Sh*t Just Got Real

I had been half-expecting that San Antonio would cancel or delay the yearly Fiesta; this was made official Friday morning: put off the celebrations until November. Fiesta San Antonio was originally focused on Sam Houston’s victory at San Jacinto – which took place in April of 1836. (Lot of other events being cancelled as well.) Since Wednesday, I had been getting emails from various companies who I do business with, at least enough business for them to have my email: Costco, Sam’s, Petco, Frost Bank, the Alamo Drafthouse Cinema, the Texas author’s group (who have put off the Wimberly book event from June until November)the senior center in Bulverde who hosts a fall craft fair, Lowe’s and Home Depot – I think. All had pretty much the same message: “Aware of the Covid-19 thing, taking every precaution – deep-cleaning, sanitizing, encouraging sick employees to stay home, those who can to work remotely, concern but doing what we can, customers encouraged to wash hands, self-quarantine if feeling ill …” I wonder now if there wasn’t a degree of coordination going on, or if all the corporate public relations departments simultaneously came to the same conclusion. Reasoning? I rather thought the city and the Fiesta Commission would have to do something of the sort, after reading of Disneyland closing, and the LDS temporarily suspending meetings at every level.

The purpose of all this is not merely for authorities to be seen doing something, but to try and dial down the spread of the Wuhan crud, and keep the number of serious cases to a level where hospitals can cope without being overwhelmed. Local schools are extending spring break for another week or in some cases, two weeks. To date, it doesn’t seem like kids and teens are at any particular risk, the danger being mostly to seniors and to those with compromised health, so why close schools? Mostly, I surmise, because schools are a snake-pit of germs and viruses, even if Covid-19 may not be one of them, as far as we can tell at this point. But school-aged kids have grandparents, parents, neighbors and kin who do fall into the category of those at the most risk. It seems that one may carry the virus and spread it without showing any symptoms at all; just so did my brother and I caught the measles, back in the day. Infecting others with a potentially-lethal virus, without any signs of illness yourself… no, closing schools for a couple of weeks is a good, if drastic idea.

The Daughter Unit and I have been following the progress of the Wuhan coronavirus epidemic since it first began making ripples in the news; the round-ups and discussions on Chicagoboyz; we made plans around the first of the month to add a bit more to our usual stash of groceries, supplies and OTC cold and flu remedies. We did this while mildly marveling at the lack of panic-buying in all of our regular outlets; Costco, HEB, Granzins’ Meat, Trader Joes, the favored ethnic markets. Nothing out of the normal routine at any of them; frankly, we suspected that news outlets like the Daily Mail were actually trying to jump-start the panic with pictures of bare shelves and overflowing carts – at Costco, usually, where overflowing carts are the norm. The Wuhan coronavirus was a serious concern, we agreed, in various random conversations struck up here and there.

But until Friday, we were rather proud of how calm and relatively sensibly everyone seemed to be dealing with the possibility. It’s not that there was ever any big secret about the possibilities of home-quarantining for a couple of weeks, or longer, but it appears that most people didn’t face the possibility until sometime Thursday or Friday – and promptly went out to the nearest grocery store and stripped the shelves bare of all they thought might be required. I looked at the gaps in the shelves Saturday morning at the nicest of the two neighborhood HEB grocery outlets which have our custom, and thought – well, at least people are being sensible about stocking up, the rush on TP and bottled water excepted. It would have made far more sense to have been doing this over the last month or three weeks. At least those of my neighbors on the neighborhood Next Door app are being quite sensible, helpful, even; suggesting help with babysitting, or running errands for the elderly. Your thoughts? Are your neighbors going nuts, or are they being proactive and helpful?

47 thoughts on “Sh*t Just Got Real”

  1. We are looking at the Madness of Crowds, inspired by an ignorant & irresponsible media.

    My local Walmart at the end of last week was completely sold out of toilet paper. Toilet paper???? I can see the point in stocking up on canned foods, and maybe on bottled water if you suspect the guys who keep the municipal water department running are all going to drop dead from this dreaded virus. (What? Are they all over 80 with existing cardiac problems?). But toilet paper??????? Everything else at that Walmart, including bottled water, was in plentiful supply.

    Fortunately, it seems to be only a minority of people who are panicking — proof positive that most people don’t watch CNN.

  2. Some of us were saying six weeks ago that people should be urged to just buy a couple extra boxes of pasta, etc., every time they went to the store. By now you’d have a fine supply on hand. The idea was preparation, not panic. Instead nothing was done at all to communicate to people what might be coming, and what they should do.
    The run on toilet paper is everywhere and is stupid and a sign of panic, and didn’t need to happen.
    The DoD is treating this very, very seriously. That’s not an organization susceptible to mass hysteria. Groupthink, conventional thinking, etc., etc., but not mindless panic. Hopefully that will hammer home that this is A Big Deal, if somehow nothing else from the past two months has.

  3. Locally, nobody was really panicking. Then, the hordes of what we around here term “206ers” descended upon us, and stripped the local stores of everything. Then, panic ensued on the part of locals, ‘cos with the idiots coming in from out of area (roughly a 100-mile drive from the Seattle metro area…) like a bunch of well-heeled locusts, well… Yeah, we’re not worried about the virus so much as we are the human locusts.

    This really does not bode well for future emergencies, because I am willing to bet you money that there are more than a few local yokels who are going to take matters into their own hands and do a little judicious work with earth-moving equipment and explosives, isolating the area from the metro-area contamination. And, to be honest, I don’t really blame them. The city-bred idiots are obviously incapable of self-control and rational behavior, so unless we want them to swamp us with their dysfunction, we’re going to have to do something about it.

    The whole thing is rather disturbing. The local Costco has seen Canadians from Vancouver coming down and buying bulk amounts of food and other staple items. Which is nuts–Most of that crap is going to rot in their refrigerators, and one I talked to wasn’t sure how they were going to store the frozen stuff they were buying, ‘cos when I asked if he was filling his freezer, he admitted he didn’t yet own one.

    When all this calms down, the realization is going to hit that the majority of these people don’t need all this crap, and that they have no way to store it. Cue up people trying to return all of it to Costco, and Costco likely taking a dim view of it all, probably modifying its return policies. Further dislocation is going to result because nobody is going to be buying toilet paper for the next year or so, while they run down their panic-purchase surplus.

    My guess is that there’s going to be tons of food wasted, a lot donated to food banks as the sheer illogic of it all hits home, and people realize they don’t have a means for storing it all.

    Madness of crowds, indeed. Thank your news media and the Chinese for hiding this crap–If they’d been open and trustworthy, most of this panic would not have happened. We’d have had more time to prepare, mentally and logistics-wise.

    I can almost make out the outlines of an information operation here, but there are some elements that argue against that. People are certainly taking advantage of it, opportunistic bastards that they are.

    End of the day, I’m willing to lay money this is less lethal, overall, than the ’57 Asian Flu epidemic or the ’68 Hong Kong variant. Those killed a lot of young people–My mom, for example, damn near died while she was in college, because she got mononucleosis along with it. People are being herded into panic mode, and that’s actually what will probably kill more people than anything else.

  4. GL – it was on another FB page that I check into now and again – a meme to the effect that if you NEED THAT MUCH TOILET PAPER, you have a completely different problem, and should consult your doctor immediately.
    Sigh – I thought that, based on visits to the various grocery outlets up until yesterday – that the general public were being sane about all this. Guess not.

  5. Sgt. Mom,

    You no doubt remember what they (hopefully… I dunno about the Air Force POI for this stuff…) at the schoolhouse about information operations.

    I can’t point to a full-blown “Yeah, this is a classic disinformazia operation…” in detail, but if you squint even slightly and then look at the data points? It starts to make you wonder.

    Assuming that the Chinese numbers are even slightly accurate, this isn’t the virulent end-of-the-world Captain Trips-esque disease everyone is treating it as. And, I will be damned if I know why–The flu epidemics in my lifetime have individually killed several orders of magnitude more people than this disease has, so far, and I don’t see a reason why the Chinese would be welding people into their apartments the way they were for that. So… Which is it? The data from South Korea and Japan point to a much less lethal prognosis for the pandemic than we’re reacting to, so I have to wonder what the hell has everyone’s panties in a bunch?

    I suppose there could be something we’re not being told, or that I’m just not understanding about it all, but… This whole thing looks a lot like a Soros-esque thing like he pulled on the British Pound back when.

    I venture to predict that the second- and third-order effects of this pandemic are going to be what kills more people, when they’re out of jobs and can’t get medicines because the Chinese plants that made them were shut down. The disease itself probably won’t do all that much damage–It’s kind of like the Spanish Flu, in that regard. What killed the victims there was the cytokine storm and the pneumonia, not the flu itself.

  6. It hit me yesterday when I called an 80-something friend to tell her I would deliver some specialty grocery items she had requested I purchase at some ethnic stores. I got a pandemic-inspired response: “LEAVE THEM IN THE GARAGE AND LEAVE -THE MONEY WILL BE ON A CHAIR.”
    When I got there, it wasn’t as shut-down as the message implied. I chatted with her and her daughter for several minutes and took their dogs for a walk. Her daughter didn’t go to work yesterday- the office was closed. Someone from her company had been by to install the hardware and software for working from home. She showed me photos she had taken of a local grocery store- stripped shelves. I had gone shopping on Tuesday, and had seen nothing of the sort.

    Her daughter -no intellectual- was reasonably well-informed on the situation. For example, she was aware of the higher death rate for those of her mother’s age. She also saw the empty shelves as a panic response. As a joking response to the virus, instead of shaking hands, she had us bump elbows.

    Without having made any emergency purchases, I have enough in dry goods or frozen food to last for 3-4 weeks, which should be more than enough. Much more than enough, I hope. Maybe I will drop by a grocery store this weekend just to see what inventory looks like.

  7. Totally with you, Kirk. I just have to wonder.
    The swine flu, the bird flu thing during the Obama admin … no detectable panic.
    It’s a indicator of how far we have gone, in distrusting the Establishment Media, when it comes to coverage of things like this. Are we being played? By whom? And toward what end?

    I did giggle, seeing that meme about CNN. That no one is watching, because all the airports are closed.

  8. @Sgt. Mom,

    Thing I find striking is how uniform and universal that deal earlier in the week was, with regards to the whole “Calling it Wuhan Flu is racist”. You look at that, and you really start to wonder if there isn’t another Jornolist system up and running somewhere hidden from us. And, who the hell is paying for and controlling it? It certainly does not seem to be anyone acting in the interest of the general public here in America.

    I was the sort of teenager that spent his lunch hours in the library reading the papers from front page to back, usually ignoring the sports section. When I was a soldier, I read every paper I could get my hands on conveniently wherever I was. Hell, sometimes I would even go down to the library and read my way through the international papers they had, and even go down to the local newsagent when they had such a thing, to buy and read those.

    Now, here’s the interesting thing: From that, I can tell you that the whole “consensus on/in the news” phenomenon has certainly tightened up. Back during the ’70s and ’80s, you could observe a consensus emerge within a week or two of an event; the news would report the fact of something, and then it would be all over the map, as to what significance that event might have, and what the “Approved Interpretation” of it all was. You could see that happen a lot with Reagan and what he did with regards to the whole Cold War effort, especially on an international level. The English-language press would initially be all over the map, and then it would settle down and focus on one particular slant, usually anti-American.

    The other interesting feature of it all was just how often the major newsmagazines would trot out very similar articles and covers on the exact same date, almost as if they were pre-planned and coordinated.

    What makes me wonder, since around 9/11, is just how this whole process has sped up to the point where you almost have to start wondering what the hell is going on behind the scenes, because you see the media coming up with the exact same wording and catch-phrases about subjects at exactly the same time, and they then start beating those to death with a drum-beat of repetition as if there were a conductor somewhere waving his baton. Either that, or the sycophantic little twerps were eagerly awaiting the treats from their masters, having performed on cue.

    Whole thing is highly suspicious, and I’m starting to take up the view I once heard from one of my more paranoid Serbian informants, who pointed out that while we didn’t have a direct pipeline from our government to the media, we did have something else that served the same purpose, and did as much in the way of disinformation as Pravda did at its height.

  9. smdh. Trent’s done a great job providing comprehensive and rational updates on the evolution of the situation, there’s no excuse whatsoever for denialism or conspiracy theorizing.

  10. Brian — Do you realize that saying “there’s no excuse whatsoever for denialism or conspiracy theorizing” establishes that you are part of the conspiracy?

    Just joking! :)

  11. So up here behind the cheddar curtain we are seeing runs on certain items. I went to a store last night on the way home because I wanted club soda and a few other items. The parking lot was completely full, lines were intense and it was impossible. Today, I went to a different grocery store. The shelves were beat up but not totally empty. The check out line was about 10 minutes. Not bad and I hope the trend of less panic continues. I got my club soda, blueberries, shredded wheat cereal and skim milk just fine. The produce section was noticeably empty. Of all things, fresh produce? Eat it quickly, folks.

    The media gets a gold star for whipping up the public into a panic, and all of the participating citizens of this country also get a gold star for eating it up and acting like a bunch of idiots. Toilet paper? That’s the go to for end of days?

  12. It’s hardly denialism or conspiracy theorizing to point out the sundry tawdry tells in the media coverage of this event.

    Right now, it’s difficult to ascertain what the hell is really going on, and much of that stems from what, precisely? The media’s utter failure to serve the purpose it is meant to serve in a constitutional republic, that of being a source of honest information.

    The fact that very nearly the entire mainstream media came out with the “Wuhan Flu is Racist” thing at nearly the exact same moment, and that they’d been blithely using that exact terminology for weeks? That tells us something, and that something is that they were given their marching orders, followed them, and we’re now where we are in terms of sanely doubting a damn thing any of them say on this or any other issue.

    Likewise, with Harvard. How many of their anointed “experts” are beholden to the Chinese? After all, how much do we know about Charles Lieber’s work for the “Thousand Talents” program, and just how deeply penetrated our various government agencies are?

    If people are denying things and taking up conspiracy theories, there’s only one damn place to look for reasons why they are doing that: The essentially traitorous actions of many of our own “elites”, and their demonstrated incompetence. We have the spectacle of the CDC telling researchers in Seattle not to conduct survey testing for COVID-19, and the multiple failures with producing their proprietary testing kits, their insistence on using only those approved kits, plus all the bureaucratic boondoggles that have gone on since January.

    I honestly don’t know how anyone can even begin to make a rational evaluation of where the hell we’re at, right now–The information stream is so thoroughly polluted that it’s not even funny.

    This whole thing is yet another example of why most of our nation’s supposedly meritocratic “elite” needs replacing. If you’re going to claim the right to run things based on merit, then you’d damn well better demonstrate some actual, y’know… Merit. So far, I’m not seeing a lot of that–I’m seeing more bureaucratic empire-building, manifest demonstration of incompetence, and a lot of other things that leave me less than trusting in the work-product that this lot of self-interested sociopaths keep producing with astonishing regularity.

    What is funny as hell, though? Just like with Katrina, where I had a prescient view into the issues with that whole cluster-fark due to working with a former senior Engineer officer who’d worked in that District Engineer office, I also remember some interesting late-night conversations with one of our NBC officers, who’d actually been assigned to USAMRIID for a few years. Everything he predicted about how the government would likely deal with a major outbreak has pretty much come true so far, just like the guy who worked the Corps of Engineers District office in New Orleans predicted what would happen during Katrina. I just really hope that his worst-case scenario doesn’t eventuate, or we’re gonna all be in a world of hurt. Thankfully, this disease agent is nowhere near as lethal as the one he used for his example, when he was showing us the back-of-the-envelope calcs for pandemic spread.

  13. If I’ve learned anything about epidemiology from playing the Pandemic flash game, it is focus on spreading until you reach Madagascar, /then/ dump points into lethal to stop progress on the cure. Whoever is playing this is obviously doing a similar strategy. Final lethality is totally up in the air.

    Rumor and conspiracy theory takes hold where ever more official information sources discredit themselves.

    Bitching about ‘Chinese virus’ or ‘Wuhan flu’ when you have been using those terms fairly recently is a fundamental self contradiction of that sort. Those don’t even have the sliver of objectionable that “Chinaman’s Cold” does. If people wanted to call it a racist name, there are a bunch of better options that haven’t been used much. What are we supposed to call it, a ‘Canadian bioweapon’?

    I’m tempted mightily by the literally true “Corona is from Mexico”.

  14. Kirk: Yes, the media is a dumpster fire. So what? You’re a regular here. You have no excuse to claim not to know what’s going on. Trent has been keeping readers here up to date (what happened to him the past week?), and the comments section is, um, lively and active.

  15. Kirk: Further dislocation is going to result because nobody is going to be buying toilet paper for the next year or so, while they run down their panic-purchase surplus.


    Yeah, been predicting the same thing, in fact. It’s not like TP goes bad with time or anything, short of keeping it in a mildewed closet.

    Shorting the companies that make TV seems like a smart move.

  16. Right now, it’s difficult to ascertain what the hell is really going on, and much of that stems from what, precisely? The media’s utter failure to serve the purpose it is meant to serve in a constitutional republic, that of being a source of honest information.


    From what I’ve seen (confirmed by a friend who is has a Masters in epidemiology and is a professional in that field) is that this should be treated like the flu — It strikes three main risk groups (Elderly, Infants, and the Immune-compromised), and can be unusually nasty to them, though much less so to the more average individual (80% spontaneous recovery with no treatment by non-Elderly, fatality rate of under 50s about 0.3… much worse for elderly — China reported [yes, take that in stride] about a 15% mortality rate among those 65+).

    In general, “use sense”, avoid physical contact, wash more often than usual, use germicides on contact surfaces and hands in public.

    But the media has screamed Chicken Little and it’s biting.

    Living in FL, it is much the same as whenever a hurricane approaches — “Death IS MARCHING!!!” sez the mainstream Merdia. Yeah, I meant to spell it that way. :-/

    And so people wind up under-paying attention when the next one — perhaps an actual threat — comes around.

    So we will have a major outbreak go serious in five years because the merdia cried chicken little “WOLF!!” one too many times.

    Incompetent morons.

    In the meantime, these idiots are starting a worldwide depression with this crap.

  17. Overall, the most concerning thing I’ve noted over the last 20 years or so has been the utter depravity and general uselessness that has taken over in our media. You cannot maintain a constitutional republic where the electorate is unable to make rational decisions based on lies. The loss of trust and credibility is dangerously close to being irrecoverable.

    Even if we come out of this latest kerfuffle with no major repercussions, the most important side-effect is going to be the general public’s loss of belief in the news they hear. At some point, particularly in regards to the politicians we elect, the “boy who cried wolf” effect is going to have its impact on things, and I can’t even venture to predict where that’s going to end. Hell, at the rate they’re going, Trump could be vampirized, and start feeding on children on national TV–And, nobody would believe what they were seeing in real time. This is not a good thing, in a constitutional republic.

  18. 1) I suspect that the reason for the run on TP is a fear of mass quarantines. Things would get real . . . well, let us say life would be unpleasant without TP.

    2) For the last week, after TP started disappearing, more and more shelves got barer and barer. This seems to be caused by the trucks coming in not having more than a fraction of what was ordered. We have 3 supermarkets here in our small town, and all three are getting short shipments from the warehouses in major cities. From talking with people I know in the stores, they are only getting about 40% of what they order as demand increases. The increase is at least in part sparked by panic as shelves get more and more bare.

    3) As of a few hours ago, most meat counters are empty, more than half the produce, bread is gone, canned goods at least half gone, dry goods [beans, rice, pasta] almost gone, peanut butter and jelly gone, and frozen convenience foods [pizzas, etc] likewise. Paper goods; TP, paper towels, napkins are pretty much ALL gone.

    4) All stores have cut their hours, and all are starting to get crowds lined up outside before opening. I rather think that if the supply chains do not start to show some improvement in the next few days to a week, things might start getting kinetic from among that fraction of the population that does not normally have a prepared position for crisis. Those who have such prepared positions also include ammunition among the preparations.

    Sehr Interressantes

    Subotai Bahadur

  19. Subotai – part of the food buying spree may be explained by the number of schools up to colleges that are closing. Many kids eat at least one meal at school and sometimes two, plus whoever is stay with or working from home with them will need meals that might normally have been eaten out. It would also explain the timing as most schools didn’t announce extend closures until late in the week.

    Brian – Quit doing the ‘you think it’s a hoax’ routine when people point out that new data is now contradicting the inflated estimates based on the wildly inaccurate Chinese information. It is not inconsistent to note that the coverage this is getting is all out of proportion to the far more deadly H1N1 (which was a mutation of the 1918 Influenza) outbreak in 2009. I think we haven’t seen this level of hysteria since the 1976 swine flu outbreak that also happened under a Republican president.

  20. Christopher B – Agree with you on the hysteria deal. I can’t remember hysteria like this since 911 and the gas lines. I think we had some grocery runs during that time as well. I don’t understand it but I guess that doesn’t matter since here we are.

  21. Did Trent stop his updates because the Cassandra role is too exhausting?

    There’s nothing left to say that hasn’t been said a million times, and we’re basically out of time anyway.

    I hope everyone is prepared.

  22. Trent last did an update post on the 5th, and the 8th is his last comment on updates.

    Now that the tests are in theory available, it will be awhile before we have enough data collected to parse meaningfully.

    If I get agitated from listening to someone else, and my household does have people who facebook, I come here for reassuring news, and do not see it.

    I expect someone will have testing sorted out usefully in the next three weeks, or there will be some actual evidence to support the ‘more lethal’ hypothesis.

  23. Panic is a self-fulfilling prophecy!

    History records that at the time of the Oil Shocks in the 1970s when the price of oil jumped dramatically, the US government had to introduce odd/even rationing — drivers could fill up with gas only every second day, depending on their number plate. There were long lines at gas stations, even fist fights.

    Later analysis showed that there was no shortage of fuel. What happened was a rapid widespread change in behavior, driven by fear. Before the media-driven crisis, people tended to drive about with their vehicle’s gas tank on average half-full. Because of fear, many people switched to trying to keep their tanks as full as possible, buying as little as a gallon at a time. Given the hundred million or more vehicles on the road, the switch from holding inventory in company storage tanks to holding it in individuals’ gas tanks created a run on supplies and an apparent shortage.

    The Chinese understand us much better than we understand them. They study history. Their rulers know about the antagonism of the media to Republican presidents. They know about the media’s general lack of knowledge and tendency to exaggerate. (“If it bleeds, it leads”). We are so easily manipulated!

  24. One inevitable outcome from all this will be another layer of beauracracy in DC. Things won’t get any more effective or efficient; future responses will just have more credentialed gatekeepers to work through. Experts gotta expert.

    From what I’ve gathered, the push for social distancing is a common-sense measure that hopefully reduces the strain on our medical infrastructure. This flu seems more quickly spread than usual (if the media can be believed), which may result in a big spike of people seeking medical attention in a shorter time span. I’ve read estimates that as many as 25 million people in the US will require hospitalization for severe cases; the US has only 930,000 beds. So it makes sense to meter the spread so to speak, so as to avoid one big spike in hospital admissions. The Chinese didn’t do any of this, and the result is every medical person is now devoted to handling the flu. I read they’re turning away serious injuries and heart attacks and have even stopped doing chemo. So slowing the spread through social distancing should help our hospitals avoid a similar and possibly catastrophic spike.

    As for our synchronized media, it sure seems to reinforce all that 8chan speculation about Operation Mockingbird still being a thing.

  25. “you really start to wonder if there isn’t another Jornolist Journolist system up and running somewhere hidden from us”

    I am certain that there are multiple such lists. The motivations for having such lists has not disappeared.

  26. My wife and I are high risk. I am 82 and have pulmonary fibrosis, not severe but significant. She is 75 and has High IGe immunodeficiency syndrome. She had childhood asthma and smoked until about ten years ago. She gets an infusion of a biological drug every two weeks and that keeps her healthy.

    Needless to say, we pay attention. Fortunately, Tucson will probably be safe once the warm dry weather gets going. We are avoiding crowds but not much else. Have a lunch date at a restaurant Tuesday which has an outdoor seating area.

    The scare about ICU beds is almost certainly overblown. Of the cases I have read about, only 10% require a hospital stay. If Remdesivir is as effective as it was in the first case report, ICU cases will probably be few. There is a clinical trial going on now. We should know in a month or so.

    The CDC and FDA have covered themselves in ignominy with anyone who knows any medicine or public health. At least Trump has the instincts to turn to private labs quickly once the test fiasco was evident.

    Also, the wisdom of disconnecting from China for critical products, like pharmaceuticals, shows his wisdom.

  27. Mike K: “Also, the wisdom of disconnecting from China for critical products, like pharmaceuticals, shows his wisdom.”

    It is not just pharmaceuticals. We have offshored industry to the extent that we are now dependent on the kindness of strangers for an extraordinarily wide range of products, right down to nuts and bolts. It happened so slowly that many of us did not notice (especially our Political Class), but the US is now functionally in a situation similar to Germany and Japan at the end of WWII, with large parts of our former productive industrial base wiped out. And just like with Germany & Japan, it is going to take a decade or more to rebuild that capacity — not just factories and machinery, but also trained skilled people. And the US is going to have to accomplish that without the generous foreign support of a Marshall Plan.

    What our Political Class could do to help that process would be to look hard at reversing some of the excessive, frequently contradictory regulations that have driven industry out of the US. They could also level-up the playing field by requiring that all imports have to meet exactly the same regulatory standards as the same items manufactured in the US would have to meet, right down to unannounced government inspections and massive fines for any deviations. But I fear our Political Class is more interested in expanding transgendered bathrooms and H1-B visas.

    John Mauldin can be an interesting source of information for investors. But sometimes his comments reveal just how deep the rot is among America’s movers & shakers. Mr. Mauldin’s solution for the growing economic impact of the virus panic is for the President to remove the tariffs on Chinese goods — the goods which China’s factories are not producing. At a time when we need to change, the guys at the top of the greasy pole desperately want the restoration of the status quo ante.

  28. Went to the store Wednesday morning: everything normal. Didn’t look in the toilet paper aisle but everything else was stocked up. Went to a Kroger than a Safeway yesterday morning at 7am: not a single gallon of milk to be found, and those two stores usually have probably two hundred gallons of various varieties on the shelf.

    Weird. The only thing I can think is that the schools are closed effective tomorrow so parents are hoovering up all the milk in anticipation of their kids being stuck at home all week.

  29. aren’t the same carriers of the journalist and the rizzotto tray copy coup, still doing the same thing,

  30. I went by a Wegman’s on the way home from work Thursday to find the place crowded for the time of day, and the lines building. The place had been stripped of very specific items – almost no pasta or rice left (or jarred sauce, other than the house brand), cereal aisle had been stripped of some items (although no one had had a go yet at the 4lb boxes of Grape Nuts). Fresh and frozen was readily available. The place was doing heavy business well into the evening, so I suspect the later arrivals had to work they way through the seconds. I was just adding a week or so supply of staples that we would use anyway, although probably a week early.

    The real mad rush around here has been the state liquor stores, as PA has announced they are closing after today except for a handful of stores staying open Monday. Talk about a panic….

  31. Well – as a bit of comfort – the beer and wine shelves of the HEB groceries that we visited on Friday and today – they were all fully stocked. Priorities, people. Priorities.

  32. The Aldi’s I went to was out of anything paper and some fresh produce, still plenty of meat, beer and wine. Frozen was spotty but it has been for weeks on Sunday, the only peanut butter was crunchy. Oatmeal has been hard to come by for weeks, far preceding anything I heard about a possible problem.

    This will all even out pretty soon I think, although it may take a couple more weekly cycles. The deliveries are sized to normal demand with some limited flexibility. They try to do it with a single truck load. The stores have very limited storage for anything not on the shelf. The pipeline into the warehouses probably is pretty well set too. All of these stores try to optimize the least time from having to pay for something to being able to sell it with shipping cost.

    The worst day is usually Monday when the orders go in, while stocking will take place Wednesday and Thursday to be ready for the weekend.

  33. Went grocerying this morning in bustling Alvin, Texas. It was kind of interesting to look at the WalMart paper goods shelves; tp and paper towels back to back on adjacent aisles. Totally empty. You could stand in the main aisle and look straight through to the reefer section. Not a single product in sight.
    Milk and bread are gone, too. I guess it’s tortillas from this point on.

  34. I’ll just add that I grew up having peanut butter and jelly tacos, so it’s nothing new. (soft flour tortilla…)

  35. The real mad rush around here has been the state liquor stores, as PA has announced they are closing after today except for a handful of stores staying open Monday. Talk about a panic….

    Does any of that make any sense ? Why do that ? Good reason to not have state stores of any kind.

  36. We are in the phase of fools elected to office doing “something”. So far, not too much in Texas that I see. I really fear that we are in for something very bad in the cities that don’t function during normal times.

    Twenty years ago, my brother, a truck driver, said that they didn’t stop for stop lights in Brooklyn for fear of being swarmed by thieves that would force open the trailer and empty it as they drove along. If we need the Army anywhere it will be wherever there’s a Democratic mayor, to convoy trucks and protect the stores from looting. We can all make the same list from memory. Dallas qualifies but I hope hasn’t gotten that far.

    Now it’s time to go to work. At least there, when something happens, I can do something about it. For my own sanity, I need to find something besides the news to look at and read.

  37. Nothing about PA liquor laws makes a lick of sense. Two years ago they finally worked out a loophole to allow grocery and other stores to sell beer and wine. If they have a seating area to sell food they can consider that part of the store a restaurant and sell under the take out rules (up to 2 six packs of beer or 2 bottles of wine). Prior to that the only place to buy anything harder than beer was a state store. Beer is weird – you can only buy singles to drink on premises, six packs for takeout from restaurants with a license or cases/kegs from distributors.

    It took close to a decade of concerted effort to get the recent exceptions passed. The state store employees union is a political power and the distributors are also a potent force (as a distributors license is basically a license to print money, or at least was, not sure how hard they’ve been hit).

  38. Utah had a state store for liquor – although since I was stationed there, they seem to have loosened up. I only purchased wine and sherry from the base package store anyway. Can’t recall what the grocery stores were able to sell at the time – near-beer, I think. In Texas, the only restriction that I can see is that wine and beer and fortified stuff like sherry and marsala can’t be sold until after noon on Sunday. The liquor stores, like Don & Ben’s and Spec’s are closed all day on Sunday.
    An improvement on New Mexico, where nothing alcoholic at all can be sold on Sunday, or so the last time I was there. A demonstration of “having to do something to curb alcoholism!” Like the drunks couldn’t stock up on Saturday afternoon…

  39. Somewhere near Sgt. Mom and near me there is a house that sees an unusual number of visitors when the liquor stores are closed, especially Saturday night-Sunday morning. In dry counties it’s worse. But even where it is no more than a few hours until the store opens, bootleggers make money. The price used to be about twice retail or a little better. It would make an interesting study just how much people are willing to pay for something that’s easily stored and in generous supply except for a few hours a day.

  40. Our Office Administrator told me that Staples had notified their customers that they were reserving all cleaning supplies for hospitals. They had been our supplier.

    This isn’t a big deal as such, $25-30 at Wal Mart now that they are catching up will probably see us through the next couple of weeks. Since I sort of doubt that a lot of hospitals buy their cleaning and disinfecting supplies from Staples, I wonder if there isn’t some signalling going on.

    I’m probably just a hick from the sticks, but I would have thought that hospitals might want to keep a goodly supply that sort of thing on hand. Easier than a lot of the stuff with really ridiculous expiration dates they have to track.

    If you look closely enough after this is settled down, you might find an article or two talking about how many people didn’t suffer from hospital acquired infections since they were really paying attention to cleanliness and washing hands.

    Through all of this, rest easy knowing that FEMA has many warehouses full of bottled water sited strategically throughout the country and notwithstanding numerous close calls in the past, the CDC folks are still developing their improv skills.

  41. Yesterday as I learned of San Fran’s lockdown plans, I wondered whether SF figured to insist the homeless remain in their cardboard(ing) box house, or RV, as applicable. Should have added that I predicted that gov’t would provide ‘free’ housing using hotel/motel space empty because of lockdown. That came out in today’s news. Next (obviously) is ‘free’ board to go with that free room…can’t have homeless leaving to get food. What could go wrong? Hmmm. I know, I know. Homeless (and others) figuring to move to San Fran for free room and board? Nah. Contrary to human nature. BTW, how does the SF gov’t figure to pay for that ‘free’ stuff? Write a check? (Well, yeh. What’s wrong with that?) And what do you suppose will happen when it comes time to stop the free room and board, the eviction time?

    Stay tuned. Calif providing a free trial of socialism.

  42. Have they opened bidding on the drug and alcohol concession? It’ll take more than food delivery to keep them off the streets.

  43. Yes, it’s “the college fix”, but…

    It fits with the data I’m seeing, and matches the opinion of a epidemiologist professional I personally know…

    }}}I’ve read estimates that as many as 25 million people in the US will require hospitalization for severe cases;

    In light of what I’ve seen, and what is above, this seems like a ridiculously overblown assertion, wherever it came from.

  44. }}} It is not just pharmaceuticals. We have offshored industry to the extent that we are now dependent on the kindness of strangers for an extraordinarily wide range of products, right down to nuts and bolts.

    Not really.

    The biggest mistake is not grasping that a single nation can be shut down by something like this, and it’s the first time it’s happened in over 60 years (the beginning of true international shipping in mass quantity), so, the failure to consider “mononational sources” as potentially the same as a true monosource is not surprising.

    We need to diversify the nations we get things from, and not have a “single source” nation.

    The next question is, do we want to worry about a “monosource region”? Do we want a source in China, and at least one not in Malaysia, Vietnam, Taiwan, Singapore, Japan, the Philippines?

    For most industry, we have at least 6 months in the pipeline (already noted elsewhere with regards to HVAC) and we have many strategic materials stockpiled, as well (steel, etc.) — if we needed to get a factory going STAT for some reason, it’s highly doable. Remember how fast the USA managed to create factories on the fly in WWII, and they did not have modern logistics tools available to them.

    We should encourage a multinational sourcing of goods. But that is about all.

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