COVID’s economic fall-out, trickle-through effects, and solutions.

I am one of those people who came down with “the rona.” I was diagnosed with COVID on December 2nd, and prepared for a two-week stay home while donning house slippers in lieu of my traditional sneakers I’d wear to work and began to notify my contacts on Instagram and Twitter. And then came along the stories of Long-Haul COVID, which would include my own.

A week turned into a month, and when I finally texted my boss that I was planning to return to work, my health suddenly worsened, with heart rates spiking into the 140s and breathing being more difficult. A visit to an Advanced Care Center, then a string of virtual doctor visits, then finally a visit to the ER netted one CT scan of my heart and lungs plus one “walking EKG.” The tests showed COVID pattern lung damage and a heart with one side beating faster than the other due to the stress my lungs were under, requiring me to take more time off to recover.

These two revelations turned my now seven, soon to be eight, weeks leave of absence into a manager’s ultimate headache: the worker who cannot return for a definite period of time.

As I lay sick in bed, I had brief bits of time between lengthy periods of sleep to think about possible solutions to the economic meltdown. This blog post is what I created from those thoughts – my goal is to, at a minimum, spark further discussion and possibly kick some solutions out the door in the hopes of preventing further destruction of the economy.

I happened to get lucky when my employer decided to gift medically fragile workers a safety net of hundreds of hours of paid leave time. However, this benefit was only given to those with the company at the beginning of 2020, which means newer coworkers face severe losses should they fall seriously ill and require lengthy amounts of time off. If paid time off was a public benefit accrued in a similar way to how retirement benefits were accrued, workers would have incentive to take days off only as they need them, and might not be as financially vulnerable during times of sickness where the leave of absence may be as long as mine.

Employers who cannot offer the extensive safety net of benefits that large, very well-funded corporations can offer, are why we see skyrocketing jobless and evictions rates after it turns out that a percentage of those sickened are out of work for longer than a month. Employers without benefits packages may have left vulnerable workers to choose to work while sick, raising the possibility of causing thousands of people to be exposed to the virus. Stress upon workers also contributes to death and ER admissions rates, costing the economy dearly. So maybe it is time to consider benefits packages that are not tied to specific employers.

Housing has become a pressing issue as the evictions waves have hit, with thousands of evicted people now in need of housing. Those watching the economy go through a meltdown have started saving money instead of pursuing discretionary purchases, and, in turn, businesses without enough financial reserves are forced to shut down, leaving their workers jobless. Giving aid to workers and not covering landlords has worsened the situation, as some renters realizing the power imbalance have taken advantage of aid without paying any rent, and eviction moratoriums has caused such financial damage to individual and small business landlords (who, traditionally, owned half the market share of housing for let) that they end up being forced by both circumstance and need to sell their properties to large corporate landlords that give no mercy to tenants. Reducing the number of landlords consolidates market power, which can result in rising rents and, ultimately, “a landlord’s market.” Workers in need of affordable housing have less buying power when forced to travel farther to work. Rendering economic aid to individual and small business landlords can result in lower rents as these landlords remain in competition with large corporate landlords.

Businesses without the financial strength and backing that large companies take the risk of a single COVID infection forcing the shuttering of the entire business if enough workers are sickened. Scheduling around the loss of a single sick worker can cost institutional knowledge, if new workers require training. Retooling the Department of Labor to provide a voluntary certification of work experience and education, and training in new fields of work, can alleviate problems encountered through what has become, essentially, a matchmaking process.

For production facilities, one common example being dry cleaners, staying in business may mean taking in the day’s work orders and only then being able to schedule staff for the next day’s work. In turn, formerly full-time jobs are trimmed down to what we may refer to as casual work, with shift schedules nightmarishly unpredictable. This kind of pressure results in workers seeking security in full-time jobs that may pay less but offer more hours. Changing how employers and employees access work schedules into a more cooperative arrangement between multiple employers sharing workers to fill schedules is a way to fix this problem.

If we look at production chains, such as the entire lineup of facilities required to produce a single item, toilet paper being one prime example, a single facility’s staff outage can affect the entire production if enough workers are out sick. And this can impacts the entire “food chain” for all products if one product is essential for the manufacture of other products. This, in turn, has resulted in severe shortages of essential goods and services, inducing panic-buying. One way to reduce supply chain instability is for collaborative exchange of goods and services with integrated logistics that would allow manufacturers and suppliers to play flea-flick between each other, much like decentralized mining of cryptocurrency with facilities exchanging production and supplies across a vast network. In retail, the idea of quickly tapping into inventory at will is already available as companies offer apps to customers who want to have staff reserve products for in-store or curbside pickup so that they are not forced to waste time physically hunting through many stores for the products that they want to buy. Offering this to supply chain participants can increase both productivity and security of production chains.

When supply chain disruptions occur to goods deemed essential, an altered buying pattern surfaces as customers seeing items finally in stock begin to buy in bulk to plan for outages in the future, sometimes snapping up enough to supply for their needs over several months. This altered economic activity leaves financial and business planners with more unpredictable buying patterns, further destabilizing the economy as a whole. Offering transparency of the availability of products across multiple retailers and supply chains can mitigate bulk-buying.

For restaurants, the fact that the business is public-facing increases the risk of economic damage, because a single worker or customer not showing symptoms can still sicken the entire workforce. Post-exposure shut-downs for sanitation can cause surprised customers to take their business elsewhere and eventually boycott restaurants as a whole, dropping revenue. If businesses like restaurants were able to publish an accurate schedule of closings and traffic data paired with alerts regarding slow times that customers can take advantage of, revenue might increase as customers are then empowered to schedule purchases accordingly.

As for the economy as a whole, COVID means that a portion of the economy has dropped out, and more customers will exit the general economy as they are forced to stay home in recovery. Another factor in this is that COVID risks have forced businesses to pivot to an emerging market, meaning that if they cannot use technology to take advantage of a socially-distanced market (read: those infected with COVID who still need to buy things like basic necessities), they will lose access to that that entire market share.

One unnamed computer supplier could not pivot and offer curbside delivery of their furniture and computer accessories. They lost several hundred dollars in sales from me – one customer – as I was forced to retrofit my home office to prepare for the possibility of a job loss due to my need for an unexpectedly long time off from work. My business had to be taken instead to the largest retailers in town who did offer contactless curbside pickup and home delivery options. Now, if you multiply my economic impact times the many, many, thousands of people who continue to collectively beat “the record” of daily COVID infection rates, then we have a VERY serious problem, which is, in fact, compounding as each day passes. More than a few businesses have closed in Atlanta after infection rates have (and continue to) skyrocket, bleeding local, statewide, national, and worldwide economies of participants.

Ultimately, COVID is scary beyond imagination mainly because the economic fallout from unpredictable absences of workers, customers, and suppliers has turned logistics and traditional financial planning all different ways, and society is having to continuously re-adjust to survive instabilities that are normally associated with third-world countries.

A few solutions to this dumpster fire of a situation are available:
1. Give businesses the technology to transact in a socially-distanced market.
2. Assist businesses in the necessary business of quickly replacing lost workers.
3. Render aid to those in need of housing, food, medical care, and employment.
4. Retool the health, dental, & psychiatric care network to a single-payer framework.
5. Increased collaboration between suppliers and manufacturers can strengthen production.

This crisis has given us the ability to correct deficiencies that have the potential to cause crippling damage should an even worse pandemic come into play. Perhaps this explainer and the solutions presented above will give – at a minimum – a bit of hope and inspiration.

- January 18, 2021
###

Posted in Activism / Advocacy, Amy's Answers, Apps, Atlanta, Business, Businesses, Civil & Human Rights, Commentary, Cryptocurrency, Economy, Finance, Financials, Government, Health / Medicine, Housing, Internet, Locations, News, OpEd / Misc., Policy Watch, Politics, Programming, Restaurants, Tech News, Technology, The Etc Box, the Retail Detail, Web Dev, Workplace Development | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

FAQ: Business Manager – User Validation Error

Business Manager’s registration portal has a maximum of three tries due to the ongoing desperation of spammers trying to find new avenues for spamming or scamming.

If you were redirected to this page from the online registration portal, it means you have failed to enter an email validation code for a certain number of tries.

Please go return to the portal you had accessed, and make sure that you have your email account open. It may take anywhere between one and five minutes to receive a validation code. Sometimes refreshing the email client or web client page will show received emails.

January 18, 2021
###

A bit about Hosted FAQ pages — The Retail Detail USA is hosting various FAQ pages for software applications. You may see these pages pop up on the blog as they are produced.

Posted in Business Manager, FAQ (Hosted), Programming | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

How busy is my ER? Website shows Georgia ER / ICU statuses.

Graph showing statuses of various ER facilities across the state of Georgia

Atlanta, GA — It’s a few days before New Year’s and you definitely do not want to call an ambulance – ERs across the region are on diversion. See for yourself what your local ER status is, at the Georgia Coordinating Center‘s website (https://georgiarcc.org/).

Ambulance companies, health insurance call-in line personnel, doctors – and now the public – rely on this real-time reporting system to assist in making the important decision as to where to send patients for care, because of a tie-in between waiting times and status of traffic load.

It may seem odd for an ER to report “normal” traffic while going on diversion (sometimes this odd duck does show up on the statuses), but that could be the result of everything from a temporary drop in staff to the fact that it may be normal for the ER to have a high traffic load.

Either way – check out the Georgia Coordinating Center before heading to an ER if it’s only a minor emergency, because an ER that is on diversion may net you a long, long wait.

Source: Georgia Coordinating Center – https://georgiarcc.org/

December 29, 2020
###

Posted in Amy's Answers, Apps, Atlanta, Cobb County, Good News, Government, Health, Images, Locations, Marietta GA, News, Research Resources, ScreenShots, Smyrna GA, Tech News, Technology | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Why #BTC / #Crypto mining should pay out in DOGE

I am conducting a test on cryptocurrency mining, the goal is to see if it is worth the effort, and I discovered something interesting: payout minimums tend to be .001 BTC, which is currently worth ~$26. One AntMiner s9 being run over the past day and a half generated 0.00001425 BTC on one pool, 0.00000298 BTC on another pool, and 89.63352796 DOGE on a third pool. This is just one machine, so the results would multiply by the number of machines. An attempt to solo mine DigiByte coin has resulted in nothing; I would have to be running several machines to raise the possibility, and the payout would be roughly $13 USD for one block.

Given the rate of earnings and the payout minimums (one pool requires .05 BTC / .01 BCH) it would make more sense to take earnings in DOGE to enable miners to reap rewards quickly.

DOGE has been trading for roughly .004-.0045 USD recently, so each one clearly adds up, especially when traded on exchanges. My personal gain this past year has been ~50%.

It’s just an opinion, but I hope that sowing this seed of thought produces a demand for change.

December 29, 2020
###

Posted in Businesses, Commentary, Crypto Mining, Cryptocurrency, Finance, OpEd / Misc., Technology | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Protests against gas station owner ends in Cancel Culture victory

“66 days of non-stop demonstrations outside the Exxon gas station off Flat Shoals Rd” resulted in an agreement between the owner and a protest organizer to sell the station.

Source: https://www.cbs46.com/news/owner-of-atlanta-gas-station-at-center-of-months-long-demonstrations-plans-to-sell/article_df3d4a3c-4598-11eb-bbea-a3bfd112b6ac.html#utm_source=cbs46.com&utm_campaign=%2Fnewsletters%2Flists%2Fheadlines%2F%3F-dc%3D1608829217

From the news report, it was revealed that community residents had suffered abuse from the gas station owner and his staff, and finally a video was released showing a clerk saying that he did not care about the Black community.

To his credit, the owner, Rahim Sivji, sacked the clerk and apologized. Members of the community, however, fed up with a lengthy history of abuse, continued to protest.

Sixty-six days of protests resulted in a severe drop in patronage of the station, forcing the owner to choose to sell his business in order to survive.

A bit about Cancel Culture overall: the public does not have many avenues to seek redress when owners or workers for any private enterprise grossly violates acceptable norms, leading to the use of boycotts and protest campaigns ranging from in-person protests to the broadcast of video messages. The idea is that people, collectively, can force powerful entities to act upon the demand of members of the public.

While the station is indeed up for sale, it remains to be seen whether or not the protest organizer will actually be able to raise the funds necessary to purchase the gas station.

To see the campaign status, or to donate, see the GoFundMe campaign page here: https://www.gofundme.com/f/help-us-buy-a-store

For business owners, the forced sale of this gas station should be a reminder that respecting customers is not only a key to success, it is a necessary part of running any business.

December 29, 2020
###

Posted in Activism / Advocacy, Atlanta GA, Business, Businesses, Commentary, Cultures, Customs, Economy, Finance, News, OpEd / Misc., Politics | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment