Gary Horton | Coronavirus Lockdown: Week 2 Thoughts

Gary Horton

I don’t know how Carl Goldman did it. Locked in his cruise ship room, tied to a dock but unable to leave for 15 days. Fifteen days in a 270-square-foot “luxury all amenities included floating dream vacation” gone terribly, terribly wrong. Days pass, and no getting off. More days pass with people getting sick, real sick. More days, and more of the same.

Shuffled on buses then cargo planes and then off to a secure, “Get Smart” hideout, lockdown, super-secure hospital room in Nebraska – his only company being cameras, monitors and caregivers in space suits. Finally, after 41 coronavirus-directed days, Carl got to sleep in his own bed.

How’s that for a getaway vacation on a cruise line? No digs to the cruise line – but it may take some time before folks gleefully, carefree, jaunt across those boarding platforms. But eventually, they will. There’s too many of us boomers always looking for exciting things to do.

Meanwhile, indeed, we’re all trying to find something to do. Carl got locked down for nearly 41 days in faraway places in tiny rooms with extremely restricted movement. We’ve been cooped up in our homes for just one week — with all our restaurants and shops and gyms and theaters shuttered — and we’re getting cabin fever. And standing in line at the Ralphs, huddled between the toilet-paper-hoarding masked masses only provides so much relief from the drudgery of house arrest.

This past week we got too frisky at Towsley Canyon Park, penetrating our 6-foot mandated social-distance force field zone, and our County Powers That Be cut us off. No more mountain trails for you during this virus wait-out period. You want to hike? Grab a cart and push it in a line around a Costco for a couple of laps. 

Towsley closing aside, this “shelter in place,” house arrest isn’t so bad. We’re getting back in touch with neighbors, and before we only drove past. We’re discovering new pains in our lower back and ankles from all the walking and cart pushing. We’re learning we really don’t need five 32-pack rolls of toilet paper, and that, actually, where are we going to put all these hoarded rolls?

Fortunately, unlike the bread we hoarded and the canned soup we swarmed, toilet paper doesn’t have a shelf life. All is not lost. 

Our toilet paper investments are doing far better than our 401k’s. Yes, eventually, it too will go down the toilet, but our stocks are already flushed.

The Dow is down, way down. As it sits today, even after a $2.5 trillion congressional giveaway, the market remains down by about a third from peaks… about to where President Obama handed over the White House keys to that reality show host.

Oh, Golden Orb had the best numbers. 

“Never been a better stock market.” 

“No one has ever done this before.” 

That last statement is one of Trump’s few true ones. No one has done this.

Like most of us, any money I’ve got sitting around is in my retirement accounts. And when Trump came on, I called my broker and told him to “move it all out of stocks and into the fixed-income account.” He thought I was nuts. 

And for three years as the Trump Tax Giveaway-athon suger-highed the market and bankrupted the nation to the tune of ONE TRILLION DOLLARS A YEAR – I looked nuts. Just like my broker said. 

One trillion, two trillion, three trillion holes blown into our deficit and the market continued upward and onward and oh did Trump crow… 

Boy, did I look nuts.

Last week my broker called me. “Gary, that fixed account of yours sure looks smart.” 

Yup, it does. 

I always knew there would be a day of reckoning. Chickens always come home to roost. You don’t always know how or when, but fake is fake, and sooner or later bills comes due.

This time, the bill was a virus for which we weren’t prepared. Next time it might our debased treasury notes because with $5.5 trillion flushed, they’re essentially toilet paper stamped with some president’s face. 

This week, Congress will pass a $2.5 TRILLION “Rescue Bill.” Add that to Trump’s $3 TRILLION DEFICIT and in three short years we’ve blown through $5.5 trillion. 

And even with all that, you didn’t get new streets or new schools, or better paid health care, but you did get corporate stock buybacks and a few miles of broken-down border wall and…

And not enough virus test kits, and not enough ventilators. 

Still, for a time, we had the “best stock numbers that no one had seen before.” 

What’s now left of these last three years?

Well, now we’re learning to walk more. Read more. Make neighborhood friends. Fidget around the garden. Live slower lives. Make do with less. Maybe a lot less. Hundreds and thousands and maybe tens of thousands of lives, less.

When Trump took office, we knew eventually America would pay a price for the incompetence of a reality show narcissist president. No one thought the price would be this high in dollars and lives.

Now, locked in our houses, no tests to be had, we fear a virus for which we’re unprepared, with a stock market yelling at us just how badly it’s all been blown.

Trump steak. Trump University. Trump Taj Mahal. Trump Airlines. 

Trump virus response.

Gary Horton’s “Full Speed to Port!” has appeared in The Signal since 2006. The opinions expressed in his column do not necessarily reflect the opinions of The Signal or its editorial board.

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