This Week's Poll
A Helpful Black Swan Event Analysis
Let's look at the most recent, if not the largest, Black Swan event in our lifetime, and ask ourselves some event-specific questions. Then you do your own research, come up with your own answers and make up your own mind. Here we go.
Black Swan Event: Covid Pandemic
I'll go through the indicators in last week's post using my own localized experience. Then I'll come up with a list of "Specific Event-Related Indicators" that speak to me and formulate my conclusion.
I am purposefully not going to give you any of the resources I may use because I want you to do your own research, come up with your own resources and formulate your own conclusions.
#1. Parking Lots: Counting Cars
We have a large parking lot at our facility. Pre-Covid it was 98% full. When the lock-downs began it went down to about 5% and stayed that way for a few months. It crept up to the 20-40% range and remained there until recently. Right now it's back to about 90-95% full which tells me we're past the lock-down mentality and back to work around here.
#2. Help Wanted Signs: Mister, Have You Got a Job?
One of the tried and true indicators that an economy is coming out of whatever it is that put it in a funk in the first place is the appearance of help-wanted signs in business windows. This includes hiring ads in online platforms like Indeed.com and their ilk.
I'm seeing those signs everywhere. In fact, the talk at places I frequent indicates that employers can't find people. Those businesses that survived the government shut-downs are looking to expand right now! Apparently they can afford it and that's a positive sign.
#3. General Attitude of the Populace: Hey, Sunshine!
My experience outside of the office tells me that people are noticeably happier than they were a month ago, and much happier than they were 6 months back. But, they're still confused and fearful about things that are happening; getting conflicting information from "authorities" and the media. That is what I see.
#4. Level of Travel: Wanna Go to Grandma's House?
Triple AAA forecast a travel increase of over 4% above what it was PRE-Covid for the recent July 4th weekend. That's 4% over the actual numbers in 2019 which was a banner year for travel! People are tired of being cooped up and want to get out.
The RV industry is experiencing an unprecedented boom. Dealers can't get inventory or parts from their manufacturers and RV'ers are having great difficulty getting campground reservations right now. People want to be anywhere but holed up in the house with their face in a ZOOM meeting.
#5. Discretionary Spending Levels: What's That Smell?
I don't even have to look up the official government statistics on consumer discretionary spending. The points above tell me that people are in a spending mood. People have money to spend and it's burning a hole in their pockets.
#6. Event-Specific Indicators to Research: Covid
All Black Swan events have a beginning, a middle, and an end. As counselors we have to have event-analysis mechanisms in place to understand what's happening before we can help anyone else make sense of it.
I'm going to use Covid as an example but let me make it crystal-clear what we're not doing here. We're not judging how it was handled, not arguing whether we like the vaccines or not, nor will we verbally joust over the mask issue or our political ideologies. Our objective today is event-analysis in order to understand what's happening, then best serve our clients from that platform.
My simple logic regarding the Covid event is this: "(Beginning) A pandemic makes people sick, (Middle) we take measures against it, but it will inevitably kill some of them. (End) When that subsides, then largely stops, pandemic over."
So MY indicators are very simple and follow that sequence. If you like 'em, use 'em. If not, come up with your own but for Heaven's sake please do your own research and don't simply believe what you're told!
It is common practice for tracked numbers to be updated after-the-fact as new, more accurate information becomes available. The Covid death count numbers have been "updated", hence my use of the term in what follows.
Indicator #1: Who's being affected by Covid?
- Identify who's susceptible and to what degree. It's equally important to identify those groups who are not.
What is your conclusion about the populations being affected and the severity of the impact? (Don't rely on what you've been told on the news, do your own research!) How might you use that with your clients?
Indicator #2: What measures have been taken to mitigate the virus?
- What is the known survival rate of this virus?
- Are quarantine measures effective, or make things worse?
- How do masks work? Will they be effective against this particular virus?
- Are there any historical events that attest to mask effectiveness?
- Are there FDA-approved or homeopathic drugs that we can use to combat the virus and how effective are they?
- What does the data tell us about the effectiveness of these drugs and treatments?
- Are there FDA-approved vaccines available to combat the virus?
- Are there any non-approved, experimental drugs available for use in combatting the virus?
- What is the data telling us about the physical reaction of the masses to any experimental injections?
After you do your research, what is your conclusion about the measures being taken to combat the virus? How might you use that with your clients?
Indicator #3: What does the updated death count look like?
- Utilizing the latest official tallies, how many deaths have been attributed to the Covid virus? (don't use posts or articles older than a few months. Those numbers have been updated!)
- To put things into perspective, how do the revised Covid numbers compare to the annual flu season deaths for the past 5 years? Suicides? Cancer deaths? Fatal heart attacks?
In my research I've found several worldwide diseases, for which the death counts are higher than the revised Covid deaths. Thing is, no one is making a fuss about those epidemics. No one is wearing a mask to stamp them out, no one is taking un-approved, experimental drugs. That's why a little perspective is important.
So, having done your research on the updated number of fatalities from Covid-19, what are your thoughts?
A Note on Variants
This is a virus. It has had many variants since this event began and it will produce more. As variants materialize you'll need to subject them to the same discovery process that you used above. Rinse and repeat. Variants are a normal occurrence in the life of a virus but here's the thing.....viral variants typically spread faster than their predecessors, but they also become less lethal. The variant driver is all about improving the virus' ability to find a host (that's you!) amongst a heard that's developing immunity to it. Fortunately, the increased ability to spread is historically offset by a reduced lethality.
The point of this article is to learn to think critically and independently, as citizens, about Black Swan event crisis analysis. We bear that duty to our country and families. Then, what can we do with that information as counselors to help our clients wrap their heads around it, too?
Based on my own research, we're way out of the woods on this Black Swan event. Now we're just waiting on the government and the media to catch up. But that's MY conclusion. I'm not going to tell you what to think, that's your job. Go do your own research.
I'd really like to know what your Top 5, thought-provoking questions are that you use to help your clients navigate their Covid analysis process. Leave them in the comment section below, please. And don't forget the poll above!
And now you know.
Plan Smart. Be Safe. Serve Others.
Kathleen Mills, LPC-S, CEAP
Got An Opinion?
This post is my opinion based on almost 30 year practice as a mental health provider. Whether you agree or disagree, please feel free to leave your civil, constructive comments below. You do not need to be logged in to leave a comment.