In the movies I watch, calamity—an alien attack, an errant meteor, a rampant pandemic—unifies humanity. Nations, once enemies, begin to work together. Political divides evaporate. We become a global team battling a common foe. That’s the prevailing attitude. Let’s work for the common good. Walking out of the theater I bask in a warming glow. We’re better than I think we are; it makes me proud to be an American, a Homo sapien, an earthling.

Over the past week, the world has gotten serious about the novel coronavivus. No, nothing has happened that wasn’t apparent six weeks ago. The virus, after simmering on the Chinese mainland for a month, has sprung up simultaneously all around the world. Those locations with a handful of cases since January are now seeing full scale outbreaks emerge. And of course, the global stock markets tanked. No, none of this should have been a surprise to anyone, and if it was, well, our leaders and public health agencies haven’t been sufficiently forthright.

This is all normal fodder in ‘collapse’ novels. Collapse fiction is a sub-genre of dystopian and post-apocalyptic fiction. During the Apocalypse—the period immediately preceding dystopia—society collapses. Often, it’s triggered by an event, usually a natural disaster or an act of war, where overnight the world-as-we-know-it has forever changed. Or sometimes the collapse happens in slow motion: humankind, fat and happy, ignores the signs that hard times are coming and rides the status quo right into its grave.

In one of my favorite collapse novels, World Made by Hand by James Howard Kunstler, the collapse begins with a moderately fatal disease sweeping the earth. The second—of many—nails in the coffin is the stock market crash that follows. Hmmm, life imitates art? So, no surprises this week.

On a recent sick day, home with the flu, I watched Deep Impact with Téa Leoni and Morgan Freeman. Incomplete synopsis: Huge meteor plummets towards earth, Reporter Téa Leoni (no one plays fragile/broken better than she) breaks the story; U.S. President Morgan Freeman provides a strong and steady hand to guide the nation and the world up to and through the coming disaster.

This presidential behavior isn’t limited to only Deep Impact. In Independence Day, President Thomas Whitmore (Bill Pullman) not only showcases inclusive, motivational leadership skills, but he also suits up and flies a fighter jet in World War II style dogfights with alien space ships.

I’m feeling seriously ripped off in the presidential leadership department right now.

Donald Trump and the rest of his administration don’t get it. Several times a day he makes statements minimizing the seriousness of the coronavirus. By repeatedly insisting the flu is a larger threat, Trump shows that he doesn’t understand how far reaching this pandemic could (and probably will) be. Early in the week, he stated that the virus will naturally peter out by April, and then today he suggested that it will, one day soon, simply disappear. He’s clearly more concerned about the performance of the stock market and his polling numbers than the potential loss of American lives. Propping-up his flu comparisons, he doesn’t understand why everyone is freaking out.

Do you ever wonder who reads your blog? Is there any chance that Donald Trump, searching for his next Twitter target will google his name and stumble on this post? On the slim possibility that he will, here are the facts I’d like him to read:

The flu fatality rate is 0.1% or less. The fatality rate of the coronavirus epidemic so far is 3.44%. That’s one in every twenty-nine people. Because this is a new virus, no one has immunity to it. The heavy transmission rate in Wuhan can’t be dismissed as something that happens somewhere else.  As towns across America become infected, we’ll experience the sort of rapid transmission like we’re seeing in Italy and South Korea. One in twenty-nine is likely to get pretty personal. Your neighbor’s baby. Your boss’s wife. Maybe your mother or father.

I read today that the White House is requiring all federal coronavirus messaging to be first approved by the administration before releasing it to the public. This article shared the same screen as one lambasting China over the information they apparently withheld from the world at the onset of the outbreak. So, President Trump, this isn’t the flu, it’s not about your polls, and it’s not about the stock market. We’re facing a serious natural disaster that requires active management and global teamwork. Stop trying to minimize public concern and convince America that you have everything under control. You don’t.

I don’t think we’re on the brink of collapse, but I see some rough months are ahead. Channeling the steady, sober, mature demeanor of Morgan Freeman or Bill Pullman will only help. The world needs it.

20 thoughts on “Collapse

  1. This is an excellent essay, Jeff. I’m proud to be one of your loyal followers. Like you, I feel the empty void of honest and proactive leadership in our country. Right now, in the face of this health crisis, we need a president with greater humanity, level-headed concern, and respect for science. I hope we dodge this pandemic and see hope return for the sake of all Americans.


  2. I wouldn’t expect anything from Trump or his UK doppelganger, Boris except more B.S.
    I believe that people with breathing problems or compromised immune systems should be extra cautious. I believe medical workers are going to be very busy before this is over.

    On a personal note, I heard that the Green Day/Weezer/Fall Out Boy tour canceled their shows in Asia. I hope things are still okay(ish) here in July because we’ve got tickets.😉😂


  3. I’m not even an American, but I feel ripped off too. And Americans worry about ‘socialists’. Like facepalm. They really need to see this clip again and again. Trump makes Singapore’s leaders look god-like. Hell, he is making a LOT of leaders look competent.


  4. If anything I suspect this is going to really hurt his re-election outlook, but at what cost. Do you think Americans would be less likely to transmit it than Europeans because they are generally less proximal to each other and don’t rely as heavily on public transport? (At least for small town America, might be different for crammed cities). Just looking for some optimism or hope here, although I am in London so I expect to be exposed at some point, if I’m not already.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I think the lack of public transport outside of cities will probably help, but schools and child care centers seem to be the primary incubators in my town. Viruses seem to spread pretty effectively here even though we’re a rural, small town. It does make you wonder how many people around you (especially in London) are already infected. If/when you get it, I hope you fare well.


      • Thanks. That’s true I guess. My partner also pointed out today that people might be less likely to take time off work or go to the hospital in America so that probably wouldn’t help either. It does seem though (so far) like children aren’t affected by it like adults and elderly are, which is great for them… who knows about incubation though, I guess there are still a lot of unknowns. You guys take care too.

        Liked by 1 person

  5. I’ve been watching the CDC warnings and updates and thinking of you. Would be great if Trump would listen to anyone, ever, about anything. But he already knows he’s right. Ugh. I just keep waiting. Like you said, to hear where it is, and who in my circle it is going to effect. That time I swore that Bobby had the swine flu I was forever grateful that he was a big, healthy, strong boy before he was ill. He wasted away during the illness but since he was so healthy before he pulled through. My goal now is to ensure that we are all taking our vitamins and building strong immune systems. Trump isn’t going to help us out of this. We have to help ourselves.


  6. Great piece Jeff. I unwittingly experienced a “stockpile-style” nervous Saturday morning at our Costco today as people appear to be shopping and stocking up in that Armageddon fashion. It’s too bad that at times like this, when we need real leadership it’s so apparent we don’t have it.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks Bill. You’re much closer to the action than we are. I haven’t done my stockpiling yet. We’ve vowed to keep it sane and only get stuff we’re going to use anyway–pasta, oatmeal, stuff like that. I confess that I got masks over a month ago.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Yeah we just got masks. You were prescient in your post on this a while back! One of the first I recall. Thanks for keeping it level-headed here, liked this piece a lot.

        Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks. This was a weirdly received post. A few people said they really liked it but few people actually ‘liked’ it. I usually get a lot of mileage when ripping on Trump. People may have coronavirus fatigue — at least from me, this is my 4th post.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. If Donald Trump does read your blog, I hope he reads this: I was not a huge fan of George W. Bush, but immediately after 9/11 I thought he did a good job of talking to the nation and reassuring us. The actions after the immediate aftermath are a different story. Invading Afghanistan and Iraq, who had nothing to do with 9/11 come to mind. But in the immediate aftermath, I felt he was reassuring. Donald Trump is NOT reassuring nor does he seem to have any compassion for people suffering from the virus.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Well someone else already pointed out that Trum doesn’t read, so we’d all need to be on TV to get through to him. I keep ranting about the Trump administration’s response to the virus and my family is noticeably sick of it. It might be time for me to just accept how things are and ride out the storm. Politically, I hated Bush, but I always harbored this secret feeling that we’d get along really well if we met.


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