The political crisis that is coming to the US is utterly predictable and if you don't see a really bad version of in the set of plausible outcomes you need adjust your model. We are running out of time to take steps that dramatically reduce the probability of unrest.
One such step would be a generous permanent UBI. If we're going to print money, it should be targeted as broadly as possible. Another such step would be reopening as many non-storefront businesses as quickly as possible. I don't see serious will behind either idea.
Beyond that, basic steps to secure the supply chain and infrastructure do not seem to have been taken. Instead we've structured favorable deals for large "keystone" firms. The optics are awful irrespective of specific situational merit. The little guy justifiably feels screwed.
Revolutions happen when people trip and fall into the void between expectation and reality. In 2019 the economic boot was finally coming off the neck of the middle class in a tangible way. We had something approaching full employment, wage growth, and a cautiously rosy outlook.
In the space of a few months that view of the world was smashed to pieces. We're looking at 30% unemployment, compensation collapse, and complete uncertainty about the next few weeks, let alone months or years. That damage has already been done, no federal program can undo it.
This isn't necessarily just a call to act on behalf of the currently emiserated, though they do desperately need help. It's a call too prevent further emiseration before it's too late. When the really massive corporate failures and white collar layoffs come it will be too late.
The institutions have a very limited window to demonstrate that they are here for everybody, that they give a damn, and that they are *actually* doing everything in their power to soften the blows that keep coming. I do not see that happening right now. The response is sclerotic.
If we don't take concrete ameliorative steps soon, the *best* possible short run political outcome that will be available to us at that point will be some ad hoc seizure of the institutional steering wheel by a coalition of tech companies and the defense establishment.
Believe me, I'm speaking as somebody who would likely be institutionally empowered by that outcome, you do not want hings to get that point and neither do I. But something at least that bad *will* happen if we don't take yet more dramatic public action *now*.
Dramatic action means unprecedented leadership from the mayors and governors, working in concert across traditional jurisdictional boundaries. It means a Senate select committee sitting in the West Wing calling the shots. It means completely unshackling industry response.
Either we act quickly and effectively within the bounds of our current system of government, or we risk losing that system of government altogether. That is a prospect that terrifies me, not just because of the anarchic vacuum but because of what could quickly come to fill it.
If you work in policy or in other parts of the institutional establishment and you're not already taking this stuff seriously, you have to start now. The alternative is the kind of state continuity crisis that only comes around every few centuries. Act now or regret it later.
Postscript: If you live in a coastal media bubble and are seeing mostly "keep calm and carry on" rhetoric from your usual information sources, broaden your inputs immediately. Good people to talk to are anybody who works in mortgage banking, supply chain, or medicine.
Don't take the press's third hand accounts of what's going on very seriously, you're consuming formulaic crisis PR from bureaucrats. Call up the people who you went to school with and get an idea of actual ground truth. Don't let yourself be spoonfed propaganda.
If you *really* don't want to get any sleep tonight, talk to engineers who work on critical infrastructure. The electrical grid is seeing wild shifts in consumption patterns. Telecom backbone services have been failing left and right. Ask them what a "correlated failure" is.
You can follow @mattparlmer.
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