Most of these places rely on Black Friday and the subsequent holiday shopping.
That’s been gutted this year, with most people shopping online and few visiting their local stores.
Last year, 39% of shoppers engaged in Small Business Saturday, spending money with local merchants. This year it’s down to 30%.
Might not sound like a lot, but for small businesses that rely on a margin of 10% or less, that could be it for them.
We’ll see. I’m not feeling confident.
I hope that the Missoula coalition of 70 businesses is just a start, and that these folks will begin to band together and stay open later, allow more customers, and just about anything else that’ll allow them to maintain their livelihood.
Is local or state government going to shut them all down? Who's going to enforce that? Who's going to carry out the judge's orders?
It's gets pretty iffy.
But even if businesses too mattrs into their own hands, it still might not be enough. After all, you could be open 24/7 and have occupancy of 150%...and it doesn’t mean consumers will come.
People are still scared over the virus, despite the fact that 99.9% of people that get it live, and most young people don’t even know they have it.
At least we’re not California or New York.
I was reading about a restaurant in California, where the owner installed a $10,000 air purifying system and put in plastic partitions between tables. All in a bid to stay open under the new restrictions that allowed businesses to reopen.
Well, guess what? Those moves are no longer good enough for Governor Gavin and businesses like that now have to close...just with more debt, and this time no ability to pay it off.
Huge boon for all the corporate chains out there, isn’t it?
The Bread Lines
I worked 1 hour last week.
I was scheduled to work 2, but it just wasn’t busy enough. I was sent home early.
I wonder if my employer is going under. I know many Missoula downtown small businesses are - it’s why 70 of them formed a coalition to ‘work’ with the health department to try and stay afloat.
From the article, it sounded like they were actually making some headway...and then the governor imposed new statewide restrictions.
What does he care? He’s lame-ducked out and will get a few more taxpayer-funded paychecks before he too is out of work in 5 weeks.
My income is down 85% from January, which was the high point of the year for me.
At least I have a place to live, and more than enough to eat. Many Americans don’t.
In fact, 39 million Americans are going hungry right now. That’s 12% of the population. Usually the number is 6%.
Thank God I had savings! I’m quickly burning through that, however.
5.8 million Americans are facing eviction come January, most being in New York. This is monumental. The average number of Americans evicted each year is around 900,000.
Had trouble finding a house or apartment? You won’t come the new year.
And it’s only going to get worse as we progress through 2021. Do you really think renters can pay months and months of back rent?
And when they can't...then what? And what about the landlords and their bills, and the banks relying on that income?
This idea of a new ‘Roaring Twenties?’
Yeah, roaring with anger.
70 million new unemployment claims were filed this year. I was one of ‘em. I didn’t want to do that, but the government forced my employer to shut down.
Then the government had the Federal Reserve print up all this money out of thin air. What a wicked institution that is, one that should be abolished. We got rid of the first two Banks of the United States; it’s well past time we got rid of our third.
Sadly, Congress is thinking of doing more stimulus, printing more money.
How will future generations pay that off?
Don’t think about that. Shut up. Get in your place. Just do what you're told and be thankful you’re getting anything.
New Montana Book
A new book about Montana comes out next week.
It’s by David Paulides, someone who writes about missing people. I have one of his books in my library, and will buy this when it comes out and I’ll give you some snippets.
Here’s the press release:
David Paulides has just released another blockbuster Missing 411 book!!!!!!!
Missing 411- Montana is the first book ever written exclusively about a state. It has 289 pages of cases and something a United States book has NEVER included a full-size color cluster map. Over 30 all-new cases with several updates on older incidents previously covered.
This project has been one year in the making and has some of the most bizarre cases David has ever researched. There is another big change to David's book, starting with Montana, there are MANY more photos!
The book is only available on our website for pre-sale.
All books will ship on December 7.
The book and the stand-alone map- $24.99
Pre-Order now and guarantee yourself a copy: https://www.canammissing.com/huge-announcement.html
Prior to this book, David put out Missing 411, Western United States & Canada: Unexplained disappearances of North Americans that have never been solved in 2011.
That book has 28 pages dedicated to Montana, with missing people cases that stretch from 1896 to 2008.
Here’s a bit from the case of Lawrence Prange in 1958, a UM student from Illinois.
He headed up to Seeley in August to hike and possibly hunt for mountain goats. He brought two guns and his German Shepherd, Queen. He was going to call his parents and girlfriend when he got back. He never called.
It was August 14 when he went missing. His parents contacted the authorities and the search and rescue teams went out. They found nothing...until over a month later, when on September 20 a helicopter team spotted Queen near Lindbergh Lake.
They had to bring Lawrence’s girlfriend up from Missoula, because no one else could calm the dog. When they brought the animal to a high peak in the area that Lawrence would have likely chosen to hunt from, the dog was fearful and wanted nothing to do with the area.
The search ended on September 24.
“I’ve tracked dozens of cases in which hikers and hunters have died and the canine companion is sitting next to the corpse refusing to leave,” Paulides writes. “This is the only case I’ve ever seen where the canine was running loose in the wild and the hunter is never found. It would almost seem as if Queen was deathly afraid of the circumstances surrounding Lawrences’s disappearance and wanted nothing to do with whatever may have happened.”
Ages of Discord
I ran across an interesting article that originally appeared in the Atlantic a few weeks ago.
It’s about a professor of physics that began to apply mathematics to history, coming up with this chart:
He calls them ages of discord, which seem to take place every 70 years in this country, and probably around the world as well.
The article is way too long, but it does have some interesting facets.
The main problems he sees “are a dark triad of social maladies: a bloated elite class, with too few elite jobs to go around; declining living standards among the general population; and a government that can’t cover its financial positions.”
I’m going to share this large excerpt because I think it has a lot of insight for us:
“We are almost guaranteed” five hellish years, Turchin predicts, and likely a decade or more. The problem, he says, is that there are too many people like me. “You are ruling class,” he said, with no more rancor than if he had informed me that I had brown hair, or a slightly newer iPhone than his.
Of the three factors driving social violence, Turchin stresses most heavily “elite overproduction”—the tendency of a society’s ruling classes to grow faster than the number of positions for their members to fill. One way for a ruling class to grow is biologically—think of Saudi Arabia, where princes and princesses are born faster than royal roles can be created for them.
In the United States, elites overproduce themselves through economic and educational upward mobility: More and more people get rich, and more and more get educated. Neither of these sounds bad on its own. Don’t we want everyone to be rich and educated? The problems begin when money and Harvard degrees become like royal titles in Saudi Arabia. If lots of people have them, but only some have real power, the ones who don’t have power eventually turn on the ones who do.
In the United States, Turchin told me, you can see more and more aspirants fighting for a single job at, say, a prestigious law firm, or in an influential government sinecure, or (here it got personal) at a national magazine. Perhaps seeing the holes in my T-shirt, Turchin noted that a person can be part of an ideological elite rather than an economic one. (He doesn’t view himself as a member of either. A professor reaches at most a few hundred students, he told me. “You reach hundreds of thousands.”)
Elite jobs do not multiply as fast as elites do. There are still only 100 Senate seats, but more people than ever have enough money or degrees to think they should be running the country. “You have a situation now where there are many more elites fighting for the same position, and some portion of them will convert to counter-elites,” Turchin said.
Donald Trump, for example, may appear elite (rich father, Wharton degree, gilded commodes), but Trumpism is a counter-elite movement. His government is packed with credentialed nobodies who were shut out of previous administrations, sometimes for good reasons and sometimes because the Groton-Yale establishment simply didn’t have any vacancies.
Trump’s former adviser and chief strategist Steve Bannon, Turchin said, is a “paradigmatic example” of a counter-elite. He grew up working-class, went to Harvard Business School, and got rich as an investment banker and by owning a small stake in the syndication rights to Seinfeld. None of that translated to political power until he allied himself with the common people. “He was a counter-elite who used Trump to break through, to put the white working males back in charge,” Turchin said.
Elite overproduction creates counter-elites, and counter-elites look for allies among the commoners. If commoners’ living standards slip—not relative to the elites, but relative to what they had before—they accept the overtures of the counter-elites and start oiling the axles of their tumbrels.
Commoners’ lives grow worse, and the few who try to pull themselves onto the elite lifeboat are pushed back into the water by those already aboard. The final trigger of impending collapse, Turchin says, tends to be state insolvency. At some point rising insecurity becomes expensive. The elites have to pacify unhappy citizens with handouts and freebies—and when these run out, they have to police dissent and oppress people. Eventually the state exhausts all short-term solutions, and what was heretofore a coherent civilization disintegrates.”
This analysis is very spot on.
Here in Montana, we see this happen a lot. One example that comes quickly to mind is that of Billings’ Steve Zabawa.
Back in the mid-2000s when medical marijuana really got going, Steve wanted in on it and tried to get a grow facility and dispensary going...but something fell through with partners or financing or something.
So he got mad, got disgruntled...became a counter-elite.
Now instead of joining them he just wants to tear them down, funding anti-cannabis marketing campaigns every year.
When someone who really wants to be part of the club is told that they can’t be - and worse, gets laughed in the face too - well, they often begin to hate the very thing they once loved and wanted to a be part of.
I visited Montana COPP today to check in on the Missoula filings, mainly to see if anyone else has indicated they might run for mayor.
Didn’t see anything new.
So far we just have former Griz player Jacob Elder running for mayor, and Dan Carlino filed to run for City Council, but didn’t list a ward. I think he lives in Ward 3, meaning he’d be running against Heather Harp next year.
I don’t think he stands a chance. First, the incumbent in Ward 3 last time - Gwen Jones - won with 82% of the vote. Second, Carlino pissed off some Dems in June when he lost in the PSC #4 primary to Monica Tranel and got a little pissy about it online, saying Dems aren't progressive enough.
Many younger Dems in the city trumpet this message, never having been part of a statewide campaign.
Nothing is set in stone. Carlino didn’t fully fill out his C3 candidate intent form, and he’s already deleted his “Daniel Carlino for Missoula City Council’ page on Facebook.
Let’s take a moment to talk about Elder.
He’s a refugee from Liberia that came to Montana when he was just a young kid. He went to UM, did 2 years there while playing football, and then decided to give back by joining the marines. After four years of that he came back and finished his degree and even got a law degree.
A Liberian refugee was elected mayor of Helena three years ago, so we know it’s possible here in Montana.
But is Elder a Democrat or a Republican? Dems don’t usually join the military. Elder has no issues page on his site, so I can’t parse the language to figure anything out. And of course, Missoula races are ‘non-partisan.’
We’ll know soon enough by which organizations are donating to this man, as well as individuals.
And we still don’t know if Engen is going to run again. I highly doubt he will, for two reasons - his health is poor and doing four more years during the coming depression will sully whatever legacy he thinks he has.
While looking all this up, I did think about the GOP in the legislature, and their plans to eliminate COPP.
I don’t really care about the Political Practices Commissioner - most of his rulings only affect incidents that happened 3-5 years ago - but I do worry about the regular office staff.
I mean...who’s going to upload campaign finance reports?
Or is it the GOP’s plan to just get rid of all campaign finance reporting?
I think the idea of eliminating COPP is a silly fantasy, one that won’t come to fruition.
COPP has been around since the 1975 Legislature put it in place, mainly because of the Watergate nonsense.
So it’s not in the constitution, meaning it’ll be relatively easy to get rid of...if the GOP wants to.
I see the City of Missoula has hired some firm to study the excess land in the city cemetery, and how this could be used for affordable housing.
My first thought was the film, Poltergeist.
Are they going to build on existing graves?
But it seems most of the place is empty because people just don’t give a shit about burials anymore, just cremations. Sounds like family breakdown is the leading cause of this shift.
Once I see an article about something in Missoula, I know there’s no stopping it and it’ll become an inevitability, one that’s studied for half a decade before becoming shovel ready (more profits can be squeezed from taxpayers that way).
There are no checks and balances in Missoula to stop anything from happening. Dems control the executive, legislative, and judicial branches in this town. The mayor, the city council and the courts - Dems have had them for over 20 years.
It’s why there’s nowhere to live in town; why your taxes have gone up every year; why the city is $250 million in debt.
Is Jacob Elder going to change that?
I don’t think he could even if he wanted to.
I don’t think I’m going to get health insurance next year.
Now’s the time of year when we have to go to Healthcare.gov, and fill out their incredibly long application, despite none of the info changing from the previous year.
Of course, the prices of my possible insurance plans will have gone up when they list the prices beginning December 15.
I didn’t visit the doctor once this past year. In fact, I haven’t been to a doctor in nearly half a decade; haven’t visited the dentist in over two years, and the eye doctor for just as long.
The only reason I’m even kind of thinking about getting health insurance is because of what happened to me at the end of August.
Out of the blue, I receive a check for $793 from Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Montana.
Seems they allocated too much to their administrative costs for the year, something that the ACA forbids...or something.
It wasn’t really clear, they just told me they had to give me a refund. Considering I pay around $900 in premiums over the course of a whole year, this was a pretty good deal.
But will it happen again?
I kind of think it will. I mean...why does the brass at Blue Cross care? They might as well just keep paying themselves high salaries and then kick the rebates out. Ain’t coming out of their pocket.
Mostly, I’m relatively young, in good shape, and I’m healthy.
But more than that, I’m poor.
Since the government forced my employer to lay me off for months, and then when I was allowed back it was under reduced hours, my income is way, way down.
So technically, from any hospital’s perspective, I’d be living in poverty. And that means they won’t charge me.
Well, they will...but I'll just send them my tax forms and bank statements and a month later they'll send me a letter telling me the bill is reduced by 100%.
I know this because I've had it happen before.
They won't charge me - they'll charge you, through higher premiums and deductibles...and I’m perfectly alright with this.
This is the system we have; I’m just taking advantage of it. I’m doing nothing wrong. Indeed, it’d be a crime for me not to find the loopholes.
Don’t like it?
Contact your congressman.