Sunday, March 22, 2020

America Holds Her Breath

It was eerily quiet this weekend. After a week of markets tanking and oil prices dropping through the floor and the slow march of coordinated but not coordinated at all national lockdown, it feels like we are about to enter a new phase in the Chinese virus war. I thought the odds were about 50/50 that Trump would declare a de facto state of martial law during his press conference this afternoon but he didn't. Again he seemed very tentative, even his attempts at his normal bluster seemed weak and forced.

Here in Indiana we are bracketed by two states, Illinois and now Ohio, who have declared a shelter-in-place rule. In our area, neighboring Allen County ordered a halt to all church gatherings of "ten or more people". The list of states that are shutdown grows and I am guessing we will be soon to follow, if a national declaration is not made tomorrow.

Stores being out of toilet paper, out of milk and bread and limiting how much you can buy when they are in stock, guns and ammo selling out, all have become part of a rapidly coalescing new normal. What will happen next week when millions more Americans are out of work and the Democrats are playing games with the sending of checks? I am not even a fan of the "print more make-believe money" thing but if we are going to shut down the economy and promise people checks are coming, they better start sending some checks or people are going to get awfully restless.

I am not sure if many people understand that we are in the very beginning of this disaster, not the middle or near the end. The number of cases is still fairly low but if I understand the charts and they are accurate, we are looking at a significant uptick this week and even more so the following. Instead of a few people dying in a state like Indiana, it will be dozens or even hundreds.

The ripple effects of the shutdown will start being felt soon as orders are cancelled, more workers are sent home to wait it out and industries start to mothball machinery for an indeterminate amount of time. From restaurants to construction to entertainment, people are going to be out of work and being very stingy with their money which will snowball into other industries.

The run on ammo shows no sign of abating. The Big Two, 9mm and .223, are mostly gone, even the expensive personal defense rounds. Prices are rapidly increasing and still you see ammo coming in stock online and selling out hours or even minutes later. Ammoseek keeps crashing. Steel case .223 is selling for what brass case was selling for just a week or so ago. Reports are common that trying to get a background check completed for a firearm is taking hours, if at all. The system is overloaded and rumors are flying that the FBI is going to shut the system down completely.

The little Dollar General stores have been a huge plus in this crisis. We make fun of DG putting stores in every little town in America but I haven't been to a big box grocery store for weeks. We just keep topping off stuff like milk and bread at the local Dollar General instead of facing the chaos of the bigger stores. I went today to get hamburger buns and the place was in the worst stock condition I have seen since it opened.

Tomorrow might bring some additional dashes of spiciness. Be safe and keep both eyes wide open. This is a new world we are living in.

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