While on my morning walk, usually about 5.30 or so, I am privy to seeing many peoples televisions broadcasting the news through their living room windows. Lately, I have seen a parade of images of people wearing masks for the corona virus and this morning it reminded me of the images of the plague masks used during the Bubonic plague. These masks have a bird mask with a bird-like beak to protect them from being infected by deadly diseases such as the which they believed was airborne. Not unlike our current situation, it was believed that these masks could protect the wearer from harm. Later, they became transformed into a part of the Venetian carnival masks, the celebration before Lenten frugality. This thought brings me hope that in this time of challenge, we might draw strength from challenges before us. That the masks we now wear for protection might become a sign of strength, like the pink triangle, the yellow star of David or the cross.
There are those of us who might remember the Nixon administration, waking up every morning to see what the Washington Post had brought to our doorstep, be it the latest utterance of Deep Throat, news of the plumbers, CREEP, or the details of Saturday Night Massacre . Those of us grew up in a time that distrusted the government and saw the press as a lionizing force for justice and good. Now more that 50 years later, it seems that the pendulum may have swung.
In this age of multiple media outlets, we have to wonder who really has our best interests at heart. The heirloom media seems to be struggling for its former glory posing as our knight in shining armor saving us from heartless politicians, dastardly corporations and evil doers of all persuasions- the intrepid reporter saving the day be it Erin Brockovich or the reporters on Boston Globe uncovering pedophilia in the priesthood. Now it seems that media is more content to piss on our leg and tell us that its raining. We could hardly be concerned when the corona virus was rampant in China as we were being force fed the spectacle of an impeachment in Washington with relentless urgency. Then when it appeared Bernie Sanders could actually be the front runner in the Democratic primary, we were lead to buffets of the evils of socialism and how everything we held dear would be consumed by this plan. Following hot on the heels of the redemption by Status Quo Joe, we were told how the corona virus would destroy our world and we had to sequester ourselves as our only hope of salvation. If it bleeds it leads, and an apocalypses must be a ratings bonanza. Now our media is falling over itself to walk the line between Armageddon and a happy ending trying to keep us glued to our screens for ratings. Even the New York Times has joined the cautious chorus of people suggesting that we may have over reacted to this threat. It seems odd that, as I write, in the state of Florida there are currently 6 fatalities from the corona virus and yet a discontented student could walk into a school and kill the same number of people only to be met with transient hand wringing and wailing. Thank heavens we have this slow moving exploitable situation for our media to keep us in a waking terror of other people. How else to keep us home glued to our screens watching what once was our lives.
It has been with measured alarm we watched the stock market fall in reaction to the corona virus and hearing the talking heads wringing their hands and gnashing their teeth at the effect the virus had in business, China and its long term effect on the supply chain. It seems that as the effects go ripping through the value of the stock market, that some economists are slow in learning the lessons that that this pandemic provides. At this writing it seems that the main victims of the virus, at least in China, are the elderly and the infirm. While this does have social implications, one can not ignore the economic consequences. Consider the loss of the elderly population in the United States, and the possible savings with the decrease of the aging economy- the amount in savings on social spending for this population could help decrease the federal debt as well as freeing up necessary housing for younger people with a greater work, and therefore tax paying life ahead of them. Also think of the jobs created with burying all the dead. In fact if we really wanted to ensure our economic stability, we should do away with leaving the dependency of economic success in the hands of mere mortals. Indeed, we should create consumer machines to take the job of consuming out of the hands of inconsistent people so that corporations could not only create products, they could create and program the robots that use them. A perfect closed loop in the ever upward spiral, unsullied by a messy and unpredictable consumer.