By Morf Morford
Tacoma Daily Index
I hate it when I’m right.
Unlike most people I presume, who are glad when they are right.
As you may have noticed in my previous articles and observations, I write about what I see.
And what I see is not always pleasant, and certainly not always preferable.
Here are a few area areas I hope I’m not right about;
Thanks to super-spreader events, and individuals who demand their right to be their own personal cultivars – and of course a virulent and persistent virus – COVID-19 is not going anywhere.
Actually COVID-19 is in fact, going everywhere. But don’t expect it to go away any time soon, or even not so soon.
As with many other current events and conditions, metaphors fail us, but COVID-19 is like nothing human beings have encountered in at least a century. The reaction to it is also nothing like we have seen for at least that long.
Those who refuse, on some abstracted, convoluted interpretation of their Constitutional “rights” to embrace elemental, simple practical health practices to everyone’s benefit and for the safety and well-being of us all, are in fact contributing to the spread of infections, hospitalizations and deaths.
It’s difficult to imagine a set of behaviors and beliefs that could be more counterproductive and destructive. But those beliefs are held deeply, and for many, reverently.
Yes, this “right” to endanger and contaminate others, is seen by many, as a “religious” statement; their “faith” is in God, not in some “experts” who want to tell them what to do, where to go and what to wear.
One has to wonder if they would uphold their “principles” and refuse a life-preserver if they were drowning.
The impact of COVID-19 is not limited to personal health.
Business restrictions, if not shutdowns, or even permanent closures are only the beginning.
The entire consumer, retail, production and supply chain cycle is showing strains, if not breaking down entirely.
We have seen shortages, and sometimes actual fights, wrapped around food and many basics, like toilet paper or sanitary wipes.
The retail landscape will never be the same. Entire malls are being abandoned or going bankrupt.
The distribution of the largess of the expansion of online shopping will not be spread equally.
Some businesses are busier than ever, others are empty – probably forever.
The divide between Wall Street and Main Street will morph into irreconcilable differences as corporation cut their losses, close retail outlets and eliminate jobs.
There’s no place like home
Home, and the loss of it, will define our culture, economy and our national identity for decades if not longer.
Home equity and value have increased (in most areas) dramatically. This had led to a level of wealth inconceivable to previous generations. But it also holds a level of debt and precarious financial over-extension for many, few would have imagined possible, let alone desirable just a few years ago.
For a variety of reasons, a tsunami of evictions is coming. Where will those people go?
Our cities, many already overwhelmed by homeless camps and distraught individuals, will see an explosion in those numbers.
And those “numbers” are not just numbers; every one of those homeless people used to live, work and go to school somewhere. Somehow, with the stroke of a pen (or two) many of those individuals (and their families) abruptly went from being productive citizens to social blight.
They went from social and financial assets to living symbols of a failing economy.
Conflicts in our streets
Racial and economic divide strike more and more of us as irreconcilable and life-defining.
Career, relationship and life choices seem, perhaps more than ever, but possibly always, constrained by one’s race.
Attitudes towards law enforcement, and the life experiences that define those attitudes, appear to be defined by race.
The visible tension of our urban landscapes and the volatility simmering behind the scenes shows no sign of abating.
De-escalation is essential, but seemingly impossible. Escalation of tensions, even though a hazard to literally everyone involved, does, apparently work to someone’s advantage, since we see so many steps taken, by those who could make a positive difference, to instead, raise the stakes and make the situations far worse.
The Great political divide
You may have noticed that nothing is neutral politically. Everything from the news we watch, to the vaccinations we get, to places we shop or eat, makes and defines us.
Face masks are only one of the most vivid examples, but if you listen to NPR, watch Fox News or shop at Hobby Lobby, you are labelled for life.
We used to have political parties who recognized that their job was to make laws and set policies – in other words, their job was to administer and manage.
But for whatever reason too many politicians and their surrogates believe that their job is to pontificate on any issue from health care to gun rights.
One debt to rule them all
One area few politicians address is one that impacts us all – debt.
Our level of national debt is far greater than it has ever been – and becoming far greater by the day.
Debt, as any historian knows, is the one black hole that swallows every empire.
No business, no family and certainly no nation, makes its way through overwhelming debt.
Income (and everything else) inequality
Income inequality has been growing dramatically for the past few decades.
But everything else is just as unequal. From schools to health care, from law enforcement and incarceration to obesity and a full range of health issues, none of these are expressed or manifested equally.
Safe and stable neighborhoods become even more safe and stable. Unsafe and unstable neighborhoods become even more unsafe and unstable.
The rich become richer and the poor become poorer – but at scale never before possible.
Our solid and stable middle-class, like moderate politicians, have become nearly extinct.
Wealth, like religion and politics, has become defined by extremes.
The messiest election ever
The US Constitution clearly defines elections as under the domain of individual states.
With a presidential election rapidly approaching, the stakes could not be higher – and the confusion and misrepresentations could not be greater.
Voting machines are notoriously unreliable, in-person voting in a time of a global pandemic is foolish, dangerous and time-consuming.
Mail-in voting, once the preferred method of voting by both political parties, safe, secure, reliable, efficient and economical, is under attack from the current administration. Even ballot drop-off boxes are being questioned.
The entire electoral process is being questioned if not discredited.
How the election results will be accepted will be an entirely different, and presumably even more complicated story.
Crazy weather – and nature’s revenge
Hurricanes, fires, floods and droughts are hitting us as never before. Many specialists saw this coming years, if not decades ago.
Over 100 (F) degrees temperatures above the Arctic Circle and extended forest fire seasons (even in Siberia and Australia) are only the beginning.
Nature, in every realm, from murder hornets to volcanoes in Indonesia, seems to be rallying against us.
Even locally, deer, eagles, even skunks (at least in my neighborhood) are emerging and reclaiming their territory.
A plethora of viruses, bugs and diseases are waiting for us in various jungles and extreme regions of the world. Maybe we will learn to leave them alone….
Glorification of stupidity
There’s an old saying among educators “If you think education is expensive, try ignorance”.
We been cultivating ignorance, if not outright stupidity for years now. From The Flat Earth Society to the reign of the lizard people to QAnon, preposterous conspiracy theories dominate our conversations and – unbelievably – our laws and public policies.
If nothing is true, anything is true. Facts or evidence take too long, and too much brain power, besides, who needs logic or even convincing argument if our representatives or media talking-heads come up with ever more sensational rumors.
The Constitutional “right” of freedom of expression, presumed, naively it turns out, that truth would matter, or at least that lies and distortions would be somehow self-limiting.
In 2020 we now know that lies – in every category from health care to public policy – are not shunned, but are instead embraced and promoted – and even, all too often, presented as statements of faith.
In short, as Bob Dylan put it in a song several years ago, “everything is broken”.
As much as we might deny, delay, ignore or even justify how “broken” everything is, the bottom line is very simple – everything is broken because we broke it.
None of these disasters, catastrophes and infections needed to happen – or at least to the degree that they did.
We have had lead time to eliminate, or at least mitigate the effects of every one of these.
Each one had a gestation time of years, if not decades.
Very simple moves could have been taken to defer, if not counter these trends, but for whatever reason, preventive if not curative decisions were not made.
Virtually all of these trends have been moving at visible, and, at least at first, glacial speed.
But glaciers are not always stoppable. They can be detoured or prepared for. But, for the most part, we did neither.
As I said at the beginning, I hate it when I am right.
Like you perhaps, I hope I am wrong on every one of these.