IPFS Menckens Ghost

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A Different Nation Will Rise from the Coronavirus

It doesn't take a genius to realize that America will be a different nation when the coronavirus ends, just as it became a different nation after the Great Depression.

Since I'm not a genius, this is right up my alley, so here comes five predictions.

First, unless photos are found of Joe Biden in a Ku Klux Klan sheet, Donald Trump won't be reelected and will be treated like Herbert Hoover by history, except Trump won't have a dam named after him. 

Before the 1929 market crash, Hoover had been seen as the guy who could cut through red tape and get things done, but that's been largely forgotten by history, just as it will be forgotten after the 2020 market crash that Trump had a reputation, deserved or not, for getting things done. 

History has been somewhat unfair to Hoover, because the market crash and its aftermath were out of his control, just as the coronavirus and its aftermath were out of Trump's control.  On the other hand, Trump, like Hoover, doesn't have a warm-and-fuzzy personality and a reservoir of political capital, both of which are needed in a crisis.

Second, the adoption of Medicare for All or some other form of socialized medicine is a near-certainty, because the healthcare/insurance market will be blamed for a lack of test kits, face masks, ventilators, and intensive-care beds.  It won't matter that these weren't market failures or that government policy killed a true market in medical care and insurance 75 years ago.    

Third, government will grow beyond the growth in government that will come from socialized medicine.  Just as Social Security was enacted during the Great Depression, new income security plans will be enacted, because people who watched their 401(k) balances plummet in the Coronavirus Depression will no longer trust stock market returns to protect them in old age.  Similarly, city and state pension plans that were underfunded before the coronavirus will go belly up with the depression and be bailed out by the federal government.   

Fourth, materialism, indebtedness, and such silly displays of affluence as ripped new jeans will give way to frugality, saving, and patches on clothes to extend their life.  Falling out of favor will be McMansions, exotic vacations, huge SUVs, refrigerators and stoves the size of Volkswagens, and hip downtown condo living near expensive bars and restaurants.  Fashion and real estate sections of the New York Times and Wall Street Journal will stop featuring pretentious and ostentatious lifestyles and start featuring the opposite.

Fifth, American troops will be withdrawn from foreign countries, belligerence in foreign relations will subside, and key industries and supply chains will be repatriated.   

Because the coronavirus and subsequent depression hit when many Americans were already disillusioned with capitalism and with the political system, there will be dramatic cultural and political shifts in addition to the ones enumerated above. 

This is especially true for millennials who are burdened with student debt, saw their parents get whacked by the housing crash, were already bamboozled to believe that their generation had it worse than prior generations, and have been steeped in collegiate orthodoxies about social justice, collectivism, and climate change. 

It won't matter that their knowledge of history, economics and moral philosophy is sophomoric.  What will matter is that the Coronavirus Depression will reinforce their half-baked beliefs.  Gird your loins for even more virtue signaling.      

At least their beliefs about the glories of drastically cutting the use of fossil fuels will be put to the test.  The economic downturn from the coronavirus will rival the economic downturn that would have resulted from draconian reductions in fossil fuels proposed by presidential candidates and climate activists on the left.      

At the same time, America's small-brained chickens will have come home to roost.  That would be all of the super-intelligent numbskulls who have run the country for decades, who populate influential think tanks and media on the right and left, who attended the best universities together, and who live in swank chicken coops in Washington, New York and a sliver of the West Coast, places where they have pecked and clucked together, deluding themselves into believing that their clucking was insightful and sophisticated.

Actually, the clucking was nonsense, especially the clucking about global trade, monetary policy, fiscal policy, and foreign policy.  The chickens have eaten the nation's seed corn.  They have lied about deficits not mattering, they have fueled stock market bubbles with cheap credit from quantitative easing, they have enriched the executive class by enabling stock buybacks paid with cheap debt, they have stalled American productivity in spite of technological advances, and they have given China boatloads of capital while causing economic and social devastation in the heartland, especially a breakdown in families and resulting tragedies among American youth, including high rates of suicide, drug addiction, drug overdoses, violence, and over-prescription of psychotropic drugs.

The next regime won't reverse the nation's decline but will give the masses hope, similar to what FDR did in office, where he created programs and agencies that protracted the Great Depression while soothing the nation with his fireside chats.

But what do I know?  I'm not a genius, as future events may show when my predictions don't come true.