Odd spin-offs from C-19

A lot of people, practicing isolation and stay-at-home behaviours these past few months, prefer it.  “Ya know, I haven’t had as much work and my income is down and I must admit that I have to get back to work soon but, well, I enjoy the slow pace and getting some home work and projects done and well, I am in no hurry to get back to the rat race.”

Others are not so pleased at the interruption.  I tried to get some parts for Sal’s Suzuki outboard.  “Geez, just about everything is on back-order.  Especially Suzuki, they have been locked down the most and we just can’t get parts!”  I have noticed a lot of items on ‘back-order’ at Amazon, too.

The businesses in downtown Victoria are dying.  Their revenue this year so far is down 95%!  No tourists and no government workers makes for a devastated economy in a government/tourism based city.  Sal and I went down there over these past few days to see our grandchildren and Sal’s mom.  Victoria looked almost deserted.  A ghost-town.  If it weren’t for the 1500 plus homeless people, there would have been no street life at all.

The good news is that my son’s immediate neighbourhood has pulled together in a very natural and communal way.  Son got a new front deck and porch finished up and the neighbourhood seems to gravitate to it every day and early evening.  Mind you, the tradition started when they had the old deck so it is very likely this phenomena is all socially driven – not architectural and only a bit enhanced by Covid.  They can all stand six feet apart and it seems OK on a lawn.

While we sat outside and ate pizza, three or four separate ‘families/neighbours’ popped in.  Dogs came too.  Butts were sniffed.  Some of the people stayed and chatted.  Some had wine.  At any given time, there were at least 5-6 different people other than his relatives (6) hanging about.  Very pleasant.

Costco was busy.  And, this time, it was more relaxed customer-wise.  Everyone needed a mask and the carts were being wiped but the store allowed as many customers as arrived.  It was somewhat crowded.  Given that BC has few cases and no deaths in six days, I suppose the new protocol is fine but I preferred the ‘only ten in the store at a time’ that they had imposed a few months ago.

A friend of mine who works in Montreal reported that he is doing better post Covid revenue-wise and he doesn’t even have to leave his house.  He is a teacher of Karate and Photography and, because of C-19, started on-line classes using Zoom.  He makes more money doing that ‘virtually’ than he did doing it in gathering places.

Everyone knew that C-19 would change things but I am pleasantly surprised that it has changed many things for the better.  Of course, shops, retail and that sort of thing will suffer and traditional large scale operations have immense overhead and so this interruption will knock more than a few out of business but our ‘shopping lady’ is doing boffo box-office and so is my Montreal friend.  Liquor sales are way up.  So is groceries.  And so are home sales!  That is a surprise.

When you throw a large wrench into a complicated system, things go awry.  But rarely do they go better!  In this time of pandemic, some things are going better and that is an unexpected side-effect of this disease.

 

20 thoughts on “Odd spin-offs from C-19

  1. I can agree with your observations that day to day life seems to be moving at a slower pace. Staying at home seems to be a thoughtful strategy. The few times I’ve been out and about getting parked is easier. No one I know has died from Corvid 19. But in BC currently about 4000 persons currently have the disease. I’ve read alcohol consumption has increased and many more persons in particular the elderly are experiencing greater isolation. By and large most citizens are cooperating with measures to fight the spread of the virus. Ironically some people are scoffing at the suggested anti-virus measures and reject any constraints upon their freedoms. Some persons are marchIng in the streets to protest their perceived loss of rights. I’m confounded by these protests.

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    • I, too, am increasingly dumbfounded….at more and more things! From Trump voters to climate change denial, from Fentanyl deaths to police brutality, from religious fanaticism to people who party-to-get-Covid. It’s like the world – usually quite unfathomable at the best of times – has cranked it up a few notches and the inmates are just rocking the asylum.
      I do not know if there is an answer….I think there is….I hope there is….but I do NOT see it clearly in my forward facing view.
      I see the USA on it’s knees for a few years, I see China getting more aggressive, Bubbas going full KKK and ‘skirmishes-in-the-streets’ for some time (I mean: why is Portland still going nuts after all this time?). I see a distorted economy (disrupted) and I see government leaders throwing in the towel and taking early retirement. They are all grossly inept and impotent and it shows up like a different pandemic symptom. Seems no one can take the helm and steer a good course these days.

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      • Some theories are worth discussing but these theories just guesses and nothing more. For example why do some people act against their own self interest? The employee who steals from his boss and gets fired. The person who becomes enraged because someone changed lanes In front of them. This aggrieved party leans on his horn, gesticulates and follows too close. At the next red light the lane changing driver gets out of his car and goes back to discuss the issues. Later the enraged driver telephones the news and the media a runs a story about a person who did not like how a fellow driver changed lanes. Informed self interest suggests that prudence might have been the best course of action. So what characterizes these behaviours? A sense of entitlement? Suggestions?

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      • No idea…just guesses…but a lot of it is NOT thinking. It has to be that. A lot of it is being unconscious, stewing in your own juices and then using an incident to trigger an emotional release. ‘Course, some of the incidents are not just lane changing errors but frustrating idiocy-on-the-road and those of us who are patience deficient can get pretty ticked. Honestly? Given how many people are being run ragged by the system we live in, I am surprised there is not MORE road rage. I recall a friend in California who would rejoice every time someone shot a gun at another driver. I asked them why that would be appealing?! “Boy, oh boy, there is nothing that makes people drive better and faster than a road rage shooting. They are bad again in a week so I would like to see them shooting weekly if possible.”

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  2. So far things are percolating along at a fairly tolerable pace.
    ( I have been working 7/days/week since Jan. but thats another story)

    My concern is when the govt money runs out.
    8 MILLION Canadians out of work.
    800,000 mortgage holders have deferring payment for 5 months or more
    Thousands of renters that have deferred payment for 5 months or more.
    Deferred payments…..not gone……waiting in the woodworks.
    CERB coming to an end in a few months.
    A minority Govt that sees nothing wrong with spending $450 BILLION dollars in 12 months …. 10 times worse than the minor recession in 2009.
    Interest rates at rock bottom and no way to drop them further to “stimulate” an economy.
    A world wide economy grinding to a halt…….
    The last Summer before Covid part Deux?

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    • I agree. There WILL be a reckoning. We will pay in some way, many ways. And the recovery will be long and painful. But, but, but…..it seems as if some of the pain is already being ameliorated by ‘adjustment’. I am pleased about that.

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      • Well, I think most people feel at this moment some kind of “relief” as they see that things are going at a reasonable pace. But the real problems will hit us soon, a LOT of people will lose their jobs in the next 6 months, plus government will run out of money and options fast (like nonconfidencevote stated), and then most people will feel the real problems and pains. Of course there are benefits, our life is a little bit las rat race, there is more time for kids, gardening, fixing things, enjoying a quiet walk)…but what happens when reality and economy hits us hard? We are experiencing the second wave here in belgium, and government is afraid as hell in both ways…they want to slow down the second wave, but without closing eceonomy completely like they did with the first wave…simply because they know that nobody can survive economically such a second wave. differenence with second wave is, that it hits mostly younger people, and therefore we have less people in hospital and death toll is much lower. We’ll see what happens in fall and winter. But brace yourself against the aftermath!!

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  3. Unfortunately I think the majority are screwed.
    The “buy now and pay later” credit mentality has led a great many spendthrifts to this stage.
    No savings, no plans, no preparations……and they run to the Govt for a bail out….?
    How long can that be sustained?
    Glad I’m not in that position….yet.
    But the way the Trudeau ( and many other Govts are tossing taxpayer cash into the bonfire)……its only a matter of time before the locusts start looking enviously at the ants to tax everything they have.

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    • Other causes like…….
      Easy credit and a pliant govt handing out billions it doesnt have is a recipe for economic disaster.
      Trudeau has handed out 10 times ($450 billion ) the annual average deficit ($45 billion) that any other Prime Minister has spent…..in one year.
      Dangerously unsustainable.
      The money taps will….eventually be shut off leaving millions of Canadians wallowing in indebted squalor demanding the bankrupt govt “do something”. Instead of looking in the mirror for the cause of their problems.
      Get ready for much higher personal taxes and user fees for a generation.
      Tourism worldwide is down 56% ( three times worse than the 2009 bank meltdown). Covid may last for several years. Not great for international travel.
      The average age of cars on the road is 12 years ( 2009 was 9.5 years) and climbing..
      Banks, manufacturing, service industries, etc etc etc are all reeling from the Covid shut down.
      Interest rates are at rock bottom with no where to go unless “negative rates” ( you PAY the bank to hold your money) are unleashed and the economy sinks into “stagflation” ( Japan has been reeling under its effects since the mid 90’s with an aging, over taxed population….25 years of bad news…..that still goes on and on….). Several European countries banks are in negative rate territory.
      Then we have the worst US President in at least a century, baiting everyone he can with his absurd accusations and fabrications while he deny’s Covid is serious…………..The proverbial loose cannon rolling around on the deck of the USS America with an election looming.
      He will not go gracefully into the night if he loses the Nov. election. You can count on that. A nasty, vindictive little man who will want to take all his perks with him when he leaves….if he leaves.
      He has already suggested a mail in election process is flawed even with proof to the contrary. Perhaps setting the country up for a nasty, prolonged constitutional skirmish. BLM protests may be a precursor to Republican voters feeling cheated at the polls with “former” President Trump egging them on.
      As Warren Buffet recently opined, “A perfect storm”. ( I guess thats why My Buffet has sold off a significant amount of Berkshire Hathaway holdings ? And sits…with $137 Billion in cash…..waiting).

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      • Can’t disagree. I can only add to the litany of pain expected…except for one remarkable thing. Capitalism usually finds a way to make money from a disaster. Don’t be surprised if the govt doesn’t employ Michael Milken-style bond issues. Junk bonds. Great returns. Maturity in 10 years. Or something like that. They will borrow from the rich. The other ‘tactic’ the US has used is to say, “To hell with it – run the presses 24/7 and just print more money!” Governments are happy to inflate their debt at the best of times, in the worst, they can inflate even more ’cause the interest rates are lower. The actual plan may or may not include those tactics but these folks are creative with financial instruments if nothing else. Well, actually, there is nothing else with them. A major infrastructure program started twenty years ago with easily twenty to thirty more to follow would have cushioned this economic blow but they did not do that.

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  4. I agree with you. Back when Canada was bringing in 25,000 Syrians, I was having brew in a pub with a group of working guys. Someone mentioned the benefits that the refugees were getting to aid their transition to Canada. One the guys at the table with a fully vested pension, job security, health care and the safety of living in a secure country, wanted to know who is going to pay his rent and give him benefits? Gobsmacking. Recently we have fully employed people complaining that they are not getting any of the pandemic supports offered to persons in dire economic need! Dumbfounding.

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    • The thing is: any money in the hands of the average person gets out and circulates. Work happens, Products happen. People drive the economy from the ground up. But billions given to airlines and industries, or paid to banks in interest payments and huge salaries do not ‘trickle down’ anywhere near as quickly. That money is saved, used and leveraged instead. I can see how ‘small scale’ stimulus is so much more visible and irritating to mall minds but it is that visibility that makes it an effective tool. Give a refugee $500 and his landlord gets it, his grocer gets it and Costco gets it. Give SNC Lavalin 100 billion and it disappears down a black hole.

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  5. You are spot on “corporate welfare is ineffective as it often goes into paying dividends, buying back stock or into off shore accounts aka tax evasion. About 70% of the economy is fuelled by the little guy. By comparison the much vaunted oil extraction industry accounts for roughly 4% of GDP. Depending on whose statistics one uses Canada has between the third or forth largest world reserves of oil in the ground. In the world of deficits equity counts. In 1933 FDR rescued capitalism with his ‘New Deal’! But unemployment in the USA remained at about ten percent until 1941. One of many challenges revealed by COVID-19 is that some of the complications of austerity were exposed. Such as the tragic death in the elderly care homes due to understaffing.

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  6. Only thing they can do is printing more money AND invest heavily in infrastructure for the next 20 years or so, at least everyone benefits from that. On the other hand, I can understand why a guy who has “with a fully vested pension, job security, health care and the safety of living in a secure country- I quote from 123” complains. A lot of us have been working our butts of for the last 30 years (or more), and yes, we have everything secure, but that’s because we were smart, worked hard, saved some money, have a plan “B” and “C” and were cautious with how we spend our money.
    So I also get a bit uncomfortable about how government is handing out money to everyone just like that, because “We”, the cautious ones, know that it has to be paid back sooner or later…and guess who is going to pay that bill??
    I am definitely NOT egoistic, I believe we should support the people in need, but still…what happens if I have worked of my butt for 45 years, reach retirement age, and there is NO money left to pay my pension…mind you, I am contributing EACH year a huge amount of axes so I CAn have a reirement plan (fortunately, I don’t only rely on what government should pay me as a pension, I alse have here a plan B and C that (hopefully” will allow me some comfort in my old days

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    • Well, Wim, we agree on a lot but maybe this time we might be slightly divergent. Probably not but it has to be said: We were NOT that smart, nor worked that hard and we did NOT plan well….not entirely is our place on this planet entirely created by us playing our position well on the team that also does well. A large part of the credit goes to having a 1st world situation that allows for that plan A, B and C to even be possible. A lot of very poor economies have very hard workers who are very smart and yet are still starving or dying early or being murdered or incarcerated. War torn describes a country without much hope for it’s citizens. So, we were lucky to have been born where we are, when we were. Secondly, you have shown an interest in OTG and you KNOW it ain’t easy living this way. So I am calling you on your claim for comfort. You are not some ‘softy’ wanting to while away the hours doing nothing but watching TV. Thirdly, smart people can always earn money. The asset is not the money, it is the smarts needed to do it but they are with you all the time. Finally, if you are really smart, you will see that the cost of living is, if lived OTG, a lot less than you think you need. Admittedly, getting established is expensive but living out here is 1/3, maybe 1/4 the cost of living in the city and way, way more fun. Seriously, you already have enough.
      Put another way: when I see some poor refugee with nothing struggling to make ends meet at some pathetic slave labour job in the city, I know that that guy is going to sacrifice himself for his kids. His kids will adjust and likely do well. He will be a corner grocer or cab driver his whole life. And we will exploit his ‘hard work’. I do not begrudge an honest immigrant a thing. I do NOT want the criminals and the n’er do wells but a working, intelligent, community member is a gift.
      Put YET another way: it is NOT the poor immigrants fault that he is here. He was driven out. If we are to blame anyone or even begrudge anyone, those feelings should be directed 100% at their governments.

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      • Well David, thanks for setting me straight 😉 , I “deserved” that one I guess! We have never met, but I think you know me already quite well. So yes, you are right, I was born in the right country at the right time. And no, I don’t want to sit on my butt all day long doing nothing. And yes, I am smart enough to “earn” my living always, and I definitely have enough already. Only smart thing left for me to do now is go OTG 🙂 . BUT….I AM still concerned what impact this will have on all of our lives, so I guess the only real smart thing to do now is go off grid fast! I can survive with the skills and the smarts I have and live with a lot less then I am doing now.

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      • Gracious of you to write so. Thanks. Even tho I think you are ready, that does not mean it is my decision nor do I even think I know enough to be right. Some people come and then leave soon after. Some do not like it at all. We are all different. Sal and I lived on our sailboat for the first 11 years together. We watched all sorts of people come to the water, buy a boat and maybe 60% could do it and, in the end, even the longest residents moved off and moved on. Lifestyles change. As you know, I am a big ‘fan’ of OTG but that has been somewhat enhanced by the madness all around us as much as the beauty and serenity in which we live. Still, what I said was true. It is less expensive once established. It is more peaceful and natural. It is quiet and healthy. But it is also hard work. It is also a challenge now and then. And getting established is a real, definitely REAL, challenge right from the start. The first three years make or break people’s commitment I think. I advise you to leap but I also advise to ‘leap cheap’ and ‘ease’ yourself in….learn a bit more ‘on the ground’ before committing.
        Nice to have such an exchange, Wim.

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  7. Japan has an estimated 11 trillion dollar debit and the third largest economy in the world according to some estimates. Japan does not issues bonds to raise money according to some sources but its Central Bank buys the bonds issued by others. What Japan is doing is called Modern Monetary Policy. Rather than being concerned with running a balanced government budget, Japan concentrates on having full employment in all economic sectors. Employed consumers lift the GDP and infuse spending to energize the economy. Running a deficit to pull the economy out of a recession is what FDR did in 1933 with the “New Deal.”

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