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Chapter Five
When the Turbine Blows Up

Now we get to the subject of "trust." Trust, as a society, is something that most people understand poorly. Trust is vital for a society to function. It's not hard to explain, though. Trust means that if you loan your lawn mower to a neighbor, you've got a pretty good chance of getting it back. There's an implied contract. I let you use the lawn mower. You return it in pretty much the same condition you got it.

You don't loan it to your cousin who then uses it to cut his clients' yards. If you borrow it, you don't break it and give it back and then insist you didn't break it. You don't sell it. You give it back in pretty much the same condition you got it.

There are several different types of societal trust but they really boil down into two major groups. Familial and general. Familial is the society where if you loan your lawn mower to your cousin, he'll give it back. But if you loan it to your neighbor, who is not your cousin, you don't know if he'll give it back or not. So you don't loan it to your neighbor. You don't do anything for anyone if you can possibly help it. You don't trust the cop unless he's a cousin. You don't trust the banker unless he's a cousin.

If you've ever been overseas (or, hell, in certain areas in the U.S.) and had someone say "I have a cousin who . . . " then you're in a familial trust society.

Then there are general trust societies. The U.S. is, by and large, (and we'll get to Chicago, L.A. and Detroit in a second) a general trust society. In most segments of American society you could loan your lawn mower to your neighbor with a fair expectation of getting it back. If you didn't, you could take him to small claims court and the judge wasn't going to care about you or your neighbor, mostly, just about the merits of the case.

Trust is vital in a society. If societal trust is too low, people trust no one. Except, maybe, their cousins.

This brings us to "multiculturalism."

A study was done by a very liberal sociologist back in the mid-oughts. The study set out to prove that multicultural societies had higher levels of societal trust than monoculture societies. It seems a no-brainer that the reverse was the case, but at the time multiculturalism, along with a bunch of other urban myths, was the way of the world.

However, it was a no-brainer. The study proved the exact opposite. That is, the more diverse an area was in cultures, the less societal trust there was.

Look, humans don't trust "the other." The name every single primitive tribe gives for "other" translates as "enemy." Apache was the Hopi name for the Apache tribes and that's the exact translation: Enemy.

But it's more complex than that. Say you're from a general trust culture. A neighbor moves in next door who is from a familial trust culture. You offer the use of your lawn mower. It never comes back. You point that out and eventually learn that it's been used to cut about a hundred lawns. If you get it back, it's trashed.

The neighbor considers you a moron for loaning it to him in the first place. And he doesn't care if you think he's a dick. He doesn't trust you anyway. You're not family.

Actual real-world example I picked up on a forum. Group in one of the most pre-Plague diverse neighborhoods in the U.S. wanted to build a play-area for their kids in the local park. They'd established a "multicultural neighborhood committee" of "the entire rainbow." I got this from the liberal "general trust" side of the story. I'd have loved to have gotten it from the rest of the cultures. If they could stop laughing.

Anyway, this group of "let's all sing kumbaya" liberals got their little brown brothers together and proposed they all build a playground for their kids. There was a kinda run-down park in the neighborhood. Let's build swings so our children can all play together. Kumbaya.

There were, indeed, little brown brothers and yellow and black. But . . .

Well, it's kinda difficult to tell the difference between a Sikh and a Moslem unless you know one's turban looks cool and the other's looks like shit. (For general info, I can not only tell the difference between a Moslem and a Sikh, I can 90% of the time tell the difference between two tribes of Moslems. Yes, I may be a culturist SOB, but I'm a very highly trained one. I can tell the difference between a Moslem and a Sikh and talk about the history of conflict between the two groups.) And Sikhs and Moslems can barely bring themselves to spit on each other much less work side by side singing "Kumbaya." The liberals had, apparently, never noticed that the fucked-up-turban guys never went into the cool-turban guy's corner store.

The Hindus were willing to contribute some suggestions and a little money, but the other Hindus would have to do the work. What other Hindus? Oh, those people. And they would have to hand the money to the kumbaya guys both because handing it to the other Hindus would be defiling and because, of course, it would just disappear.

(At some point I need to talk about India. It is not the India today that it was in 2019.)

When they actually got to work, finally, there were some little black brothers helping. Then a different group of little black brothers turned out and sat on the sidelines shouting suggestions until the first group left. Then the "help" left as well. Christian animists might soil their hands for a community project but not if they're getting shit from Islamics. Sure, they're just two different tribes that lived right next to each other in Africa. Speaking of kumbaya. But they've also been slaughtering each other since before Stanley ever found Livingston smoking his bong.

Trust. If you lived in a mostly white-bread suburb before the Time of Suckage you just can't get it. But when trust breaks down enough in a society, nobody trusts anyone. Blacks don't trust black cops. Whites don't trust white cops. Nobody trusts their mayor, nobody trusts their boss. Nobody trusts nobody.

What the study found was that the more multicultural a society, the lower the societal trust. (The professor, by the way, refused to accept his own results. He sat on them for five years and even then spouted bullshit about "education" as the answer even though that was covered in the study.) The only way to get generalized trust is to blend the societies and erase the differences. Back in the 1800s an Italian wouldn't be bothered to spit on an Irishman unless he'd just stuck a knife in his back. These days the only way you can tell the difference in the U.S. is one has better food and the other better beer.

So why does this matter to Ching Mao? Doesn't, really, he was dead and never really cared. But it mattered, a lot, to the response in Chicago.

You see, by that time Chicago was a very multicultural area. Gone were the days of it being pure white-bread and kielbasa. Only recent immigrants, who didn't recognize the local white guys as being anything like Polish despite their names, spoke the Old Language. Where there had once been mostly assimilated German and Polish and Russian Jew and a smattering of Black communities there were now Serbian and Pakistani and "Persian" and Assyrian not to be confused with Syrian and Iraqi and Fusian who were not Manchu who were not Korean or anything like who were definitely not Cambodian, damn it . . .

Each trusted the family group around them. To an extent they trusted others who were "them." The few white-bread multicultural true-believers trusted all their little rainbow brothers, of course, until you got a few drinks in them and they started telling about their experiences. "And I never did get my lawn mower back!"

And nobody trusted the Police, the Fire Department or anything else smacking of the government. Most of the immigrants came from countries where that was just sense and police had a hard time dealing with those communities that closed around anyone, good or bad, when questions were asked. And never ask a fireman about responding to an "ethnic" neighborhood. You won't like the story if you like to sing kumbaya.

The kumbaya types didn't trust them because they were so mean to their little brown brothers. Fascists. General societal trust had been totally degraded.

You couldn't get people to agree on how to build a playground. Getting them to work together to fight a killer flu bug was so far beyond the pale it wasn't funny.

The specialists tried. Lord God they tried. The CDC worked around the globe. They knew what they were up against. They just didn't expect it to be this hard in the U.S. They had people that spoke just about every language on Earth but there were families that spoke Martian. They never did track down the snake-head that opened the container until he turned up at the hospital choking up his lungs. None of the Asians were willing to admit there even were such people. They found a few street-people who had been exposed. The other laborers, who had been working side by side with him? Nada. "Day laborers that were gathered on the corner? Which corner? We know nothing of this." They were never even able to track down the contractor until he was sick. And he didn't know any names or addresses.

It's hard to say whether "the rest of the first" could be called Patients Zero or not. The arguments are technical. I've monitored a few of the boards where specialists discuss it and tried to keep up. I'll just call them "the rest of the first."

It started mostly in the immigrant communities. The people traveling legally were stopped at the border and submitted to quarantine. Illegals, however, weren't interested in being stopped.

The Plague hit Mexico actually after it hit in the U.S. At least that was reported. The Mexican Territories were right on the edge of being a failed state back then. No way of knowing if it hit before or after. Didn't really matter. Immigration from Mexico, which had been high, exploded. It couldn't really even be called immigration anymore. Not with the Tijuana Riots and the border attacks in Texas and Arizona. It was an invasion of people desperate to get somewhere they might survive.

And lots of them were infected by the time they crossed the border. On the other side of the border were people willing to transport them to other areas of the U.S. Death crept through the land coughing quietly in the back of thousands of vans and pickup trucks headed for factories that no longer needed their services, farms that were looking at disaster . . .

Seattle, L.A., San Francisco, San Diego, Portland, Cincinnatti?, Atlanta, Houston, Savannah, Indianapolis?, NYC, Boston, Miami . . .

There was no pattern. There was no way to maintain containment.

It was like biological warfare except it wasn't. It was a Plague.

More came from China even until the West Coast ports just said "Enough!" and stopped accepting any shipments from Asia. Not that there were many by that point.

Big problem with saying "Enough!"

China was the United States' number one trading partner. And it wasn't just fold-out hampers you could get for a buck at the Dollar Store. (Remember those?) China supplied most of the raw steel, and a hell of a lot of formed, that U.S. industries used. (Not just because U.S. steel was more expensive but because Chinese was better. Big technical explanation but "trust" me, it was.) They produced parts to go in everything from cars to computers.

There's a really crappy book by Ayn Rand called Atlas Shrugged. It's a snoozer but I was really bored one time on an exercise and struggled all the way through that fucker. The basic premise, though, was simple. A guy who built a widget that was very important to, well, everything it turned out, decided to quit. The guys who took over building the widget didn't build it as well and society fell apart.

Societies are dynamic complex systems. It is not easy to break a society or an economy. You can't do it by missing any one widget. If the guys making the widget, now, don't make it well enough someone will come along who does. And probably better than the original widget maker. That's the whole point of a free-market. Command economy? Maybe. But then the KGB will come break down the widget maker's door and explain that he'd better get back to making widgets or he's never going to see his daughter again.

And one widget never does it. Ever.

One hundred thousand widgets? All those widgets that are in containers that might or might not contain infectants?

That will break an economy.

Look, our farm used only John Deere. Made in the USA, baby, best damned tractors in the world.

The wiring harness was assembled by slave labor in the good old People's Republic of China.

So were a bunch of other parts. The steel was Chinese. (Because it beat U.S. steel hands down.) They made the injectors for the engine in the U.S. It was Chinese material. They made the stanchions for the suspension in the U.S. The steel was Chinese. The computer chip that ran the engine? Taiwan, which fell about as fast.

If there had been time, if there had been warning, if the whole fucking world hadn't come apart, companies would have reacted, adapted and overcome. Many of them did in spite of everything. Things never really got to the point of complete Armageddon in the U.S. in most areas. (L.A. is an extreme example but Chicago was nearly as bad. Especially after the winter of 2019–2020. Actually might have been worse. Most of L.A. left rather than died. They're still finding bodies in Chicago.)

Forget a machine with sand in the gears. The economy of the U.S. had often been called the Turbine of the World. It sure came apart like one.

Ever seen a big turbine come apart? Think about the same quantity of plastic explosives.

Companies in those days ran on very thin margins and very small inventories. Various reasons. It was economically more efficient. After the changes in the '70s and '80s in the way that companies ran, the marketplace had become cutthroat competitive. There were a bunch of tax laws that pressured for it. Returns were higher. Everything depended on productivity, which was and is higher per man hour in the U.S. than anywhere in the world.


That meant that when a company suddenly had a breakdown, the answer was to rush order whatever they needed. Don't want that parts inventory bogging them down. "Just in time ordering."

Only the parts were made in China. And while a middleman would normally have them, they were sitting in Port of Seattle under quarantine.

And what with the Plague spreading fast in Seattle there weren't any people to clear the container or guys to move it onto a train or even a train engineer to drive the train.

Not to mention that there weren't any more shipments. China was out of the widget business. Cheap hampers were suddenly a thing of the past.

So was the Dollar Store. Walmarts started closing. Whole companies went from "the fourth quarter will be a fully acceptable return period" to "here's your pink slip. I've already got mine" in mere days.

Various states became "reactionary." Technically, it was against the Constitution to close the borders of a state and people said that there was no way to do it.

First of all, by this time most people were trying to interact as little as possible. Even in areas where trust was high, Blue Earth for example, did you trust your neighbor enough to not give your kids the Plague? People, wherever possible, huddled in. Another reason for the economy coming apart so fast was people just stopped going to work. And the American Turbine ran on productivity. Companies kept as few people as possible and worked them hard. One calling in "long term sick-leave" might have worked. Half the work-force calling in was a different kettle of fish.

Businesses started slamming their doors. And it was happening so fast people couldn't begin to understand the effect. The President was dealing with reports that were a day old and during the height of the Plague that was like reading up on Darius the Great.

You know the greatest heroes in all of this? It wasn't the firemen and police and National Guard. It wasn't the guys from the CDC. They were all trying, hard, to stop the Plague and failing miserably. But they were innoculated and so were most of their families, officially or not.

No, it was the teller at the grocery stores. It was the nurses and doctors that opened their doors every morning, not sure how or if they were going to get paid all things considered, and dealt with patients for eighteen or twenty hours before going home to crash and come back and do it all over again. Most of the latter were vaccinated. Many of the truckers and stockers and tellers at the grocery stores weren't. They put on masks and hoped for the best.

Because people had to eat.

And then money started to run short at the same time as inflation hit big-time.


People were only buying what they considered essentials. Basically food and gas so they could drive to the store when they absolutely had to or to the hospital or doctor's office when they knew they had to.

But the distribution system for food and gas was getting shot. People were dying, yes, but even more weren't being heroes. It was a tough call.

Say you're guy working at a local fuel distribution plant. Your wife is, say, a teacher. She's on permanent leave and might or might not be getting paid. You've got two kids. They're both okay. You've got food in the cupboard, enough to carry you for a while. A few weeks at least. Surely by then there will be immunizations, right? There's some money in the bank. Not a lot; you live paycheck to paycheck.

Now, it's morning, there are reports of people dying all over the nation from this flu shit. Your kids are good. You don't want your kids to die. And, hell, you don't want to die.

So do you go to work that morning? And have to interact with a bunch of people?

The choice of most of the people who did get up and go out to try to keep things running was just that. They went out and didn't come back until the majority of the Plague cleared or they died. This was mostly males. Not all, by any stretch. But when it came down to who was going to survive and who die in a family, mommy stayed home and daddy went to work.

And about thirty percent of them died.

Mommy and the kids weren't doing so hot, either. H5N1 had a four day "latency" period. That is, it could sit around for four days waiting to infect someone under normal conditions. It also had a three day period before "first frank symptoms." You didn't sniffle for three days after you had actually picked it up. That combination of damned near a week meant that lots of people picked it up before they ever decided "enough's enough" and went home to hide. And even if family had been hiding before they went home, now everybody had it.

Let me talk a bit about the rest of the world before I get into just what that did to the U.S.

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