By Dave Simpson, columnist
We’ve been hunkered down for over a week now, which is longer than we’ve ever hunkered before.
“Social distancing” is starting to look like the mother of all cabin fevers. But, we’re soldiering on.
Let’s touch some bases:
– Watching Walmart handle shortages is like seeing an oil tanker turn around. It takes a while. For the time being, Sam Walton’s super store behemoth is at the mercy of folks for whom security is a closet full of toilet paper.
We’ve still got 19 rolls – I’m keeping track – which ought to be enough. But when supplies return to the shelves, I’ll pick up a 12-pack. As Buffalo Springfield once sang, “Paranoia strikes deep. Into your heart (and the toilet paper aisle) it will creep.”
Fresh meat comes and goes at our Walmart, and potatoes are back, but you have to be there at the right time. I scored a five-pound bag of spuds last weekend, and felt like I should high-five someone. There has always been milk, but you have to shop early to get eggs.
Apparently the milk cows have stepped up to the challenge of keeping America safe for democracy, even in these trying times. (Next time you see a cow, thank her for her service.) The chickens, however, aren’t about to be pushed around by panicky, hoarding shoppers. The laying hens must have a stronger union, and membership is holding the line.
The good news is that asparagus is dirt cheap and plentiful. You can get lots of kale, but I don’t know anyone who eats that stuff. And someday soon, even toilet paper will be back on the shelves. So don’t get your innards in a knot.
– I stocked up on books at our library before it shut down on account of the virus.
“A Warning” by “Anonymous” is surprisingly devoid of things we haven’t already heard on the “We Hate Trump” cable news networks. The world is full of back-stabbers who want to dry gulch someone without having their name attached to the deed. Editors see them from time to time. But these days, anonymous attacks are much more frequent, as social media makes us all publishers. My advice: Don’t waste your time on “A Warning.”
“Start By Believing,” on the other hand, by Dan Murphy and John Barr, will keep you up late reading. It’s about that creepy Olympic gymnastics doctor from Michigan, Larry Nassar, and you can’t put it down. That guy’s lucky some dad didn’t kill him.
Around the house, I’ve taken this opportunity to thin out the filing cabinet, and finally put the silverware holder in the dishwasher for a good scrub. (It makes me happy now, every time I reach for a spoon.) And I’m not opening any envelopes regarding my Individual Retirement Account, firm in the belief that you don’t lose money if you don’t panic and sell at the bottom. I believe there will be a roaring comeback, and wish I had more cash on hand to pick up some incredible bargains.
My gym shut down, but lately I’m getting my exercise walking around the pond down at the park.
– I think most of us agree that people put out of work by all this, and industries on the brink like the airlines, need help from the federal government. But I get nervous when the words “massive,” “stimulus” and “bipartisan” appear in the same sentence.
Not to worry, however, says Greg Mankiw, who served on President George W. Bush’s Council of Economic Advisers, and who teaches at Harvard.
“There are times to worry about growing government debt,” Mankiw said. “This is not one of them.”
With a national debt of $23 trillion already, however, when do our great leaders in Washington EVER worry about debt? Aside from fighting wars and going to the moon, their main function these days is to provide access to the Magic Federal Checkbook, where you never have to deduct the amount of any check.
When self-serving lawmakers talk about “bipartisanship,” remember this quote from George Carlin:
“Bipartisan usually means that a larger-than-usual deception is being carried out.”
Keep on hunkering, folks. We’ll get through this.
Dave Simpson can be contacted at email@example.com