Diary Blog, 22 March 2020

I am working on a blog article going beyond the immediate effects of the Coronavirus crisis. In the meantime, my latest impressions and thoughts.

I drove around for half an hour yesterday (Saturday) evening, eventually visiting a small Tesco (supermarket chain) convenience store in a former village now effectively part of a small town. Polite (Polish) staff member (one of only two ppl working there) told me that they had no eggs or milk. I myself bought the very last loaf of bread (crusty brown wholemeal) and the last two longlife (sealed) pitta breads (apparently good until end of May). Admittedly, that was after 2000 hrs, so near their new closing time of 2200 (formerly midnight), but the store would not have been short of goods in normal times.

Driving around, I passed a couple of pubs. Seemed empty, as far as could be glimpsed. On a usually busy evening, almost no traffic. An ambulance was followed by a supermarket delivery van. There is a feeling of “emergency time”. At a location on the edge of a small town, where there is a convenience store, a Chinese takeaway, a Malay/Chinese takeaway, an Indian takeaway and a fish and chip shop (all but the Indian and the convenience store staffed entirely by Chinese), only one car parked instead of the usual dozen.

I see on the TV news the continued madness of the panic-buyers. The Press and msm generally call it “greed”. No, this is a manifestation of an even more powerful emotion: fear.

The Government continues to plead for reason and moderation. This is ineffective because

  • Emotion is more powerful than intellectual reason. The Government is trying to reason with people motivated by fear, one of the most powerful emotions;
  • Even on the intellectual level, it may seem reasonable to many to buy a far greater amount of what they usually consume, in a situation where (whatever the authorities may say) there are shortages of some basic items at ground level.
  • The Government may be correct in saying that, in the big scheme of things, “there is no shortage” of anything, but people see before their own eyes that there are shortages, albeit caused entirely by bulk buying.
  • The Government asks millions of people to “self-isolate” for three months and maybe longer, but cannot guarantee supplies of food and other essential items to those millions. In those circumstances, bulk buying is not really “panic buying” at all. An elderly (or other) couple might well use 50 rolls of loo paper and 50+ packs of pasta (etc) in three months. Some people probably are buying, even on that basis, far more than they really need, but that is because of the prevailing climate of fearful uncertainty.

There will be reached a peak of buying, but exactly when that peak will be reached is hard to say. It has financial factors (what can people afford?) and simple logistical factors (how much storage space do people have?).

In the end, the lemming-like buying wave, mainly triggered by emotion (fear) will only subside when emotion moves the other way. When people see that the stores are replenished daily and more than daily, when it is seen that the shelves are no longer being immediately stripped bare, consumer confidence will return. Those who bought huge amounts of this or that will start to use what they have been buying; they will not buy more. That in turn will stabilize the supermarket shelves. Equilibrium will be restored.

Only emotion can sway an existing emotional state. Appeals to reason have almost no effect.

 

5 thoughts on “Diary Blog, 22 March 2020”

  1. Yes, one emotional state can only be swayed by a more powerful one and a fearful state is not easily dislodged. Fear can be replaced if people have confidence in their PM and government but we have a PM who fails to inspire confidence as he is someone who appears to have difficulty getting himself a decent haircut, to look smart and can easily be thought of as belonging not in No 10 but in London Zoo in the chimpanzee enclosure.

    The rest of the ‘government’ also fails to imbue us with faith in the future when we have an utterly useless Home Secretary who, once again, has failed to turn back illegal immigrants who have crossed the English Channel In dinghies.😡🤬🙄

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    1. Yes. Hundreds of migrant-invaders daily are now crossing the Channel, unimpeded by the French forces that are now stood down from that task and have been redeployed. The UK border force is a joke, and even when they do “apprehend” invaders, all that happens is that they are registered and allowed to go, unescorted, to the nearest place where they can get free accommodation, food and cash!

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  2. If the wretched ‘useless eaters’ of this administration just dumped their adherence to the mostly crazy US philosophy of ‘freedom’/libertarianism and announced some authoritarian measures that, in itself, would give a big signal to the population and inspire some confidence and help to lessen the mood of fear but the Tory morons won’t do that!🤬😡🙄

    What is needed at this time of national crisis is some good, old-fashioned, Right-wing authoritarianism backed-up by the police, courts and even the armed forces eventually.

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  3. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vera_Lynn

    “In 1941, Lynn married Harry Lewis, a clarinetist and saxophonist, and fellow member of Ambrose’s orchestra[70] whom she had met two years earlier. ”

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Harry_Lewis_(musician)

    Pure happenstance I suppose, though not unlikely given her metier; Vera Margaret Welch doesn’t exactly suggest anything remotely of the Tribe, but then some of them _do_ live to an extraordinary old age.
    She worked as admin assistant to head of a shipping company in the East End.
    As usual I’m imagining a trail of breadcrumbs, nothing more.

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