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The Future after Quarantine

Old people are more valuable than politicians

All we have to do to get through this pandemic quickly is stay at home, work from home, and be nice to each other. If everyone did that, we’d be through this in a month or so because the virus wouldn’t be able to find new hosts to spread to. As easy as that sounds, staying at home is a lot harder than anyone ever thought. Props to the stay-at-home parents and sedentary retirees.

But what’s going to happen after we get through this? Is it going to be business as usual, and by usual, we’re looking at business as it was done before the environment was protected since the protections were rolled back while we weren’t paying attention? Are we just going to go back to the same habits and systems that got us to where we couldn’t protect ourselves from a virus in the first place? Where states and the federal government are fighting over medical stockpiles and which entity they belong to? Where the most vulnerable are still vulnerable, economically and medically? Maybe, but they don’t have to go back, and some things won’t be able to go back. We can choose a direction.

Making a Habit

It’s been said that it takes four weeks to make a habit. After four or more weeks of staying at home, people will have gotten used to the convenience of having things delivered. Ordering from the Internet for everything will become the new norm. It’s going to take a lot to get people to come out of their homes and get them into restaurants and other businesses, especially if there’s any lingering fear of the infection. People from the Great Depression era had a tough time throwing things out and severely rationed for much of their lives even when the economy was booming. The economy will no longer be driven by brick-and-mortar profits but by Internet profits, including website monetization, video commercials, and sales.

Even if the U.S. Postal Service stops working in June (as its budget projections show it may), Amazon (affiliate link) will have its fleet of contractors. UPS and Fed-Ex will likely be around. Your local restaurants and other businesses will probably have delivery in place. In some places, cab drivers will become more than just a mode of personal conveyance.

People will support the arts through page views, Patreon and other sites as they realize the value that arts have to everyday life. They will have read more books, binged more movies, and surfed the Internet looking for more ways to entertain their children at home. Entertainment springs from the arts, and a more aware citizenry may be willing to fund their favorite creators.

Human Nature

Human nature will likely trump habits at least for a time. Within the first couple of weeks after restrictions are lifted, people are going to go out more than ever. The deciding factors that will temper this urge to hit the restaurants and theaters are the actual amount of discretionary income everyone has, what the weather is like, and what kind of job advertisers have done to stoke the desires of those experiencing cabin fever.

The first few movie weekends, for those movie theaters that are still around, are going to be huge. As long as people have confidence that they won’t be getting ill for going out, they’ll likely show up in droves. Chances are that these movie-goers will still be wearing masks, which could put a damper on concession sales and movie theater profits. The same could be said of sporting events and concerts. The only question will be whether or not movie companies have figured out how to capitalize on Internet releases. Hollywood, i.e. Disney, may be willing to forgo releasing movies to the theaters if they can get more people to subscribe to Disney+ or to pay for premieres in their own home.

Restaurants will fill up as people look to get away from doing the dishes and worrying about what to make. Malls will see an increase in mall-goers, if not actual consumers, especially if the weather is bad. While city parks may have been widely used, their use will sky-rocket as everyone has already created the habit and can now congregate in larger groups.

Finances and Politics

Financial pressures are going to be problematic. People who have put off their bills for a month or two and find them coming due just because the situation has been declared safe may face a mountain of debt they can’t overcome. Paying one month of rent is hard enough. If they are required to pay two months at a time to cover back rent, the country will be looking at a lot of people becoming homeless. Bankruptcies will increase. Homes will get foreclosed. The problems most associated with financial issues, alcoholism, suicides, and domestic violence will also increase.

A president may see the best way to relieve these problems is to convert the economy by starting a war. This could come from the outside where other countries are seeing the U.S. response to the virus as weak and untenable. They may think that the U.S. won’t recover from the damage that this virus and other policies have done to the country, and in its weakened state, is ripe for an invasion.

Many are already comparing the U.S. to a third world country. It won’t take much to convince the president of a former world power and now third world country to go to war. War brought us out of the Great Depression, it could cure our economic problems again.

As Americans get back on the roads, commuting to their jobs or heading to take a break from their immediate area, gas prices will increase. This will further depress the economic growth of the country and create a target in the Middle East for a war to free their peoples (and liberate their oil in the process).

No End Game

There is a possibility that there is no other side. As people, states, and the federal government refuse to put into place the necessary restrictions to eliminate the virus, the infection rate will continue to grow until everyone has been exposed. Companies will have to figure out how to replace ill employees. Funeral parlors will be a booming business, and old people will continue to be at greatest risk for infection and death due to the infection.

At some point, we’ll have to figure out how to continue, what an acceptable mortality rate is, and who will pay for the treatment for those who are hospitalized due to coronavirus. We could figure out a new way to do things to minimize the possibility of death and disease, or we could throw up our hands, as some pundits and pseudo-news people already have, and say, “F… it! We failed. I never really liked my grandparents or parents anyway, and since they’ve retired, they’ve been nothing but a drag on the economy.” In doing so, we may sign our own death warrants as the virus mutates.

We Make the Choice

The point is, we get to choose what happens at the end of this, but only if we make conscious choices to change for the better. Now is the time to think about what you want for the future and to start putting it in motion. Going back to the way things were isn’t an option, just like it was never an option after Sept. 11. If you want things to get better, you can’t cross your fingers and hope for good luck. You need to be the initiator of that change, large or small, for you, your family, the country, and the world.

If you choose not to direct the change, you’ll have to deal with whatever someone else creates to fill the voids. If you know what you want the future to look like and have some starting steps to get there, leave your suggestions in the comments.

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No Solution is Acceptable for Mass Shootings; What Do We Do?

I don’t even know where to approach this from. There just isn’t any logical place to start with. What do you do when someone shoots up a garlic festival or a Wal-Mart? That’s where my thoughts end because there doesn’t seem to be anyway to stop it that is acceptable to half the population.

Take Guns Away

We don’t want to take away guns because they are a God given right. It says so in the Bible and is confirmed in the 2nd Amendment, which is more revered than the 1st Amendment, and which ignores the whole “well-regulated militia” part of the text. Besides, taking guns away won’t keep them out of criminal hands.

In school when a kid did something bad and the teacher couldn’t tell who it was, she punished the whole class. Everyone lost their recess privileges. Still, recess isn’t a part of the Constitution, so we’re back to where we started.

Get Better Mental Health

So, if “guns don’t kill people, people kill people,” then we should get people serious mental help. Psychologists and psychiatrists should be a free resource that anyone should be able to avail themselves of. There should be no barrier, money- or perspective-wise, to getting mental health. But we can’t do that because it isn’t society’s responsibility to care for its own citizens. Besides, paying for mental health care sounds even worse than paying for everyone’s physical healthcare. At least, physical problems we can see and make sure people aren’t faking. What would we do with socialist mental health care?

Clean Up Hate Speech

We could try to stop hate speech at the highest levels. By blaming the “other” and making them “rapists and murderers” intent on taking our jobs and causing the economic collapse of the American capitalist system, certain persons have created a boogeyman that is both nebulous and specific. It’s the Hispanics, the Latinos, the Muslims, those with brown-skin are at fault, and white males are ready to take out their guns to shoot whoever happens to be in the way. Bonus, if you’re a white shooter, you’re less likely to be killed than a member of another race, unless you take your own life. These factors are repeated ad infinitum until some crazy people (who can’t or won’t get mental health help) go ballistic. Unless we can see every race, religion, gender-identity, pick a trait, as human, we will continue to churn out people who are willing to kill the “pests” in our society as they are named by our leaders.

If we take away a person’s right to call other people names, then we are taking away their freedom. They have a right to assert that brown people are at the core of all our problems, and we’re just being intolerant of a point of view that is protected under the Constitution. The Constitution gives us rights. With those rights come great power, and with great power comes great responsibility. You can say racist, hurtful, ignorant things, but you shouldn’t – even if you think them, even if you believe they’re true. “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you” doesn’t exclude any person on this planet. Basing your actions on a person’s appearance is ignorant and idiotic. Ted Bundy was reportedly attractive.

It’s our duty to be intolerant of points of view that are advocate diminishing the personhood of any human being. It’s our duty to stand up to those who would abuse their rights and use them for evil. It’s our duty to make sure that people understand the difference between facts and stupid opinion and feigned outrage positioned as pseudo-supported editorializing. If someone is shouting “the truth” at you and you’re getting angry because it sounds like you’re being taken advantage of, it’s not the truth. Not all anger is righteous, and much of righteous anger isn’t accompanied by shouting into a television camera.

No Single Solution

Even if any of these were enacted, none of these alone will do the necessary work. Worse, these are the first things that people rally against, even before the barrel of the gun is cold. They don’t offer solutions first, they just say what we cannot do, as if the Constitution has never been altered – as if the Bill of Rights itself wasn’t an alteration. But they do not offer solutions.

Thoughts and Prayers

Instead, they offer their useless thoughts and prayers. Thoughts and prayers about what? How do they help the dead 6-year-old and 13-year-old? How have they helped over the past 6 years or longer. Thoughts and prayers don’t do shit. But they are the last refuge of the person too enthralled in the NRA, too enthralled with his or her own wealth, or too stupid to see what’s going on. Thoughts and prayers without action are dead – just like the victims of the gun violence that brought them on and the souls of those who are decidedly against protecting the lives of those who they have sworn to protect.

Everyone Should Have a Gun

Some advocate for giving everyone a gun. Society was much more polite when people could meet out on the street at high noon and shoot each other because of a perceived slight or because they wanted to see who was the fastest draw. They fail to recognize that in the shooting of a suspect in New York, eight bystanders were injured – all of them by the police officers who are supposed to be trained with the weapons they use. The criminal didn’t shoot anyone.

Everyone Should Be Educated

Alternatively, they say there should be gun training in schools. This would be great. It might only be a partial solution, but if every child knew what a gun was, how it worked, and what it could do to other people, animals, targets, an argument could be made that there would be fewer accidental deaths in the homes that have guns. It might even work later in life for these young, white men who perpetrate these horrible crimes. But we can’t even get schools enough funding to take care of the core elements, like math, science and English. How are we going to afford gun education for every child in the U.S.? More importantly, when will it fit into the day?

Still No Solution

Education is not a panacea. It doesn’t cure everything. There are plenty of educated people who have subverted their education and decided to support the cigarette industry by denying the danger of smoking. There are plenty of educated people who have embraced tenets that are reprehensible in light of their education. Educated people can be racist, elitist, and dumb. They can choose to see poverty as a choice rather than as the systemic problem it is. Maybe, it can be a part of the solution, but by itself, unless it changes behavior, education isn’t the be-all, cure-all.

Back to the Beginning

So, what’s the solution? Until the two sides of the issue are willing to come together and discuss the issue without taking possible solutions off the table, we’ll always be where we are now. People getting shot and killed every day; some of those shootings will be mass shootings that will allow politicians to send their thoughts and prayers and 14 minutes later they can tweet well wishes to their favorite fighter. So, sit back on your couch, turn up the noise on the TV and shut your heart to the hurt of your fellow Americans. Once we’re all dead, God will sort us out. And He’ll probably wonder what we found so hard about loving our neighbor, and what was so hard about knowing He is Love and we were created in His own image.