Rebooting the world

Featured picture above is Hudson, his superlative mom and his soon-to-be little brother.

I’ve read a lot lately about the difficulty in getting back to “normal”, and it’s not encouraging. In sector after sector, it turns out that restarting businesses just isn’t going to be as simple as saying “go” and having customers show up.

In the restaurant sector, every week that goes by with former employees dispersing, suppliers going out of business, owners declaring bankruptcy and so on means that a lot of the restaurants simply won’t survive. And those that do will have a tough time reconstructing their former business.

The airline sector is even worse. I’m just not sure how airlines survive another 3-4 months with no travelers. Making things worse, everything in the air travel supply chain is regulated, certified and synchronized. Pilots need air time and training time for certification, and they’re not getting it. Same for mechanics. Same for air traffic controllers. And once airlines get some kind of a “go” signal, they still need butts in seats. Very few people are going to fly if their life is demonstrably at risk due to COVID fears.

And then, how does normal business resume if air travel is crippled? How do salesmen get to visit their accounts? How do global businesses operate?

I could go on and on – leisure travel, the food supply chain, sports, trucking, education – each sector is fast approaching a threshold beyond which there’s just no return to normal. And that’s scary.

Bringing it close to home, my retirement plan was to spend a lot more time in Louisville with my two grandsons, yet maintain our home life in California. That’s an easy thing to imagine when I can fly from one place to another in a day, even half a day. But take that away and I’m looking at 3-4 days spent in tough road trips each way, for each transition. Not the retirement I had in mind and not sustainable.

A vaccine or effective therapy in the next three months (more likely the latter) would minimize the damage to “normal”, but I’ll go out on a limb and say that won’t happen. 2020 is lost, and many economy sectors will be damaged beyond recognition. So what’s next, and what does 2021 look like? That’s the question.