Every angle of this medical catastrophe is going to be devastating.
“The impact of the coronavirus-induced economic shutdown tore through the U.S. labor market in April at historic levels, slashing 20.5 million workers from nonfarm payrolls and sending the unemployment rate skyrocketing to 14.7%, the Labor Department reported Friday.
Both numbers easily smashed post-World War II era records and help reflect the profound damage done through efforts used to combat the virus.
Economists surveyed by Dow Jones had been expecting payrolls to shed 21.5 million and the unemployment rate to go to 16%. April’s unemployment rate topped the post-war record 10.8% but was short of the Great Depression high estimated at 24.9%. The financial crisis peak was 10% in October 2009. …”
The cause of this is the virus.
It is the virus that has thrown a curve ball that has altered history.
It is an immutable physical reality which cannot be downplayed or ignored. When I tried to imagine the 2020s, I didn’t anticipate the virus much less that it would come this soon.
COVID-19 isn’t a black swan event. It is a gray rhino: a highly probable, high impact yet neglected threat. The federal government has always known that a pandemic was the only existential threat to the United States that was capable of destroying America’s way of life.
There are other gray rhinos out there which we have long imagined waiting to cause enormous destruction. A short list would include a megadrought in the American Southwest, the “Big One” finally hitting Los Angeles and the tsunami which will one day hit the Pacific Northwest. Hurricane Katrina in 2005 was our last gray rhino. We always knew a major hurricane would hit New Orleans. A major asteroid strike like the one that wiped out the dinosaurs is a gray rhino on a longer time scale.
The American system has failed us. Liberalism chafes at any type of authority, regulation, restrictions or natural inequality. The open society is the ideal petri dish for a highly infectious virus to flourish. Capitalism is hopelessly biased toward individualism and short term profit. Democracy is also hopelessly biased toward the next election cycle. The system is incapable of planning to meet known long term threats. This is why our country was so uniquely blind and unprepared for this disaster.
Gray rhinos as imagined by Hollywood: