If the vaccines don’t arrive soon, Greece will be out of the tourism business for 2021 and beyond. The writing is already on the wall, even though few politicians or Greek business execs seem ready to tell the story. So, I will. The global situation is mirrored in the slow Greek response to an epic tragedy. And in the EU, the top leadership cannot even produce a tear in the eye for the hardships to come.
A Financial Times profile I just read tells the story of Florence, Italy restaurant owner Pasquale Naccari, who worries his family’s famous seafood and pizza restaurant can survive much longer. And the restaurant owner joins tens of thousands of business owners in the sinking boat adrift in a sea of inefficiency. The world is so far behind in distributing vaccines, billions of lives and a hundred trillion dollars now hang in the balance. We have to face facts.
I just talked to one of my best friends here in Greece, one of the country’s most successful business owners. The gist of our conversation was short and sharp; “No money, Phil”, was the answer to the question of “how and when” I had asked. Another world-famous doctor punctuated and academic the dire problem the other day, “Nothing is sure, my friend”, was the answer to my question as to whether a line of businesses and initiative will survive. Hoteliers, restauranteurs, retailers, real estate executives, and the baker down the street echo the truth, our leadership in the world is failing us miserably. Pasquale Naccari’s comment to Financial Times says it all:
“My bank account balance is almost zero for the first time in years and my business is on the verge of collapse; state funding is inadequate, badly distributed, and delayed.”
We’ve created humongous bureaucracies totally incapable of serving us, this is the biggest problem we face. And soon, very soon, you will not be able to find a soul who will argue the point. Science has delivered the cure, and the mediocrity we’ve allowed to usher us along politically and business-wise, it’s woefully inadequate. For me, it’s damnable that the system was not prepared to roll out these vaccines once they become viable! How could our trillions of tax dollars be applied so inappropriately? Greece, as the situation goes, is actually better off than most countries, since the country has inoculated a fairly large portion of society. But on the money props, it’s clear unemployment is about to strangle Greece soon.
Europe is now feeling the impacts of two killer economic realities. First, the eurozone just experienced the biggest economic contraction since World War II. Second, if summer 2021 does not lift Greece and other tourism-dependent nations out of the red, I feel we are looking at Dark Ages II. American, Russian, British, Middle Eastern or Chinese funding will not be available to rebuild like before. Every region of the world is now inflicted, in the soup, so to speak. There’s no margin. And the only consistency are the dead people who were most at risk. I am here in Greece with a serious heart condition, waiting on a phone call to get the jab. Waiting, like millions of others, for a glimmer of light in a dark, dark situation. I’m not panicked, but my wife and little boy are.
An Arab News report tells of Athens Airbnb host Romina Tsitou, who watched as bookings stopped abruptly for one of Greece’s most ideal rental neighborhoods beneath the Acropolis. Another host, Stefania Dimitroula, has already put her rentals up as long-term rentals, as the vacation rental market in Greece’s capital dries up. And overall, Airbnb profits have dried up, as well. The San Francisco company that threatened hotels worldwide, could be in the dead pool soon if things don’t change fast. Farther afield, Biglari Holdings Inc., which runs American subsidiaries including Steak ‘n Shake, Maxim magazine, First Guard Insurance, and Western Sizzlin’, seems about to bankrupt the famous fast food steakburger chain.
Finally, a recent McKinsey Global Institute report reveals the bitter truth of our situation, and I do mean “our” in the literal and complete sense. On the key aspects of an American recovery, the analysts put forward four fundamentals that must be addressed. For the next normal to start, they say:
“To make all this happen, public-sector leaders will need to move swiftly and decisively, bringing the whole of government to bear across all four priorities, even as they revitalize a federal workforce with plummeting morale and lack of trust in government leadership.”
For the love of God, this report says 25% of the workforce in China, France, Germany, India, Japan, Spain, the United Kingdom, and the United States needs to start looking at new careers, already! “The Future of Work After COVID-19” reads like a positive take on the Fall of the Roman Empire to me. It’s like Emperor Nero has commissioned a heads up while he’s warming up on the violin. Canadian airports and airlines are on the verge of collapse. In America, the pandemic brings to the surface deeper economic problems like Medicare social insurance running out of money and the U.S. Treasury indebted so far as to be inches from collapse. And if a horrific situation is not evident to you, the fact the giant Easterday Ranches Inc. (Tyson Foods supplier) cannot feed its 54,000 cattle should give your pause. And here in Europe, tiny Serbia leads all other nations in rolling out the much-anticipated vaccine.
If I need to go on, then we are certainly doomed. The hard truth of this Argo story is this. You need to start calling, emailing, and yelling through bullhorns for your representatives to connect the drug manufacturers, the parliaments, the church, and possibly aliens from outer space to roll out these vaccines NOW. Not tomorrow or next month, but today. The WTF comments you see on social media should all read PROTECT US NOW! Or, if you had rather, the world as you know it is certain to end soon. Ask your neighbor who’s in business. Multiply the response by about a billion, and do your own math. Our world is about to come down around our eyes, and all I can get from leadership are doe-eyed positive investor prognostications. The lie is unraveling people. Get with the program.
Hell, call on Mother Russia, test Vladimir Putin for his resolve and his country’s ability to ramp up vaccine production! Turn distribution of the Greek vaccines over to the local healthcare doctors on every corner, to the pharmacies, and relieve the hospitals and the bureaucracy of the burden! In Lebanon, the country is so broken that thieves are stealing manhole covers to sell over cash desperation. But no! With the first utterances of the coming screams for help, EU boss Ursula von der Leyen is calling for more patience.
“There is growing Covid fatigue among our citizens. But we should not let up now.”
This seems like a typical German response to me. My response to her is, “You are shitting us, right Ursula?” This is the best you have, a characteristic chilly divisiveness and aloofness in the face of a freaking catastrophe and impending suffering? As if “we” should just stay the course, while “they” fart around with our lives and our future. The Easter Bunny is on a ventilator, and world leaders can only talk about counting eggs. It’s time somebody declared an emergency. Only Britain seems to have received the catastrophic message, as goofy Boris Johnson’s government manages to jab 20 million citizens. I guess the Queen Mother must have stepped in. Folks, read the writing on the wall, please.