march madness

So, this is March madness. Empty supermarket aisles, a toilet paper shortage, politicians slashing regulations and pumping money into the economy like crazy, CEOS resigning en masse, travel basically ceasing, major sport playing to empty stadiums, bars closing (now I’m scared) and a thousand talking heads insisting that the world as we know it has ended.

I can’t help but think that this March madness may not necessarily be a bad thing.

Sure, there is going to be some economic pain. My fragile business, such that it is is probably going to feel the full brunt of that. Yes, the potential health consequences could be catastrophic. Sure, there are going to be some major businesses close their doors. Yes, the global economy as we know it is on life support, but let’s all calm down and just breathe.

I’ve ceased listening to mainstream news. I refuse to buy their packaged panic and prefer to do my own research. I don’t know what to believe. The more I find out the less I know for sure and by and large, I’m OK with that.

Italy right now is a mess. China was and then….ceased to be. How did that happen? Does anyone even bother to ask the obvious question? How did they (and Japan and South Korea for that matter) get control of it? Or how the virus leapfrogged from China to Iran and Italy, seemingly bypassing countless other countries? Does everyone just accept that the WHO is a reliable source for infection and mortality rates without digging into the conflicts of interest and corruption within that organisation?

If you accept what the WHO says without question, things are about to go from batshit crazy to batshit watrpseed factor nine crazy in the next 30 days.

But I have lots of questions for the WHO and noone in the media seems remotely interested in asking them. So, then my next question is why is that?

We could go down a million rabbit holes from here, but I’m not really interested in that. Suffice to say, I believe that the actual infection numbers right now are much larger than what has been analysed. If they are, then the mortality rate is probably closer to just below 2% rather than the 3.8% that is widely circulated. 2% is disturbing but the flu has a 1% mortality rate and we seem to live with that OK. China’s official numbers are in the region of 2% and it has to be pointed out that there is relatively high tobacco consumption in that country compared to the West.

Is the virus going to kill more people?

Most certainly but I don’t think that we’re about to enter a post apocalyptic world either. To that end, I support the idea of “flattening the curve.” Theoretically giving health departments the best possible chance to cope with the spike in demand upon their services.

And flattening the curve requires us all to slow down and smell the roses.

I don’t think that’s a bad idea.

Our society is built on needless consumption, the acquisitiion of wealth and social climbing. All that daily dog eat dog, I’m doing better than you noise quickly transferred to mindless panic buying fuelled by alarmist irresponsible media reports. At first glance, it didn’t portray our society in the best light, but look a little deeper and you start to see who a large proportion of us anyway really are.

There’s always a few idiots who spoil it for everybody and that is certainly true in this case. Most people didn’t panic. Most people were stunned at the utter stupidity and sefishness of a few March madness cretins who, after stocking up on enough toilet paper to last several bouts of dysentry for entire battalions of people, proceeded to strip shelves of anything and everything.

When you walk around a supermarket now and wonder in disbelief at the empty rows, its not uncommon to exchange a disbelieving glance and vague smile with an utter stranger. The smile says it all..Firstly, its “Can you believe this shit?” but there’s also an underlying shared sense of connection. My daughter descrbed it as “I’m scared too,” but I think its a little more like “We’ll be OK, not everyone is stupid.” No one has ever accused me of being an optimist but that’s my reading of those glances. We’re reconnecting. We’re acknowledging others and we’re sharing in something. That wasn’t happening a month ago.

I think this new awareness may be the start of something much bigger and this self imposed halt to Western economies may be the circuit breaker and stimulus to open the doorway to potentially a better world.

Here are some of the benefits I can see from this enforced period of March madness.

Perhaps the most obvious benefit is that societies are waking up to the folly of relying upon one country supply chains. Americans have now become aware that the American health industry is way too reliant upon China for the bulk of its pharmaceutical supplies. Australians are beginning to realise the stupidity of shutting down manufacturing and “outsourcing” it to a country like China. The obvious response to these realisations will be a new awakening of the importance of maintaining a local manufacturing base to supply locals. The next step would be to have multiple back up supply chains to cover contingincies.

Benefit number 2 is more hard to guage. People are going to be forced to slow down. They are going to have time to think. They are going to have time to just be themselves. What happens when the rat race stops? Do we stop being rats and start to be more caring? Do we read more? Engage with those we love on a deeper level? Do we discover that we don’t have to eat out four times a week? Do we become more in touch with our true selves? I’m not suggesting that quarantine or social distancing is going to usher in a new age of love and light. However, I believe that it may encourage more self reflection and less self absorption. We may find ourselves becoming more spiritual in the truest sense of the word.

When we stop rushing about and just let things be, we are going to relax more. Yes, there is going to be anxieties about money, rent payments and a plethora of associated problems. But, I am hopeful enough to think that we may just have to work together to find solutions. This hope was reinforced today by the Trump administration signallng an intention to forgive some mortgage obligations over this time as well as paying $1000 per month to every American and forgive interest on student loan debt. The Italian government has acted similarly. Other countries will have little option to follow suit. We will get through this.

There is some speculation that in some quarters that this event could lead to a “reset” of the entire financial system which has been on ts collective knees at least since 2008. While, this is wild speculation, it is apparent to those of us who have bothered to look that the current system is corrupt and rotten to the core. Any reset would need to remove the Central Banking and fractional banking system. A gold backed currency would be part of the answer. If there ever was a time to blow the current system up, it is now.

One of the most surprising benefits to come from this slowing of the economy is the benefits to the environment. Already the canals in Venice have been transformed from dirty brown muddy drains into crystal clear canals. Dolphins have been sighted for the first time in years on deserted shipping lanes. The air is cleaner.

Maybe the real virus is us. Maybe the real antidote is the coronavirus. Maybe we need this March madness to restore some balance.

Embrace the change, let it wash over you. Relax, slow down,smell the flowers. Talk, listen, pray to your God, meditate, learn that musical instrument that has been gathering dust. Read that book. Make love. Breathe the air. Listen to your favourite music, then discover some new stuff.

We are here. Be grateful. Enjoy.


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By Mark