Musings on the Coronavirus, Part VIII

Chronicling the End of the Empire

Rajiv Satyal
5 min readMay 25, 2020



People ask me how I’m doing. My standard response? “I’m with the woman I love, in our home, in good weather — and it sucks.”

And hey, it’s Memorial Day, the unofficial start of summer. So, take a moment to honor those who gave their lives so we can live ours.


I’m guessing this financial crisis will be worse than 2008’s. Consumer spending, which represents 70% of the US economy, has ground to a near halt. That didn’t happen 12 years ago. Beyond that, I’ve been making this argument for years: no, I don’t think our fundamentals are strong. Our monetary policy is a joke. Pre-crisis, we were pumping a trillion dollars of debt into the economy on a yearly basis and we still only had 2.1% growth. The reason the stock market was so far up a few months ago was due to gutting regulations and cutting taxes. The fate of the 30 multinational companies in the Dow Jones (remember it’s only 30 companies) is not tied very closely at all to the fate of the USA.

As someone recently tweeted, “Coronavirus wipes out humanity. Stock market up 2%.”

The unemployment rate may have been low, but even if those numbers were real (a big if), much of this is traceable to the fact that many are working two to three jobs to survive. Think of the number of people renting out their places on Airbnb or driving an Uber or donating sperm (so at least watching porn goes from being a hobby to a job).

Beyond that, the yield curve inverted in August 2019, portending a recession anyway within 18 months. Right before the 2000 crash, the irrational exuberance had reached a din; the ultimate example was the crazy ads.

Well, just look at the number of national sandwich shops we have:

  • Subway
  • Quizno’s
  • Penn Station
  • Jersey Mike’s
  • Jimmy John’s
  • Blimpie
  • Firehouse
  • Thundercloud
  • Potbelly
  • Which ’Wich?

Really? How many ways are there to stick meat between two buns? (Speaking of pornos.) It’s too much. Some of this stuff has to crash.

Winter is coming. Or better yet, given the election… Autumn Is Coming.


1917 almost won Best Picture at the Oscars this year. They were gonna give it another run by making 1918. But with that whole Spanish Flu thing, they decided against it.


You can tell the age of the reporter on TV by whether they have a printer at home.


I designed this ampersand shirt…


We’re all wearing masks. It’s almost like a hijab. Guess that would be… Koranavirus.

(Eid Mubarak, btw!)


The curve is flattening. The people are fattening.


I discovered a whole new way to get hurt. I commented on my friend’s Instagram Live video. I actually saw him read out loud the comment above mine and address it. I then saw him mouthing some words that clearly were my words. NO RESPONSE. He went right on to the one under mine. Damn, Jacob. That was some unspoken shade. Nice work.


Out here in LA, it’s amusing watching liberals cross the street to avoid other people. You can see the sheer terror in their eyes when my wife and I are walking towards them. I can just see the cartoon bubble: “So sorry. We’re not doing this because you’re people of color. I mean, not that we notice that at all, anyway… I mean, it’s totally fine. OK, have a good day. Yikes.”

And then there are other times we see people walking towards us from hundreds of yards away and it’s unclear who’s going to move off the sidewalk first. We’re walking four miles an hour towards each other but it feels like we’re speeding along like James Dean in Rebel Without a Cause. To onlookers, it has to look like the lamest game of chicken ever.


When I sailed to Antarctica in December, the expedition leaders made an announcement: “It’s precisely because you are so adventurous that you are making this voyage with us. That said, don’t get too adventurous. Remember when your Dad would yell, ‘I’ll turn this car around right now!’? Well, if you break your leg, we have to turn this ship around right now and go home. You’ll ruin it for everybody. Don’t be that guy.”

It’s incredible how quickly Americans are forgetting the reason we didn’t do what Sweden did. So many are pointing and saying, “See! We should’ve done that.”

No. America ain’t Sweden. The whole reason we instituted such draconian measures is to flatten the curve. Remember that thing? The idea was not necessarily to save ourselves but to protect our most vulnerable… those susceptible to the coronavirus as well as those people out there who still have cancer, heart disease, and broken legs.

Just keep in mind that we’re all in the same boat. And what you do affects all of us.

We’re not Sweden. And we’re not Switzerland. You know what they say is the best part of living in Switzerland?

The flag’s a big plus.

Rajiv Satyal is a standup comic. He resides in Los Angeles.



Rajiv Satyal

Ohio-born, LA-based comedian.