily. Based on JP Morgan’s™ recent estimates, it will be $4 trillion smaller (a drop of nearly 20% overall) this year. That’s assuming that the economy returns to astonishing levels of growth in the last half of 2020.

Wilder, Wealthy and Wise

Fair warning: this will not end well. A short lockdown to commence social distancing and to slow the transmission of the virus makes sense (though we should have closed the border and quarantined all citizens returning weeks ago) and that may allow kiwis to get through this OK. But once it is in the community, it is there. If you require us to stay at home too long you won’t have a society. People need to eat. There is no centre to hold. I know too many people who think like this.

This plague marks the first time I’ve ever been called selfish for wanting to do my job. It’s not selfish for the elderly to shut down the entire economy for their personal safety. It’s not selfish for the banksters to get trillions in bailout money because the stock market stopped going up. It’s not selfish for the politicians to claim that their refusal to take preventative measures is irrelevant to their demands that I take drastic measures. But it IS selfish for me to continue earning money & paying taxes by keeping society’s infrastructure intact for another year.

And yes, it’s drastic for me to go without my conveniences. They’re my only reward for cooperating with society at all. See, the Roman Empire didn’t give its people bread and circuses to distract them. The Empire locked its own people out of the halls of power while still being dependent upon their cooperation. In that situation, the people became mercenaries rather than citizens. Citizens will occasionally suffer for the good of their society because they’re a part of that society, but mercenaries? Mercenaries just get paid. You don’t want to be around a mercenary whose monthly check bounced. Ordering him to suck it up for the good of YOUR society (not his society) will make that situation even worse.

Give me my Danegeld, ye who despise my existence yet need my services!

I have no representation in my government. Unwelcome at every church I’ve attended. No woman wanted me. Can’t afford a home because the banksters keep the market values inflated and the immigration spigot wide open. I’m a second-class citizen in my own country by the decree of the State and the voluntary cooperation of every leader in every sector of society. And now, they all want me to confine myself to my room like an inmate, at my expense unlike an inmate, until they say otherwise, for THEIR safety, while I selfishly insist upon earning the food I eat.

I’ve never been so tempted to play with matches.

Gunner Q

The besetting sin of this time is not lust: the promoters of this are part of the dying media system. It is wrath. Soon to be followed by hunger, for the remaining fathers of children will ensure that their children are fed. Regardless.

The lockdowns must end at the appointed time. Beyond that, they will do more damage than they are worth. The young men who are without jobs need to be on assembly lines making the equipment we need and building bigger hospitals (Hint: we don’t need those big conference centres and stadiums any more). Our young women need to keep the families going, including caring for the elders in their own family, and the surplus women without families can nurse — in the old, class driven, military, somewhat inverted manner Florence Nightingale invented.

We may then come out of this OK. Otherwise? All bets are off.