With a tough row to hoe for all, I see trouble on the way

Published 5:05 pm Thursday, March 19, 2020

“Don’t go around tonight

Well, it’s sure to take your life

There’s a bad moon on the rise.” — John Fogerty

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On my newspaper’s banner can be found the words, “Guiding the South Delta for 143 Years,” but I have got to tell you that its guide in chief does not feel too comfortable in that role at present.

That’s because fact is, for both my little neck of the woods and for the country as a whole, there’s some uncharted territory that lies just ahead.

The nation’s leading epidemiologist and maybe just about its most trusted voice on what’s now officially a global pandemic, said last week that “it is going to get worse before it gets better,” so I think we can all pretty well take that as a given. And while refreshingly honest, that’s hardly comforting, considering things aren’t exactly going swimmingly, now, what with folks apparently on some unending quest to buy up every last roll of toilet paper on every last store shelf in the country.

And what is that about anyway? Sir, Madam, would you like fries with that? Even with the stock market going up and down faster than the proverbial broken zipper, I reckon a fellow could have made himself a spot of money if he’d loaded up his portfolio with toilet paper and hand sanitizer stock right before our new pal COVID-19 showed up.

With requisite apologies to Messrs. Jagger and Richards, please allow him to introduce himself; he’s a coronavirus of wealth and taste.

This virus seems to have a decidedly predatory nature, which is to say that it is most apt to kill the weaker members of the herd it infects — the old, the infirm, those with weakened immune systems. But that’s not to say it isn’t sly, as well, since even though it doesn’t seem to severely sicken the young, it can lie dormant within little Bobby and Susie — the better to infect grandpa and grandma with one of the hugs they previously lived to get.

And so, what are we to do, beside wash our hands pretty much continuously and hoard toilet paper? Why, we are told that we need to avoid one another, become recluses, shunning the company of our friends and neighbors who might unknowingly be doing their best Typhoid Mary impressions.

Great. In a country where there is already far too little interaction among, too little dialogue between its citizens, for the greater good there must now be less. The human condition is, indeed, a fickle one.

And now that I have added to the angst level of any liberals who might be reading this missive, let me bring back the fairness doctrine and snag the conservative attention for a bit by addressing the other great unknown looming just ahead — the economic impact of all this.

And in this area, there is a bit more certainty. In a word, it is going to be brutal.

Just for starters, every professional and amateur sporting event in the country has been, if not canceled outright, then suspended until further notice. There is no basketball. There is no baseball. There is no hockey. There is no spring football. Lots of players, lots of coaches, lot of stadium attendants and food vendors and moguls and go’fers. Job security — How would you like to be an executive at the SEC Network or ESPN right now?

Concerts? Nope. Cultural events? No way. Movie theaters? One cough and there would be a stampede.

Republicans of a certain ilk and fundamental preachers are probably the most smugly satisfied folks in the country right now because anything that in any way qualifies as fun is pretty much ruled out for the immediate future.

And since everybody is being told to batten down the hatches of their homes with themselves inside, I am pretty sure the travel and leisure industries are gonna take a pretty painful hit.

An old song allows as how “trains and boats and planes are passing by,” but right now, you can be relatively sure that they are all empty. And that has the politicians’ attention. We can’t even figure out how many people have the damn virus because for reasons I cannot fathom the richest nation on Earth doesn’t have enough test kits, but the powers that be are already talking about financial bailouts for the airlines and cruise ship and — wait for it — hotel industries.

The better to spruce up some of those fraying deck chairs at Mar Lago, of course.

I wish I had better news, folks, but the fact is I’m thinking we’ve all got ourselves a pretty tough row to hoe. But I do have a suggestion: Seems to me we might all do better to stay calm, keep our heads, and perhaps think a little less about padding our own toilet paper stashes and more about how we might help out our neighbors.

You know, do the things good people do — as old-fashioned and out-of-style as that may be.

Ray Mosby is editor and publisher of the Deer Creek Pilot in Rolling Fork.