Saturday, September 26, 2020
"All across the nation, retailers are going bankrupt and closing stores. Evidently, this has been going on for many years, but as we are about to discuss, the bankruptcy numbers have never escalated as high as they did in 2020 in all US history. This is the worst retail cataclysm ever. To understand the extension of the damage - and if you haven't taken a trip to a mall since the sanitary outbreak has hit American grounds - let's picture a standard US shopping mall, with dozens or even hundreds of stores, consumers, and workers engaging, interacting and you can almost hear the sound of the economic activity flowing. Well, now this scenario is fading into a landscape that re-emerges almost entirely empty, with most stores closed, and the ones that remain open are liquidating stock so that they can shut down their doors for good, the customer presence is almost non-existent, the staff that used to be there to greet and assist the public is reduced to one person, timidly wearing a mask and standing alone behind the counter. That's no wonder why they call it "retail apocalypse", the setting looks exactly like one.
The stores are hollowed-out, malls are abandoned and the coming holiday season isn't likely to change much of this backdrop. In fact, big retailers such as Walmart, Target, and Home Depot already disclaimed they will not be open during Thanksgiving day, Black Friday, or even Christmas, and many other stores are bound to follow the same move. This month we recorded the highest retail bankruptcy rate of the past decade, and the struggle isn't over just yet, because the implications of more business closures will strike Main Street once again.
The columnist Donald Lambro has recently observed how damaging the effects of the virus outbreak were to this industry, leading retailers into a never-ending collision course. He pointed out that the new restrictions may have had a chilling effect on shoppers, who would naturally prefer to stay home and order goods online rather than risking exposure to the virus by venturing to department stores and shopping malls. Amongst the most reputed names that whether keep struggling to survive or have been already fatally pushed out of the market in face of the current crisis are Macy’s, Bed, Bath and Beyond, Kmart, Dunkin’ Donuts, Nordstrom, Lord and Taylor, Men’s Wearhouse, Joseph A. Banks, J. Crew, Neiman Marcus, Brooks Brothers and J.C. Penney.
Even though we do agree that the health crisis had a major influence on the collapse of this industry, it only boosted a trend that has been already happening. The massive bankruptcy surge didn’t just surface in February, along with the outbreak, but it certainly has amplified retailers’ problems. Since 2018, many of these businesses were signaling considerable failures in their activities. Back then, roughly 5,000 stores were closed, provoking shocked gasps in the markets. In 2019, the number escalated to almost 15,000 and the retail lay-offs experienced an increase of 92%. But nothing compares to what is happening in 2020.
A few weeks ago, we reported a Yelp study which has shown that by the end of August, 163,735 U.S. businesses on Yelp have closed since the beginning of the sanitary crisis, marking a 23% increase from July 10. The study outlined that in the wake of the virus-related cases surge and continuous changes in local restrictions still happening in many states it was possible to see both permanent and temporary closures rising across the nation, with 60% of those closed businesses not reopening, configuring in 97,966 stores that will now be permanently closed.
The coronavirus pandemic has sickened more than 32,590,000
people, according to official counts, including 7,059,281 Americans.
Coronavirus in the U.S.: Latest Map and Case Count
Friday, September 25, 2020
"The essence of any Totalitarian society is the politicization of everything, as everything must be either supporting the status quo or it's a threat to the status quo. There is no middle ground in a Totalitarian society and so everything - literally everything - must be politicized to assess its true nature of being "for" or "against" the status quo. In such a society, what cannot be politicized ceases to exist. It isn't counted or recognized, and so it fades into a netherworld of shadows, a dangerous realm where the mere act of attempting to recognize a non-politicized experience is itself a threat to the status quo.
You will of course be thinking of the former Soviet Union (USSR) and other Totalitarian societies. Here's an extreme example of how the politicization of everything works: a conventional worker in a conventional factory happens to mention to a co-worker that he dreamed Stalin had fallen ill, and this worried him. The co-worker reported this disturbing dream to the proper authorities, who instantly recognized the true nature of the dream and sentenced the worker to 10 years in the Gulag for having an anti-Soviet dream. (A 10-year sentence in the Gulag was so common that it was nicknamed "a tenner.")
In America circa 2020, "a tenner" for the wrong thought, opinion or dream takes other forms. Indeed, even the claim that a dream might not have a political angle is itself cause for being sentenced to "a tenner," because the core of the Totalitarian society is the politicization of everything. Every object, entity, image, document, historical "fact," person, thought, emotion, reaction, narrative, opinion, everything tangible or intangible, has a barely concealed political subtext in a Totalitarian society.
There is nothing innocuous, innocent or whimsical in a Totalitarian society, at least in the public sphere. In an era permeated by the cruel marriage of surveillance capitalism and the bitterly divided state, even the once-private sphere is subject to public exposure and shaming/sentencing.
As in an Orwellian nightmare, your "smart" phone, vehicle, TV or Alexa-powered doorbell can eavesdrop and record your private conversations and behaviors, and somebody somewhere has access to this data and can share it with others.
The ostensible justification is "your safety" or "to catch wrongdoing," but this is transparently false. The real reason is to discern your political crimes. You need not commit any crimes per se to be persecuted; all that's needed is some tiny bit of evidence that reflects your true beliefs which by definition must be supportive of the status quo via endless virtual-signaling; if not, then they are necessarily a threat to the status quo.
To remain confidential, everyday life must be treated as wartime. Your hand-written journal is safe, as long as you don't share it digitally. But since we've morphed into an engagement-based social order, your selfhood now depends on engaging others digitally via "likes," shares, etc. and sharing your most "engaging" images and experiences.
A non-shared, non-digital private life is now a form of non-existence that most people find painful and isolating. Hence the obsessive addiction to social media and "sharing" one's (carefully edited) life online. Alas, even the most careful editing cannot conceal your true beliefs which will be revealed by the smallest detail: your location, the brand of items you're wearing, etc.
In a bitterly divided society, your beliefs will be political crimes to one camp or another. Any attempt to "find common ground" will be dismissed as a self-serving ploy, or more dangerously, as a hidden agenda of the forces attempting to destroy the Party.
Those furiously virtue-signaling to maintain their political righteousness within their chosen camp find the sands shifting beneath their feet. The most extreme virtue-signaling is rewarded until it becomes a new threat, and then those who strayed unknowingly beyond the invisible lines will find themselves cast out for political crimes whose definition is constantly changing.
Is that so? I think it was Hillary Clinton who declared just a few weeks ago that “Joe Biden should not concede the election under any circumstances” - for instance, the circumstance that he loses the election. Of course, Mr. Trump, troll supremo, is simply punking his adversaries by proposing to play fair, that is, to play by the same rules they play by. And this only causes the Democrats to retreat into the chaos that is their comfort zone, where they hop up and down like fourteen-year-old girls in a tantrum.
The Democrats like chaos because it works as an effective smokescreen to conceal the dirty secrets of their private behavior, namely 1) the fantastic international web of grift among the Biden family that was just this week detailed in a report issued jointly by the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee and the Senate Finance Committee (none of which was reported by The New York Times, CNN, or MSNBC); 2) the widening gyre of John Durham’s investigation into the origins of RussiaGate and now, surprise surprise, also into the suspicious doings of the Clinton Foundation; and 3) the financing and orchestration of BLM /Antifa riot mobs by Democratic Party-affiliated non-profit orgs.
So then, there is the key matter at hand: The Democratic Party’s open promise to bring their trademark chaos to the November 3 election, based on the tactical plan drawn up in “war gaming” by the shady Transition Integrity Project this past summer. The idea is to swamp the country with harvested mail-in ballots in order to confound a resolution of the vote and sow chaos in the electoral college - to which they will bring an army of Lawfare attorneys who will engineer the desired outcome in the swing statehouses with Democratic governors, such as Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin. If Mr. Trump objects to these shenanigans, he’ll be labeled a “tyrant.”
It’s just the kind of election strategy that a gang of middle-school girls would dream up. Because they are hysterical fourteen-year-olds with undeveloped brains, it would never occur to them that Daddy might have a notion what they are up to, and a counter-plan to frustrate their scheme. They are in such a fugue of rage that they can’t think one play ahead on the gameboard. Well, as the wily Bonaparte once remarked, “never interrupt the enemy while he is making a mistake.”
The death of Justice RBG has amplified the hysteria. The Democrats are not just having a tantrum, now they’re chewing up the furniture, ululating, beating their flanks, discharging gobs of snot, peeing their panties, and foaming at the mouth. If he was anyone else but Daddy, Mr. Trump might have to take them out and have them shot.