As published at Unz Review, 3/31/20:
In Singapore, you can be jailed for half a year for failing to keep “social distance.” The same offense in New York will only get you fined for up to $500, although an 86-year-old woman has just been killed when she got too close to someone at a Brooklyn hospital. Out of masks, Tennessee doctors strap diapers on their faces.
On March 29th, 2020, 756 Italians died from the coronavirus, and that’s considered encouraging news, believe it or not, since 919 lost their lives on the 27th. Half of the world is in lockdown, and should this drag on, riots will certainly break out, since billions can’t just stay indoors as their food runs out, if it hasn’t already.
Here in Busan, people still mingle, talk and laugh, but schools remain closed, and the baseball season won’t start until April, if that. There are no more international flights from here. Two weeks ago, I could still fly to Saipan or Vladivostok, which is so close, but Russia has just sealed its borders, as has China.
There are ferries to Japan, so maybe that’s how I’ll get out, but why go anywhere? I’m just a subway ride away from God Pizza, Sincere Beer for You, Happiness in Pharmacy and a café that reminds me that “coffee brings to every person the feeling of luxury and nobility. It is the common man’s gold.” What more do I want?
At my guesthouse, I’ve met a Brazilian and a Pole who are also stuck, but contentedly so, for they think that it’s much saner and safer here than just about anywhere else. In the evening, some guests shoot pool in the basement, while others slurp cups of instant noodles. If they can afford a few wons, there are many cheap eats nearby, plus the slightly more expensive Samarkand, an excellent Uzbek restaurant.
Wanting to hear what it’s like elsewhere, I emailed some friends a few basic questions. How has this crisis changed your life, if at all? What is the situation like in your city and/or country? What are you most worried about regarding this crisis, the disease itself, its effect on the economy or your government’s handling of it? How long do you think this crisis will last? Will there be any permanent effects? What do you think your city and country will be like a year from now?
Below is the first batch of responses:
Graham Reinders, a 78-year-old Canadian, living in Dumaguete City, Philippines
I hate it when my wife is correct. Two weeks ago she went out and bought a year’s supply of rice and raided the Supermarket. Luckily we had enough toilet paper to start with, but I have a year’s supply of everything else. I gave her hell, saying two weeks max and it would all be over.
Over the last two weeks the powers-that-be have been telling many places to shut down or restrict services. The local Mall only has “essential” stores open. The Department Store only has the grocery division open. McDonald’s is closed. A lot of restaurants are closed.
Three days ago some of us hired a big van, packed a large picnic and were off to a Beach Resort which had assured us they would be open. Half-way there a check-point stopped us. Temperatures taken. Off we went again. Damn! the resort had just received orders they were to close. A most expensive return home.
Two days ago the Governor and a few mayors decided that only one permit per family would be issued, so only that person is allowed to leave the house. To me, that sounds like too much hard work so it will always be “coming.” My wife will go this afternoon to see if this is actually happening.
Our Post Office has been closed for two weeks. The Civil Servants never waste a good crisis. I am sure the teachers have their legs up, hoping the crisis will go on forever. My two darling little girls are a damn nuisance sitting at home with me all day. I am no “Home schooler.”
This is a relatively poor country and there are many many people who just try to earn enough to get through the day and feed their family. They will be seriously hurt, not many compensations in this system. I like this President but I think it is wrong to follow the American Model. The Dutch Model for me is the most intelligent. This present model will hurt the locals badly. I have no doubt that China will come in and make things whole again. We can no longer rely on the US.
I am very close to 80 years old so if this “Pandemic” is for real I am in front of the line to go and visit my ancestors. Try as I might I cannot take Covid19 seriously. If one took the Media Hype away, and did not have the Social Media waiting to pounce on any tardy action by the politicians, nobody would even know there was a crisis. Social Media has changed the world forever. Their power has been shown to control politics.
I was around in the 1940’s. Only in 1955 did Salk create the vaccine for Polio. Every year some people got paralyzed, some people died. That is what viruses do. Luckily, in our country we took personal responsibility and were not scape-goating everybody all the time.
I do not believe the parallels the Media is trying to draw with the 1918 H1N1 are valid. With H3N2+H1N1 in 2018, about a million Americans were hospitalized and about 80,000 died. The CDC said it raged above “regular epidemic” level for 16 -19 weeks. The H2N2 in 1957 killed around 120,000 Americans.
We took these in stride. I believe Covid19 without the hype is not worse than those. At worst add another percent or two for this year’s Covid19 and get on with life instead of destroying a whole way of life. The Dutch seem to understand this. This crisis will last as long as the Media can get headlines.
Capitalism is Human Nature, a mixture of greed and Self Interest. Many of the weaker links will be washed out. The strong and talented will soon build either a modified system or a new system. Within a year all the essential businesses will have patched the holes and then we just have to wait and see if the damage will cause a systemic change.
I think this “prevention Model” has tipped an unstable system into the unknown.
Rudy List, a 77-year-old retired math professor, living in Dexter, Michigan
I pretty much live alone, and have been doing so for several years, so apart from going out to buy groceries or going to the post office, the changes in the way I live are fairly minor.
All nearby places where people might ordinarily interact, restaurants and bars, for example, have been seriously restricted from following traditional operating procedures. Bars are closed. Entering restaurants is prohibited, but drive through (e.g. think McDonald’s) and carry out are allowed. In this context carry out means that one somehow attracts the attention of employees who will bring your order to the entrance. I would have no way of placing an order except in a drive through outfit, because I have no phone.
I haven’t encountered any traffic check points.
The disease itself does not appear to be a serious threat (See, for example, https://www.wodarg.com/ where we read “Die Zahl der Atemwegsinfektionen normalisiert sich jetzt - wie in den Vorjahren ohne Lockdown. Der Test Misst auch in Italien oder im Altenheim keine Todesursachen. Der Test zeigt lediglich, dass die Kranken Kontakt mit einer der vielen Varianten von SARS-Viren hatten.”).
Its overall impact, however, will be enormous and probably devastating to the economy and social system. More than likely this is another in a sequence of contrived events (9/11, Boston marathon, Sandy Hook…) all generated to increase global control through fear. Significant aspects of control include, for example:
Total digitization of currency (cashless economy)
Militarization of police
Restriction of travel