Remember TEOTWAWKI? It is here.

TEOTWAWKI.


Does that acronym ring any bells? I heard it widely when the year 2000 was approaching. There were questions and discussions and conspiracy theories – not entirely without basis – about horrible that might arise when the century/millennium rolled over. As a result of glitches built into computer operating systems (all of which were designed by people with a chip on their shoulders, because no one talked to them in high school), it was not clear what would happen when all the dates rolled from the 1900s to the 2000s.


It was suggested, at one point, that planes might fall out of the sky. The fear was we were looking at TEOTWAWKI. The End Of The World As We Know It. In other words, the human race might go on, but the days of Netflix, Instagram, takeout food, and intercontinental flights might be over.


Something similar, but a bit less dystopian, is now going on in America. We are looking at TEOTWAWKI. These things are incremental, of course. The changes may be huge or marginal. But they will be real and they will have an impact. After the virus runs its course, and we are done trying to micromanage something that is clearly beyond our ken, things will be different.


The economic damage is incalculable. The depression and loneliness and missed opportunities cannot be overstated. Some common American businesses, brands, and traditions may never return. TEOTWAWKI.


The changes here in Las Vegas will be more profound than in most places. Las Vegas is at once very different and very similar to other cities. No city that depends so largely on tourism and business travel can endure the current shutdowns without damage. Add to that the fact that our governor has the intellectual heft of a slug and the ethics of Vlad the Impaler, and you have a recipe for long-term pain.


It is very difficult to define all of the things that make a place special. Some are very important, others less so. But they all matter. And when enough of them change, you are looking at TEOTWAWKI, if on a smaller scale than Charlton Heston faced in Planet of the Apes.


You cannot make changes in a community without changing the experience of living and working there. When it is a city that makes its living by filling hotels, selling show tickets, gaming, and serving great food and booze, the stakes are really high. The owners and management of casinos are doing their best to make Vegas attractive to visitors again. And fun can still be had. Vegas will never be boring. But if you look at the things that are being done to make Vegas safer, ask this: how many of these changes or restrictions make coming here more enjoyable?


I can save you some trouble. The answer is none. There is not one change we are being asked to make that makes coming here more pleasant or enjoyable. And most of the new restrictions make it far less so. When you pile them together, the impact is severe.


There are plexiglass divides between people sitting at blackjack tables; people are discouraged from standing together, which, of course, is precisely what you want to do if you are having fun with your friends; you must wear masks; you have to get temperature checked when you enter a building; you are pushed to use hand sanitizer every two-tenths of a second; bars are expected to enforce social distancing; the world-famous buffets are nearly all closed; you can rent a $2,000 a day cabana at a luxury pool and, outside, you are required to wear a mask. Yes. You have to lie there in 110 degree heat, in the sun, outside, and wear a mask. Some pools allow you to do so topless, of course, but you better have that mask on.


Everything matters. If you start ticking off a list of inconvenient things a guest is required to do in order to visit Las Vegas, it doesn’t take long to reach the point where you just say the hell with it. I’ll stay home.


The whole idea of Las Vegas is to relax, do away with unnecessary rules, kick back, blow off steam, and probably do a bunch of things you wouldn’t likely do at home. It may not be immoral or risqué. It may just mean you are relaxing. But, now, a city famous for saying what happens here stays here is run by a bunch of busybodies and condescending politically correct officials who like nothing more than telling you that you can’t do something.


My guess is a large number of big hotels will survive, but not all of them. And the major resorts that are currently under construction? Wow. It may be your grandchildren’s grandchildren that see those places open. Between the former Fontainebleau (now the Drew) and Resorts World, alone, there are about 7,000 new hotel rooms scheduled to come online in a city that has entire hotels sitting empty.


On a larger scale, the lesson for the nation is actions have consequences. You cannot arbitrarily shut down a bunch of restaurants, bars, hotels, and shops, without harming someone. There are people who depend on those concerns to live. People are suffering from the virus and they are suffering from the reaction to it. The sine quo nan of America’s fastidious/elite/busybody/politically correct class is to find ways to tell you what you can do. Every chance they get to control your life, they jump on it. We, as a nation, have underestimated how far the political elite will go to control your lives. And the damage that causes may be irreparable.


Consider: the governor of Washington has ordered people to shave their beards. We are not making this up. Supposedly beards are a threat to health, as they make it hard for masks to fit correctly. And, of course, the Democratic nominee for president has said the federal government – never mind that they don’t have the authority – should order people to wear masks for the next three months, outside. Outside!


Every time I see someone driving alone and wearing a mask, I make every effort to get away from them. Anyone who thinks there is a health advantage from wearing a mask, alone, in their own car, isn’t going to be getting an acceptance letter from Mensa any time soon.


And, of course, it is hardly proven that masks make any difference. It is unclear, and there are experts that will take both sides of the issue. One of the irritating things about the arrogant condescension of the politically correct masses is that they are a hundred per cent certain of, well, whatever it is they happen to be told. There is no more certainty or factual foundation to most of the health-related restrictions being promoted than there is to the new mantra that gender is a matter of opinion. (This just in: if you’ve got two X chromosomes, you are female. Your opinion isn’t a factor. You can think you’re a rabid albino honey badger, but that isn’t true, either.)


Sweden, where they had essentially no restrictions imposed, is today much better off than many western European nations that shut everything down. We don’t know the best way to control the virus. And anyone who says we do must be a neighbor of mine, because they clearly live in a place where mind-altering drugs are easy to find.


More to come, but TEOTWAWKI is closer than you think. And the saddest part of it all is that the injuries are self-inflicted.

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