Signs Are Everywhere: Businesses Have Changed Permanently as a Result of the Pandemic

There is no return to the “old normal.” Employment adjusts too. But it will take years to sort out the issues these sudden massive shifts leave behind.

By Wolf Richter for WOLF STREET.

One of the biggest permanent changes coming out of the Pandemic is that businesses have invested in technologies that have long been available, but that hadn’t been deployed because there was no visible need to deploy them, and because businesses were stuck in a rut, and change is hard and costly – and the rules of inertia had taken over.

But now the Pandemic has forced businesses to change. There is no going back to the old normal. And these technologies impact employment in both directions.

We encountered precisely that when we went cross-country skiing last week at Royal Gorge in the Sierra Nevada, which we do every year. What is said to be the largest cross-country ski resort in the US with 120 miles of groomed trails (if they’re groomed) had fallen on hard times years ago, filed for bankruptcy, and was acquired out of bankruptcy in 2011/2012. It is now operated by Sugar Bowl Resort, the downhill ski area nearby. There have been some improvements since then, such as new warming huts. But the resort remained largely low tech, or no tech. And even there, things changed massively and permanently with the Pandemic.

The way it used to work: You stood in line every morning to buy old-fashioned trail passes that you then stuck on your poles and that you then tried to scrape off at night. If you rented equipment, you spent more time standing in line. There was a website, but you couldn’t buy anything on it. There were quite a few employees involved in dealing with the skiers that wanted to buy trail passes and rent equipment. The place could get crowded, and customers wasted time standing in line and dealing with logistics.

Now, the requirements of social distancing and contactless commerce forced the resort to invest in an ecommerce website. You have to use the website to buy trail passes and pay for and make reservations for the rental equipment (actually fitting the rental equipment is still done in person at the lodge).

Trail passes are now rechargeable cards, similar to prepaid debit cards with a radio chip. You get them at an ATM-type machine outside the lodge by holding the QR code — that black-and-white square-shaped maze — of your reservation (paper or smartphone) under the scanner. And it spits out the card. You can recharge the trail pass online and reuse next year….

This should have been done 10 or 15 years ago. It’s superfast and convenient, and you don’t have to stand in line anywhere. You can park, scan, and ski.

And the resort has gone entirely cashless. You can buy some corn bread, but you have to use your card. Credit card transactions are automated. No one needs to balance the cash drawer or count cash.

And some of the staff that used to deal with the trail passes and other stuff are now either doing other things at the resort or are no longer needed at all.

But there are people who manufacture, install, and maintain the equipment, build and maintain the ecommerce site, and deal with the other issues that tech produces. They’re different jobs and only have a small local component.

This is a permanent change. And it’s an improvement for users of the resort. It may have also reduced employment at the resort, while supporting employment at companies that provide and service the technology.

I chatted with one of the employees at the resort. Trail pass sales were doing pretty good, he said, but equipment rentals were down by about half compared to last year. He figured that a lot of people have bought their own equipment.

This would be in line with a surge in sporting goods purchases that right off the bat last spring led to a shortage of bicycles and spiraled out from there, and led to the biggest-ever and ongoing spike in spending on durable goods.

It would make sense: quite a few people have apparently left San Francisco and other high-cost Bay Area cities, and some of them have moved into the Sierra Nevada, including the Lake Tahoe area and the whole strip along I-80, including Truckee, now that they’re “working from home” and can take a daily ski break between Zoom calls.

The healthcare industry has done a similar thing: Using technology to avoid contact, thereby making a lot of basic stuff simpler and cheaper. At our healthcare provider, we could always make a phone-appointment with a doctor. This was free and quick, and often all that’s needed for minor things, and avoided the time and cost of “going to the doctor.” This was an option.

Now telemedicine – or “virtual care” – has turned into a thing. Making video appointments is now encouraged. Prescriptions are filled online and delivered. When that’s all that is needed, it saves time for the patient and the healthcare provider.

Obviously, telemedicine still doesn’t work for many medical issues, but the routine issues that doctors spend much of their time on can be handled that way.

Only some of these technologies are visible to patients. For the healthcare providers, it meant investing in video tools and other technologies and in the infrastructure needed to support this on a large scale.

The Pandemic has also pushed even reluctant consumers and businesses into ecommerce. In Q4 last year, when brick-and-mortar stores were open nearly everywhere, ecommerce sales soared by 32% from a year earlier.

Package deliveries by UPS nearly doubled to 34 million packages a day, UPS chief information and engineering officer Juan Perez said at a Wall Street Journal event. And the company had to adapt and scale its digital technologies to deal with it. The Pandemic drove some of the most significant changes in the company’s history, he said.

The entire ecommerce sector, likely the biggest beneficiary of the Pandemic, has invested vast sums in technologies and infrastructure to deal with the surge in demand.

This now includes ski resorts and grocery stores and other previously unlikely suspects for ecommerce. They will not go back to the old normal, nor will their customers.

While lots of office employees who now work at home will eventually return to the office, the old times of nine-to-five every day at a desk farm are gone for many employees. Companies have invested in technologies to succeed with their hybrid work-from-home models, and they are cutting costs where possible by reducing the real estate footprint and related costs.

People who like working in an office can gravitate to employers that encourage or require it. People who like working at home can gravitate to employers with hybrid models. Companies will make one or the other a selling point when recruiting talent. That’s how that will wash out.

It will take years to sort through the issues that these sudden and often massive shifts leave behind. But from what I have seen, many of the shifts are positives and should have happened a long time ago – and only inertia prevented them from happening.

Enjoy reading WOLF STREET and want to support it? You can donate. I appreciate it immensely. Click on the beer and iced-tea mug to find out how:

Would you like to be notified via email when WOLF STREET publishes a new article? Sign up here.

  276 comments for “Signs Are Everywhere: Businesses Have Changed Permanently as a Result of the Pandemic

  1. MonkeyBusiness says:

    Dropbox HQ sold for a record price. Some people are still expecting things to go back to normal :)

    Softbank behind it?

    • Harrold says:

      All that hot money has to go somewhere.

      • MonkeyBusiness says:

        I don’t know. It all depends on the carrying cost. Right now, interest rate is low, but if it ever goes up and you have to unload, it’s double jeopardy time.

        • Jeffrey K Meek says:

          Wow, so you’re excited about the prospect of telling a 40 or 50 year old worker that they can now learn to code. I’m glad your life is so well ordered and perfect. I bet you cried for joy when Xiden killed the pipeline, cause you think hauling oil over Buffet railway is more “modern”. Guys like you are why the world finds itself in such a shit show.

        • Mira says:

          to Jeffery K Meek:

          I agree with U.
          40 to end of life-ers are left behind.
          What needs to be asked here is .. how much profit is being lost to the goods & services bottom line for the lack of training up the “OLDIES”
          It has got to be mega millions – billions.
          Technology need to be totally user friendly .. access gadgets need to be as simple as .. this is not impossible & yet THEY do not get it .. it is a money making venture stupid.

    • Cas127 says:

      Softbank or the Fed…somebody with more dollars than sense.

      On a more serious note, I know little about this particular deal, but in general, corporate PR will tie itself in knots to exaggerate sale prices…unless you can examine the finer details of a corporate transaction, it is very difficult to know just how much of sale prices are contingent, in exchange for heavily inflated other assets, accounting gimmicks, etc.

      And the legacy crapola MSM really doesn’t want to know the actual truth anyway…”huge” “record” prices make for much better clickbait.

      The financial press sometimes does a better job…they’ve been to this cow pie rodeo before.

      And…even if sale price legit…it is simply a function of destroyed interest rates grossly inflating (again) an existing cashflow asset thanks to how the Discounted Cashflow Formula is structured (lower rates = higher present value)

      • Anthony A. says:

        You man this could possibly be like another AT&T sale of Direct TV for $16 Billion? LOL!

        • Cas127 says:


          You left out the best part!!

          I’m fairly sure AT&T paid something like $48 billion for DirectTV…so, a mere 66%, 32B loss in maybe 5 yrs!


          And…this is a company that has managed to botch its competition with cablers…who are charging $100+ for minimum cable TV and $50 for minimum internet (both up about 100% in a decade).

          If AT&T had stuck to its knitting (let’s not forget WB buy…) it should have been able to pound the cablers into paste.

          Actually, I’m still not entirely sure how AT&T f’d it up…DirectTV is still only charging $65 for TV vs. Cablers’ $100+.

          How can you charge a third less…and *lose*!.

        • Thomas Roberts says:

          Losing the signal anytime it rains, certainly doesn’t help satellite TV. They never really seemed to do much to try to improve that, my XM radio doesn’t seem nearly as effected. The satellite guy installers will intentionally unhook up your antenna wires in the basement, even if it’s completely unnecessary, to create dependance.

          Having to install an ugly satellite dish doesn’t help and most apartments don’t allow satellite installations. Apartments are definitely getting more common. There are a shrinking number of rural livers for who satellite is still their only paid TV option (over the internet is still unrealistic for most of them). Though this could change eventually over time, there are continuous advancements in video files, making them require less data for the same quality. Also there is now AI upscaling, you could stream a 480p video (dvd quality) and then your TV or your new Roku/Apple TV/Android TV equivalent could make the image look almost as good as native 1080p (The Nvidia shield android TV device does this for certain apps already). Newer cellular towers (particularly medium range 5g towers) could decimate satellite in this market.

          Cable not adjusted for price is definitely better. There will always be at least some people for who satellite will be their only paid TV option, though it may not be enough to keep satellite providers going.

        • Anthony A. says:

          Cas127, The point I was trying to make is AT&T only really received a shade under $2 Billion in cash for the sale to the PE firm that partnered with them on the new DTV enterprise. The headlines make it sound like they sold it for $16 B.

          Yes, they paid $48 B for DTV. Sad.

        • Cas127 says:

          Anthony A.,

          Sorry I missed that aspect…even though it was your main gist (I only had vague-ish knowledge of most recent DirectTV deal).

          Yep, $2 billion cash on purported $16 billion sale price is good example of why not to rely on Corp PR/MSM reports.

          A cash price that low (depreciated eqp value?) suggests that DTV might not even be making an operational profit.

          Again, it is kinda hard to figure out how DTV screwed it up this bad.

          After huge upfront cost (but long ago), DTV is basically in the 100% markup business (pay 25 cents per subscriber for dozens of networks, charge 50 cents…).

          Yeah, there are satellite ops headaches (maybe), ESPN headaches (definitely), and subscriber churn headaches (usually self inflicted) but we’re talking just 4 or 5 mjr competitors in a mkt of 100 million buyers.

          $50 a month on 20 million subs is $12B per yr ($6 billion after TV network acq costs) and that sounds in the ball park of what the satellite network might have cost. But that was revenue from just one yr. DTV has been around 25 yrs.

          Just upsetting because I hate being left in the hands of the cablers.

          (And…this is another example of where, despite insanely low, gvt gutted interest rates, new large scale capital investments are *not* being made…low new housing, almost no new telecom networks…just stagnation and inflation).

        • Trailer Trash says:

          Cas: “How can you charge a third less…and *lose*!.”

          It’s easy when the customer service is awful and the installers are dopes. One place I rented, Dufus Joe screwed the dish to the metal roof. A month later, after a couple big snow storms, sure enuff the snow came off the roof and took the dish with it.

  2. Paulo says:

    I had to renew my van insurance last week. (ICBC). It isn’t due for 3 weeks, but better early than forgetting to do it and driving through a roadblock which I have done in the past.

    During Covid there were options of an appointment with an agent, or a combo email phone routine. No walk ins. The email provides the electronic tracks of customer confirming having read and understand the terms of the policy….takes seconds. The phone portion took a few minutes as the agent had to cycle around a website as our rates have decreased this year. My stickers and hard copy receipt/papers should be in the mail, today. I asked the agent if they will continue this offering after Covid and she said they were. Fantastic. It saves me a trip to town and/or a stop at the agents when I just want to get home.

    My nephew and son in law are now working from home and have for the last year. Both are in senior management and have lots of responsibilities to fulfill, so accountability is a given. One is a senior engineer and the other is an administrator. They both used to travel extensively for their jobs, one all around the World, and the other back and forth to Ottawa. Now they use zoom and other platforms, and when needed they structure their work day around the required different time zones. Beats air travel and hotels. Very efficient. Certainly much safer than cycling through airports and eating out, etc

    • 2banana says:

      A senior engineer not visiting projects and programs he/she is working on around the world…

      Very efficient…what could go wrong?

      • Anthony A. says:

        In the oil & gas business I could tell you about a lot of $h*t that can go wrong (way wrong – $$$$) if you don’t get your butt out there to make sure the job is done like planned. I have personal experience with that kind of adventure.

        But if you are just inputting *code*, I guess if something goes goofy, it can be easily fixed with a few keystrokes?

        • Mongoose says:

          You pay for what you Spec (project specifications)

          You get what you Inspect!

          Back to killin’ snakes

        • Mike says:

          In software, knowing what the end-user really wants is very difficult. Yes, they can spec it out, review it, sign off on it, etc. More often than not, when it’s delivered they are not happy. And most of the time they live with the inconveniences.

          Sending a developer to work with end-users for a day has always resulted in big changes to our software plans. Talking to them over the phone, or on Zoom isn’t a substitute. Watching them work with the software, over the course of a day, highlights things a developer or product manager will never think of.

          Being there physically has a lot of benefits.

      • J7915 says:

        To quote PRESIDENT/5 STAR General: IIRC once said that giving orders is easy, the problem is ensuring the orders are followed.

        So yes if top management is known to not make personal inspections, how do they know if their pearls of wisdom are having an effect.

        Cell phones and digital images can show the rough outline of an oh shit, but only an eyeball view at the location will convince some really bright boys that 10#s of bs just won’t fit into a 5# bag. The credentials only go so far.

    • Zammo says:

      In the UK personal motor (auto) insurance is done entirely online.

      You type your registration plate into an online aggregator, which pulls up all the technical info about your vehicle (engine size, # doors, even the colour) but you need to enter your personal details such as address, age, marital status and claims history.

      Within about 5 mins you have prices from dozens of insurers and you can bind within minutes.

      Why is it so different in the US and Canada?! Too much interia and protection of intermediaries’ jobs?

      • Wolf Richter says:

        In the US, it’s done online too. I haven’t been to an auto insurance agent in at least 15 years. They might still exist somewhere. I just don’t need to go there.

        • Anthony A. says:

          Exactly, we have been buying car, home and umbrella policies for 25+ years here now and I have never been to the insurance brokers office (if she even has an office). It used to be by phone but in the last 15 years it’s all done online and with emails.

          With the exception of processing a claim where an adjuster needs to inspect the damages, even those are handled online through completion.

        • Thomas Roberts says:

          Right now, I still use a car insurance agent, the reason is that they know what insurance providers are most likely to actually fulfill your claim. Online reviews are becoming increasingly untrustworthy, because companies pay for fake reviews. The agent also may be able to help in the claims process if needed and they don’t really seem to cost much, if anything.

          I could easily see almost all insurance buying going online though, if it does, you can always ask repair shops, what insurance providers are good, they will tell you as they don’t want to deal with sh*t ones.

        • Gordian knot says:

          I lowered my deductible on glass and comprehensive to 200.00 for that they required a physical inspection

        • Harrold says:

          Can you sell insurance online? I thought it was still pretty much illegal to sell insurance across state lines ( except medical now and in states with reciprocal agreements ) ?

          I thought sales were still required to be done by a physical human ( not computer ) residing in the state of the buyer?

          Can a company in California sell a car insurance policy to someone in Texas?

          Would the company need to have an employee on staff licensed in the state of Texas?

        • Wolf Richter says:

          You can sell insurance online, no problem.

          Insurance is regulated by states. So there is an issue with selling insurance across state lines. Therefore, each insurer, when you check out their pricing, will ask you first about your location, such as a zip code. Without this address info (to determine which city and state you live in), you will not be able to obtain a quote.

        • Thor's Hammer says:

          US Medicare billing is a perfect example of how “efficient” a fully digitized system often is. In my case I started getting past due notices from the clinic associated with a small local hospital. I demanded an itemized bill (three times before they complied). Of course the itemized list only contained billing codes, not a description of actual procedures. I finally physically showed up on their doorstep and demanded a hearing. (This is a 19 bed hospital where there are only two billing and coding agents. Imagine if it were Kaiser/Permanente!! ) The summation of the discussion was that they agreed that the account contained bills for two lab tests that should have been paid by Medicare.
          “Fine I said—, correct the bill, send me a new one, and I’ll settle the outstanding bill.” “I can’t change a bill that has already been approved by Medicare—- that would be fraud” — exclaimed the fraudster.

          The result is that I have moved my closest medical care to a provider who is 35 miles away across an avalanche prone mountain pass. Whenever I need major medical or dental care I fly to Mexico at a cost less than the 20% deductible charge on my Medicare “insurance”.

          I used to work in Vancouver Canada. When I started work at my new position the financial secretary called me into her office. “Have you gotten your Care Card yet? “I’m a Dammed Yank–Don’t I have to wait a year a year before qualifying for Canadian health insurance?” She replied, “You are in a civilized country now— we don’t allow residents to go without access to health care.” She handed me a one page-one paragraph form. I signed it and my universal, 100% prepaid Care Card was in my mailbox within a week.

          ( ps. the only doctor’s offices I’ve ever been in without waiting for 1/2-1 hour while the doctor shuffles between patients were those in Canada.)

          (In the USA 45% of medical costs go to cover administrative expenses and billing, and the up to 1,000 % overcharge for specialty patent medicines. )

    • Wisoot says:

      Understanding terms of policy in seconds – who does that benefit? Rarely are they one page. Why make them simple? Better for business – complex – long – and now in most cases – not read. Utopia or dystopia?

      • Thomas Roberts says:

        It doesn’t matter what the policy says. It matters what are the odds of your insurance provider covering your claims. All insurance contracts contain enough loopholes to get out of anything. Your insurance agent and/or local repair shops can tell you what providers actually cover the most claims with the least hassle.

      • buddhahacker says:

        Most of the language in each Declaration page is dictated by the state’s Insurance Commissioner. That also includes the fonts to be used, the number of lines per page, location of sections on the page and the icons/logos to be used.

        • Thomas Roberts says:

          That’s the declaration page though. One of the major problems with car insurance is that it always includes a exception if you drive in a dangerous way. This matters because after an accident the other person can lie to claim it was your fault and if there is no witnesses who stay around and back your story, your insurance provider can if they choose to, can deny your claim. This doesn’t usually happen, but it very often can.

          The declaration page is usually nearly laid off and does say what kinds of things are covered, it however doesn’t go over dispute resolution and other important factors.

  3. Bobby Bittman says:

    This is also another way a person can be “cancelled.” Payment providers already do this to high profile wrong thinking organizations. It won’t take long for it to reach the plebes.

    • William Smith says:

      Seems a bit like the “mark of the beast” doesn’t it?

      • Wisoot says:


        • NBay says:

          I don’t get it. “666”?

          Which incidentally was the S&P absolute low during the GFC, I watched it live, 666 and some change. Anyway, I expected the preachers to be having a field day with it, but nothing. Guess they were all heavy in the market, too.

      • flashlight joe says:

        My car insurance company in LA is AAA, and they receive reports from smog stations telling them the mileage on my car. This is to verify I wrote down the accurate mileage on my insurance form to AAA. I found this obtuse “new rule” in my insurance renewal form and of course could not buy the insurance without “agreeing to the terms”.

        Corporations are now becoming a branch of the government.

        The Beast is everywhere.

        • Trailer Trash says:

          “Corporations are now becoming a branch of the government. ”

          And governments are branches of the corporations. Just as explained by some fella named Benito Mussolini:

          “Fascism should more properly be called corporatism because it is the merger of state and corporate power.”

        • Swamp Creature says:

          This is outrageous!. Now I am not going ever consider getting AAA auto insurance.

        • NBay says:

          Trash- Excellent post.

          I had an uncle who showed me first hand how this blending is accomplished…a very rich, well known and VERY highly connected lobbyist. My cousin, his son, claims he had a well known Senator (among many others in DC) “in his pocket”.

          Anyway, that experience and your post renders the “free market” vs “big government” debate a moot point, to me, as the blending has now gone just too far.

          Which is why I prefer to talk about “class warfare” and “wealth” inequality” as the major issues/problems in the USA.

        • RDE says:

          That’s what lawyers are for— to create hidden loopholes for theft through non-performance.

    • Stuart says:

      “ Bobby Bittman “ ?
      How are ya ?
      Best comedy series ever.
      SCTV, of course.

  4. S David Leigh says:

    Wolf, you mention the changes are for the better. I am not convinced. Wealth moves up the line from what I can see and the unemployed get screwed.

    We have to look after the middle class or there will be big trouble ahead IMO.

    • ThePetabyte says:

      Survival of the fittest has always included those who rapidly adopt new technologies. It comes from our lineage as hominids who have the propensity of using tools. It’s a bit of a heartless take, but the speed at which people get left behind due to the lack of resources will only increase.

      • 2banana says:

        Survival of the fittest?

        More like survival of the government well connected.

        Walmart can remain open 24/7 but small businesses are forced to close.

      • Harrold says:

        And being born poor.

      • Stuart says:

        “ Survival of the fittest “ ?
        1. From each according to their ability, to each according to their need.
        2. The machinery of Capitalism is oiled with the blood of the worker.

        • Javert Chip says:


          The first is a communist slogan from Marx, the second sounds like millennial bat guano.

          Capitalism is nothing more than an individual having ownership of the results (bad & good) of his/her efforts.

          Before you yammer about “oiled with the blood of the worker”, you might read up on Lenin, Stalin and Mao.

        • intosh says:

          “Before you yammer about “oiled with the blood of the worker”, you might read up on Lenin, Stalin and Mao.”

          So it’s a mutually exclusive relationship? Because Lenin, Stalin and Mao have blood on their hands, it necessary means it cannot also be the case with other ideologies, in this case, capitalism? Or do you mean because Lenin, Stalin and Mao have blood on their hands, it’s acceptable for capitalists (for lack of a better label) to have too?

          “Capitalism is nothing more than an individual having ownership of the results (bad & good) of his/her efforts.”

          Define and quantify “effort”. Otherwise, that line is nothing more than propaganda.

        • Trailer Trash says:

          Javert said, “Capitalism is nothing more than an individual having ownership of the results (bad & good) of his/her efforts.”

          I tried to bring home some of those printed circuit boards I made at the factory so I could sell them myself, but the Boss called the cops.

          So maybe wage workers don’t really get to control the results of their efforts after all. Although they do get a bit of control (sometimes) when they engage in concerted activity (labor union).

          I really did work at a printed circuit board factory in 1973. But I only brought home damaged hearing, exposure to dangerous solvents, a few dollars, and maybe the cancer now growing in my bladder.

      • 91B20 1stCav (AUS) says:

        TheP-just curious, how far have you, personally, successfully and completely, removed yourself from any beneficial societal functions derived from general cooperation amongst the society you live in?

        For that matter, what are the true definitions of ‘fittest’ and ‘heartless’ in the context of the creation/successful maintenance of a civilization? Discuss.

        may we all find a better day.

        • ThePetabyte says:

          Personally my removal from the collective would actually be fairly mediocre from an external perspective. I have a decent job in IT, but the same tinkering spirit that got me into IT is the same spirit that made me cynical of most platforms these days.

          However each person is their own individual and I recognize that not everyone shares from the same pool of leveragable resources.

          I do believe it is heartless as much as it is relentless. No one asks to be born, but to live disconnected is to live disadvantageously.

        • NBay says:

          “Survival of the fittest” is genetically (scientifically) true up until The Neolithic Revolution.

          Not long after that the “organization of a civilization” renders it meaningless scientifically, because all “civilizations” are totally man made constructs…..just “tools”, as mentioned.

          Therefore, I chose this early observation on said “tool” as more relevant to 91B20’s excellent and concise question/point.

          “Wealth is the parent of luxury and indolence, and poverty of meanness and viciousness, and both of discontent.” ― Plato, The Republic

        • Dan Romig says:

          Plato is not someone to contradict, but here goes:

          Wealth is being able to live and act on one’s own terms.
          As such, I consider myself to be quite wealthy.

          My occupation as a street hustler and a broker of tickets for my clients and customers is finished due to technology and Covid. The timing is perfect though. Guys making cash flipping sporting event tickets outside of stadiums and arenas is probably never coming back.

          I’ve got a lot of long time customers who miss having me as their connection, but most have and will adapt by using internet services like StubHub.

          Almost all of my clients are not going to return to being season ticket holders in the foreseeable future, and that’s an interesting dilemma for the owners as a huge piece of revenue is gone.

        • Wisoot says:

          Petabyte – a valued IT view. Ty

        • NBay says:

          The Plato quote is about the organization of civilizations and is about the wealth distribution aspect.

          Here’s one more suitable for individuals.

          “The greatest wealth is to live content with little.” Plato

      • Jonas Grimm says:

        Did nobody tell you that social darwinism is a failed ideology? If so, let me be the first.

        • NBay says:

          Yep, it is some group’s purely social agenda trying to cloak itself in Science.

          Very similar to faux-Noble Prize winning Milton Friedman’s lengthy supply side “scientific paper” “proving” what’s commonly known as “trickle down” economics, which was immediately jumped on by Reagan’s handlers, and resulted in large portion of the causes of the economic mess usually discussed/lamented on this website. The other major one was the Vietnam War, 2/3 of WW2’s cost in today’s dollars. And finally the gradual undoing of FDR/Eisenhower era law, primarily financial and and tax law, was the icing on the cake.
          All Corporate directed.

      • Swamp Creature says:

        Yep, the take not only only heartless but stupid.

        I’ve heard this word “Tools” used over a 1000 times in the last 10 years alone. This reliance on tools is another way to get the lemmings in this country to follow along with the ongoing propaganda from above that technology is here to save you, and anyone that doesn’t get aboard is obsolete and should be cancelled.

        Unless the “tool” works and increases my productivity and NOT someone elses, I’m not interested.

        The only tool I have confidence in is my own brain.

      • Thor's Hammer says:

        Well maybe— if technozombies are indeed the fittest for the Brave New World.

        Nature always bats last. Unless the zombies can be genetically modified to prosper behind their masks that deprive them of sufficient oxygen for proper brain function. Or perhaps breathing 3x the level of CO2 recommended by the CDC will turn them all into plants?

    • Old school says:

      Gunlach just posted a another presentation with wonderful charts you will not see anywhere else for free.

      Long term 50 year trend nominal GDP grinding slower and slower (10 year average 3.3%) and amount of income provided by government increased from 5% to about 25%. Looks like the setup is financial repression. Run inflation hot, yield curve control if 10 year backs up above 2% is his guess.

  5. David Calder says:

    I love this website.. My take on this is not only are companies going cashless, as much as possible, but also employee-less, as much as possible. We all know of jobless recoveries from recently past recessions but this looks to be off the scale. Nothing will ever be the same from small things like grocery stores having help-yourself salad bars to massive construction booms that transformed cities like Seattle building tens-of-thousands apartments for a techie boom who can now work from anywhere, USA. As I understand it, Seattle techies who choose to work from anywhere are taking pay cuts which probably means many are going to be forced to work permanently from wherever home is and whose pay cuts will not be voluntary.

    • Paul from NC says:

      I’ve heard what you describe is happening at some corporations. At my place it is happening in the other direction: people moving from Silicon Valley to NC, and keeping their CA wages. What a deal…the locals stir with resentment.

      • Robert says:

        “At my place it is happening in the other direction: people moving from Silicon Valley to NC, and keeping their CA wages.”

        NC is certainly alot like CA from a crazy traffic and strip mall perspective. If you like San Fran or So. Cal, I don’t get the same vibe in NC at all. Nice people but kind of dead.

        But you are correct, it’s inexpensive. (for now)

      • Old school says:

        Maybe it’s not that different than the textile business. Moved from Great Britain, to New England, to South, to China, to Viet Nam and now on its way to Africa I think I heard.

        • NBay says:

          Yeah. I remember visiting my Grandpa, well into his 70’s and working at one of the last USA shoe factories in Sparta, NC.

    • Brant Lee says:

      What’s the deal with taking pay cuts to move out the city anyway. It doesn’t sound like a good precedent to start. The corporations will probably send a drone around once a year to evaluate employee living conditions and adjust salary accordingly.

    • yossarian says:

      @david calder “My take on this is not only are companies going cashless, as much as possible, but also employee-less, as much as possible. ” my thoughts exactly. everybody is loving this remote work now but eventually the companies will figure out that they don’t need so many full time remote employees and that they can hire the ones that they do need in low labor cost areas. they will take the lessons they learned from outsourcing previously and apply them to the new normal.

  6. Rowen says:

    My friend who owns a pet boarding facility has seen revenue drop by 70%. Work from home killed the daycare biz since the majority of those customers are young professionals. And because of travel/gathering shutdowns, no one needs multi-day boarding anymore. So far he’s gotten 2 PPP and 1 EIDL, but I’m not sure if he’s gonna make it if WFH becomes permanent.

    You don’t want to say “Learn to Code”, but how long do we keep propping up zombie businesses? We propped up the airline and cruise industries, when we could have spent the funds to develop high speed rail or fiber internet. Yes, the pandemic would not have allowed for some types of employment, but I’m sure some small WPA-type projects would have feasible.

    In contrast, as a result of stimulus following the GFC, China was faced with massive industrial capacity. Instead of just propping up these SOE, China sent the excess capacity and labor globally to build the BRI.

    • Anthony A. says:

      My friend who owns 6 Burger Kings here in north Houston is now down to 5 active as the franchise was up on one and he elected to not renew due to low sales. He owns the property and has it for sale, but there are *tons* of commercial properties listed for sale here. The windows now have plywood on them due to vandals breaking in. This is in a HCOL area too!

      This morning at our daily ROMEO coffee meet up he mentioned that the remaining 5 locations are adding kiosks and laying off some employees. He also said Corporate BK Management has been raising certain prices and at the same time featuring certain menu items as specials that you can’t make money on. Those specials are seen on TV commercials. Sneaky!

      Door Dash has been a thorn in his businesses side since the pandemic started. Corp BK signed a contract with DD and DD get the orders for a 25% discount to retail price. Pus they get priority over drive thru and walk in customers. In addition, the franchise fee he pays is 8% of sales so he sells the DD orders for roughly 33% off retail. Not a good thing. I suspect BK corporate gets some of the 25% DD discount through the back door.

      Two of his locations have gasoline and convenience store sales and those are carrying the remaining three BK’s.

      Tough business.

      • Bobber says:

        …and its getting tougher. Beef prices are up 100% the last couple years. Chicken and port up a good 30%.

        Yet, I’ve ever seen more two-for-$5 type deals at McDonalds, Wendy’s, Arby’s, etc.

        I had two kids in the car a few weeks ago and we stuffed ourselves for less than $10, ordering off the McDonalds dollar menu.

        Profits must be getting squeezed. Either that, or most people shun the promotions.

      • Petunia says:

        Whataburger is the new new thing and very good too. Maybe your club should meet at one next time.

        • Anthony A. says:

          We meet there on occasion, but it’s always pretty full inside by 7:30 AM when we meet.

          We have upwards of 12 old guys who try to meet daily (except Sundays). The BK is big and never fills up so it’s a better choice, and one of our members is the owner. Plus, the BK is more convenient for most of us guys from a distance standpoint.

        • Anthony A. says:

          Oh, Whataburger is (was) a Texas family owned joint and has been around here for decades. But they did sell out to a firm in Chicago a year or so ago.

        • Brant Lee says:

          How right you are. We don’t have a Whataburger locally but sure go out of our way to stop at one if we’re out of town. In 2019 we hit about 3 traveling south through Louisiana to the coast. Popeyes chicken is the second choice.

        • Lisa_Hooker says:

          Speaking of whatsa burgers, I do miss Maid-Rite.

      • char says:

        Shouldn’t that be 31% or are they so sneaky that they don’t exclude the discount they give away

      • flashlight joe says:

        The American workers will be stomped into the ground as long as we tax wages, salaries, and tips.

    • Old school says:

      If investing in high speed rail in the USA could turn $1.00 into a $1.06 annually somebody would have already done it. If government has to do it you can be certain it will turn $1.00 into something less than a $1.00 annually.

      There is no problem with freight rail being regulated free enterprise industry because hauling freight by rail is the cheapest long haul method when you have a few days to get there. I think they used to say it was cheaper for taxpayer to give people a airline voucher than subsidize Amtrak trip to Florida. Rail is environmentally more friendly for sure and society will have to weigh the cost vs. benefit of that.

      • Lisa_Hooker says:

        Wanted to take a train from Chicago to Palm Springs.
        Over $300 and over 46 hours. For a coach seat. I guess you have to have a core rat-brain fear of flying.

        • Lisa_Hooker says:

          Of course I could have taken a compartment for $2100. The trip is Chicago -> Washington, DC -> Miami. I guess no railroads in Indiana or Georgia.

        • VintageVNvet says:

          Passenger trains are truly a mess these days leaseA, that’s for sure!
          Reminds me of my still fave train trip ever: Given Christmas leave in 1964 from Great Lakes Naval Training Center ”A” School, and a RT ticket to Tampa, the train was 6 hours late leaving Chi town because they kept adding cars to accommodate everyone going to FL for the holy days; and similarly at every major stop, so 24 hours late to Tampa; but what a really GREAT party ensued!!
          Female folks getting out of the old time gender specific colleges of the upper midwest, not having any male company for months also aboard made for a memorable occasion, for sure!!!
          And the ride from Emeryville to Truckee a couple of years ago was almost equally fun, with a couple of people who knew the rules sharing fine Cab and other wines and snacks with the whole compartment, as we went through some of the most beautiful lands on earth!
          Just read an article re how much ”Gen Z” would love to have high speed rail in USA, similar to other now more developed countries around the world, and I can certainly see their POV.

        • NBay says:

          And we ALL most definitely do, Lisa. I learned that when I was beginning to skydive…..people kicking at air madly with no memory of it afterwards on first 5-10 sec delay jumps.

          Tandem jumps (or even assisted) are like riding on the back of a motorcycle, you really do learn it best all ALONE in that big desert of air.

  7. Jon says:

    If the jobs require more automation, then I see a lot of these new jobs being outsourced to India or just run by techs with H-1B visas. And the America worker gets it you now where, one more time.

  8. Alberta says:

    Let me tell you about Living up in the hills and going to town once a month —

    folks hunger for human contact; long chats at market with June, Amanda the postmistress saves my packages when we’re snowed in, Marlee at garden supply shows me her peony collection.

    You’ll see, the pendulum will swing back. People will long to converse with another.

    • Exactly this. I 100% agree. This is temporary.

    • Wolf Richter says:


      This article wasn’t about “living up in the hills.” It was about adoption of technologies by businesses, such as a ski resort, that are now a permanent change in how the businesses operate and deal with their customers.

      • Alberta says:


        I am quite able to comprehend what this article is pertaining to.

        My point is ‘businesses’ serve customers and not all are urban dwellors, or tourist destinations.

        A fair amount of rural communities are cash-based, and business/customer dialog are vital to economic growth.

        Just as your work is supported financially by community efforts (my own), I am pointing out human contact is the grease that keeps businesses growing, not automation.

        • Paul from NC says:

          “A fair amount of rural communities are cash-based, and business/customer dialog are vital to economic growth. ”

          Absolutely! Small business in the country is done by cash, barter, or future favors.

        • Ella says:

          Alberta and Paul. Any business that doesn’t take cash from me will be boycotted and badmouthed from here on. I refuse to participate in the credit card swipe ripoff, or further automation. I want to see my neighbor’s children working in local businesses, not deal with voicejail, automation and other job destroying tech.

          The expression “your money is no good here”–explanation for ‘Tweens and youg uns, meaning the business is giving you a freebie because your are a returning war hero or local good guy–, that expression no means my business is not good enough for you. As the Biden Depression kicks into high gear later this year, those cash rejecting businesses will be sorry.

      • ridgetop says:

        My son went skiing up at Boreal near Truckee. Ditto, same process you described to get tickets. so now you can get skiing faster once you are there. The problem is with people moving up there, a friend that has a cabin up there said, and the local Bay Area news stations are reporting that there are traffic jambs all the time now up in the Tahoe area. I am not complaining though, because of city exodus, there still is a hell of a lot less traffic in the Bay Area now. I am loving it.

        Before Covid the traffic was driving me nuts in the Bay Area. I was even thinking about moving, not now!

        Interesting side note: Because of Climate Change a climatologist, said in the future the best ski resorts will be south of the equator. Hmmm?

    • Hernando says:

      I lived in different parts of the country and over a year on another continent as a foreigner. It is not easy to live an isolated life. It’s even harder to be productive. Human nature is what it is; cream and money will follow the productive… not a coder working in the basement drinking coffee from maker plugged in next to the washing machine, who’s in dirty sweats and a ripped tee-shirts with stains from yesterdays frozen lasagna meal.

      I can’t do business with somebody I don’t know. I can’t give several thousand or hundreds of thousands to a person I never met or met just once. I know some dirt balls that I had to meet and work with to know their inner core.

      Work from home? Not a chance- the winners will work in the inner circle. Those who get by will work in the basement at a minimal- reliable- non threatening- pace. Like Milton from the movie Office Space.

      • Lisa_Hooker says:

        The winner wannabes will live and work out of hotel rooms. The winners will live anywhere they want, and maybe work, sometimes.

  9. 2banana says:


    Not seen this anywhere. Especially health care, restuarants, car repair, education, etc.

    “Using technology to avoid contact, thereby making a lot of basic stuff simpler and cheaper.”

    • Wolf Richter says:


      It’s for sure everywhere in health care. And remote learning is now a big thing too at all levels.

      In terms of restaurants, the first evening I spent in Japan in 1996, my new Korean roommate took me to a ramen shop down the block, operated by just one guy. We ordered and paid at something that looked like a vending machine by the door, pushing buttons under pictures of ramen dishes. The chef read our orders from a screen above the workspace in the open kitchen and fixed our dishes. When he was done, he put them on the counter in front of us. He never had to waste his time taking our order or messing with money. Worked like a charm in 1996. So what’s the big deal now, suddenly? This is ancient technology. It just hasn’t been adopted in the US.

      • Sea Creature says:

        Ah yeah, ramen ji-dou-han-bai-ki’s. Those things are great.

        The best thing is no need to be waiting around trying to find ‘your waitress’ for a drink refill while your food gets cold.. oh, and the joy of not needing change all the time for tipping,. :-) Its always nice going back to Japan..

  10. rhodium says:

    It’s fine because stocks keep going up. They’ll say, it’s your own fault for not “investing” and that’s why you’re still in the middle class.

  11. Alku says:

    Wolf – a bit offtopic: do you skate or do classic style? Just curious.

    • Wolf Richter says:

      Both. There is nothing like classic after fresh snow that has been freshly groomed. I totally love classic for that, the technique, the power it requires, the movement. But when snow turns to ice or slush, skating is a million times better.

      In other words, conditions are not often good for classic, but nearly always good enough for skating.

      • Alku says:

        (I myself never looked back once I learnt skating…)

      • Mel says:

        :) In ungroomed snow it’s exactly the other way. On frozen wind-scoured lakes, or way back in Québec when it never melted and road crews just graded the snow — then skating was a really nice change. (Skate-skiing was just about to become a thing then.)

      • Lisa_Hooker says:

        Real men telemark everywhere. NTN bindings are for wusses.

  12. fizee says:

    Thank you again Wolf, providing again real life examples of how change is affecting so many people. This site seems to attract adaptable people like Timbers, Paulo and many others who have the ability to adapt to whatever changes are thrown at them. But it is not so comfortable for a large section of the population. Most readers have probably watched Nomadland, perhaps the Australian series Struggle Street and the even more horrifying Skint Britain Friends without Benefits (a man takes his dog hunting for rabbits etc for dinner). These are the people who “could not keep up” or “have been left behind” (take your pick). Yet they once often lived decent lives until their jobs went the way of the rust belts.
    The covid changes as you show have made many things possible. Surely we can come up with other changes to give people their lives back. Social welfare is not the answer (check Skint Britain) but the dramatic changes needed are as possible as covid. A century ago in London the majority of bank lending went to genuine productive investment. Today only a small fraction with banks lending mostly to each other, overpriced housing and commercial realestate. This represents the financialisation of our societies where finance has become an end in itself. What we need now is a covid disease that inflicts the financial sector.

    • lenert says:

      No great love for wall street but instead of a virus killing people you could just go with a FTT – a sales tax for all the shit they sell would limit the amount of shit they sell.

    • Cas127 says:

      “providing again real life examples”

      Well…it *is* cross country skiing…

      At least it wasn’t biathlon.

      Or curling.


    • Paulo says:


      Thank you for including me on your adaptability list, (and for the great comment), but…. I’m 65 and live rural. I’m not adaptable enough anymore and I look around and see it everywhere. If I was working in most of the WS reader’s environments I would be screwed. Screwed. Unemployable.

      Unless you use it and keep up, (skills), you are finished in any modern office/workplace environment. My sister in law is ten years younger and she is forever implementing new tech changes at work. We inherited an Ipad this year and finally got my nephew’s girlfriend to set it all up for a new user. It excluded us. Never used an Apple before so had no idea about the terms and pull down menus to do a set up. Might as well have been Martian.

      My 80 year old friend is now so far behind I had to make his doctor appointments for him during Covid as he cannot even function in a voicemail environment. I listen in on appointment calls in case he gets flustered and stuck.

      It’s like we are all living in different worlds. I am waiting for Nomadland to be available in Canada as the reviews I read struck a chord with me, big time. It is easy to see why folks who fall by the wayside for a year or two end up on the streets or living rough. It’s also easy to sympathise with those floundering workers just trying to hang on to until retirement, and safety; a safe way out.

      There are all kinds of people out there who have lots and lots of experience, but I’m not sure if it has much value in today’s world? Going forward this may apply to more and more groups with every economic slump we survive. My Brit friend said it this way, “I got my redundancy, so decided go move here.”. With him it meant no more work available. The noun is defined as, ‘the state of being not or no longer needed or useful.’

      Given time it applies to all of us so perhaps individuals need to prepare for it somehow? At the very least, accept it could happen. Anyway, your comment really made me think.


      • Alberta says:

        I too am rural, and I have to laugh when Techs brag about ‘adaptability’ and ‘early adaptors to change’. Put them in a survival environment and watch them implode.

        Tech bigshots,
        can you run a chainsaw, lay a foundation, plumb a well, keep solar apparatus running?

        If not, then shut the FU about adaptability.

        • JK says:

          I agree with you 100%. When I got into renovation and landlording, I realized how much I didn’t know and am always learning new things. I love doing this stuff. BTW, I work part time in medical field.

          These tech guys tapping on keyboards all day hopefully are doing some exercise or getting some sun. They are also limiting their brain development looking at screens all day.

          Just an FYI, there are community colleges that offer classes to learn various programs and other things. I have done this so I speak from experience. I believe Apple offers courses at their stores. I know this is on the back burner due to Covid, but we should try to force ourselves to keep pushing a little. I go on YouTube to learn things sometimes that I don’t know to do on my computer, phone or whatever.

        • c_heale says:

          and can you farm…

        • Inno says:

          Hey Alberta,

          It doesn’t seem to me the answer is one side or the other. For me, being able to span new and old tech, as well as other disciplines is real adaptability. Workable skill in mechanical (lathe, mill, welder), electrical (power and signal), finance, law, building (framing, concrete, plumbing). Specialized skill in a range of new tech as well (coding, semiconductor, etc.).

          Rather than disparaging any particular skillset, the better answer is to learn as many as possible. No one skill makes one a bigshot…at least not in the long run. There is even talk that coding may be one of the first tasks AI can most easily replace humans in. Talk about training your replacement!

          Oh…my 16 year old daughter has to learn to drive my old truck with a stick shift. Trust you’d agree.

      • w.c.l. says:

        Paulo, by all means see Nomadland (I have) and read the book. It’s scary to see the people from many walks of life that had a bad turn in life and are now on the road scratching out an existence hand to mouth (I don’t ever want to have to live like that). The apartments where I’ve lived for years no longer take checks, all rents have to be paid online with credit or debit cards or a direct link to your bank account (all with a service fee attached). Even the washer/dryers in the laundry room only take cards. The mini neighborhood Walmart down the road remodeled the other day and got rid of all their cashiers, It’s all self-checkout now. What was that old H.G. Wells movie, The Shape of Things to Come?

        • Ella says:

          Self checkout is an invitation to steal from the faceless, souless, machine. Anything under $940 is a misdemeanor in California.

          Plenty of online tutorials how to fool the self checkout. Go for it, because it’s your civic duty to punish job destroyers, unless of course the prices reflect getting rid of employees, which they never do.

          See “The Robots are coming for Phil in accounting” for a preview of white collar jobs about to be destroyed.

          “Sprint Automates 50 Business Processes In Just Six Months.” (Possible translation: Sprint replaced 300 people in the billing department.)

          “Dai-ichi Life Insurance Saves 132,000 Hours Annually” (Bye-bye, claims adjusters.)

          “600% Productivity Gain for Credit Reporting Giant with R.P.A.” (Don’t let the door hit you, data analysts.)

          Resist automation.

        • Wolf Richter says:


          I’m with you on this, but I have a website, this site right here, and you’re able to comment from your device — all of it because of technology. Everything in between you and me is automated. The entire internet. My server does its thing 24/7 on its own as long as it’s plugged in. This is automation. Thank god it exists :-]

        • Brant Lee says:

          I sure don’t like Walmart and how they destroy jobs but studying how to beat self-checkout ain’t productive time for me. I’m down to buying very little at Walmart (as my revenge) and slipping out with a loaf of bread is ghetto.

        • Paulo says:

          If I am running late to the reading field I like to start at the bottom of the comment page and work up. It’s fun, actually.

          Just wanted to tell Alberta and WCI, +, the day I retired I signed up for my class C welding course.! One day a substitute instructor sidled up to me and said, “Don’t take this wrong, but aren’t you a little old to start a welding career”? I cracked up laughing and said, “I’m just a home welder who wants to get better at it”.

          I agree with everything you said. Spent an hour this morning reading about the fuel injection system on my van…. trying to learn wtf is going on with a fuel pump cavitation noise? Thankfully, know a shop owner that specialises in them if the two options don’t work out, plus have a new spare. But here’s the rub. We can learn to weld better, and I’ve built scads of houses, plumbed, and done electrical with my kid, etc….but that only takes us up to the oughts. After that, with sold state and chip circuit boards we can do nothing. If you have boards with old transistors you might not even be able to find replacement parts anymore as they will not have made that run for decades.

          I’m afraid we have reached the tipping point into complexity. Certainly if the the house of cards tumble the old poachers and fixers among us will survive and get on with farming and kitchen gardens, as we mostly do anyway, but lord help us to ever right the wobbling ship into another time of prosperity such as this.

          Covid isn’t even a cell. It’s a replicating protein as I understand it. You think this is change? What happens if a few crop cycles fail from climate change? People won’t be thinking about WFH, they might be hiding out at home.

        • Lisa_Hooker says:

          We must smash all the stocking frames and their makers before the machines drive us into destitution and abject poverty.

        • Lisa_Hooker says:

          @Paulo – Funny, as I’ve been looking at community college welding classes, tuition paid by government. I think I’m older than you. I’d like to;get better at welding with a torch and arc; never done MIG or stick overhead before. I had an uncle that torch welded aluminum fire truck ladders for a living. Tricky stuff welding aluminum with a torch.

      • Clete says:

        Really well put, Paolo and fizzy. There are a lot of us unintentional entrepreneurs and unexpectedly early retirees.

        • Lisa_Hooker says:

          Old joke from Orange County, CA, in the aerospace crash days. Three engineers are sitting on a curb sharing a smoke. The guy in the middle is unemployed. The other two are consultants.

    • Felix_47 says:

      Good observation fizee. Certainly the run up in real estate in the US is due to financialization. Houses are kind of like bitcoin. And one has to have a fair amount of capital to get into it. Better tax policy would solve the excess financialization. For the US just funding the IRS properly and auditing high earners would suck up some of the extra money the Fed is giving the finance industry. Obviously instituting fair taxation such as a financial sales or transaction tax makes sense. If we pay sales tax to buy whiskey or cigarettes or cars why should we not pay sales tax on buying parts of companies? And if income taxes were significantly raised a lot of people who are more or less spinning wheels to grind out more rent, lawyers, transactionalists, now doctors even will take Wednesday off and play golf instead of scaring people into unnecessary surgery or treatment or litigation. And we could have significant tort reform that would dramatically change the dynamic. And campaign finance reform. In the US it might happen in the next 50 years. I am pessimistic after watching the presidential election stolen in South Carolina at the primary level because of the power of the finance industry and I include health care as part of that industry. The US no longer is a representative democracy and that might end up being our Achilles heel.

    • Chris Herbert says:

      The FIRE industry imposes costs on American businesses that makes them non competitive. Eighty percent of bank loans are for property. Backed by the property collateral. Interest rates have to go up. It sounds nonsensical but that’s just because our mainstream macro is useless. Taxes should go up, as well. As the tax rates plummeted so too did real productive investment. The Rentier class is running things now. Into the ground.

    • Jonas Grimm says:

      Sorry, but social welfare is the only answer. Stop with the ‘we don’t live in a society’ bs. Greed is not good. Humans are social creatures. We are stronger together. Take care of each other or die alone.

      • cb says:

        A people must be vigilant against concentrated wealth and power. Financialization and a rentier society is its by product.

        Debt and Finance is the Devil’s playground. Modern slavery.

        • nodecentrepublicansleft says:

          Real wages in the USA have been flat for 50 years.

          The min wage has gone up $3.90 in 40 years….for the math impaired, that’s less than ONE THIN DIME per hour, per year raise for the most vulnerable people in our society.

          The regular folks like myself, don’t have any lobbyists in DC. The corporations and wealthy are stealing from everybody else. They used to pay their fair share…in the 50s-60s-early 70s.

          In the last 50 yrs, the greed and short-term thinking has put this country on the road to ruin.

          I love capitalism. I am a capitalist. I’ve been investing and making money since I was 14 yrs old. However, we need common sense/decency injected into our system.

          Take for profit health care. You don’t need to be especially bright to see that making $$$ off of Grandma’s brain cancer is immoral.

          We don’t need to destroy the govt…don’t need anarchy. The big lie in 2020 was that DJT won the election. The big lie before that was that “Govt is the enemy.”

          Govt isn’t the enemy…it’s simply broken. We need to fix it so it serves regular people again and not just corporations and the wealthy. This is obvious.

        • cb says:

          @ nodecentrepublicansleft said: “I love Capitalism”

          Capitalism is a wonderful system for those who have a good deal of capital. The struggle for wages is that of wageslaves.

    • Pete in Toronto says:

      “A human being should be able to change a diaper, plan an invasion, butcher a hog, conn a ship, design a building, write a sonnet, balance accounts, build a wall, set a bone, comfort the dying, take orders, give orders, cooperate, act alone, solve equations, analyze a new problem, pitch manure, program a computer, cook a tasty meal, fight efficiently, die gallantly. Specialization is for insects.”

      —Robert A. Heinlein, “Time Enough for Love” (1973)

      • Lisa_Hooker says:

        “Love a lass, kill a man, write a book, fly to the moon…” RAH “Glory Road”

    • NBay says:

      “Surely we can come up with changes to give people their lives back”

      The Green New Industry and Energy Conservation Project is just begging to be SERIOUSLY started here. Many countries already are. Waiting on “market forces” is not an option. They are not the sentient deitys some personal agenda driven “believers” would like to teach us to think they are.

  13. Mutthead says:

    If you’re working from home you aren’t living in Truckee; worst internet in the world– given the cost of living which approaches SF.

    • Harrold says:

      Elon Musk’s company Starlink is bringing internet to those remote areas.

      • That will destroy the red state mystique. You isolate these people in geographic culdesacs and forcefeed them Fox news 7/24. Radio is the tribal drum, and TV provides the visuals. Living in isolation they are forced to believe the tribe is a lot bigger than it really is. What happens when folks with fancy stay at home jobs move next door to these rurales, who believe in conspiracy cults because they live in one?

        • eric olson says:

          So says the Guy living in a conspiracy cult himself.

        • Seneca's cliff says:

          They will each have their own conspiracy cult. The original red staters will believe with all their heart in the Q anon conspiracy and the new remote working blue staters will believe with all their heart in the Blue Anon conspiracy theory ( yes this is now a thing).

        • Clete says:

          Ambrose, you’re smarter than this. I’ve read many of your comments and this one isn’t worthy of your intellect.

        • MarkinSF says:

          So true. Exploring Modoc county CA I drove up to Lakeside OR. Just thought I’d check out the local AM radio so I hit the search button to land on the next available station. It was the Rush Limbaugh show. So I hit search again. On the next station was the Rush show as well. 4 more times I hit it and came up with Rush on every station! On the next click I was returned to the original station. Nothing, absolutely nothing was to be heard on AM radio in that vicinity except to hear Rush’s booming voice. Absolutely true story.

        • nodecentrepublicansleft says:

          I used to drive around the SE for my job…acquiring land. I would sometimes turn on AM radio out of boredom. What I found surprised me. There was only a few types of radio shows in FL where I live:

          Sports, Jesus Channels, Mexican music and right wing hate talk (Rush Limbaugh and his many local imitators). I would try to listen to them as long as possible, to see if they ever said anything: true, rationale, etc.

          The people who listen to this nonsense….all I can say is I felt and still feel deeply sorry for them. I wasn’t raised to be an elephant or a donkey. Don’t really care about “parties”, just the occasional politician with a good idea.

          I always thought being fiscally conservative and culturally liberal made a lot of sense. By the way, nobody “cancelled” Dr. Seuss. The Seuss Foundation decided to not produce a few of his unpopular books. Look up their own statement on it.

        • NBay says:

          Damned good and concise Sociology, AB.

          “Radio is the tribal drum” is particularly good….so naturally I will steal it.
          Which is also a good time for a favorite Dick Gregory quote of mine;

          “If you have something really good, you don’t have to sell it to people, they will steal it from you”. (works great on JWs and other proselytizers)

        • NBay says:

          A classic response Foolson!

          Yer one, too!….. right down to the needless capital letters.

          Never argue with a stupid person, they will drag you down to their level and beat you with experience- MarkTwain

          How did I do for playground “comeback”? (aka retort)

          The country is still a mess, but at least that playground stuff has subsided a lot.

      • roddy6667 says:

        At $99 a month and $499 for the router and antenna, it won’t be too popular with Joe Sixpak or Larry Lunchbox.

      • polecat says:

        “Paging Mr. Kessler to the emergency red phone!”

    • Wolf Richter says:

      OK, I was working from home, so to speak, while I was up there last week. So, here’s an update on the internet:

      I get about 17 Mbts via my smartphone as hotspot nearly everywhere we stay. This is my backup (because I gotta work).

      But the places where we stayed over the past 10 years always had good wifi. We rarely stay in Truckee. We stay in the Soda Springs area just before you get to the pass because it’s so much more convenient.

      • char says:

        Tourist town without good internet would have died as a tourist town in 2010 as there are plenty of people who only book in places with good internet. Besides you would have needed internet for the bookings. But the same is not true for small town America

      • Cas127 says:

        On a very marginally related note, I think some of your loyal readers might be interested in some of the details about how you make “work” (running on WordPress? Who hosts? How much does that cost given millions of delivered pages? Believe commenting system is separate, who hosts/runs that? How do you get graphs imported?, etc.)

        Inside baseball, Indeed, but inquiring minds would like to know…

        • Wolf Richter says:


          I think about six people would be interested in it. So here it is:

          WOLF STREET runs on a dedicated Linux server in a data center on the East Coast.

          The server software is Apache. The interface is cPanel, so I can find my way around the server. There is other software on the server that is needed to make it work. Then there is PHP, which WordPress runs on. WordPress is the content management system (CMS).

          I spend many hours a day in WordPress. I don’t often deal with the server (try not to).

          I pay a monthly fee for the server: this is a “managed server,” so if there is a problem, I can get the folks there to try to solve it. They will also update Apache, PHP, and other software upon request, and things like that. When the server goes down, I contact them so they can try to solve that issue.

          Once, a contractor dug through the fiberoptic cable that the data center was on, and that took many agonizing hours to get fixed. Another time, the power went out (lightening or something), and the whole data center went down for about 30 minutes. Then when they brought the power back up, it triggered a massive issue in the communications system and the whole thing went down again, for hours this time… cascading failures.

          Glad I don’t have to try to solve these issues. All this is included in the monthly fee.

          Eventually I will need to replace the old box with a new box, and they will also gladly do this for me.

          WordPress itself is free.

          I pay for daily off-site backups of the server. I hope they work if I ever need them.

          There is some security stuff I pay for.

          In terms of the content (articles, charts, etc.), I upload those via WordPress to my server.

          The commenting system is by WordPress as well and resides on my server (unlike other commenting services that are hosted by third parties).

          When you post a comment, WordPress uploads that comment to my server, and from there everyone else gets to read it.

          If you receive the email updates, they’re handled by MailChimp, not by my server, and I pay MailChimp for this service.

          In terms of inflation: the prices of all services I use have risen between 7% and 15% over the past three or four months. There have been several years without price increases until then. So yes, WOLF STREET feels the pain :-]

        • Tom Pfotzer says:

          I’m interested, and thx, Wolf.

          Never ceases to surprise me how open/free you are w/info. Bottle that attitude, and give it away on the street-corners to the young.

          They are going to need to learn to play a new game.

          Keep it goin’, Wolf.

        • NBay says:

          Yeah, THANKS! That was VERY VERY interesting. I figured your house was getting full of all sorts of boxes….honest!

          I started with tubes, microwave/broadcast RF, all analog, on thru digital, and followed the whole thing up from TTL component level design/repair, to VVVVVLSI, to finally becoming a computer board jockey, (but still with plenty of fun wiring/motor/servo/switching problems to deal with) and finally when I had to be a box jockey, play with ethernet, Cat 5, RJ-45s, LANS, WANS, and TOO MANY FN MENUS!!!, etc, and was essentially locked out of the ever self-complicating software, I completely lost interest (it just wasn’t hands on electronics anymore), so I bought some bare land, and before/after/during my 16 years of building a house/ranch, became quite comfortable and again was playing at component level on my alternate power electricals, breadboarding things like driveway bells, generator interfaces, and such, mostly for fun on long winter nights. Thanks Digi-Key!

          Guess I’m now a Luddite/Amish and using a tool of the devil, at present.

          Oh, BTW, here’s something you AI/self crashing car/etc, fans/believers should CAREFULLY look into before you so smugly talk mere boxes doing even simple brain chores.
          And forget quantum computing…appears to have a 50/50 error check vs computing problem based in quantum mechanics, which is all probability stuff, in case you didn’t know. (Good enough approximation for 1 mm MRI resolution, though.)

    • VintageVNvet says:

      10-4 doggie!
      Talking to a digital services entrepreneur friend in Truckee area recently, he said his teen is using their entire bandwidth ”cap” for school these days.
      When I asked him what a cap was, he laughed or cried, not sure which, and explained it to me.
      Maybe one of the reasons the saintly part of tpa bay area is attracting so many young people these days — as opposed to its well deserved reputation as ”God’s Waiting Room formerly — as we are now on competitively priced fiber optic system with no cap that I know of and approximately 10 times speed of Trucksters IIRC.
      Likely another artefact of the monopoly of ATT in that area???
      He also said the Starlink, as reported so far, is going to be prohibitively expensive, and not likely to attract anywhere near the users hoped for.

    • Russell says:

      Small price to pay for living in some of God’s most beautiful country. Not to mention getting to ski in Kirkwood.

  14. Kenny Logouts says:

    When everything is digital, and thus can be perfectly copied and made available everywhere, and controlled from anywhere by anyone, we’re doomed.

    Data leaks happen continually.

    Soon it’ll be important data.

    Whole mobile phones with your 2FA getting cloned.

    The inertia slowing this technical progress down in the past let us learn lessons in a smooth manner and perhaps change what wasn’t working as we go along.

    The sudden rush has left lots of exposure.
    Imagine all the security issues and exploitations that may now exist in the wild due to rushed implementations… way beyond the capacity of security experts to audit.

    I’ll be keeping my data (and body) distant from everything that this pandemic has rushed to offer.

    Let others be the guinea pigs.

    To be clear, I’m not a technophobe. I quite like the leading edge stuff. I just think to deploy everything, everywhere, suddenly, certainly won’t work out well for everyone.

    • Wisoot says:

      This – kenny logouts – on point. Plan to make vulnerable – for more control.

      • NBay says:

        “Vulnerable/more control”……

        Kinda like when Alexa (or whoever) first begins to occasionally ignore and then refuse to operate the things in your house, or car, or schedule food deliveries, and finally tells you to “eat shit and die”, and then just gives you the “silent treatment”…?

        ….audio “services” don’t use women’s names and voices for no reason. ;]

        • NBay says:

          Actually I don’t want that attempt at humor to sound too sexist, so more to Kenny’s point, the female voice starts calling herself Olga or Oke, and same scenario follows.

  15. DawnsEarlyLight says:

    I remember of 30+ years ago, of slightly deviating from the ‘groomed’ trails at Royal Gorge. A patch of trees, and a 20+ ft cliff left me slightly exhilarated!

  16. Seneca's cliff says:

    My son is in TV/Movie video editing. Before Covid almost everyone had to work on-site because the data volumes were too high to transfer over the internet efficiently ( Raw footage for a simple movie can be 30 terabites). The only way this data was moved around was huge hard drives carried by couriers. My son had assumed he would have to spend his life in one of the three spots with concentrations of this activity ( NYC, Atlanta or LA). But Covid changed all that and studios/ production houses and newsrooms invested huge amounts in remote video equipment. With this the software and video footage is on site on a server at the studio, while the editor is controlling it remotely, with only the commands and keystrokes being sent over the internet. This also gives the studios control and security of their expense raw movie footage. Now my son can work from anywhere with a decent fast internet connection. He is looking at buying a house near us in a new subdivision in the outer reaches of the Portland Metro Area with a special city provided fiber optic network with up to 4 gig speeds. He thinks that now that this big money has been spent the industry will never go back. Once travel opens up he may only need to go to LA or NYC for meetings.

    • Wolf Richter says:

      Examples like these are fascinating. Companies are coming up with creative solutions to huge technical problems associated with working remotely.

      • Kenny Logouts says:

        Remote Desktop connections aren’t new.

        The biggest issues with this are most films are 4k these days, and often HDR too, so to pipe 4k hdr to a level sufficient for editors and colour grading or CFD will demand huge bandwidth.
        I can’t imagine you having any luck unless you’re in the 100mbit+ dedicated connection range. Ie, wife on zoom and it’ll get a bit hard to do your video work.

        Also latency can be an issue where you’re doing things that need instant feedback.

        Stadia is this for gaming, with its own issues.
        The PlayStation and Xbox could one day not even exist as bought hardware, and just be online accounts.

        The tech will get there but it’s also complex for other reasons.

        Ie, I think Adobe and Autodesk would love users to just remote into their apps, say via a stub interface or even a browser with a login.
        How that works with your own data security is another issue.
        So you may end up logging into a work machine and then that logs into the software provider, who also house your data.

        They couldn’t not host your data as it’d need constantly piping up and down stream. Terabytes per hour.
        So for this to work you’d need to give all your data to these 3rd parties, who would no doubt also use cloud services themselves.
        The concept of security goes awry if Amazon Web Services leaks or has accounts hacked and a film studio loses all its films.

        So all good for now. Until just one part of the chain fails, then you’re tools down.
        Internet down? Can’t work. Your home machine down, can’t work. Work server down, can’t work. No one can work. Work internet down. No one can work.
        Currently if you work at work, you have your workstation and maybe sync files to local machines or a local server (more likely vs the single mega remote server you’d likely use if doing remote work), so lots less likely to be stalled by failures of the technology.

        Yes you can have backup systems and connections and hardware etc, but it’s not free. In fact it’ll be flipping expensive. And it’s stacking up and up, leaving huge potential for cascade failures.
        Ie. DNS goes out, no work. AWS local server down? No work. Login systems go down. No work. A new update is pushed out with a bug (shock!) and everyone using application X has a day of no work.
        Loads of small ancillary services that are essential but if they fail hundreds or thousands of people are sat unable to do anything around the world.

        Again we’ve rushed to just do this and wow, yeah, look how cool this is.
        Wow factor, new shiny thing.

        Let’s judge this is 24 months and see what businesses make of the pros and cons over a decent time scale… rather than reacting based on a novelty factor where the problems have been conveniently ignored “just to make this happen”

        In the software world at least, this trend is only bullish for investors who’ll get trapped consumers in their pay as you go ecosystems.
        Autodesk and Adobe are currently peak pushers of this end goal.

        • Clete says:

          Good points, esp. re: Adobe. We paid thousands (I want to remember about $3k) for Adobe CS4 for our small agency ten years ago. Now the disks are useless and the only way to use the products is by subscription.

        • Thanks for the clarity KL. I learned to edit on a flatbed. In film you often have to go back to the original to see what you have. Now I suppose you can graphically fix anything, but not offsite. Seems that film editing is turning into a bureaucracy, with creative decisions made based on the latest fads, and sensual appeal. My prof would rent a 16mm print of a Godard film, for his film history class, then run a work print off it, and take it apart later frame by frame in his editing class.

    • Alku says:

      At least as far as technology is concerned, it’s not COVID related. Remote terminals have been there for quite a while; even Windows RDP is at least 10 years old.

    • yossarian says:

      @Seneca’s cliff i work in the same business and though what you write is accurate, it is only part of the story. the remote editing works remarkably well. much better than it did at the start of the pandemic but there are still lots of problems. our network has difficulty finding cloud services that can reliably handle the data speeds and outages between the various systems are common. i still work on site in new york and a big part of my job is fixing and revising the video that won’t make air in time, if it were done remotely. 200 stations missed a network package on the noon news about the chauvin trial yesterday. the reason: a poorly trained gen z editor didn’t know how to recover from a video database crash (that she should have seen coming) fast enough to get the thing pushed to air. if she had been in house, either engineering would have coached her through it or i would have kicked her out of the chair and fixed it in five minutes. the sad thing is that as long is she works remotely, she will never benefit from the mentoring that old timers like me used to provide to people her age.

      • Seneca's cliff says:

        You are right this is only part of the story. But I am just relaying the simple part of it my son tells me, I am sure it is much more complicated than I am portraying it. But he has been doing this way since September and has not had many problems that I know of. He is pretty computer savy and has had a lot of old school mentoring for a kid in his low 30’s. He has been perfecting his craft since high school and is good enough he was recently inducted in to A.C.E. Which if you are in the craft you know is a very unusual thing for an editor of his age.

    • Cas127 says:

      A bit confused…don’t the huge image files still have to be streamed across the limited bandwidth internet for an editor to see/edit them? Installing big/fast servers at the central worksite would not seem to get around the public internet chokepoint.

      Granted, only a short span of the raw film is being streamed (not the whole movie downloaded at once)…but Netflix has been doing that retail for a decade…

      I guess I thought that film editors were dealing with such raw, high res footage…and so much of it at once to edit properly…that that the public internet bandwidth was the limiting factor, not the massive central servers (which always had to be around in the first place to hold all the raw footage in toto).

      I am genuinely curious, because the editing/FX houses appear to get paid a ton of money, largely based on their unique access to Big Iron computing, of the sort not really suitable for transmission across the still comparatively narrow public internet.

      • yossarian says:

        @Cas127 the choke point is both the internet speed and the server size/speed. for production houses the issue isn’t that complex because nothing needs to stream in realtime and the editing is usually done by one person at a time. however, i should point out that the file size used in production is exponentially larger than what is used for streaming by netflix, etc.

        once you deal with broadcast, it get’s crazy. multiple editors have to share material coming in from multiple locations and then distribute it out for customization to multiple locations. you can load the local storage on the individual edit system either by import (files) or ingest (video). the files are then copied to/from a central server at the network so that others can access them. we have over a thousand workstations connected to our central server. the individual edit stations update at different rates depending how they are connected.

    • Lisa_Hooker says:

      Remote consoles have been around a long time. I started using VNC about 2002. Unix/Linux/Window$/MacOS – it’s just like “being there.” Still use it at home between computers. Beats a KVM switch – except for booting ;-).

  17. char says:

    Found the statement that “”it MAY have also reduced employment at the resort a bit weak. It definitely will reduce employment at the resort. This whole internet/cloud/WFH will kill small town America leaving only the top 100 regions + the nice places occupied by people. The expectation is also that Amazon (and its competitors) will raise the prices for those mailed to the out of the way places.

    • BrianC - PDX says:

      Not sure they’ll raise the prices. I think eventually they will just stop service to those places. Or… leave that to the USPS and get the government to subsidize it at a loss. Pushing USPS service out of the big metro areas, or any place where a profit could be made. This way Amazon/Walmart/FedEx/UPS can privatize the profits and socialize the losses in delivery.

      • NBay says:

        Big mailers have been trying to cherry pick the USPS for 100 years or more, as have delivery service companies.

        Face it, when you have a mandate to deliver everywhere in the country for the same price, and a mandate to “break even”, you are a sitting duck for pirates (excuse me, entrepreneurs or business men) with 1/4 a brain and zero social conscience.

        As usual, when so many pirates attack a lame ship, there are huge gains for the pirates and huge losses for everyone else either paying for or relying on the ship.

        It’s only defense is that it’s been a major and valued part of this whole country and culture since day one, but pirates have also been a nasty bunch for even longer.

    • Wolf Richter says:

      “…definitely will reduce employment at the resort.”

      Yes, I would think that, and I would have liked to say that with certainty, but I don’t know that. If I had said it, the manager of that place might have sent me a nastygram, stating that all this technology caused him to hire a bunch of people to deal with the tech, and now he has as many people on his payroll as before, or whatever.

      In other words, unless I see the payroll data, I’m just speculating, and I have to indicate as much and be careful how I say this.

      • VintageVNvet says:

        And I, for one, and think that most if not all on here really really appreciate the truth of that last sentence Wolf!!!
        At this point, is the ONLY place I have any trust in regarding the verisimilitude of the reporting, AND the moderating of the commentariat that continues to be lacking most every other site, no matter the quality of the reporting.
        THANK YOU!

      • Lisa_Hooker says:

        Wolf, you’re about the closest we can get to a “Fair Witness” (RA Heinlien). Bless you for that.

  18. Swamp Creature says:

    Because of the Pandemic I order many of my necessities from mail order catalogs. I can shop at home while lying on my bed and get everything I need delivered right to my door. I use a $500 gift card for all my purchases, to avoid getting hacked, which is nearly every other week. Essentially, I’m operating in a mode like ordering from a Sears catalog in the 1950’s. You can have all this high tech garbage. I’m not interested.

  19. Swamp Creature says:

    All this remote working is step one to outsourcing more jobs to third world hellholes. All the lemmings that are bragging about the great benefits of WFH are going to find the globalist mafia cancelling them out of the workforce permanently. The only jobs left in the USA will be those requiring hands on contact, like landscapers, dental hygenists, home appraisers/inspectors, construction, metro bus drivers, grocery checkout clerks etc. The rest will be gone.

    • Robert says:

      “All this remote working is step one to outsourcing more jobs to third world hellholes. ”

      This is the end game, although most jobs in construction have already been outsourced.

      As robotics advances you’ll need fewer and fewer people. Cops will be replaced by robotic monster dogs and telemedicine will be AI generate doctors.

      People are becoming serious liabilities to the honest generation of a profit. Heck, let’s get rid of all the people, save the planet and run a simulation of an honest and just human society on a computer 24/7.

      • NBay says:

        Without drastic changes, it probably will happen exactly that way (except for the computer part).

        The only questions are what the interim will be like for the humans still living and how long.

        Long John Silver said, “It’s them what dies will be the lucky ones”, and for what it’s worth, it is mostly pirate thinking that brought us here.

    • Lisa says:

      As a mental health therapist computers can’t do energy work or trauma work yet

      • Petunia says:

        Computers are increasingly used to monitor vital signs and diagnose illnesses. Adding language pattern recognition and stress evaluation are the only things missing from computerized therapy.

    • Eugene says:

      Metro bus drivers will ve gone by 2025 with selfdriving.Middle class will be gone by 2025.

    • nodecentrepublicansleft says:

      I’m not a lemming! I’m a boston terrier-pug mix!

      I’ve been WFH for 20 years and like it a lot! I have flexibility….get my job done and it doesn’t matter when/where I do it.

      I can work from a table outside of a starbucks. I can work from my couch.I can do most of my work at night when I prefer to do it.

      No road ragers. No traffic jams. No waiting for the printer. No stupid / weird co-workers. No office politics. Don’t have to shave or even put on pants!

      It’s called “Freedom”! All of this makes for a much more productive and happy worker. I’m sorry you can’t see the utility in WFH…..

      • Swamp Creature says:

        I’m in a hybrid mode, working 85% WFH and 15% in the field. About 25% of my home space is taken up with work related bull S$it, including 11 computers. I still have to go out and deal with road rages, traffic jams, bad customers, incompetent contractors etc. You do what you have to do to service your customers. Not everyone can live in some utopean environment. I stand by my previous statement that many jobs that do not require hands on contact will be gone.

  20. Michael Gorback says:

    I don’t think the pandemic caused most changes. I think the pandemic just pulled those changes forward from the future. A lot of them were already brewing before the pandemic and the trends were massively accelerated.

    Shopping malls were already dying. The pandemic just killed them faster.

    I bought Zoom in 2019. I wasn’t thinking about infectious diseases when I invested. Then the pandemic hit and the growth I expected over the next few years got pulled forward all at once.

    I knew corporate workers who worked from home several years ago. The pandemic just accelerated adoption.

    Who wants “old normal” anyway? Necessity may be the mother of invention but imperfection is the father. We had imperfect ways of doing things and now we have better ways.

    • Swamp Creature says:

      Michael Gorback

      This is total BS. There is nothing good about all of this. I’ll take the old normal any day.

      • Wolf Richter says:

        Swamp Creature,

        If I had my druthers, I’d cherry-pick some things from the old normal, some things from the new normal (whatever that turns out to be), and some things that don’t exist :-]

        • Swamp Creature says:


          I’ve got 11 computers in my home to run my home finances, taxes and businesses. I’m not against technology, but I am against the way it is being used to dehumanize people and destroy personal relationships. I pick and chose how I use it. And many times the old horse and buggy methodology works better.

        • Swamp Creature says:

          Speaking of horse & buggy technology, I just finished my Fed taxes, doing the whole thing using linked (3 deep) Excel spreadsheets that I created and use every year. They are on an old off-line computer, not connected to anything, for security purposes. I have 2 Schedule C’s and 1040, that’s all. Don’t use any tax S/W. Don’t take any home office deduction, even though I use about 25% of my home for business. All my figures are transferred by hand using ink onto paper forms, xeroxed and send in using snail mail, certified, lessening the chance of an audit, not that I have anything to hide. Report every nickel due. This is horse & buggy technology if there ever was any. Works great!

          Don’t pay or use an accountant and don’t intend to. Never been audited.

        • Wolf Richter says:

          That’s about as secure as you can make it. And congrats for having done your taxes already. I just started lining up my ducks all in a row…

        • Swamp Creature says:

          I never got my $1,200 pandemic rebate either that I was entitled to. The IRS probably looked up my voting record and didn’t like what they saw so they didn’t give it to me. When I did my 2020 Fed taxes there is a line 30 where you can put the unpaid rebate as a tax credit. I’ll be getting a refund instead of owing taxes.

      • Michael Gorback says:

        What color is the sky on your planet? I never said this was a good situation. I said the pandemic forced us into an accelerated rate of change. We already had remote working, robotics, contact-free gadgets, etc. These were not designed in anticipation of a pandemic but as any engineer will tell you they’d rather use existing parts than have to design new ones.

        So we had these tools laying around and saw an alternative use that fit our immediate needs.

        “There is no means of avoiding the final collapse of a boom brought about by credit expansion. The alternative is only whether the crises should come sooner as the result of a voluntary abandonment of further credit expansion, or later as a final and total catastrophe of the currency system involved.” – Ludwig von Mises

        THIS is your “old normal” – the false sense of security that lies between the gap between the consequences of the real estate bubble and the inevitable consequences of QE, Operation Twist, and the other Fed games.

    • VintageVNvet says:

      AGREE MG,,, almost totally, exceptions:
      1. ”Lazyness” is the mother of inventing/creating a better way IMO, as best exemplified by LBJ’s comment regarding picking cotton as a teen.
      2. There is no perfection available any time for any process for any human, and THAT is the real ”human nature”, in spite of the many many forms of abuse of the that term to describe various and sundry and extensive characteristics of our species, usually as an excuse/reason for ”bad” behaviours, bad in the eye of the commenter of course.

      And for SC,,, folks just gotta keep in mind that the only constant is change. If we like it or not, change is happening, is going to continue to happen.
      Best to do your best to at least try to comprehend the change that IS happening, and then do your best to figure out how to live with the change with as much peace in your heart as possible.

      • Swamp Creature says:

        I have nothing against change, but a lot of the change I see and resent is just organizations using technology to offload their work on to you for no benefit to yourself, and serves no purpose or productivity gain, except to save them money and personnel. I could give you a dozen examples. I’m surprised that you can’t see that this is happening, instead of reciting those talking points that I’ve heard 100 times.

        • Lisa_Hooker says:

          SC – the ideal is to have only a board of directors – everything else is offshored or outsourced. I’ve long endorsed offshoring the C-suite to MBAs in India :-)

  21. ru82 says:

    It will be interesting how it works out. I think the majority of WFH will save company money.

    I worked for a big Fortune 50 company and they tried moving to the work at home model. They required employees to come in once a week.

    After a year they stopped. They found out people were doing a lot of other things at home too. Like remodeling and painting rooms, walking the dog, playing games, working next to their pool.

    I think companies just need to have good manager who can micro-manage daily activities now than in the past.

    • VintageVNvet says:

      WFH will work well for any kind of work that has clear metrics of accomplishment built in to the deliverables for that work; other kinds of work not so much.
      Worked very remotely from Jan17 to Jun19, and both the company and I were completely satisfied with both the process and the products delivered and the compensation/cost.
      It was a truly fascinating and amazing experience for this old guy who started in industry before any fax machine, etc., to be able to watch in real time as a design professional updated drawings a continent away, or some times even all the way across the globe, while listening to many others discuss the changes appearing and the cost/constructability implications of those changes.
      The fascination alone tempted me to continue working beyond financial need and age 75.

    • Swamp Creature says:

      “I think companies just need to have good manager who can micro-manage daily activities now than in the past.”

      This will never work.

      From what I witnessed of the work performance of the contractors who handled our IT contract at my Fed Agency I would hate to see how they would perform if they shifted to WFH. They didn’t do any work while they were in the office on the job, or in the server farm. So anyone who would expect them to perform much better in a WFH environment is delusional.

  22. gnokgnoh says:

    I work in justice. Most courts have had to rapidly implement video hearings for almost all types of cases, although there is still a strong resistance to jury trials by video. In some states, a defendant has a constitutional right to confront their accuser in person. Nonetheless, many of these restrictions are being lifted. Judges are holding hearings from their kitchen for serious cases. It’s amazing.

    More important, New Jersey just implemented statewide online dispute resolution (ODR) for contested traffic cases. Soup to nuts, including the trial. This is rapidly being expanded to all case types, civil and criminal. It’s driving lawyers crazy, because a well-designed system gives a litigant a lot of power. They actually understand what is happening and what they have to do. Who needs a lawyer? Judges often struggle with online hearings, though, because litigants show up in their pajamas from bed, or while driving to work. Judges in Larimer County, Colorado estimate that up to 25% of hearings have to be reset because one of the litigants or attorneys is lacking the right technology or are showing up while driving among other activities that are not allowed.

    They’re working out the kinks, but courts will never go back, much to the chagrin of the Bar and judges, who like the congenial courtroom environment.

    • Wisoot says:

      Chilling reading chilling

    • VintageVNvet says:

      Thanks for this report no no!
      IMHO this is a really good thing, mainly because in almost all the many times I have been in court, mostly just listening while waiting, the judges have been totally creeps, apparently able to get away with their continuous ”Holier than Thou” attitudes as if they were in fact God her self.
      I was unfortunate to be in court, on a minor traffic infraction, the day the verdict in the OJ Simpson case was announced; the judge proceeded to find a 77 yo person guilty of violating the HC parking while taking her 99 yo mom to the doctor, as just one example; everybody in that court that day was found guilty because that judge was angry about the OJ verdict. (Which actually proved that the legal system was not racist, as a rich minority guy could get away with murder just like other rich folks.)
      That all of these now online processes will be actually publicly available to almost anyone, as any and all such government process should be, will help to stop that kind of nonsense, and to hell with the chagrin of the Bar and the little tin gods behind the bench.
      And to be clear, I have been in front of some judges who were obviously ”of the people and for the people”, unfortunately a minority.

    • Lisa_Hooker says:

      The “Bar” is a racket. Should be subjected to RICO.

  23. urblintz says:

    I’m a classical musician, a singer and it will be interesting to see what happens with my former employer, NYC’s Metropolitan Opera, where I had the great good fortune to perform as principal artist for 4 seasons. The Met has been struggling to fill its 4000 seats (7 days a week) for decades. Peter Gelb , the GM, has been severely criticized for essentially turning the MET into a sound stage to accommodate the global “Live from the Met” streams which, ironically, have been the one bright spot for the budget over the years. Even if a live audience should return, in whatever fashion post Covid, I don’t think it will ever be the same. Gelb has essentially fired the orchestra and chorus until a re-opening can be imagined and I bet that re-opening, should it happen, will be with a much smaller orchestra and no chorus. It’s even possible that some instruments in the orchestra will be taken over by a synthesizer in the back room as is already the case on Broadway. Orchestra pits are small and very enclosed, with all that singer breath flowing down from the stage, and all that wind emitting from the wind section, etc. The need to finally understand the aerosol aspect of viral transmission will be paramount before you have a willing group of instrumentalists sitting close by each other, vigorously engaging (breathing) the music in a mostly closed space (with the back row instrument actually under the stage, under a very low ceiling)… for hours. Gelb will surely exploit the pandemic-expanded broadcast audience in an effort to save this historic institution and in the process completely change its nature, from an essentially live and acoustic musical art before a live audience to an essentially digitalized one delivered right into the home. I think this will happen even if live opera resumes elsewhere. The Met has been a museum for quite a while, perhaps even rightly so, and now it will exist as an archive on the web… if it survives at all. Opera is the single most expensive “show” to produce in all of classical music. Corners will be cut.

    • ft says:

      Urblinz, thank you for sharing about a cut-prone corner of the world most of us would never even have thought of otherwise.

      • urblintz says:

        Most of the articles I’ve read about opera ( live performances have happened in Europe during the pandemic at venues such as Salzburg and Vienna) focuses on singers, for obvious reasons. Indeed, the great Russian soprano, Anna Netrebko. contracted the virus during a live performance and was hospitalized with pneumonia. That’s not good. And an opera pit orchestra poses a serious problem too.

        My former management, the long-lived global powerhouse Columbia Artists Management Inc (CAMI) has closed. My colleagues in NYC, singers and instrumentalists alike, have been crushed on so many levels and the long road of return they hope will materialize has a terminus no one can yet know, except that it will be a very changed space, available to even fewer fortunates than before.

        • Petunia says:

          I’m not an opera fan but love live music. I stopped going to concerts back in the 1980’s because the venues got too big and I don’t want to pay to stand all night, or have an obstructed view, or listen to a horrible sound system. Instead, I started traveling to Las Vegas or Atlantic City, smaller venues, and paying more for a more enjoyable viewing experience. I still don’t go to big venues, but will pay more to enjoy a smaller venue. I think this is the future of the live arts.

          BTW, why aren’t the artists forming small companies to take opera to smaller venues around the world. I know there is a market for it anywhere there is money. I wouldn’t be waiting for the Met to open if I were you.

        • Petunia says:


          Just wanted to relate a personal story. My cousin was a Latin music musician. Back in the 1970s he called and mentioned he was going to Africa to play Latin music in a few concerts. I thought he was crazy and would land up broke and/or dead. On his return, he said he played at stadiums filled with tens of thousands and it turned out to be a great gig.

          The moral of this story is take your art to the fans, don’t wait for them to come to you.

    • Felix_47 says:

      When I was in college in New York I would try to go once every month or so. You could stand up at the top. That was in the 60s and they seemed always sold out. A long Wagner opera would drive some people out early…..meaning at midnight. It was magical. Thank you for all you have done. One of the consequences of financialization is that performers who live in New York have to deal with horrendous rents so they need to be paid a whole lot more. Here in Germany they have held the rents under control so far. Unfortunately they are following the US model more and more.

      • urblintz says:

        The 60’s were the glory years and I know you heard some great singers! As far as hearing the music at the Met, those top seats are the best even if the visual spectacle is decidedly diminished.

        I was there as a very young singer in the late 80’s and then returned for one last season in 2011. It was already a very different place.

        I am assuming that most of the struggling regional US opera companies have or will be closed. German and many other European opera houses have the advantage of state subsidy, although it is woefully less than when I was singing there. The singers I know there now are persevering silently so far and the rent controls are an important factor.

    • VintageVNvet says:

      Although this is very sad news, as opposed to the good news re legal system from no no above, thanks for reporting this urb.
      We lovers of opera can at least have some hope that some of the billions now coming forth from Buffet, Gates, Bezos, Scott, etc., can be put toward establishing a permanent financial foundation for the Met and other venues.

    • yossarian says:

      @urblintz – thank you for the insightful and sobering comment. this pandemic is sucking the life out of our city.

    • Lisa_Hooker says:

      It’s “hard” to be a woodwind or brass player and wear a mask. I have a number of musician friends in the Chicago Lyric orchestra and they are hurting. Lyric suffers from not having live broadcasts as the Met does. I play flute as an amateur and haven’t had lessons since March. I speak with my teacher frequently but it’s terribly less effective.

  24. Rosebud says:

    I prefer the online experience to fulfill religious needs, just about everything else like grocery shopping, govt, games, gambling, insurance etc, I’d rather do in person or a facility outside the house, where you have to take your shoes off for slippers, genuflect, and then get started.

  25. Gerrard White says:

    This seems to be written from the point of view of the medium / high income earner white collar professional, mainly

    The poor class grunts can not telework – and this move to sitting at home has increased some very tough low pay jobs such as food factory warehousing and delivery while eliminating others equally nasty (but in greater numbers?)

    Unemployment is up – perhaps you can say if this is, in the main, hitting the underclass

    I guess large scale companies will profit, marginally, but many small businesses will not

    Putting ‘everything’ online justice law enforcement and soup kitchens may be useful to the stay at homers but not so for the underclass

    All this more happy leisuretime for the few requires more hard work for the most

    And, as often is pointed out, this home work movement is another stage in offshoring – the remaining advantages of developed industrial economies and business, sophisticated large scale city life and communication exchange of ideas culture, is being thrown away for a small increase in corporate profit margins and a fear of frequenting other people

    • gnokgnoh says:

      GW, no. The average joe working class person much prefers handling their traffic ticket online. They also don’t like going for jury duty in a room full of hundreds of jurors who might give them a virus. Lawyers are losing business due to the ease of online technologies. Are opera singers and musicians classified as white collar, per your binary view of the world? They never got paid enough money in the first place, but they used to do okay. I know, my brother is a Broadway musician who hasn’t played in a pit for over a year, per Urblintz’s story above. Do you think the owner-class in theater and music is doing okay right now? They’re closed, although Broadway might reopen this fall. Except, technology is allowing them to make some money online. My brother does recordings in warehouses that get played on the Internet.

      The pandemic and the resulting use of technology is changing our world, top to bottom. You’re missing the point of Wolf’s article.

  26. Nathan Dumbrowski says:

    just struck me. I haven’t actually seen my boss in a work environment for a year. Full IT system upgrade of our core systems done remotely with vendors I never met in person or video. I just accepted a remote full-time position with several conference call interviews and one video call. I gave notice via phone call to my manager and had my exit interview over video with the VP. Strange times for sure. New job is in TX and I offered to move there but they said no need I can perform my job 100% remote

    • Wisoot says:

      How do you know you are dealing with humans ? In person you can see there is no human aura ie no soul. Dealing with robots instead of humans while a quiet cull of global human population occurs away from your human awareness. Main stream media in Greece today is telling complete lies to the Greek population about UK. Over egging death numbers and compliance with lockdown. 2 days ago Glasgow main square in Scotland was filled with hundreds of non masked sports celebrators. MSM not telling truth now to control. Going forward we are being asked to believe a screen as truth.

  27. LionelMandrake says:

    Great! The less we humans interact with each other the better. You can see how much more civilized we are becoming because of it.
    Quick story:
    I was walking with my buddy down a street in Barbados on December 23 1994. It was about sundown and there was nobody on the street. I didn’t think it unusual, being from Los Angeles. My friend Andy, who grew up on that street years before, told me that it wasn’t always like this. He said that at night, when the few streetlights they had came on, the people came out of their houses and congregated near them and gossiped, played with their children, rode bikes, played music, etc. Then, said my friend, they got the first television transmitter on the island and within five years nobody came out of their houses at dusk anymore.

    • gnokgnoh says:

      This is an old trope. Our streets have never, ever been more filled with kids and adults playing and walking. I ride mountain bikes in a park in the city (Philly) and the trails and paths are full of people. Everyone is out getting fresh air and exercising, masking up when near other people. That part is annoying. I have this disagreement with my friend. I don’t think it will ever go back to the way it was (work, play, travel), he thinks it will. Probably somewhere in between.

    • joe2 says:

      I’m confused. Less personal interaction = more civilized. Hiding in hovels watching propaganda is your evidence?
      I assume sarcasm. Please use the /s tag.

  28. True, jobs are changing, but why work if you don’t have to pay rent ?

    NEET’s ( Not in Education, Employment, or Training )
    are often derided as being spoiled brats, bums,
    layabouts & deadbeats with no future.

    For a few decades, after World War II,
    NEET housewives played the role of today’s gig workers.

    Government/Union workers – hate – gigs
    & will do anything to ban them.

    When people leave the workforce,
    as during “Covid”,
    “production” (GDP) drops & the debt-to-GDP ratio
    skyrockets, bankrupting governments.

    U.S. “GDP growth” ( 10 year moving average )
    has been falling steadily since 1980.

    Bankrupt governments start wars.

    To (somehow) “avoid” bankruptcy, the Fed
    kept lowering interest rates, last 40 years;
    Japan & Europe more so than America.

    Since 2000, the percentage of the population who
    claim to be working has dropped steadily, from 65 %
    to under 58 % — 58 % harkens back to 1965 – 1975,
    when NEET housewives didn’t identify as “workers”.

  29. Cullpax says:

    It would be interesting (judging also from the comments section) to have your opinion Wolf on the concept of singularity. Maybe with a dedicated article in order to spark the discussion.

    I admit I have only touched the surface of it but it has captured my imagination.

    Thanks for the great work!

  30. Anthony says:

    Just to make people feel better, there is an average recovery period after a pandemic, of between twenty and thirty years…..

    Happy days……….

  31. RedRaider says:

    Back in the 70’s I worked on the country’s first ATM system – CASH+. This system was pioneered by Midland Bank in Milwaukee. It spread like wild fire throughout the midwest. “Be careful what you wish for – you might get it” applies here. The system was growing 30% per year. Unfortunately Milwaukee’s job market wasn’t. Midland sold CASH+ to Bank One and eventually it was supplanted by TYME.

    Anyhow, CASH+ taught Midland two things real fast.

    1. People loved to leave their money in the machines. They would show up in the lobby the next day requesting their money – and the bank would give it to them!

    2. Only people under 40 used CASH+. This confused management.

    I think the reason why this is true is related to the pace of change. In today’s society change happens rapidly. By the time you’re 40 you’ve OD’ed on change so to speak. You learn to distinguish between necessary change and optional change. You adapt to the necessary but reject the optional.

    I believe Covid has caused a paradigm shift in the work place. Exactly what parts of the shift is necessary and what parts is optional has yet to be determined. I am already questioning the attempt by employers to pay WFM workers less if they live in lower cost of living area. Having an employee complete a task for the employer has a certain value to the employer. The salary needs to be commensurate with that value. Where the employee completes that task is irrelevant. What next? Will WFM workers be dunning their employers for the cost of their home offices? Lots of wrinkles to be worked out :-)

  32. joe2 says:

    Well Wolf, we can agree to disagree on this. Some changes are good, some are bad, but most are wildly underestimated in impact. On-line, no cash, no human interaction, no discussion. I wonder what work all the illegals crashing the fence are going to do. Pick strawberries? John Henry was prophetic. Things may change but from what I have seen, you lose some humanity.

    My memory of Royal Gorge is riding on the deck of a freight train locomotive, leaning against the rail with a cigarette and a plastic cup of coffee, as we drove along the river at the bottom of Royal Gorge under the bridge at sunrise.

    No computer, no programmable card, no credit/debit card that can be turned off at the political whim of a bureaucrat. Just people and the stories they tell.

    Unfortunately the woke generation will never know or experience the risks, danger, and excitement of life. Most of all learning that people are better than machines and can be your friend. Sure you can die, but so what. You will anyway.

    • Wolf Richter says:


      You must be talking about Royal Gorge, Colorado, which has a rail line in it. It’s the Arkansas river that carved the gorge. I used to live right by the Arkansas river, and used to run along it, as it wound through Tulsa, OK.

      But the Royal Gorge in this article is a ski area near Donner Pass in the Sierra Nevada, California, with the highest point being about 7,000 feet. There is a Union Pacific rail line that goes over Donner Pass, and on the way goes right by the ski area. You can also take the Amtrak across the pass. I do think that this would be a great ride.

      • joe2 says:

        My bad. Yep Colorado. But my point is the same. Things will change and look like an improvement but we will lose something each time. I admit it is a tradeoff, luckily we don’t have to live and figure out how to survive through all of them. I’ve got a foot in 2 camps now and that’s enough.

        • Tom Pfotzer says:


          Good on you for having the sense to jump a freight thru the Royal Gorge while you still could.

          Tuff to beat that ride.

        • joe2 says:

          Tom – the ride through the Cascade Tunnel in Oregon from Spokane to Seattle is just as memorable. It’s like a transition from the dry world to Jurassic Park.

          I wasn’t jumping freights, I was a junior engineer working on railroad train instrumentation with the SP. The test train through the Arizona desert which was brought close to dererailment on purpose was the exciting ride.

      • RedRaider says:

        Donner Pass, huh? Many skiers turning up missing?

  33. Justin says:

    I am not so rosy eyed about this Digital Age™️, that heretofore has been so poorly marketed it could only be thrust upon people with a pandemic. Alas, the illusion of convenience, paired as it were, with crafty physiological hooks, teeth really, that serve to keep people engaged, er enthralled, in media is not exactly my cup of tea.

    It might be quicker to get to the ski slopes with digital passes, but a score of people somewhere have to constantly update and patch the software code as it becomes increasingly complicated, buggy, and vulnerable. And even if that expense is kept low, there is the ever growing honeypot of data to be harvested, sold, and hacked.

    Not to mention, these same technologies have given birth to the inconvenience of social media and like ilk, that specialize in clickbait and dopaminergic feedback loops, both of which degrade already fragile attention spans. And all of these platforms have only created a pandemonium of gossip, rumor, nonsense, and falsehood that is so thick and opaque I would have a better time swimming through sand. Ecommerce is born of the same root with the lure of an exotic product in a present-like package on your front door and the equally absurd mass of faceless scammers and snake-oil salesmen. Add to that the news-media with their gut-wrenching headlines and in some cases, fake news.

    It makes my head spin just thinking about it, and I am genuinely surprised people get anything done, but then most have to provide bread somehow.

    This convenience has yet another cost when it comes to dependency. Give people a GPS and they could live in a city for years and still get lost; a weather service and they won’t see the shifts in weather; a calendar and a conditioned home and they won’t know the changing of the seasons; food on demand….; electricity…. Good luck existing anywhere but within the social system, or on its fringes. For now it is achievable, but I can not imagine how much harder it will be to get out when digital currency is mandatory. Perhaps it will never happen, but the credit dragnet already exists. Even if I use cash, I have a credit card to improve my credit score. It is, the golden key to opportunity and its inverse.

    Those are not digital, but video calls and movies are. For now I see someone on the other side during video calls, but the technology already exists to fake it; all that is needed is a sufficiently advanced software to imitate vocabulary, habits and mannerisms. How would you know? Take for example, the cgi in movies. It has come so far, that entire backdrops can be made with green screens with minimal staging or props, and with every year that passes it gets harder and harder to tell, minus of course, the fake veneer and over-saturated colors.

    There is no end to what is possible here, and that is both a blessing and a curse.

    • joe2 says:

      I like you style. Just wait until the next leap which will be genetic self modification. Ala COVID vaccine. The next gen always laughs at the previous gen, if they survive.

      Ride the tiger, observe and document for posterity, or get out of the way.

      • roddy6667 says:

        All the rants against technology remind me of the Luddites. I’m almost 73 and have kept up with technology.

        • joe2 says:

          Glad to hear you have kept up with technology – say something in Crystal or Rust.

          Technology and evolution are a 2 edged sword.

          In a sense the Luddites are right – the world will change, but is it a world you can live in? Invest wisely and select your pronouns carefully.

        • Gerrard White says:


          Read history: Luddites were not ‘anti technology’ but anti exploitation

          Knowing about what you are talking or thinking enables you to use tech as you want, not to be used

        • VintageVNvet says:

          We were called ”neo-luddites” for years r2/3, because we refused to buy smarty pants phones up until having to move to FL in 15 to care for elderly parents, who BTW still have the same dial up line they have had since 1955, though it is a push button these days.
          We did not need a smart phone, as we had a good desktop for the internet, with DSL for movies, etc., and only used the phone for calls and texts.
          So, now, we have cheap older smart phones, and I use mine only for calls and texts and GPS when we travel, and a large screen laptop on the now ubiquitous WiFi — at every rest area, gas station, motel, even most retail places — for internet, including movies if nothing on the local TV worth watching as usual.
          We pay $32.50 plus taxes a month for two phones, plus I add a gig of data at $10/gigabyte when we travel, ”just in case.”
          All the rest of this current phone madness is a total waste of time and money for almost everyone we know, especially those paying over $100/month, not to mention thousands for each phone each time a new one is released.

        • Michael Gorback says:

          My Dad spent all day on his Kindle at the age of 93 but refused to use the Roku I bought him.

          I’ll tell you the one technology that I find intolerable: electronic medical records. They distract the doctor and at the end of the day they spend 1-2 hrs filling in all the things not amenable to clicking boxes or assigning to a scribe. Studies have shown a 15-20% decrease in productivity.

          In addition you have the hardware and software investment, which we were promised would be reimbursed for but maybe 1 practice in 5 actually did.

          It’s vertical software and therefore very expensive.

          So am I a Luddite? I’m not opposed to change but this was coerced change. Untested change. Government-designed change. An elephant is a mouse built to Government specs.

          All the Elysian promises like interconnectivity have not come true.

          It recently got to the point where I could no longer use paper charts. That’s when I retired. I didn’t want the hassle of EMR and at age 67 I knew my ROI would be crap since I’d set 70 for my retirement.

    • Lisa_Hooker says:

      Excellent post Justin. I think you might enjoy reading Heinlien’s “The Moon is a Harsh Mistress.” It quite effectively incorporates a number of things you mentioned.

  34. polistra says:

    Open stores are NOT open if they require you to strangle yourself. Those are not stores, they’re torture chambers.

    • nodecentrepublicansleft says:

      I don’t find putting on a mask for a few minutes to go into a store to be some horrible experience.

      I like knowing that I’m helping keep the pandemic down. I know people did the same thing 100 years ago.

      If you want to experience real oppression, I suggest you check out Russia. My relative who has lived in Moscow for 20 yrs has some stories that would blow your mind.

    • Michael Gorback says:

      Nothing like a dose of drama and hyperbole.

      I assume you’ve accommodated to a seatbelt and shoulder harness?

  35. QQQBall says:

    we are all gig workers now. Tracked, scheduled, monitored and rated… and required to complete almost solely on priced, assuming you are highly rated. I wonder if the era after FDR/WW II wasn’t an anomaly and societies reverting back to a more typical order of Oligarch/peasant?

    • Russell says:

      It’s already coming. I’ll buy your vote/freedom for a small monthly fee!

    • RedRaider says:

      According to Martin Armstrong 51 year periods alternate between public and private waves. FDR was the beginning of a public wave. The 50 years before that was a private wave I guess we could call the age of robber barons. I guess we could call the current private wave the Oligarch/peasant age. I think what’s happening is mega corps are insinuating their way into every aspect of life (including government). With only 15 years left in the current private wave it only feels like the oligarchs are in total control. The robber barons probably felt the same way. The Oligarchs will probably be swept away by the coming public wave just as the robber barons were.

      • VintageVNvet says:

        Excellent comment RR, thanks for sharing that concept.
        At this point, WE the PEEDONs can at least Hope that analysis is at least somewhat correct!
        And we can also hope that the oligarchic families that have been around since for eva will wake up in time to make the predicted transition smoother than the World War 2 era transition.
        Although there is no doubt that earth or our globe or Gaia is seriously overloaded with our species, and it would be long term good thing for all species to have a significant reduction in the number of humans, I would really really prefer for that to occur as a result of education and deliberate choices by individual rather than by war or disease or even more increased fascism.
        IMHO, that education of folks to act in their own ”enlightened” self interest would be far and away better, but is very obviously NOT happening for the mass of folks at this time.

  36. Stephen C. says:

    Just booked an online video call with my doc at Kaiser, here in Northern Ca. No co-pay. And I don’t have to make the 45 minute drive to ask this specialist for her opinion. I just worry that this doctor, who it seems spent her youth in India striving to make it over here in the USA where she could make her fortune, can easily be replaced by a colleague in Mumbai, who can give me just as good a video consultation as she can. And it will be interesting to see, once things have shifted in this direction who will be the one to have to get up at 2 a.m., me or the doc in India.

    • VintageVNvet says:

      Neither from what I am reading recently re much better accuracy of diagnosis based on available evidence by robots/AI/whatever you want to call it, SC.
      Apparently, the AI is not only better for medicine, but also, following a long study in the legal system, evaluating the tendency of folks being considered for bail to run.
      Suspect it won’t be too long before most of the engineers, architects, and other such analysis and design professionals to be replaced.
      Gonna be an interesting couple of decades for the AI competence in many areas of our human life to become accepted, eh?

      • MonkeyBusiness says:

        Total BS. One of AI’s biggest shills: Andrew Ng once waxed poetics about AI replacing radiologists. Hasn’t happened.

        I actually did a Masters degree in AI from a prominent university a couple of years ago. Total waste of time.

        Only stupid and uninformed people … and shills (because they need funding) can believe in the power of the so called … AI.

        The rest better better be afraid of your fellow beings. But that’s not new.

        • VintageVNvet says:

          Moore’s Law, or the equivalent going forward!

        • MonkeyBusiness says:

          If quantum computers ever become reality, Moore’s law does not apply. And obviously all current encryption algo will become obsolete overnight.

        • VintageVNvet says:

          Seriously MB,,, what is it with you young folks acting as though we are living in some sort of stasis???
          Really old bean,,, ”how 20th Century” can you be?
          Things ARE always changing, if we like it or even know about it or not. That’s what Wolf’s article is actually describing.
          Just read an interesting paper from MIT indicating Moore’s Law per se is coming to an end, as logic would dictate it must; however, some similar kind of ”law” describing likely change will be forth coming,,,,
          Yesterday, some of the bright theoretical physicist folks
          announced an extension of Einstein’s last work, leading to a clear path forward to faster than light transport.
          And thus all the boring and repetitive jobs will eventually be done by AI or ZI or some such, so the remaining humans can spend their time cruising through the universe and creating ever more enlightening and inspiring and entertaining works of art, or hanging out in their garden or whatever they damn well choose.

        • Lisa_Hooker says:

          Only stupid and uninformed people … and shills (because they need funding) can believe in the power of the so called … quantum computing.

        • Lisa_Hooker says:

          @VV – most will choose to play video games in the basement or attic.

  37. Robert says:

    The thing about all these productivity gains is that who they actually benefit is ambiguous. Five people lose their jobs at a ski resort while hundred or thousands get a little extra time on the slopes because of of automated registration. That’s more leisure enhancement rather than actual ‘productivity enhancement. So the only real benefactor is the ski slope owner who gets more profit because of the workers laid off.

    Now in a competitive world all the ski slope owners now must go over to the new automated system, thus laying off hundreds of workers.

    Since the only real benefit to counterbalance the lay-offs is the ski slope owner getting more profit, the government could just have easily sent the ski slope owners a check not to go over to the new system. I would not have said this twenty years ago but it’s obvious there is more destruction in the creative destruction ratio than there was in the past, since everyone is trying to exterminate their workers at the same time.

    Workers are laid off, yet have nowhere to take their skills. The grotesque contradiction of a world that demands constant growth, but is attempting to exterminate their workers is profound. It spells doom for the majority of the people on this planet.

    • MonkeyBusiness says:

      This kind of thinking makes too much sense and therefore will be ignored.

      Economists know this which is why the barrier of entry to their profession gets higher and higher over the years.

      • Michael Gorback says:

        Economics is right up there with weather forecasting and astrology. One of my kids has a PhD in economics from Wharton. For years it seemed like all she did was study math, especially statistics.

        They data mine and write complicated mathematical models. Then they confuse their models with reality.(*). The person with the most impenetrable equations gets the Nobel prize.

        I once asked her about the Broken Window Fallacy. She had never heard of it and didn’t know anything about economic history before Keynes. She also knew nothing about Austrian economics.

        (*) Theres an old saying in psychiatry. Neurotics build castles in the sky. Psychotics live in them.

    • Lisa_Hooker says:

      It is simple, we have more people than we need. This has been true for some time. Over the years we have managed to find busy-work for many of them, but busy-work is coming to an end.

    • Michael Gorback says:

      So what happened to all the farmers when tractors were invented? In 1910 there were 14 million farm workers. Now there about 3 million. Are all the rest on welfare?

  38. Augusto says:

    Then there is the “Law of Unexpected Consequences. And I don’t know what those consequences are, other than they are unexpected.

  39. Jdog says:

    From the 80’s until early 2000’s inflated real estate values and easy loans were used to offset the income from job loses due to offshoring factory jobs. The high paying manufacturing jobs were never replaced.
    Today, we are seeing free money give away’s to distract people from the fact that automation is replacing many jobs in the lower wage scales.
    When ever easy or free money is being offered, you should understand you are actually being screwed….

  40. DawnsEarlyLight says:

    Drunk on corona. Not just a hangover, but certainly not an overdose.

  41. kitten lopez says:

    Ah! i love when Petunia writes.
    you’re so bad ass because you tap into my “why want in to their thing when you should/could go make your own?”

    YES… i agree with you regarding us having to return to our scrapper ways AND i agree regarding smaller venues. that’s why i’m going to try and turn this clothing thing of mine into something where we plan fashion shows where music and art are at the same time.

    after i got deplatformed off mailchimp and lost my mailing list connections, i realized (for the 50th time) the internet is no home for me / i can only see myself surviving by going Live again by being my own advertising, making my own business model and making my own SCENE.

    audacious as hell, even i know. i’d already flown too close to the sun in my last epic life/biz failure, so why pull back NOW???

    it happens just when i go outside anyhow… why not work it? no one knows anything and the innerwebs are so unfun. except for Wolfstreet and my occasional looks at John Michael Greer’s ecosophia to see if i’m alone in losing my American Mind.

    i want to only write nowadays to jot down my plans to see if i make ’em true, but otherwise i don’t wanna WRITE anything anymore. (i guess that’s what i’m doing here with this post: saying my crazy idea so i can see if i make it or go down in flames… or inspire someone to come along and play before the street lights came on, like when i was a kid).

    i forgot my earphones at the outside gym last week, and played the speaker i ride with on my bike, next to my squat rack and ended up with a small party.

    i’m gonna try things like that wherever i go now.

    i don’t even know how to make friends in real life anymore. i admit that to people and they nod because they feel the same.

    so there are my Adventures in Trying to Make Life Real Again.

    thanks, Petunia. you can take the girl outta New York but … you know how it goes. especially now that New York isn’t even NEW YORK, anymore. San Francisco, either.

    i’m on it.


    i’ll show you all my new ERIQUITA-themed bags and loud gaudy bicycle wear. i was already getting people coming up and hugging me, watching me. someone filmed me dancing and set it to their music. a guy at the gym asked me if i saw it. i said, “i can’t look at myself anymore because otherwise i’d behave and not do what i do.”

    let the adventures continue…

    also for opera./ opera got too far away from The People because when you hear opera LIVE, it’s all mad chills. and i love gritty nasty Zeppelin, Skynyrd, Henry Rollins along with Wu Tang Funkadelic Nipsey Hussle… even blue grass gets more metal than Metallica.

    my uncle was/is a salsa musician and i didn’t care much about salsa as a kid til i heard those cats LIVE. Mexican music, too. sounded goofy and old til you hear it LIVE and BAM!…

    back to tactile. / actually, James is feeling needy but trying to make fun of me now for being on here typing to you all. so i’ve gotta go. i told him i’m writing this (he says “I’m NOT needy!” but he is. he doesn’t like me being online when he’s in the room and i agree it’s rude so i gotta go).

    anyhow, there’s my next cunning plan. and i know nothing. never before have i been so absolutely sure about knowing absolutely NADA, never. i’m wrong and i’m sorry i ever acted like i knew a thing.

    actually… i kinda like not knowing how things are gonna go. although i’m reading THE FABRIC OF CIVILIZATION, by Virginia Postrel, and we’ve been here soooo many times with technology changing who gets work and how much.

    i’m more worried about this racism/metoo obsession distracting us from taking care of ourselves. wanting in to a burning building (a la MLK) doesn’t seem like a good direction.

    time to build our own scrappy little “houses.”

    how?… no se… just winging it. i’ll share photos of the ERIQUITA gym bag i aim to make for the back of my bicycle, with a space for my speaker. my Bag o’ Tricks.

    just trying to bring San Francisco back to it’s freak side. do i what i wanted to do in NYC in the late 70s/early 80s when i was too young to fight back or scare anyone away from me.

    Wolf sorry if i didn’t edit enough / gotta go give love to my Thames. my nickname for James.



  42. kitten lopez says:

    Petunia! if you’re still here, i meant to tell you that i listened to you when you said my labels were the most interesting thing about those pants, because i’m also working on learning how to make professionally structured and firm bags–like handbags, for now a gym and bicycle bags for my back rack and whatever i fancy– but i will often PAINT and draw on them or do one-of-a-kind art. they’ll change up as i feel it.

    i have a lot of ideas and routes i’m trying at once. i circle around and come back as i figure things out, while also developing an aesthetic along with skill.

    i’ve fallen in love with SH & Frank leather shop when i needed grommets and other hardware, and where the guy Larry makes people leave bad yelp reviews because he’s like Old New York and they don’t understand his lack of cowering step n’ fetchit obsequiousness.

    i adore how he walks away from me figuring out to set snaps as he answers his emails.

    i’m going to start working more in leather, too, just so i can go there and give him my money. i spent less than $30 and he spent over an hour with me teaching me how to set grommets.

    i originally ended up there because he cut another hole in James’ Italian belt for free. said, “you’ll feel guilty and come back to spend money.”

    he told me and i said, “i must one day go back and spend money!”

    and during pandemic, i did. i told him the story of how and why i was there and he looked down nodded and smiled. i know because he’d absently taken off his mask to show me how to hammer well-set grommets and snaps, and i felt warm. not in a fever way. in a cozy fire place way.

    it was a tad more expensive than online but i didn’t waste money like i usually do on shipping and buying the wrong flaking or tarnishing metal crap and he taught me HOW to use it with round leather washers to keep the snaps i also got, sturdy and tight.

    to channel Popeye… you can’ts gets that stuff online.

    but i’m not saying tech is going down, either. i’m saying i think things are gonna likely also open up more as they further diverge into the two separate economies we already see emerging.

    i FEEL it. / it’s existential.

    when i heard a service, like the Diaz Bros Tailors at Union Square, near Macy’s Men’s store (brilliant!), has crappy yelp reviews, i knew they’ve gotta be GOOD and know their value when they won’t whittle down the price on altering 5 shirts, as if tailoring could be done “in bulk.”

    Petunia’s right. it’s time to get creative or die or complain and whine. we aren’t entitled to anything, really. not even a comfortable death. life is rough all over.

    after reading how bad the purple dye mollusks had it for so long just to make a fetid rich people’s ugly dried blood purple, i realize it’s ALL FUNNY. there is no movie ending for any of us. we can’t all be saved like screaming white girls on the train tracks. and look at them, they’re losing their minds now.

    so i’m finally done with the bargaining and eternal screaming stage of my existential crisis. the last ten years in my head has been a repeating loop of me as Charlton Heston coming upon the buried Statue of Liberty in “Planet of the Apes, screaming endlessly, “You blew it up! Ah, damn you! God damn you all to hell!”

    now i’m finally focused energized and calmly sorta stoically squinting into the sun like The Man with No Name. thinking about making wild purses and gym bags, too.

    then i’ll find a shop i can convince to make an event out of these like art shows so people show up in person again.

    good night. / i’m excited. i kind of love the Wild West feel of this New World…. when no one knows anything anymore and can’t fake it, it’s rather exciting, the possibilities. it’s scary but i forgot that’s the charge.


    • Lisa_Hooker says:

      @Kitten – Missed you. I wish you could (could not would, I understand) write more often. You’ve already lightened up my day. Wish I could do the same for you. Just go with the flow.

      • kitten lopez says:

        thank you and you DID lighten my day yesterday. your reply felt so good i couldn’t write you back / just had to smile and FEEL it. anything else would’ve sounded like a california platitude.


    • Petunia says:

      In the age of made in China, I’m glad you are getting that putting your unique stamp on things is the way to go. Wearable art is going to be big going forward because all those designer duds sold at ridiculous prices need to find new homes and new lives.

      Don’t forget the sneaker business is a big industry where uniqueness can bring you big bucks. A pair of plain branded sneakers with your new vision for them can be sold on or off line for big money. Don’t forget to check this out. Connect with any street kids you know for the down low on how to do this, they are all into it.

      I’m recycling my old designer dresses into tee shirts and tunics. Wearing them more now than when they were new and nobody has the same one.

      • kitten lopez says:


        YES YES YES! we’re thinking the same. sneakers have always been my wish. to have a collaboration with a shoemaker locally.

        my vision is to gather others like me, like YOU, and set up in the same location with regular monthlies or something. like a “live” magazine. maybe quarterly.

        but meant to be a blatant art/commerce high school dance. / because i also intend to introduce people to each other as an alternative to everyone having to meet friends and lovers online.

        (i know … EPIC ideas. but anything smaller is hella BORING to me. we’re superheroes here, Petunia. you know that i know that Wolf knows that others know it / that’s why we’re all here… there are no pussies here. they run. can’t take it.)

        anyhow: regular trade meets/fairs of a certain sensibility…

        this is all archaic stuff.

        even the chitlin’ circuit idea for opera singers:
        i was thinking again of tiny tours. when i was on book tours, i’d notice us authors/performers following each other to the same venues.

        it’d have been smarter/easier for all sides if we’d joined forces. i pitched the idea and they liked it but it was before magic phones took everyone out of real life.

        if we’re going to try and make a world offline we cannot be atomized and promote ourselves alone. it won’t work.

        so Petunia when i read YOUR response last night i figured it’d be a good idea to sell my stuff to fly you out here and put you and your man up when we do the next Wolf Meet. because WE NEED YOU.

        yes. gotta go opposite of Made in China. i forget that periodically. it’s also the only way i can make it now. go tits out in the opposite direction.

        i’m not alone in this. i know it i know. thanks for reminding me.

        xxxxxx… to you, too.

  43. c1ue says:

    I don’t know how this compares with normal restaurant industry turnover – but it can’t be good:
    110,000 – 1 in 6 restaurants across the US have closed
    4,500 NY restaurants have closed

    Also from the article:
    Last May, just two months after the onset of pandemic-related restrictions, three-quarters of independent operators in the restaurant industry had already taken on new debt of at least $50,000 according to a joint study from the James Beard Foundation and the Independent Restaurant Coalition. Economists estimated that, at the time, restaurants and bars owed a total of $120 billion in unpaid rent and other expenses.

    I personally worked on a case involving a prominent SF restaurant that has shut down (name withheld) after being contacted by the Delaware Chancery Court representative. Ugly divorce plus corporate restructuring for a place that was apparently venture funded even.

    • tom19 says:

      My friends were saved by the court overturning the lockdowns last May.

      Hard to imagine being shutdown or severely restricted for over a year
      while Wally world, liquor stores, and drug dispensary remain open.

      I’m sure the 1.9T is going only to American workers & businesses
      shut down by the “experts”.

    • WiseOwl says:

      That’s a neat article, thanks C1ue!
      What caught my attention was the waste that borrowed money causes, while raising GDP and increasing property taxes:
      “Shephard was already planning to redo the boxy wooden bar. She spent over $65,000 to tear out clunky pillars, leaving an open counter in its place.” JC! why replace something integral to the structure of the building to pursue some silly little whim?

      Except for billionire bimbo’s hobby businesses, this is financial suicide.

      Walked down to Columbus Avenue in San Francisco this morning, the amount of plywood hut outdoor dining spots is amazing. Half the parking places are now gone, so even if people were to want come to the neighborhood, where would they park? They’re counting on tourists flying in from??? Lots of luck as the Biden Depression really gets going.

      Anyone who ever considered updating their own kitchen should look up used restaurant equipment suppliers nearby.–Thinking of buying a wine cooler, more pots, pans, trays, cutware etc?, there’s a mountain of used American commercial quality items being offered for sale for the same, or less, than the cost of new Chinacrap at big box.

      Many of these items will never be available again at any price.

  44. Mira says:

    Wolf Richter I love the article .. it tells an informative & interesting story.

Comments are closed.