HERE THEY COME
A couple of months ago I first discussed the potential of the coming crisis affecting the very core values and mores of the American social condition. Here they come, that phrase refers to the creation of a vast army of virus checkers. In a previous article, I used Hawaii as an example of the way things are likely to go in one particularly dangerous area. That area is called, right now, “self-quarantine.” In Hawaii, before tourism stopped dead in its tracks, the officials on the islands figured out that most visitors, although required to self-quarantine for the first two weeks of their visit (in other words, all of their visit), did not follow through and do it. So, the leaders started with self-quarantine but then passed a law, when that was not done, to enforce the quarantine. To supplement catching offenders and locking them up and fining them under the new emergency law, they enlisted hotel workers and anyone else who might “snitch” on the offenders. The front page of the New York Times headlined on Monday about the coming new national policy of hiring a hundred thousand “tracers.” Tracers, people hired without training or equipment for argumentative and potentially violent confrontations with the public, will go out, upon being notified of a positive virus test, question the person testing positive and then pursue finding and instructing anyone who had contact with that person before the diagnosis to self-quarantine for two weeks. The fact that the person testing positive is contacted and questioned by the tracer, and therefore the tracer should be quarantined for two weeks, is humorously beside the point (think Monty Python). When voluntary quarantine does not work, as it did not in Hawaii, then the enforcement laws will be enacted and come into play across the country. Illinois, on the front page of the Tribune, wants to hire 38,000 tracers all by itself. The tracers would come from the general population portion that is currently unemployed. Wow. This is going to get real interesting, especially when uneducated and barely trained rural folks are sent to South Chicago neighborhoods to tell those people that they can starve at home instead of out in the streets. Like there wasn’t enough drama before? Stand by for July 4th fireworks beginning much earlier this year. The virus will not die or go away. Its effects have reached too deep for that, from a very dark and draconian viewpoint, or maybe a world conspiracy viewpoint.
A year ago I predicted that the airlines would run into serious difficulties, all of them who currently serve America, formerly the largest and most profitable air transport market in the world. I predicted that public sentiment was rapidly turning from open admiration, impressiveness and support of the airlines, to downright hatred. Hatred of the airlines, the airline personnel, and even the airports and security people who work in them. I did not predict the virus. I didn’t know where the ignition switch to the nuclear reaction of the nation’s response in air travel to the virus would come from. I would never, in my wildest of dreams, have thought that the nation would be willing to sacrifice its way of life, risking the lives and comfort of hundreds of millions, to potentially save the lives of less than a hundred thousand citizens. But the virus came, the culture reacted, and now the airlines are in the unenviable position I predicted. People are not flying (airline passenger miles are down to five percent of what they were last year!) and worse, they are not caring about not flying or the airlines themselves. Schadenfreude is a German word that means “taking pleasure in another’s misfortune.” That’s part of what’s happening to the airlines. They’ve conducted themselves with heartless, careless and wantonly mean-spirited abandon, and now they are being abandoned. United Airlines got bailed out for 21 billion by the current administration. Like one of the “cold as the driven snow” airlines they proved themselves to be, they promised to keep all their employees for the duration of the virus effects and lied about that to get the money. Yesterday, billions in hand united furloughed most of its higher-paid employees. Nobody will come after them for the money. They are too big and too well lobby supported.
But the public will respond like they are responding. Something will come along and replace these diseased public violating air transport companies. Something will come along and the public will celebrate the new companies and the new order replacing what had become as diseased as the virus that is killing them.