A Faux News (Serious) Editorial: Apocalyptic Times?

I am sitting at my desk  in my home office watching the trees violently thrash this way and that  as tropical storm winds gust to over 50 miles an hour in  blinding rain.

I learn today in the Washington Post that deaths from Covid-19 have topped 155,000 and are continuing to add about a thousand a day with no end in sight. Known infections from the pandemic now top 4 million though many public health experts believe the number could be as much as 10 times higher. Most experts see these numbers rising in the weeks and months ahead, until we can get a vaccine. But when will that happen? Will it happen? We have never come up with a vaccine to prevent AIDS.

Apocalyptic times?

I also learn today that the more than 30 million people who have lost their jobs and who were receiving an extra $600 a week in unemployment insurance saw their benefit cease yesterday, and Congress appears stuck in an effort to try to keep the money flowing. Republicans and Democrats appear so far apart that there is no certainty that any comprehensive, additional federal support will come out of this. Over 25 percent of the households in the United States missed either a mortgage or rent payment in July—and that is when most struggling households were receiving additional unemployment benefits. More than five million have lost their employer-based health care and now have no health insurance.

It could get worse. The federal halt on evictions also ceased on Monday. It is only a matter of time before hundreds of thousands of people could be thrown out on the street. Yet our ability to deal with homelessness is already inadequate.  It is also only a matter of time before the real estate portion of the economy could collapse. When landlords don’t get rent, they can’t pay the banks or mortgage companies for the loans they have taken out. When banks or mortgage companies do not receive payments, they foreclose on properties. When banks or mortgage companies do not receive income, they go under.

And the same could be said of many state and local governments who have lost tax revenues while they have had to add services. Many are laying off workers now because they do not have the funds to pay them, and this includes teachers and other essential workers. Unemployment numbers are likely to rise. Yet there is disagreement between Republican and Democrats about whether  bailout money is needed and who should get it.

And all the while our president sits on the sidelines complaining of potential voter fraud and news networks he does not like, and lashing out at  people like Doctor Deborah Birx, who have dutifully stood by the president at the risk of their own reputations hoping they could make a difference.

Apocalyptic times?

Perhaps not. Perhaps we will come out of this ok. We will elect Joe Biden, and the Democrats will control both houses of Congress. Responsible legislation will pass. But this is by no means guaranteed; and even if this does happen, huge challenges still remain. The pandemic will not magically go away, and there are no quick fixes to the economy. And the answers are not all that self-evident. For example, we know that getting kids back into the schools is critically important and that virtual learning is not an answer long term. Yet going back into classrooms risks lives of teachers and kids and their families. And what about the colleges and universities that are now trying to re-open in a Covid-world? Does anyone think they can do this without serious outbreaks? Yet the on-campus college experience is so important. Where do you draw the line?

Apocalyptic times?

And what about the vast majority of the country who has not gotten sick? We are the fortunate ones. Yet we are also paying a price. We miss getting together in person with friends and family. We are sick of having to wear a mask when we are out of our home. We want to be with real people—not just Zoom images. We want to go out to eat inside a restaurant, to see a show or a performance, to attend group or club in-person meetings, to go to religious services. We want to go back to the office, to go to work, and to go back to our familiar lifestyles. And so many of us live at home alone. My goodness, how will they get through this? How will all of us get through this? Just think of all the weddings postponed and all the cancellations: the milestone birthday parties, the graduations, the retirement parties, the vacations and trips, the family reunions, the in-person funerals. Lord have mercy, these are the kinds of things that keep us going. When will this nightmare end?

Apocalyptic times?

Well, yes. At least in my experience. My generation has experienced nothing like this. We are living in an historical moment.

But wait! As I look out my window, I am stunned. The rain has ceased. The wind is calm, and  a tiny hint of blue is peeking through the clouds. Suddenly a flash of sunlight lights up the drenched tress. The storm has passed.

I think as I conclude this writing: This hideous pandemic, like the storm, will pass. This divided country of ours will come through this. We will become a kinder and gentler nation. The world will make progress. Yes, this is a statement of faith, not fact. But what I do know is this: Only a hour or so ago the sky was almost black, the wind was howling and the rain pounding on my window. There seemed to be no end in sight. Right now the sun is shining brightly.

 

 

9 thoughts on “A Faux News (Serious) Editorial: Apocalyptic Times?

  1. I’ve really enjoyed the fauxtoons, but nice to have the op ed back. Maybe this catastrophic virus is the chemotherapy necessary to rid us of the cancer. Not everyone survives/ responds to chemo. But maybe we will? November Is pivotal

  2. I see it that way too, Joe. I think there are many more people than we think who in this moment of crisis are determited to hum with others” “this little light of mine, I’m going to let it shine.” This means sharing will be move evident and the hard work of reconstruction will take place even though millions and millions will need each others help. This is only a “feeling” and it does indeed help us when the sun is shining and people hum the tune of “It’s a bright, bright, bright sun shiney day.” The purveyors of hate, I believe, are going to be voted out of office. Not all of them now, but as time goes on enough of them wil be voted awayl. Biden can’t go alone on this, And his vice presidential pick will be more important than ever. Good thing is that he has some excellent choices. We’ll all have to pay more taxes,,,but taxes are not bad when they are doing good and most people, even the rich will see that eventually. Some already do (Gates, Buffet, even Bezos and Zuckerberg) . In the meantime, I think the government needs to buy about seven trillion dollars of stock in Apple, Amazon, Microsoft, the best of the pharmaceutical companies UPS-Fedex,Zoom, Facebook, Nvidia, Palo Alto Networks, Google, and anything Elon Musk owns, and an array of the best foreign stocks, and let them run the country and the world in every way that seems productive. Then hire Angela Markle as sort of a world referee and give citizenship to all Canadians and Mexicans who want to live in the U.S. and pay taxes, and give credits on taxes to people who invest in saving glaciers and icebergs and Mockingbirds and Chilean Bea Bass and create public works projects that are comparable in scope to those engineered by the president and U.S. Congress in the 1930s and give the nation a healhcare system with benefits to all that are at least the same as those enjoyed by U.S. Congressmenwomen, and raise the salaries of all teachers, nurses and doctors by 50%, and give mental health centers radically increased funding, and stop candidates for offices from advertising themselves and limit political campaigns to six weeks, and allow supreme court justices to be installed upon a direct popular vote, and build 10,000 basketball courts (or swimming pools or 24-hour safe public restrooms and baths for inner-city residents, and bike paths along abandonned RR rights of way all over the country, and set up public housing for everyone who wants it and annually share 5% of the U.S. GDP with countries around the world that line up with projects in their own territories that mirror what we develop in the U.S. and convert prisons in to centers for learning and hire Chinese to rehabilitate prisoners along the lines of all the above, and provide everyone with a device that allows them to access the Internet and to vote and to pay bills and…. You get the picture. And we also need to allow Faux News to continue to publish without the hindrances now in place.

  3. Too bad you are not female. Otherwise I would say Hank Ackerman for Vice President. Great wisdom and great ideas! If only….

  4. Hey, Joe and Hank, Always good to hear that good days ‘might be’ around the corner. Today’s pandemic, economic hardship; Tomorrow‘s government investments in Apple and swimming pools to make life better. But there’s a dark cloud that’s been growing for decades. Back in college in the 1960s it was labeled revisionist history — really cool shit to undergrads like me. Today it’s the leftist (my persuasion for decades) ‘Critical Theory,’ the claim that all social problems are cause by power structures; individuals, incentives and the self-motivated need not apply. The result is an ever-growing cultural revolution, catalyze by random events captured by cell phone cameras: American values are sick, Whites are responsible, Maoist style-denunciations of all who’ve ever micro-aggressed in any word, shape or form (unless you happen to be from a marginalized group). The American dream that we were taught, albeit imperfect, is under siege. Parallels with the decline of the Roman Republic are lost to the liberal elite because the failed to learn from real history. Have a nice day.

  5. Good column from Joe and good comments all around. I must also call out what cable television euphemistically calls “news” networks when in fact they are 95% op ed/propaganda and 5% news. PBS is an exception but still not totally devoid of spin. Unwittingly, I suppose, they keep fanning the flames of divisiveness in our nation. We can vote Trump out of office, but we are powerless to do anything about this yellow journalism other that changing the channel.

    Jim

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