When We All Go Back to Work

I’ve been out of the office for over two weeks now.  One of these days the medical powers that be will decide that boredom has become more deadly than COVID-19 and we’ll be allowed to emerge from our burrows and walk the Earth again like bears in the spring.  And after we remember how the gear shift on our car works, we’ll drive to work and return to our desks and empty out the calls from our desk phones and return our laptops to their docking stations.  And we’ll start to work again?

It seems odd.  We’ll go back to driving two hours a day to do the same work we did from home in our slippers and Saturday clothes.  We’ll sit in conference rooms for hours instead of just reading an e-mail or teleconferencing for a few minutes.  Sure, for some of us there’s much that we can’t do from home.  If you work on projects that require managing contractors to build stuff it’s not possible to work remotely and if you buy equipment that needs to be tested at a factory then you’ll still have to drive or fly to do that.  But it will seem that driving an hour back and forth to sit at a desk for eight hours is kind of stupid.  And sure, I’ll admit that going to the office a day or two out of the week would actually be beneficial to ensuring that things are going smoothly and that any mistakes have been caught and to at least keep up the pretense that your boss is useful.  But more than that seems a waste of everybody’s time.

Surely, I’m not the only one who has discovered this.  Possibly this earthshaking news may filter up to the front office and a more rational approach to the office environment may emerge.  Think of the amount of gasoline that will be saved.  Think of the car accidents and traffic jams that could be eliminated.  Think of all the extra sleep that Americans will get and all the extra time they’ll get with their families.  And think of the energy that the office will save with the lights and heat and air conditioning turned off in areas not being used.  It really makes you think.

Now this is an exaggeration.  I’m currently at the end of some projects and the beginning of some others so this was actually the most convenient time for me to be out of the office.  A couple of weeks earlier or a couple of months later and I’d have been forced to go in regardless of pandemic.  As I mentioned, construction can’t be managed by remote control but I have definitely seen that part of my work week could be handled from home.

But I would be very surprised if after this whole mess winds down that some steps aren’t taken to make the work week more flexible and make telecommuting a reality for more people.  If I were going to pick a day for working from home, I’d make it Wednesday.  Staying up late on Tuesday night and getting up late on Wednesday morning would really change the dynamic of the work week into something much more manageable.  I think I’ll put that in the suggestion box this week.  Oh, wait I can’t.  It’s in the office.  Maybe they’ll invent the virtual suggestion box.

 

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Fredo is Down!

CNN’s Chris Cuomo has announced he has tested positive for COVID-19.  Could they set up a Fredocam to let us watch his last minutes?  Would he become smarter as the virus kills off his antibrain cells?  Will the increase in average IQ after his death be visible from space?  So many questions to ponder.  Hail ,hail and farewell Fredo.  We hardly knew ye.

 

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Enough is Enough

If living through this nightmare does only one good thing, it’s this.  It will give President Trump a mandate to end globalism once and for all.  Once we’re finally released from our cells, we’re going to want him to take whatever steps he can to make sure this doesn’t happen again.  And that’s quite a laundry list of things.  First off, it’s time to close not only the borders but the airline routes too.  Apparently Chinese New Year is the occasion for sending millions of Chinese back and forth from there to here just chock full of whatever pathogens have shown up in the wild game markets of China.  That must stop.  If China refuses to adhere to modern food hygiene then they should be treated like a plague city and kept at arm’s length.  Instituting a quarantine for travelers from China and similar places at the border for say, two weeks would go a long way to preventing another horrific outbreak like the one we’re suffering under now.  And because there’s no way of telling at the Mexican border where anyone comes from, we’ve got to end all the illegal immigration.  Not just sorta/kinda, but for real.  Use the state of emergency to shut down the border and if a judge says no then declare martial law and do it anyway.  The people will approve it.  And while we’re at it, suspend legal immigration for the time being.  It doesn’t make sense to be bringing people into the country during a catastrophe.

The next thing is to get Congress to declare all sorts of industries critical to Homeland Security and use a carrot and a stick to bring them back on shore.  And make it a very heavy stick.  Having our pharmaceuticals manufactured in China turns out to be a bad idea.  And manufacturing everything else there hasn’t helped either.  The President should do himself and us a favor and repatriate pharmaceuticals, automobiles, electronics, chemicals, metals, building supplies and just about everything else.  As far as I can tell we’ll need the jobs badly when this is over and the tens of millions of unemployed people are going to want growth in the economy and plenty of it.  And one good way to jump start something like that is to rebuild all the infrastructure that has virtually rotted away over the last fifty years of neglect.  Infrastructure projects have often in the past been boondoggles but compared to tossing trillions away to keep people sitting in their homes I doubt you could do worse.

Some will be worried that shifting production here could cause a worldwide depression.  I find that unconvincing.  The East Asian economies have their own domestic demand that is quite mature at this point and not having ten percent growth won’t kill them.  As for the rest of the developing world, if it’s not corona virus from China, it’s dengue fever from Guatemala or Ebola from the Congo.  We don’t need any more lessons in epidemiology.  We can see that plagues don’t mix well with a modern western democracy.  It’s time to roll up the welcome mat and tell everyone out there to stay home and fix their own damn problems.  And if it’s not too much to ask how about stop eating bats for a start.  Try chicken, it tastes the same.

 

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31MAR2020 – Quote of the Day

The truth frequently seems unreasonable; the truth frequently is depressing; the truth sometimes seems to be evil, but it has the eternal advantage, it is the truth and what is built thereon neither brings nor yields to confusion.

Henry Ford

 

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