We broke everything in the name of COVID
I used to run a fairly large I.T. department. Every few years, we were required to power down the entire computer room while the factory underwent electrical maintenance. It was always a dicey operation to shut down systems that had been running for years. Such systems don’t like having their power cycled off and on. In spite of our best preparations, we never knew if the hundreds of computers, switches, and routers would simply turn back on. They rarely did, and we generally faced days of troubleshooting.
Our system of commerce is the engine upon which our economy depends, and it is far more complex than any computer room. It comprises suppliers, producers, logisticians, and customers all working in coordination, with precise timing. It is a complex ballet of:
- Harvesting raw materials
- Crafting those materials into products
- Delivering products to waiting customers
- Who in turn provide other products and services to their customers
- And the ballet continues in perpetuity
To assure that products arrive where they are needed, when they are needed, the engine of commerce includes the work of millions of companies and billions of people, working in compliance with millions of standards and regulations. In our global economy, everyone on Earth is part of the system. How’s that for complexity?
To be blunt, we were naive to think it could be cycled off and on at will. Yet when COVID arrived, we started tampering with the engine. Our all-knowing leaders ordered some businesses closed yet allowed others to remain open. They thought they understood which businesses were needed, but they didn’t.
Leaders ordered some workers to stay home yet allowed others to work — designating them essential. They never understood that there are no un-essential workers in the engine. Essential medical workers can’t work without masks. Those masks have to be produced by a factory, which depends on a supply of textiles. The textiles are unavailable unless other factories produce the cloth. Cloth can’t be made unless farmers grow the cotton. All components of the system are required. None is un-essential.
Yet our leaders shut the system down in a fruitless attempt to control a virus. That is some major-league hubris. Well, the virus is still with us, and so is the damage to our economy. Our economy is Humpty Dumpty, and our wannabe dictators kicked him off of the wall with relish. Now they’re looking at the pieces and acting surprised that he broke.
We’ve been trying to restart the engine of commerce for over a year now, and it’s still not running right. Cargo ships can’t unload because there aren’t enough trucks. Businesses don’t have enough employees to meet customer demand. Stores face product shortages. Airlines don’t have enough pilots to fill flight schedules. Understaffed hospitals are overwhelmed with a backlog of patients, while we terminate medical workers for refusing to take a vaccine that doesn’t work.
And what is President Asterisk doing in response? He’s imposing vaccine mandates, extending unemployment benefits, waging a war on fossil fuels, expanding the regulatory state, spending like a drunken sailor (apologies to drunken sailors), and pursuing increased taxation. He isn’t nursing the engine back up to speed. He’s doing everything possible to throw gravel into the gears — just like the gremlin he is.
Once again, we are being undone by our own hubris. We thought we could tinker with a system of such unimaginable complexity that we don’t understand it — with no negative consequences. We arrogantly thought we could command the world to run as we desired. Now we’re getting a firsthand lesson about the inevitable downfall of hubris. Our hubris is being met by Nemesis — the Greek goddess of consequences.
Our engine of commerce will eventually come back to speed. But only after Nemesis has treated us to a few years of bitter learning.
John Green is a political refugee from Minnesota, now residing in Idaho. He currently writes at the American Free News Network (afnn.us). He can be followed on Facebook or reached at email@example.com.
Image via Public Domain Pictures.
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