I hope everyone is well and staying safe. I’ve managed to bring forward the flight and get back from Japan a day or two before Europe shut its borders and my previously scheduled flight cancelled. Now I’m in a good spot with plenty of time to think and write so will be posting a few updates in the coming days and weeks. This blog post is my take on the current situation.
Where We Are
I assume most readers will be following the news and reading things online so I won’t go over the basics. I will, however, describe my observation of why governments all over the world may have been so slow at preventing the spread. It may be linked to our inability to inherently understand exponential growth. Our economy is built on this concept and yet we seem unable to grasp the absurdity of it.
A really good question that shows exponential growth goes like this – ‘How many times do you need to fold a big piece of paper to create the thickness which reaches the moon?’. Think about it and watch the video below for an answer.
Current data suggests that the corona virus cases are doubling every three days and following a clear line of exponential growth. Starting very slow and gradual and once the cases reach a critical number, the doubling increases the total so fast that it feels like it’s hit you by surprise.
The difficulty of ‘getting’ exponential growth is understandable for countries first to tackle the virus, but it’s less excusable for nations that have had two or more months observing other country’s cases grow exponentially and saw the devastating consequences of inaction. It is down right irresponsible, bordering on evil, to limit the number of tests so that you can report lower case numbers and push on with the Olympics to prop up the economy. Yeah you Japan.
Where We Are Headed
It is estimated that vaccines will take at least 18 months and the other alternative is herd immunity where 80% of the population have had the virus and built enough resilience towards the virus. Italy, with its current number of cases, is still 0.1 % of the total population so still a very long way to go until we can reach that point of herd immunity. I would highly doubt the numbers coming out of China right now, given the cover ups at the start, their urgency to jump start the economy and the censorship of media that China enforces.
The lock down, now enforced in the UK too, will slow the exponential growth and hopefully make the daily increase in new cases to a manageable level for our already over stretched health care system (which, by the way, the conservative government has been slowly dismantling for the past decade). But I doubt it would be enough to wipe out the virus for several reasons. 1) The virus is spreading in hotter climates. A clear sign that it will not slow down in summer months. 2) As soon as human movement is increased again, the virus will most likely enter the population from somewhere in the world. 3) The virus is mutating rapidly and a more virulent strain could pop up.
Most experts seems to agree that we are in for a long extended fight with the virus, with things getting a lot worse before getting better again. But what happens to our economy?
To understand where we are and where we are headed in terms of the economy, it’s vital to understand how our financial system works. One of the best video series that visually explain the intentionally complex system is called ‘Hidden Secrets of Money’ and available to view free of charge on Youtube. Some over dramatisation in the series makes me cringe a little but I highly recommend watching it, for the information presented there is reliable and things are unfolding exactly as predicted. If you’re pressed for time, watch the 4th episode below.
The governments all over the world are now dropping currency in their trillions. This will vastly dilute the currency supply and make the purchasing power of cash in your banks and wallets diminish. There will most likely come a time when either a huge inflation or hyper inflation will happen globally. To protect yourself and others, I’d highly recommend everyone to learn how the economic system works and place yourself in a safe position.
A Different Vantage Point
Everything on the news feels apocalyptic at the moment. Totally unprecedented in human history, from the scale and spread of the pandemic to the speed of the global economic meltdown. If we are to reach herd immunity through 80% of the population infected, we are about to experience vastly more deaths and it’s painful to lose our loved ones. And yet, from a different perspective, this virus could be a blessing in disguise. Let’s pull back to a planetary perspective and look at this objectively.
The young, who will rebuild the world, are left relatively unscathed, while the older, conservatively minded, environmentally unconscious generation bloated on accumulated wealth and unable to change their ways are dying in droves. This means that the young will finally have access to inheritance precisely when the housing bubble crashes and makes homes affordable again. But more importantly, it means that we may have been given the last fighting chance at DOING SOMETHING about climate change before it’s too late.
As explained in the video above, our rigged economy, designed to siphon wealth from the poor into the hands of the rich and which perceives diminishing natural resources as infinitely extractable, is collapsing. It was in its last breaths before the outbreak but the virus certainly sped up the process. This leaves us with an extraordinary opportunity to design a new system that is not only more robust but fair and sustainable. The time is short though and we must start thinking about what kind of changes we want to see NOW.
I’ve been an avid fan of Universal Basic Income for a while, and currently I can’t think of any other way to mitigate this situation where the vast majority of the population is unable to work. Central banks lowering interest rates and Quantatative Easing large multi-billion corporations (or aka ‘bail out’ which basically means we, the tax payers, pay their mistakes for buying back shares, gambling and paying absurd amounts in bonuses) like in 2008 had/will have very little effect on the downward spiral. When 1 in 7 people in the UK have nothing saved, and with a vast under-class of hidden homelessness, gig-economy workers and barely self-employed, we need hard cash delivered into the hands of every citizen now rather than later. Check out this article.
There are two things that I worry right now. First is that coupled with colossal currency creation and lack of real wealth creation such as building roads, serving food, making and selling physical tangible things – we are likely headed towards the worst global financial crisis in history of mankind. It’s possible that in the aftermath, UBI (if enacted) may, at least in part, take the blame for it and delay the possibility of a long term implementation even further. But there is always the possibility that the world will know through experience, what it’s like to be made obsolete by advanced AI’s and robots – a form of dress rehearsal – and demand UBI to continue, or at least be quick to re-implement when the time comes. Let’s hope we choose the latter.
Second is that looking back at history, when the middle class that constitute a vast majority of the voting demographic lose their wealth, they become scared and begin looking for a right wing, authoritarian, ‘strong’ leadership that could ‘fix’ the problem. Have a look at the rise of Nazi party after the Great Depression for example. Or the more recent surge in populist right globally after the 2008 crash.
But I’m hopeful though that it won’t be the case this time for several reasons.
- The collapse of the economy is global and have permeated to nearly every sector of the economy. It’s hard to put a blame on a race/gender/religion etc. when EVERYONE is in the same boat.
- A common enemy was solely needed to unite the world and I was adamant that an alien invasion was the only way to solve the truly global problems that humanity faces. But, I will gladly take a viral invasion instead. Any non-human enemy basically. There maybe some blames on how some nations dealt with it, but it’s hard to accuse immigrants or jews for the viral rampage.
- If (or more like when in my opinion) the basic income is introduced, many millions will experience, possibly for the first time, what it feels like to not worry about money. We will have the time to do things that we’ve always wanted to that doesn’t involve buying shit that we don’t need. Reading books, gardening, spending time with our children, meditation, cleaning, cooking good food. It’s as if we’ve been given the opportunity to contemplate, re-evaluate and experience what is most valuable to us. Is this not hopeful? Can it act as a buffer against fearful acceleration towards authoritarianism?
This crisis may, however, turn more drastic if supply chains starts to collapse. Farmers are already unable to source workers (often from overseas) and if oil countries go into lockdown, we may come to realise how incredibly vulnerable our petroleum reliant infrastructures are. It is my hope that as we rise from the ashes, we move forward with a vision for a more resilient, community lead, sustainable way of living. The first step, surely, is to grow your own veg and share it with your neighbors. Spring is in the air. There will most likely be volunteer groups to help the elderly near you, and perhaps become part of the ‘land army’ growing food. Check out this article here.
Finally, as an ex-teacher, I’m aware of how many children are in a vulnerable household. I know that for some, school was the only place where they could escape from drug use, physical and sexual abuse, neglect and abject poverty. With schools closed, teachers are unable to check their well-being and that responsibility may now be with the community. Please do look out for them if you are aware of vulnerable children near where you live.