Los Angeles Hit Hard by Implosion of Freelance Work

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Those long enough in tooth to have been working in the later 1990s may remember the hyping of going freelance. The growth of the gig economy precariat has tarnished that allure, but there was a large contingent of high-end, high-skill workers who either went from project to project or had their own clientele and now are in diminished to desperate straits.

A new Wall Street Journal story focuses on Los Angeles as the city hardest hit by this unwind, due particularly to the prevalence of short-term, well-paid work in creative professions related to film, commercial, and TV production, as well as less top-of-mind fields such as hospitality and international trade. Another group laid low are personal service professionals, such as fitness trainers, voice and music coaches, and tutors.

An irony is that tech, which is riding high now, went through a bust like this in the dot-bomb era. Even consulting firms like McKinsey, which had gotten so addled on the Internet revolution that they bulked up and even took equity in lieu of fees (leading to hundreds of millions in writedowns) wound up shrinking its staffing in North America by nearly 50% over a two-year period. And while big firm consulting and tech recovered from this downdraft, it’s an open question as to how long it will take to get effective coronavirus vaccines and treatments, and in the meantime, how much of this formerly vibrant freelance activity can come back in this strained new normal.

Even though the proportion of “skilled independent” workers is a smidge higher in San Francisco than in Los Angeles, both around 6%, San Francisco’s freelance elite skews towards tech. Miami, Austin, and New York are next, all coming in above 5%. California is taking advantage of Federal emergency program provisions that allow states to provide unemployment benefits to gig/freelance workers, as much as $450 weekly through year end. That means they also receive the Federal $600 per week supplement through the end of this month.

Los Angeles has gotten a double whammy by having the second highest number of Covid-19 cases in the US, despite  its famed sprawl, and seeing a recent spike in new infections.

And as the Wall Street Journal story recounts, Los Angeles’ recent limited reopening hasn’t led to much if any rebound in business for these freelance pros. That confirms a pattern we’ve described repeatedly: consumers restricting their activities is much more driven by their perception of risk, which is driven by factors like local Covid-19 death counts,  than government intervention. From the article:

Creative freelancers—with little job protection and incomes reliant on people leaving their homes—have been some of the hardest hit in the coronavirus-driven recession, according to economists. Performers, production crews, ride-share drivers and personal trainers were among the first to lose work and will likely be among the last to regain lost ground in the coming months, experts say…

Fitness coach Sophia Dalton, 37, said none of her clients are willing to train in person at the gym she uses in Santa Monica, which has reopened, due to fear of catching Covid-19.

She is down to 14 clients training by online video from a peak of 54. Several who quit are writers and performers who lost their own jobs and asked for refunds….

Stephanie Hoffman, 32 years old, a voice and piano teacher, lost most of her students when the pandemic forced people to stay home. One third have returned, but she fears they won’t stick, due to frustrations with virtual training. She had to cancel a live recital for her students, further damping their motivation.

Another example: know a very high-end trainer who rehabs professional sports teams, Olympic contenders, and Division One athletes. He used to both fly all over the US and sometimes abroad and have his clients fly in for treatment and programs, and he had several good people working for him. He’s now gone to live with on his family’s farm (I understand the caliber of the local schools is a factor in this interim move). It’s hard to fathom how he is getting by with pro sports in hibernation.

The Wall Street Journal’s readers sadly seemed not to get the point (despite the article being clearly written) that this piece was about skilled contractors and not Uber-type gig workers who are the focus of pending legislation (AB5) to have them correctly treated as employees. A few piped up to reinforce what the article was really about:

I live in LA, and the article is really about people who work in entertainment/media — every tv show, commercial, music video and movie is the result of anywhere from a few dozen to hundreds of people who work for the run of the project, then move on to another project. It’s everything from the building trades – carpentry, electrical, rigging/framing – to business services — legal, accounting, HR – to tech heavy work – video/sound editing — and finally, a lot of musicians — people who write and play the music you hear. All of these people are employees of the production, not AB5 type gig workers.

It’s a lifestyle/career choice and not for everyone. People hustle, build relationships and are always on the lookout for the next gig. But the work has been steady for decades, and then very suddenly the whole sector shut down hard.

New York has an analogous problem with live entertainment: theater, opera, dance, cabaret acts. And while there are always more people who aspire to sing and act than there are professional opportunities, it’s not clear what happens when the skilled professionals behind the scenes, like sound and lighting designers, stage managers, carpenters and painters, are thinned out.

It’s distressing just to see individuals who had jobs adequate to support them they could at least tolerate now un or underemployed and fearful about what happens next. It’s even more disturbing to see work disappear in a way that looks likely to result in the loss of some, perhaps many, not easily reconstituted capabilities. Perhaps some of these now idled creative freelancers will come back eventually more as journeyman-trainers of a new generation. But we are a long way from knowing how this movie ends.

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  1. Ignacio

    Something that I am seeing here in Spain (I contact lot’s of business of all sizes and in many sectors) is that a significant number, even a majority of them, are in summer-latent mode just trying to clear projects that were stopped by lockdowns, sell existing stocks at the highest price possible and wait untill autumn “to see what hapens” and this lack of activity, except for some retailers, will indeed have impact on freelance work not only in creative services but many others as electricists, refrigeration installers, other installers and technical services.

    So, if we want to see a recovery wave next autumn it will be necessary to keep Covid-19 clusters under control during this summer. Instead, Los Angeles is in the misdst of a new wave of infections and given the long months needed to bring them down significantly the “latency period” could be extend and make long lasting damage.

    1. Ignacio

      “lot’s”, “untill”… each passing day my writing skills worsen. For some time the PC browser (Firefox) helped me correcting these while writing but, i don’t know how, I have lost this online writing editing tool. If someone can tell me how to re-install this utility I would very much appreciate it.

        1. Ignacio

          Thanks a lot Rev. My mistake was then to remove English as a language to check spelling. I have added UK-English and hope to be forbidden for this. There was nat an aussie anglish aption, I ragret ta say ;)

        2. Ignacio

          Now, forbid me for this second off-topic comment but this is something I wanted to comment with you. I have recently watched and excellent BBC series with Attenborough (doubtful spelling) on the Great Barrier (Jesus, how I would love to visit some day before dying) and they issued an hypothesis of the Barrier formation based on rising sea levels after the last ice age inundating the east part of the Australian continental platform. The interesting bit was that aborigine dances tell a story that is very much compatible with this hypothesis (raising sea level). This suggests that such dance and traditional aborigine story-telling could be as old as a 10.000 years tradition. Wow!

          1. PlutoniumKun

            It is remarkable! I can’t quite recall now the source, but I think its well established by anthropologists who study the aboriginal inhabitants of northern Australia and the islands that their stories of land bridges are so geographically precise that they have to be genuine memories of pre holocene land bridges and other now submerged landforms. They are considered among the oldest ‘stories’ told by humans.

            1. ahimsa

              One of my favourite books, “The Songlines” by Bruce Chatwin deals fascinatingly with these ancient “stories”.

              The Songlines is a 1987 book written by Bruce Chatwin, combining fiction and non-fiction. Chatwin describes a trip to Australia which he has taken for the express purpose of researching Aboriginal song and its connections to nomadic travel. Discussions with Australians, many of them Indigenous Australians, yield insights into Outback culture, Aboriginal culture and religion, and the Aboriginal land rights movement.

              1. PlutoniumKun

                Yes, its a brilliant book, although its many years since I read it, he was an amazing writer. I loved his descriptions but I believe scholars think Chatwin was inclined to favour the romantic yarn over and above established facts.

          2. rd

            The oceans rose about 400 feet over 10,000 years as the continental glaciers melted. The sudden breaking of large ice dams retaining massive inland lakes could cause ocean lives to rise several feet in a single year as torrential floods created many of the valleys we see in the glaciated areas around the world (Washington State, NY State, etc.). The Noah and Gilgamesh flood stories likely came out of these events.

            Sea level rise due to climate change is a problem for humans, not Mother Nature. The whole area around Florida and the Bahamas was land 20,000 years ago and probably had trees etc. Those trees ended up moving to the Northeast and Canada over the next 15,000 years. The entire mid-west was steppe like Mongolia which is why there are loess (wind blown silt) deposits several hundred feet deep in many places, like Vicksburg, Mississippi. Mother Nature can adapt veryquickly, whereas we ended up with mortgages that are literally underwater.

            My primary concern with climate change from a nature standpoint is acidification of the oceans due to increased carbon dioxide absorption. That can be a major extinction event.

            1. PlutoniumKun

              Its hard sometimes for people to really understand just how incredibly radical the landscape alterations were in that relatively short period 10,000 years ago. For those with reasonably trained eyes, the huge scars on the landscape are clearly visible – when I go hiking up my local hills I regularly point out to people the huge features caused by glacial dam releases along with all the other late glacial and peri /fluvio glacial landscape remains. Maybe its my poor explanatory powers, but they don’t always believe me (I’ve resorted to sending some youtube explanations to show that really, I’m not making them up).

              And it wasn’t just rising sea levels – sometimes it was the opposite as isostatic recovery meant that the land rose even faster than the sea – raised beaches are common around north European coasts. And in Scotland you can still see the results of vast tsunamis that dwarfed anything seen in Japan when flooded moraines collapsed off the continental shelf. This process went on for several thousand years, certainly into the mesolithic so they were witnessed by our ancestors.

              1. Tom Bradford

                I recall reading that these rising sea levels created the Aegean Sea and then in a matter of decades ‘broke through’ the Dardanelles and Bosphorus leading to the creation of the Black Sea and Sea of Marmara all within living memory, remaining therein as the source of the Atlantis stories in the Mediterranean, and the Great Flood amongst the peoples forced out of the Black Sea Basin south into the Middle East.

                1. catsick

                  And what about Doggerland, a highly populated country the size of England in the North Sea which disappeared 6000 years ago , that would have been annoying for its residents !

                  1. PlutoniumKun

                    Yes, there was a huge expanse of land where there is now just the North Sea. The Rhine actually flowed through what is now the English Channel and discharged into what is now sea between England and Brittany.

        3. larry

          Rev, this info is a little out of date. Newer versions of Firefox do not seem to have a Languages section. what you do is click on the three line menu option in the upper right-hand corner and select Options from the drop-down menu. You are then taken to a Preferences page with the Language section partway down the page. This allows you to check or not whether you wish Firefox to spell-check.

          1. The Rev Kev

            You’re right. I just checked with my own version of Firefox which I should have done before sending that link to Ignacio. Thanks.

      1. CarlH

        I’m here for the ideas of this wonderful community, yours certainly included, and could care less about your spelling. I am sure that I prove that every time I post with my horrible spelling and grammar to boot! Thank you for all your participation Ignacio.

  2. PlutoniumKun

    For a few years now I’ve thanked my lucky stars that I didn’t take the (then seemingly lucrative) opportunity of going freelance about 15 years ago. Along with some colleagues were were getting pretty depressed by seeing outsiders earn 2 or 3 times what we were getting for the same work. But after the crash most of my colleagues who jumped ship for freelance work suffered badly and were only just recovering the past 3-4 years, only to find that Covid has hit them particularly hard. As one put it to me ‘Getting work is easy. Getting paid, now thats a different story…’. Anecdotally, many organisations (including my own) has cut freelancers and other consultants out of the loop as a quick and easy way to reduce outgoings.

    Brexit has added an additional complication here as the legal implications of hiring UK based specialist freelancers (which we frequently relied on), has given us an excuse to just stop hiring from there.

    I would just add one exception to the rule – language teachers. Again, its anecdotal, but I’ve heard from people who do freelance online teaching that they’ve had a surge of new clients. People have time on their hands and don’t want to go to classes so have been looking for someone to do casual online conversation classes. Patreon and easy online payment systems have helped a lot. I know of two freelance language teachers who have gone from dabbling in online teaching to full time teaching/content producers thanks to Covid, and they’ve been pretty successful so far as I can see.

    1. td

      I spent about 30 years doing IT work on a self-employed basis and learned (the hard way) the key to surviving hard times. Eventually, I figured out that the high rates during boom periods were an illusion of sorts and that a high rate of saving was required to weather the downturns.

      Once I had a good reputation, during the good times I put in hours and was on call in a way that no full-time employee would put up with for long. The busts and crashes were the only time I got any vacation and as long as we adjusted our lifestyle to fit the long-term average income, the stress was under control. We’ve never had expensive cars or the like and eventually that became a source of some satisfaction rather than seeming like a sacrifice. We escaped being poster children for overconsumption even though our incomes would have fueled it nicely.

      The only real regret I have is not buying a property suitable for gardening while prices were reasonable. If there is an adjustment in property values we fully intend to rectify that lack of foresight.

      1. PlutoniumKun

        Yes, I know it can work out well for some people, but it’s very hard I think when times are going well not to think this is how it always is. A few IT friends of mine raked in huge money prior to the Millennium Bug, some spent it as it things were always going to be that good. But some sensible ones tucked away enough cash that they could weather future storms quite well. I know a few people who have mixed good fortune (there is always some luck involved) with a sensible attitude to money and work, and who have made themselves very comfortable lives without having to be too nice to senior management. I know two people who got out of high pressure roles in finance quite young in life, with very careful money management and a little freelancing they have enviably free lives.

        If I could re-run the past 30 years I’d have gone directly into a profession where I could make freelance life work well, but hindsight, as we all know, is 20:20. There is, as I’ve mentioned above, a huge amount of luck involved, as well as hard work and good judgement. The ones I most feel sorry for are those who did everything ‘right’, but who have suffered through things out of their control – there are a lot of those around right now.

        1. td

          You are absolutely right about the luck factor. We were out of the game before 2007, which I suppose is just luck. The one factor that I would add is salesmanship. I was also good at relating to the customers in a way that would get me a few extra extensions, but the politics usually negated that after three or four years at a given site. Also, I was willing to go to that strange foreign land to the south when the Canadian dollar was about 65 cents US. After I aged out, it rose as high as $1.22 US, which would have hurt my business model quite a lot. Luck.

      2. Leftcoastindie

        I have had a similar experience in the 23 years I have been consulting. Every day I’d go to work the first 5 years I thanked my lucky stars that I had made the right decision. Then globalization ended it. For the last 18 years I have essentially been working part time – huge gaps between contracts – 3 of them for more than a year. Since I was almost 50 at the time, and being in IT, my options were limited. So I just kept doing what I do and somehow managed to survive. We kept the house somehow, which helps living in California, but no retirement funds.
        I’m glad I am 67 and not 50 today as I fear those folks will have a much harder go of it than I have had.

  3. Mikel

    RE: “It’s everything from the building trades – carpentry, electrical, rigging/framing – to business services — legal, accounting, HR – to tech heavy work – video/sound editing — and finally, a lot of musicians — people who write and play the music you hear. All of these people are employees of the production, not AB5 type gig workers…”
    “New York has an analogous problem with live entertainment: theater, opera, dance, cabaret acts…”

    The elephant in the room is that a lot of it is union work and the pandemic will be used to weaken those.

    Never turn your back on neoliberalism.

    1. DJG

      Mikel: Thanks for that reminder. I am also seeing “well-meaning” upper-middle-class people complain about how corrupt the police unions are (which is true) and then segue into how the AFL CIO protects them (which isn’t quite true, but a wedge issue indeed).

      Yes, expect more oppression of workers and organized labor.

      right-to-work laws = the right to infect one’s workforce

    2. Mike Elwin

      Yes, they’re temp employees, another category of precarious workers. Being employees means they’re out of reach of AB5, but precarious nonetheless. And “freelance” only in the loosest sense.

  4. William Hunter Duncan

    I am a highly skilled builder/remodeler, with an extensive knowledge of plants and gardening, and I have carved out a meager existence self-employed. I would think my skills would translate well in crisis, but my paid gigs are drying up, Minnesota unemployment has stonewalled me every step of the way, PPP is not an option, and I am otherwise contemplating having to sell my house with my twenty fruit trees and 200 species of plants at what I would expect to be rock bottom pricing, at roughly what I owe, to be out of work with no more savings.

    I wish I had a family farm to go work on. Maybe my fiancé will want to go live in my parent’s basement?

    After the housing bubble I worked a series of crappy low wage jobs that didn’t even really pay enough to get by. I wasn’t competing then against 40 million other people newly out of work. I assume the lords of capital are salivating at the coming low-wage servitude?

    I have known something like this was coming, reflecting as I have on oil, pandemics, overshoot etc, so I suppose I have no one really to blame but myself, that I am nearly destitute. I’m not sure what to do.

    1. rd

      In upstate NY, those trades seems to be hanging in there. We had our home repainted in April at the same time as another house down the street. Our neighbors are getting their house repainted this week. I have seen roofers and gardeners out doing maintenance and construction. I have seen remodeling trucks in front of houses. Commercial construction sites seem to be back underway. Many of the outdoor earthwork construction sites, including highway construciton, got underway at the normal time this spring.

      Unfortunately, many of our states appear to be paralyzed by an inability to figure out how to do things safely.

      Gyms etc. are not going be open for quite a while I think. Bars and indoors restaurants are going to struggle.

      I think NYS had a big advantage over many other states because there is an unemployment system that seems to be designed to work. It was overwhelmed by 100X demand, but they plodded through and were able to process many, many people in March and April. The ACA and Medicaid systems also seem to be working well (relative dealing with those) for people who lost jobs.

    2. Avalon Sparks

      Don’t blame yourself, it’s definitely not your fault. In the USA, most factors are always working against the majority of people. Good luck and I hope that you do not have to sell your house!!

    3. periol

      I’m really sorry for you in this difficult time. I feel your pain, and have gone through something similar several times myself.

      The only real words of comfort I have for you, besides hoping that everything works out for the best, is that you have done a great job of acquiring useful skills that will be needed by others. No matter how bad things look in the short-term, in the long-term you are setup well for recovery.

      The best preparation you can have for a world that seems to be on the verge of collapse is mental. Prepare your mind, steel your will, be ready to adapt to whatever the world throws at you.

      I know nothing I’ve said helps right now with your situation. I am hopeful for your sake that you can hunker down and outlast this time, and survive with your home and trees and garden intact. Best of luck to you.

    4. PlutoniumKun

      My sympathies, certainly don’t blame yourself, any system that allows talented hard working people to go to the wall is deeply rotten. We can only hope that somehow in the post covid/Trump world some decent leadership arises. Its hard to think that it was only 5 months ago that it looked like there cold be a President Sanders.

    5. kareninca

      I’m very sorry about your situation. It certainly isn’t your fault in any way.

      1. Arizona Slim

        Long-time freelancer here. For years, I blamed myself for the [family blog] that hit the fan after 2008.

        Well, I’m here to tell you that the problems I had were not due to the failure to brand myself well enough or because I was deficient in the networking department. Nope. Far from it. The root of the problem is an economic system that’s stacked against ordinary people.

    6. William Hunter Duncan

      I was just listening to the Aspen Ideas Festival. Admiral McCraven talking about “ethical” leadership and the meritocracy (celebrating himself.) Another two guys basically glorying in the idea of IT eliminating so many jobs, like that is an unalloyed good. I thought, how much money is spent on killing and maiming people, and taking jobs away from working people? Where is the metric for the human misery caused? The amount of genius and ability wasted and oppressed in this country is likely at least equal to GDP. And I begin to feel like at least half of the GDP prior to covid and about 2/3 of it now is pathological.

      There is so much good work to be done, restoring local production, restoring the land, waters and biodiversity. Where is that leadership?

      1. Spring Texan

        Absolutely. It is heartbreaking all the people who would willingly install solar and water saving systems, caretake the elderly, maintain parks well, etc. etc., but we refuse to pay for those tasks. I have been so discouraged since Sanders was crushed, because the future looks so dark now that those above us have regained tight control. The uprisings give me a little hope, but I’m still deeply discouraged (though very fortunately not about my personal financial situation). At the same time that happened, the lockdown started; and since I live alone it’s deeply isolating, although I do fortunately get out to shop and to take groceries to a disabled friend. I’m working from home which I detest. Meanwhile COVID cases are escalating here in Texas.

        I am finding a book called The Undefeated Mind: On the Science of Constructing an Indestructible Self by Alan Lickerman novel and somewhat helpful. He is an adherent to something called Nichiren Buddhism which sounds very different from any Buddhism I ever heard of before (which has never appealed at all). It seems to value personal desires, and says our function is to be happy. The book focuses on how to cope in difficult circumstances where one does feel defeated, without being relentlessly positive about it (which is a huge turnoff for me).

        With little real overall hope on the horizon, I figure finding a way to manage better than I am now despite the darkness is a high priority – hope I can.

        Don’t know if it would appeal to anyone else. These are sure hard times.

    7. margaret bartley

      I’ve known people in a similar situation, and a solution that seems to have worked best is to get a housemate. The single people I knew, one man built a small apartment attached to the house, and rented out the main part of his house, another remoded and moved into the garage, and rented out the housed.

      Meanwhile, start heavily advertising your services. People do need these. Ads on supermarket bulletin boards, etc.

  5. Elim Garak

    I live in LA myself and though I’m not part of the industry, my partner and several of my family and friends are. While she was originally furloughed from her job at a production company in early April, they’ve since directed her to come back to work starting July 13th, which lines up with what I’m hearing from others around me that productions are beginning to ramp up again (mostly music videos at the moment) with things expected to return to a full plate by mid-August.

    It seems like every production company is caught in a deadly game of chicken; nobody wants to be the one to lockdown again in the face of spiking case numbers because if they fold, some other production company with less affection for their workers will jump to bid for the work.

    I’m honestly not sure what to expect going forward, but right now it seems like most people in Los Angeles are actively having to choose between their financial health and their physical health, with most production companies refusing to offer things like hazard pay to their freelance production assistants whose labor comprises the backbone of the production industry.

    1. Alex Cox

      It’s not just people in Los Angeles. Everyone in the United States (except for the 1%) has to make a choice between financial health and physical health. My wife and I both turned 65 and signed up for Medicare. Readers may not be surprised to learn it is a total scam. Our premiums (relatively low under Obamacare) have quadrupled. Medicare coverage isn’t complete, so you must add on a private insurer: you get to pick between a high monthly payment/low deductible, or the reverse. And none of the plans have dental or eye coverage!

      So at age 65 we had to make the same gamble as previously: how healthy do we think we’ll be? Will we lose our savings by going for the less expensive/high deductible add-on?

      Regarding LA, the film industry was, per Variety, due to reopen today. It didn’t. Instead Variety reports that the EU is trying to attract US productions on the basis that they have coronavirus under control: “Although the European Union is currently restricting travel from the U.S. due to the rise in COVID-19 cases here, special exceptions could be made for U.S. citizens coming for specific film productions.”

      What could possibly go wrong?

      1. Basil Pesto

        Forgive my indiscretion, but are you perchance the Alex Cox who directed ‘Walker’?

        (I’ve not seen it, but it’s on my Criterion wishlist!!)

          1. ambrit

            Oh my, yes.
            Dysserendipitously, I ‘rubbed up against’ a man who was directly involved with flying cargoes of “Bibles” to the Contras in Nicaraugua. This asociation was work related. Thank the Eternal Principle that I never had to associate with this man in a private capacity. He flew twin engine Cessnas out of Abita Springs, Louisiana. He was a real “piece of work.” One of the few people I felt viscerally frightened of. He had cold dark eyes and never smiled. He later “accidentally” killed his son-in-law in a “hunting accident.” To tell the tenor of this group of people, no one mourned the passing of the son-in-law, not even the widow.
            You could make a similar film today with roughly the same plot and call it Reagan, or Clinton, or Biden.

          2. Mareko

            THE Alex Cox! Wow, the NC commentariat is something else
            Thank you sir for blowing my teenage head off with Repo Man and teaching me to love great film with Moviedrome. I’m saddened to think of a legend worrying about deductibles, what a cruel place America can be.

            1. Eudora Welty

              Thank you, Alex Cox, for Sid & Nancy. I am sorry you are facing these difficulties. I feel honored that you read & post in NC.

              1. Alex Cox

                They are the difficulties everyone (who lives in the US) must face!
                And it is always a pleasure to have such a great source of information and good spirits as NC.

      2. Spring Texan

        Remember that high-deductible supplemental under Medicare does not expose you the way high-deductible plans do pre-Medicare – since Medicare will be picking up 80%, if you have a $2000 deductible you’d have to have $10,000 in bills before you hit it instead of $2000 in bills with an employer high-deductible policy.

        1. Spring Texan

          Dr. David Belk discusses what Medicare and Medicare supplementals cover in some recent videos (I haven’t watched them, but his stuff is usually good.) I would imagine they would help with making the right decision on which Medicare supplemental:

          https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qTpErd_G2zI The video is about ten minutes long and explains quite clearly exactly how much Medicare recipients should expect to owe out-of-pocket for any medical care they receive if they have only Medicare and no other insurance:

          https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GPArapvgM_A This video is about six minute long shows how much a Medicare recipient with only Medicare would would owe out-of-pocket for a catastrophic medical illness:

          This video is about seven minutes long and addresses Medicare Supplemental insurance (aka Medigap plans): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9eGyUvOKFGg

          This video is about three minute long and addresses Medicare Advantage plans: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tMz605tp6Pg

          And this video is about eight minutes long and addresses Part D plans (prescription drug coverage for seniors): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QPxzHycw7Ck

          1. ambrit

            This all assumes some disposable income. In places where Medicaid is prohibitively draconian in it’s requirements, Medicare Advantage Plans are a sick joke, literally so.

    2. Off The Street

      TV and film production cover a lot of trades and cycles. When pre-production (essentially planning) gets going, then expect production (the glamorous stuff, see below) to ramp up shortly, and then finally post-production (many types of editing, cutting room floors, etc). What LA is seeing now is a few of those productiony curves moving in different directions.

      When people think of Hollywood, as a catch-all term for the business, they usually think of production. Envision the set with actors, cameramen and directors, possibly expanding to the ever-popular, as seen in those rolling credits, Best Boy, Key Grip, Dolly Grip, (say, does anyone even say those anymore?) and maybe even to consider many types of crew, craft services, make-up, wardrobe, props, lighting, electricians, set designers and all literally a cast of thousands. Expand that through multipliers for invisible services off the set, restaurants, bars, groceries and everything else that keeps that machine going, then crash it. Can’t get a table at that shuttered bistro.

      Say, can you take another Zoom meeting with my agent over cocktails?

  6. rd

    As we despair, it is always important to remember that Hemingway’s “A Moveable Feast” described the creative set in Paris beginning immediately after the 1918 Flu (that continued into 1920) and the horrors of WW I. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/A_Moveable_Feast

    The remarkable thing about literature and accounts of the 1920s is how the devastating 1918 flu is almost never even mentioned despite having caused great death and suffering as well as paralyzed economies with accompanying major stock market crashes. the same haphazard responses back then resulted in similar haphazard outcomes for cities and regions that we are seeing today.

    1. td

      The mortality rate for those who get the virus is something like 0.8% but that rises by a factor of four or five if no oxygen is available to treat the more serious cases. Boris Johnson probably would have died without simple oxygen therapy. In Italy, mortality spiked when some of the hospitals ran out of oxygen because the related industries had been shut down along with everything else.

      The point of this is that the 1918 flu had a mortality of about 3.5% and in those days, oxygen was only available to a few gas cases in army hospitals. With oxygen generally available, the death rate would have also been something like 0.8%.

      Thus, the current pandemic is actually potentially as bad as the 1918 one and I fear for those people whose hospitals get overloaded.

      1. ambrit

        Add to this the predatory pricing current in medical gas equipment. Making your own oxygen tent is a tough DIY project. That and finding affordable medical grade oxygen. (Not all available gasses are the same. Quality varies significantly.)
        What bothers me is the haphazard nature of the planning for the future trends of the Dreaded Pathogen. So far, all I have been seeing in the West is reactive actions. Not much if any advance planning and stockpiling of soon to be needed supplies.
        If this is Neo-liberal healthcare, then I think we would be best served by putting all the Insurance and Healthcare executives up against a wall and shooting them. Then let the ‘second tier’ managers run the enterprise. They actually do perform the hard work.

    2. Dirk77

      Interesting. Since what we are living through right now ie Covid, is as real life as any, I have been wondering why artists weren’t doing work reflecting that. For example, creating TV episodes or rewriting Pride and Prejudice where everyone is wearing masks and social distancing. If your observation about the aftermath of the 1918 flu is correct, I guess the flaw in my thinking is that few want to think right now living in a pandemic has any real value learningwise and most want these times to go away ASAP. Yet people don’t shy away from art about war, like Hemingway himself.

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