We’d love to comfort you by saying there’s less than a third of 2020 still to go, but we’re in the truth-telling business. So unfortunately we have to point out that things could still get worse. For all the obvious health, political, environmental and economic crises we’ve seen crop up this year, we asked ourselves: What are we missing? What else could go wrong, or right, in 2020? Read on … if you dare.
Tracy Moran, Deputy Editor, & Team
‘This Is Not the Flu’
Remember when finding flour, yeast and toilet paper was a thing? That wasn’t very long ago, and we’re still only in the first wave of the coronavirus.
1. A Shot in the Arm
You’d think humanity would band together when faced with a common enemy. Instead, the pandemic has sent many countries into fits of vaccine nationalism, eschewing alliances that were being formed to ensure that all countries gain access to future vaccines. That’s not just bad for needy nations, it’s also bad for countries like Russia, China and the U.S., all of which are seeing extreme skepticism about vaccines either promised soon or already released as political ploys rather than scientifically tested tools.
Communities looking to track COVID-19 have run into trouble, given that the virus is thought to be asymptomatic in as much as 30 percent of cases. Mass testing poses its own challenges, so many cities are instead starting to look underground, into their sewer systems. Testing can identify hot-spot neighborhoods and allow strapped health systems to send resources where they’re sorely needed.
3. You’ve Got to Eat
The danger of the virus isn’t just that you might get it. Economies brought to a standstill have also disrupted the supply chain of food, with experts estimating that the number of people in developing countries at risk of dying from hunger could almost double this year, putting 265 million at risk. Even in the U.S., the number of food-insecure people is expected to increase by 17 million, a rise of 45 percent.
Low Interest Rates Are Good, Right?
Americans will have noticed that housing projects are back in full swing, and Sold signs are sprouting seemingly overnight. Whether this will last, given the level of joblessness and uncertainty, is an open question.
1. The Mass COVID Wealth Transfer
As millions of Americans faced unemployment or closed their businesses during the first six months of the COVID-19 pandemic, the wealth of U.S. billionairesgrew by $845 billion — the latest sign that the fortunes of the few are completely untethered to the reality of the majority. But this is no aberration:New research by the Rand Corp. details how, if income distribution had merely held steady in the decades since 1975, some $50 trillion would have gone to ordinary workers rather than the nation’s oligarchic leaders — enough to pay every working-class American an additional $1,144 a month. Expect income disparities to continue growing as the U.S. struggles to manage the coronavirus and restore normalcy to the economy.
2. The Next Housing Bubble?
Despite layoffs, salary reductions and an overall decline in the actual U.S. gross domestic product, the U.S. housing marketwent bananas this summer. Home sales are higher than before the pandemic, while unsold inventory has shrunk. Can prices continue to skyrocket even as the average American buyer has less financial flexibility than perhaps ever before? The Fed plans to leave benchmark interest rates near zerountil inflation hovers above 2 percent, which could take until 2023, so many may be persuaded to buy now to secure low mortgage rates. For the time being, the two main drivers behind housing are as strong as ever, but if unemployment spikes again, it’s not hard to imagine a sharp rise in defaults.
3. Judgment Day
Nations worldwide have borrowed trillions to pay for stability amid COVID-related closures. But eventually the collector comes knocking. Government debt has ballooned past $20 trillion, raising concerns that go-to Treasury bills’ increasing risk levels might make them less desirable than European bonds — to say nothing of China’s ability to sell $1 trillion of them overnight. But the eurozone is no picnic either, having entered the COVID recession in a worse position than it did during the Great Recession — and then experiencing deeper economic dips than in 2008. Plus, Brazil, the largest Latin American economy, is seeing its budget deficits expand past 12 percent of its GDP while its currency may completely destabilize. All of these factors portend damaging impacts on the fragile world economy. Expect early 2021 to be the beginning of a global economic reckoning.
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We’ll just say it: Many of us are wondering whether the transfer of power, if one is facilitated by American voters, will go smoothly, or whether there will be fighting in the streets. It’s 2020, so anything’s possible ...
1. What if Trump Wins?
It’s unlikely right now, as the OZY/0ptimus forecast gives President Donald Trump only a 19 percent chance of victory. But the strangeness of a nearly all-mail election, plus the president’s own work todiscount the electoral process, could lead to an upset akin to 2016 — and likely hurl the U.S. into further chaos, given how the president’s first four years have gone.
2. Biden His Time
Even if Joe Biden wins, Trump might not leave office peacefully. The president has declined to say whether he would accept the results of the election and has suggested that Democrats are conspiring to commit widespread election fraud to force him from the White House. If he does accept defeat, Trump may do his damnedest to guarantee that he faces no legal issues later. Wild idea: He might consider stepping down between November and January, allowing Vice President Mike Pence to briefly become president and pardon Trump for any and all investigations against him. This may not even be necessary as some scholars say Trumphas the right to pardon himself.
If anything, a Biden win could lead to the perfect storm of a 78-year-old Trump running again in 2024 … on a “they cheated me out of the presidency” ticket and blaming Democrats for the effects of the global pandemic and the economic collapse it triggered. And even if Trump does win in 2020, hemay run for a third term anyway, since Trump believes he deserves more time because “[Democrats] spied on my campaign” in 2016, a misleading allegation he has pushed on multiple occasions.
We want both Biden and Trump to live long, healthy lives, but it’s not outside therealm of possibility that either or both of the presidential candidates — with respective ages of 77 and 74 — could die. If one were to expire before the election, their respective party’s national committee gets the right to select a new candidate, so it wouldn’t necessarily be their VP nominee. If a candidate passes away after Election Day but before the Electoral College votes, it could lead to a messy slew of lawsuits and an uncertain outcome … one likely ending with either Kamala Harris or Mike Pence rising to the top of the ticket. Another possibility? The House of Representativesultimately picks the nominee, with each state delegation getting one vote. Suffice it to say, such a scenario would lead to an unprecedented constitutional crisis — but it’s 2020, so they should both be taking their vitamins (and wearing their masks).
5. New Party Alignments
Regardless of whether Trump prevails, his realignment of traditional party politics likely will stick around. In 2016, Trump led a mass migration of blue-collar, less-educated white voters from the Democratic Party to the GOP. And in 2020, there are signs that he has made significant inroads with communities of color — shockingly increasing his support among Black, Latinx and Asian American voters from four years ago. If he can push those gains to something like a fifth of Black voters, a third of Asian Americans and a half of Hispanic Americans, Trump may succeed in doing the unthinkable: turning the Republican Party into the big-tent party that Ronald Reagan always wanted.
The clouds are heavy and gray. Is a thunderclap announcing the onset of a new war? Consider the multiple hot spots simmering as the world battles the worst pandemic in more than a century and a historic recession. India and China, nuclear powers with giant militaries, are locked in a tense standoff in the Himalayas. American and Chinese fighter jets are tempting fate above the Taiwan Strait. Turkey, Greece and Cyprus are chasing one another’s ships in the eastern Mediterranean, where U.S. and Russian troops are literally bumping into each other in Syria. If any of these hot spots explode, the U.S. could get sucked into a conflict. Would that help President Donald Trump politically?
Today on 'The Carlos Watson Show'
Meet the sh*t-talking unifier. Aida Rodriguez is the next need-to-know name in comedy. Today, she joins Carlos to discuss why Taylor Swift making collard greens angered her, her complicated relationship with fellow comedian Tiffany Haddish and the 'Karen syndrome.' How does her unique brand of comedy walk the line between insulting and uniting? Watch now.
If life is like a party and, according to Prince, parties are not supposed to last, do you surrender or give up?There’s apassel of people who are doing the former and readying themselves for a future of undeniable chaos.These preppers are hoarding silver, buying 121-year-old firearms, and doing all they can to claw at least one day more than the rest of us before the Anthropocene Epoch comes crashing to an end.
Speaking of firearms, antique and otherwise, sales of both are going through the roof. While credit is being given to COVID-19 and an excess of downtime to devote to “hobbies,” like hunting and range shooting, don’t discount a pressing paranoid need for come-the-revolution-style protection.
If the well-documented white flight into the suburbs was real, doesn’t it make sense that the current COVID-fueled pull to the wide-open spaces (and social distances) is just as real? Especially given how many news outlets are reporting it? Not so fast. Zillow just did an exhaustive study that poured cold water all over that theory.
4. Wild in the Streets
“Justified violence feels great!” So said Gavin McInnes, founder of the Proud Boys, a far-right group that encourages violence as a tool for silencing political foes. But since no one comes out of the chute an unrepentant right-wing “domestic terrorist,” we tried to figure out just how they’re made. Which is to say, how did a bunch of healthily middle-class males decide it was a skosh cooler to pack in some class-fueled thuggery rather than simply enjoy their trust funds. Turns out, the aforementioned McInnes might have an idea.
For those left with the luxury of getting bored and having too much family time these days, remember that is not the case for everyone. And it could get worse.
1. Time to Hone Your Nursing Skills
Thousands are facing new caregiving responsibilities for loved ones this year, owing to the closures (or simply the danger) of child care and senior care facilities. A recent survey from Archangels found that COVID-19 has increased demand for unpaid caregivers, with 61 percent of Americans reporting that they are providing care for relatives, friends or neighbors. Fifty-five percent of them say they weren’t caregivers before the pandemic. And don’t forget the kids: The Center for American Progress estimates that half of American day care providers could soon be out of business, eliminating places for4.5 million children.
2. Well, at Least the Kids Aren’t Having Sex
Teenage sex rates have been steadily declining for decades, according to the CDC’s Division of Adolescent and School Health. The decline briefly stabilized between 2000 and 2015, making way for the “hookup” millennial generation. But the last five years of data show a new decline. Why? For one, promiscuity has left the hookup generation feeling unfulfilled, and they’re nowlooking for more meaningful relationships. But the numbers will surely head further south thanks to the pandemic, which has kept teenagers from mingling, much lessfornicating.
According to the National Domestic Violence Hotline,approximately 20 Americans are physically abused by a partner every minute, presenting yet another dark side to lockdowns. Not only have reports of domestic abuse risen in some countries (reports in China’s Hubei province tripled during February’s lockdown and are up 30 percent in France), in places where it hasn’t, as in the U.S., the reasons aren’t reassuring: Fewer reports are coming in because teachers and social workers, whom kids aren’t seeing in person these days, are the usual whistleblowers.
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The growing climate crisis hasn’t taken a break just because 2020 is awash in other problems. Unprecedented wildfires, record hurricanes (and we’re only partway into the fire and storm season),deadly heat waves, drought, torrential rains and flooding underscore the urgent need to make alternative energy sources one of the most critical election issues in November. While President Trump continues to reject widespread scientific agreement linking man-made climate change to extreme weather stoking California’s ongoing, record-breaking wildfires, Joe Biden promises a $2 trillion climate plan to get the U.S. to net-zero emissions within 30 years. That makes 2020 a make-or-break election for the planet too.
As states across the U.S. went into lockdown in the pandemic’s early days, they also went into gardening overdrive, with chain stores reporting that they couldn’t keep up with demand for seeds and seedlings. That was likely linked to supermarket shortages, with people hoping to grow food for themselves, but also links to the World War II tradition of victory gardens. Seeds flying off the shelves is a common trend during economic crises, and while many Americans wouldn’t be able to grow enough to keep a family fed year-round, gardening also has mental benefits for those struggling to stay sane during the pandemic. Just don’t plant these mysterious seeds, which were sent to thousands of Americans from China and that authorities are investigating (and some people actually germinated and ate).