Muddy trail through a misty hillside wood in the early spring

Covid-19 Diary: Wild

Published 2020-03-31

It’s wild that the Developed world more or less intentionally went into a medically induced coma to shut down this virus with “only” a 1–3% fatality rate. I would not have predicted this as recently as February. I’d have predicted that the modern hypercapitalist order would have let “only” 1–3% of its citizens die first. Either intentionally or through inaction. (See also: climate change) The shutdown is not universal and the ugly hell of it is would not have been necessary if the modern hypercapitalist order would have built in a little foresight & resilience in the form of excess medical capacity. But it doesn’t so the global economy is poised to shrink by something like 10%, in a heartbeat.

There is some hope in that: the most powerful systems (most of them in some wise democratic) are doing this intentionally, and over a death toll it could easily absorb, economically. In the few places where they floated “let’s just let the olds die and save a few bucks,” the blowback was swift. With the most positive spin, with a gun to our head, we are putting each other over money.

The cynical take is that The System recognized that letting 80 million+ ppl die would be more expensive than hitting the reset button like this. But even that has the germ of hope that The System has at least that much forethought.

(See also: climate change)

I can’t remember when this first occurred to me (years ago) but I have long wondered how much of a reduction in economic activity the modern world could forego to forestall the worst effects of climate change, if it had to. I usually put this in the form of: “how would we cope with world where we were 9/10 as rich, or 2/3 or 1/4?”

Like this. It would look like this, at the start. And in it all we still find time for animated movies, office politics, and project management administrivia.

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