Yesterday, April 4, was the 45th anniversary of Bill Gates and Paul Allen founding Microsoft in Albuquerque, NM. Few of us noticed at the time. Their vision is to be congratulated. Paul passed away in 2018, but Bill and wife Melinda, a Dallas native, are busy using some of their billions being global philanthropists and busybodies, in the tradition of Andrew Carnegie and other so-called “robber barons” of a century ago.
Gates has injected himself into the current situation by prognosticating the long-term outcome. That is his opinion and right to express it, but success in another endeavor does not qualify him as and expert in that regard. Not sure that success in that kind of fortune-telling is possible anyway. Gates’ current significance is what he and his company have previously accomplished.
Microsoft and its industry have made working remotely for many of us possible during this Coronavirus/Covid-19 shutdown. Many workers, however, cannot. Restaurant, tavern, and most retail employees have been named as nonessential and are out of luck. There are others, but not purveyors of booze. Columnist Peggy Noonan observed in the weekend edition of the WSJ that:
Everyone is fascinated that everything is closed but liquor stores remain open. This is because there isn’t a politician in the country stupid enough to prohibit alcohol in a national crisis. They may know on some level that no nation in the history of the world has closed both its churches and its liquor stores simultaneously and survived. Russia after the revolution closed the churches but did its best to keep vodka available because they wanted everyone drunk, which is the only way to get through communism. And how Russia did get through communism.
But we are outdoing ourselves. The AP reports alcoholic-beverage sales rose 55% in the week ending March 21. Online liquor sales were up 243%.
Stock in Anheuser-Busch Inbev NV anyone?
Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins, empowered by law to mandate closures, shelter-in-place, and other restrictions, has opined that liquor stores should remain open so alcoholics wouldn’t have to detoxify, and, I suppose, take up hospital beds.
Given that Dallas police have had many complaints of loud “Corona parties” held by those sheltering in place, I wonder if all the purveyors of Corona beer, which is hecho en Mexico have been sold out? Full employment for that brewery as a form of foreign aid. Who would have thought?
The most curious mass purchase is that of toilet paper. Stocking up on hand sanitizer, face masks, and the like is understandable. But one-way tickets? No disease control person has suggested that diarrhea is a symptom of Covid-19 infection. Various hypotheses have been put forth by armchair psychologists, mostly media pundits. Anyway, the country has not lost its productive capacity for paper products. Speculators who have bought up vast amounts will be disappointed.
Coincidently, last week a tractor-trailer from a manufacturer loaded with toilet paper crashed and burned on a freeway just outside of Dallas. Some of the paper went up in flames, but there were reports of the road being fully papered. Wonder how many scavengers made off with carloads of poop paper.