Apparently, our leader in Washington is now pushing a new narrative that essentially says, “We’re going to get this country working again [which I assume means checking into his hotels], and get the market up, and if the downside is that a bunch of you have to die, well then, so be it.” The policy is, of course, utterly insane, but “those silly countries like China, South Korea, Britain and Italy just don’t have our guts or our virus immunity, so shame on them.” It’s all focused on the election in November, which is only seven months away, and if the pandemic is over by then, which it probably will be, he’ll claim victory and that he was right all along and if it isn’t over or we are in a recession he’ll blame it on the Democrats. 

Either way, the next quarter of this year—April, May and June—are scary for all of us, and the worst part is the uncertainty. We’re doing probably what every business and every individual in the country is doing and that is trying to figure out how we survive the next quarter. There is no question we all have to make cuts, but “cuts” is really too impersonal a word. “Cuts” mean people who are furloughed, laid off or let go because there is simply not enough income to pay them if they stay. Unemployment will soar, bills will not be paid, rent will be overdue, people will be recession depressed and we all just have to keep telling ourselves that “this too will pass”. 

We at The Malibu Times need your help. Despite the pandemic and the coming recession, the news still goes on, and it’s even more important than ever. You need to know what’s happening locally and there will be lots of rumors. I’ve been looking at Nextdoor and, as you would expect, there is a lot of information, some right and some wrong, and also a lot of opinionated crap and attempts to public shame. We need to try and stay the voice of reason. But to do that, we need advertising income, which is going to be tough to get in a town that is shut down. We need you help to get through this period. We’re asking you readers, especially those who get the paper mailed to them for free, to help us offset the cost and sign up to our voluntary pay program of $99 for the year; that’s a bit over $8 per month or $2 per issue. You can find out more here. Thank you in advance for your help.

•••

There is a lot being done by reasonable leaders like Governor Gavin Newsom here in California and Governor Andrew Cuomo in New York to try and meet this crises. Nationally, the U.S. Senate seems to be close to a deal and trying to keep the economy from crashing hard into recession. They all know we have to punch a whole bunch of money into the economy but the Democrats, with an eye also on November, don’t want to give the treasury (meaning Trump) $500 billion to spend at will, to spread around like manure in all of the battleground states, to create a bogus prosperity that collapses immediately after the election, but lasts long enough to get him reelected. In an election year, there are a lot of politics driving this crisis. If Trump has bad timing, and the pandemic wave increases or we get a second or third wave, he’s toast and he knows it. So, you can expect that everyone is going to be playing with the numbers to make a political point—but while this game is going on, people are going to be dying and it may be a long time before we get all the true numbers.

This past weekend, Malibu was packed with visitors (and also locals) out to get some sunshine. We’re all going a bit nuts being cooped up in the house, so on the first bright sunny day it seemed a good idea to get out for a while. The problem is the everyone had the same thought at the same time and there were long lines and crowds at parks that were open or even not open, streams of people going up Winding Way to Murphy Falls, and long lines to get takeout at Malibu Seafood and Neptune’s Net at County Line. The day was a psychological success but a pandemic disaster. There are just lots of people who won’t believe it until someone near them gets sick or dies. The problem is by the time you convince the doubters it will be too late. The great Spanish flu virus killed 50 million Americans in 1918-19. We don’t want a repeat and at some point you have to decide who to trust. I trust people who have spent their professional lives at the CDC or the WHO fighting epidemics as opposed to politicians worried about the next election.

•••

Let me give you some random information from a series of different newsletters including CalMatters’ online newsletter:

*This recession hits the service industries the hardest—retail, hospitality, food and travel. This sector employs 86 percent of American workers; nationwide, about 20 percent of our workforce has been let go or had hours cut.

*About 135,000 Californians filed for unemployment one day last week. Typically, they see less than 6,000 per day.

*California economists are predicting this recession will be bigger than 2008’s.

So, stay healthy and stay indoors whenever possible.

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