Wolf Richter: Signs Are Everywhere: Businesses Have Changed Permanently as a Result of the Pandemic

By Wolf Richter, editor of Wolf Street. Originally published at Wolf Street.

One of the biggest permanent changes coming out of the Pandemic is that businesses have invested in technologies that have long been available, but that hadn’t been deployed because there was no visible need to deploy them, and because businesses were stuck in a rut, and change is hard and costly – and the rules of inertia had taken over.

But now the Pandemic has forced businesses to change. There is no going back to the old normal. And these technologies impact employment in both directions.

We encountered precisely that when we went cross-country skiing last week at Royal Gorge in the Sierra Nevada, which we do every year. What is said to be the largest cross-country ski resort in the US with 120 miles of groomed trails (if they’re groomed) had fallen on hard times years ago, filed for bankruptcy, and was acquired out of bankruptcy in 2011/2012. It is now operated by Sugar Bowl Resort, the downhill ski area nearby. There have been some improvements since then, such as new warming huts. But the resort remained largely low tech, or no tech. And even there, things changed massively and permanently with the Pandemic.

The way it used to work: You stood in line every morning to buy old-fashioned trail passes that you then stuck on your poles and that you then tried to scrape off at night. If you rented equipment, you spent more time standing in line. There was a website, but you couldn’t buy anything on it. There were quite a few employees involved in dealing with the skiers that wanted to buy trail passes and rent equipment. The place could get crowded, and customers wasted time standing in line and dealing with logistics.

Now, the requirements of social distancing and contactless commerce forced the resort to invest in an ecommerce website. You have to use the website to buy trail passes and pay for and make reservations for the rental equipment (actually fitting the rental equipment is still done in person at the lodge).

Trail passes are now rechargeable cards, similar to prepaid debit cards with a radio chip. You get them at an ATM-type machine outside the lodge by holding the QR code — that black-and-white square-shaped maze — of your reservation (paper or smartphone) under the scanner. And it spits out the card. You can recharge the trail pass online and reuse next year….

This should have been done 10 or 15 years ago. It’s superfast and convenient, and you don’t have to stand in line anywhere. You can park, scan, and ski.

And the resort has gone entirely cashless. You can buy some corn bread, but you have to use your card. Credit card transactions are automated. No one needs to balance the cash drawer or count cash.

And some of the staff that used to deal with the trail passes and other stuff are now either doing other things at the resort or are no longer needed at all.

But there are people who manufacture, install, and maintain the equipment, build and maintain the ecommerce site, and deal with the other issues that tech produces. They’re different jobs and only have a small local component.

This is a permanent change. And it’s an improvement for users of the resort. It may have also reduced employment at the resort, while supporting employment at companies that provide and service the technology.

I chatted with one of the employees at the resort. Trail pass sales were doing pretty good, he said, but equipment rentals were down by about half compared to last year. He figured that a lot of people have bought their own equipment.

This would be in line with a surge in sporting goods purchases that right off the bat last spring led to a shortage of bicycles and spiraled out from there, and led to the biggest-ever and ongoing spike in spending on durable goods.

It would make sense: quite a few people have apparently left San Francisco and other high-cost Bay Area cities, and some of them have moved into the Sierra Nevada, including the Lake Tahoe area and the whole strip along I-80, including Truckee, now that they’re “working from home” and can take a daily ski break between Zoom calls.

The healthcare industry has done a similar thing: Using technology to avoid contact, thereby making a lot of basic stuff simpler and cheaper. At our healthcare provider, we could always make a phone-appointment with a doctor. This was free and quick, and often all that’s needed for minor things, and avoided the time and cost of “going to the doctor.” This was an option.

Now telemedicine – or “virtual care” – has turned into a thing. Making video appointments is now encouraged. Prescriptions are filled online and delivered. When that’s all that is needed, it saves time for the patient and the healthcare provider.

Obviously, telemedicine still doesn’t work for many medical issues, but the routine issues that doctors spend much of their time on can be handled that way.

Only some of these technologies are visible to patients. For the healthcare providers, it meant investing in video tools and other technologies and in the infrastructure needed to support this on a large scale.

The Pandemic has also pushed even reluctant consumers and businesses into ecommerce. In Q4 last year, when brick-and-mortar stores were open nearly everywhere, ecommerce sales soared by 32% from a year earlier.

Package deliveries by UPS nearly doubled to 34 million packages a day, UPS chief information and engineering officer Juan Perez said at a Wall Street Journal event. And the company had to adapt and scale its digital technologies to deal with it. The Pandemic drove some of the most significant changes in the company’s history, he said.

The entire ecommerce sector, likely the biggest beneficiary of the Pandemic, has invested vast sums in technologies and infrastructure to deal with the surge in demand.

This now includes ski resorts and grocery stores and other previously unlikely suspects for ecommerce. They will not go back to the old normal, nor will their customers.

While lots of office employees who now work at home will eventually return to the office, the old times of nine-to-five every day at a desk farm are gone for many employees. Companies have invested in technologies to succeed with their hybrid work-from-home models, and they are cutting costs where possible by reducing the real estate footprint and related costs.

People who like working in an office can gravitate to employers that encourage or require it. People who like working at home can gravitate to employers with hybrid models. Companies will make one or the other a selling point when recruiting talent. That’s how that will wash out.

It will take years to sort through the issues that these sudden and often massive shifts leave behind. But from what I have seen, many of the shifts are positives and should have happened a long time ago – and only inertia prevented them from happening.


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  1. Wukchumni

    Bigger ski resorts had already moved on to ticketless passes that got scanned as you went through a gate where there used to be a person checking your paper pass in the past, but all automated now, with just a few employees, where there might have been 6 or 7 a decade ago, less potential for ski bums to eke out a living.

    Was talking to a friend about the boom in the outdoors, and it’s quite something!

    Last week I went to the 2 Wal*Marts in Visalia, and they usually have around 50-60 bicycles for sale in each store, and both were down to handfuls of kiddie bikes for the 5-8 year old set. But it isn’t just ok everyday bikes that are flying off the shelves, even $3-5k sophisticated mountain bikes are hard to find, my hard core MB riding friend related.

    A/T skiing is hot!, try finding backcountry gear such as Randonee bindings and other equipment, not easy now. And according to one of those people living in Tahoe now with another place in Berkeley, what used to be the mellow backcountry there, is now a jamb job in comparison, everybody is suddenly hep to the idea of do it yourself skiing seclusion.

    1. cocomaan

      Same out here, Wuk. Our local state parks and non profit preserves here in SE Pennsylvania are being hammered so hard by crowds of hikers that they are asking people to voluntarily not show up one day a week, giving crews time to repair erosion and such.

      To me, it’s a good thing in the long term, even if these trails get pounded by many feet. More people caring about the outdoors is great.

      I’m also a mentor for Backcountry Hunters & Anglers and have had zero problem finding mentees. People are starving to understand the natural world.

      1. Wukchumni

        Last summer in Mineral King I watched so many people that probably went hiking for the first times in their lives, the telltale sign typically being a young miss in her 20’s or 30’s clutching onto a 12 oz plastic water bottle as the only fluid she’d have for a challenging 6 mile roundtrip walk to one of the many alpine lakes, and was quite excited to see them embrace something you could sense was alien and a little intimidating, the only thing their technological tethers being good for was taking pictures or videos, there being no connectivity aside from using your senses.

        I talked to one of them who hadn’t brought enough H20, and she told me of drinking from a stream-unfiltered, and how scary/liberating it was to her, somebody from SoCal who had thought all water originated from a faucet, probably.

        Women were already really embracing the outdoors and hiking/backpacking before Covid thanks to the movie Wild, but the pandemic was even more of a mover, in that it made splendid seclusion of the wilderness have a worth far beyond anything you could place a Dollar value on.

        Places where money ruled previously such as Disneyland, having no purchase anymore.

        1. lordkoos

          Drinking from a stream may feel liberating to a city dweller but it’s a good way to contract Giardia, an intestinal infection.

          1. Sue inSoCal

            Took the words out of my mouth. Done lots of hiking, backpacking 30 plus yrs ago. In the Sierras before super development. Get a little First Need water filter!

            I had no idea about Royal Gorge. In those days, it was peaceful, the views stunning. If I miss anything, it’s cross country. Low tech! Inexpensive equipment. Not a lot of people.

          2. Wukchumni

            Giardia is pretty rare in the High Sierra, from what i’ve gleaned out of talks with many backcountry rangers who have put in decades on the job in the National Park, and i’ve never had any friends with equal amounts of time spent in the wilderness, get it. I’m of the opinion it’s a threat, but a minor one, something along the odds of getting bitten by a rattlesnake, not likely.

            If anything poor hygiene is the bigger culprit in food poisoning, which sometimes is mistakenly thought of as Giardia.

            That said, i’m with you on having a water filter, but what are you going to do if you’ve brought essentially no water nor filter with you and you’re famished with thirst?

      2. 430MLK

        I have noticed it, too, in central Kentucky. My paddles on area rivers feature many more encounters with people. I’m glad to see it happen, though I’ve moved a lot of my paddle-time to night-time and week-day paddles.

        1. jonboinAR

          Where I live in Arkansas we have quite excellent camping, so Wife and I are campers. The campgrounds have gotten noticeably more crowded. Automation has increased, as well, a bit. We now reserve campsites on-line that we used to call to reserve or just show up-for. Just showing up is out, now, mostly by rule. It’s interesting. I don’t know particularly what to make of it, just reporting. One does have to plan more than before. That works out for us because Wife is a great planner. So, over-all, the switch to a little more automation has improved our recreational lives a little, I’d say.

          1. Arizona Slim

            Here in Tucson, I like to go for long walks around the nabe. I seldom see anyone else.

            Truth be told, this is how things were before the pandemic.

    2. Kurtismayfield

      The ski areas all wanted this to happen. They have always wanted the amusement park model for their business, as it equals more profits.

      #1. Online reservations only or season passes.. no refunds.
      #2. Scanning at the lift… Less employees
      #3. No food allowed to be brought in.. more profits

      Covid just accelerated these changes. Now there is no going back.

      1. Anthony G Stegman

        Yup….there’s no going back to less profit. It’s a god-given right to perpetually increase profits.

      2. Wukchumni

        #1. Online reservations only or season passes.. no refunds.
        #2. Scanning at the lift… Less employees
        #3. No food allowed to be brought in.. more profits

        #1: It was always kind of a gyp, buying a walk-up day lift ticket at the resort, last year it was $179 or 189 @ Mammoth. You could always find better deals online before Covid. Season passes never came with refunds before Covid, but they are a bit more Covid flexible now. I’m about to purchase my 2021-22 Ikon Base pass.

        Ski resorts practically push you into buying season passes as they get your money so far ahead of you ever hitting the slopes, a baby conceived on the same day a season pass was bought, might be first through the automated gates.

        But if you ski a lot, that $679 Ikon Base pass works out to around $35 a day for me. I’m cool with fronting them the money for what I consider a good deal, and they’ve been doing it this way forever. This year for the first time, i’m buying pass insurance in case of illness or emergencies, its an extra $44.


        #2: I’m ok with the gated entry system as it saves time in line, and still requires humans working the ski lift. Really the only automated thing on the slopes.

        #3: We always made lunch that ended up in 3 or 4 ziplock bags in pockets of our parkas when skiing pre Covid, how would they stop us from doing that now?

  2. Geo

    All of these “advancements” are around removing face-to-face interaction with other people. Whether work-from-home, automated rental & purchase, retail goods delivered, etc. Curious what long term impact this seemingly exponential shift toward human interaction as personal irritant is doing to our social cohesion.

    Is standing in a line always a burden or is it sometimes a benefit? Sure, sometimes I just want to do my business and go but have also met fascinating people while in lines. I’m assuming many of the people working at that ski resort are “ski bums” who used the job as a way to fulfill their skiing lifestyle. They are a part of the skiing culture that has been removed from the experience now. So many local jobs are being removed and replaced by tech jobs. We barely have local community left and it’s being replaced with, what? Social media? I’m a big fan of our online communities here at NC so it’s not all bad of course.

    Yes, change is inevitable and much of this is convenient but just curious what it’s doing to us as a society. Maybe it’s allowing us more time to focus on closer social bonds we’ve already developed? Less time in lines or stores means more time with friends and family?

    Our prior ways weren’t exactly healthy so honestly I don’t know if this will lead to better ways or push us further apart. Any insights or ideas are appreciated. Just been pondering it and curious what other think.

    “In a system that generates masses, individualism is the only way out. But then what happens to community — to society?” – Jeanette Winterson

    1. Miami Mitch

      Maybe it’s allowing us more time to focus on closer social bonds we’ve already developed? Less time in lines or stores means more time with friends and family?

      The social bond with your doctor is pretty important I would say. As it is with your local bookseller or grocery store. They are all people too, and being face to face with them you build more trust and compassion. This helps us both in times of hardship

      No, I do not think I like this change.

    2. Twylah

      I share your misgivings… as a so-called “introvert,” I try to resist the impulse to view human interaction as a necessary evil… efficiency is one thing, but it seems there are fewer and fewer reasons to physically engage with our fellow travelers these days.

    3. Vodkatom

      Geo – My most important daily ritual has always been the morning stop at the coffee shop. I enjoy the random people, snippets of conversation, interacting with staff, and paying cash. In this instance standing in line was a benefit for me. I found it humanizing to cross paths with the wider world.

      I resisted online pre-ordering. But then came the wildfires last summer and our air quality was horrific (AQI above 300 for a few days). The coffee shop only allowed online preorder, and only opened the door to hand you your coffee. Force to go pre-order then, I haven’t gone back… it’s too damned convenient. Also the coffee shop isn’t encouraging interaction with covid protocols.

      I hope when the worst is over we’ll naturally gravitate towards human interaction in spheres such as this. But it’s getting harder for luddites like myself to avoid modern payment systems.

      1. Harry Shearer

        Ask the folks in Texas last month how handy “modern payment systems” were when there was no electricity.

        1. Shab-Shab

          Ah, Mister Shearer, so true what you write. Perhaps all those rugged individualist libertarians will be forced to spend to “upgrade the infrastructure” so folks can stay warm, access water and power as well as engage in commerce.

    4. cocomaan

      I spend 8-10 hours a day interacting with people for work, which includes jawboning as well as talking business matters.

      For me, that’s exhausting and I get sick of it. In my free time, I’d rather be a hermit, minimizing my social interaction to recharge for another workday.

      1. Wukchumni

        I like to watch.

        That is in a city situation i’m observing everything, but i’m not interacting with anybody other than those working for businesses and other shoppers, and its largely a silent interaction, striking up a conversation with a stranger is rare, small talk being cheapened by the silent talk of the internet holding sway, methinks.

        …everybody seems to be a hermit unto themselves

    5. lyman alpha blob

      I’m with you on the lines. Pandemic or no, I’m really tired of the idea that nobody should ever have to wait a few days for a package or spend a few minutes in line for coffee, or to vote, etc. Are people really creating a new Mona Lisa with all this freed up time, or are they just spending it scrolling through their feed, which is what they probably would have done in line anyway?

      The whole idea that every individual should have their every whim satisfied immediately is worsening an already sick society.

      Solidarity, people. And I don’t think we can have that if we’re all a bunch of screen addled solipsists. It requires a community that spends time face to face.

    6. vw

      I’ll take the most dire view here (someone has to!):

      Every step this society takes away from face-to-face interaction, and therefore community and fellowship, is going to proportionally increase the death rate when the rolling disasters of our era arrive properly at our shore.

      I wish I could reach out and shake everyone who is like “I interact with people too much already, this enforced isolation is GREAT!”… don’t they realize this philosophy might kill them? In the upcoming chaos, if they’re an unknown unknown to the people around them, don’t they realize they’ll be all too easy to leave behind… or even sacrifice??

      This seems to be the path our society is absolutely determined to take – so be it. Even NC is posting articles that are more or less cheering it. But as for me, I will rage, rage against the dying of the light.

      1. Basil Pesto

        It’s interesting, I feel a far greater sense of community within, say, the NC commentariat, whom I haven’t met face to face and likely never will, than I do with the many neighbours in my ap’t building, nearby businesses I frequent, etc. I feel more comfortable in a world of remoteness and pensiveness than one of immediacy and feeling, to paint with the broadest and most reductive brush strokes. I also understand that this will not be the case for countless others.

        Perhaps that does put me in “first against the wall” territory, but frankly, I’ll cross that bridge when I come to it. I’m scarcely going to let vague prognostications change how go about my life – I don’t think I could even if I wanted to, which I don’t.

    7. Sierra7

      Found myself in a rather long line (no complaints) last Sat. for 2nd Covid vaccine. Realized later that between the long line waiting and the after waiting to leave it was probably the most people interaction I’ve had for over a year! We are social creatures. Our system preaches “individualism” because that is the only way the “instant profit” system can operate. There are other ways; our ruling classes opt out of those and the general population becomes muddled instead.
      “Modernity” and “AI” technology is great but if u have no human interaction eventually those traits leave and you have what???? A dead society.

    8. James Simpson

      Brian: Please, please, please listen! I’ve got one or two things to say.

      The Crowd: Tell us! Tell us both of them!

      Brian: Look, you’ve got it all wrong! You don’t NEED to follow ME, You don’t NEED to follow ANYBODY! You’ve got to think for your selves! You’re ALL individuals!

      The Crowd: Yes! We’re all individuals!

      Brian: You’re all different!

      The Crowd: Yes, we ARE all different!

      Man in crowd: I’m not…

      (Monty Python’s Life of Brian)

  3. The Rev Kev

    And with every step forward there is a step backward. Going digital across the board is not always good as it takes away privacy and I have an example here. There is a linked article in Links today called “Are punitive rules forcing doctors to hide their mental health problems?” In it, a young doctor is under enormous mental stress and turns to older doctors for advice. They ‘advised her to drive out of town, pay cash and use a pseudonym if she needed to talk to someone.’ If most transaction were done digitally, how would this doctor and others like her go for help without endangering their jobs? What options would they have?

    1. ambrit

      In cases like this, the only ‘options’ allowed will be “official” options. As my misguided attempt at “therapy” years ago taught me, often times, the analyst can be toxic. Also, in a mental health setting, I encountered the “official” preference for medication over ‘therapy.’ Both are situations that put the ‘authority’s’ preferences above the patients. One big way I eventually ‘twigged’ to the dystopian dynamic was in observing the attitudes and body language of the “health care professionals” I was dealing with. Electronica and devices have no agency, and no “body language.” The entire process is removing useful tools for the patient to navigate the shoals and reefs where the sharks hang out in any bureaucracy.
      The other, knock on effect of telemedicine we encountered was that the charges for electronic “office visits” have not dropped. This is analogous to when a grocery store keeps the cost of an individual item stable and reduces the package size.
      Others have said it better than I, but it bears repeating; ‘modern’ methods are reducing people to the status of ‘things.’ Just as in the process of reducing a person or group of people to the status of “other,” the next step is ‘removal.’

      1. Societal Illusions

        and so how does you your awareness get quantified? my experience is does not. i am feeling this loss as i wrote this, wondering where we all go from here.

    2. Alternate Delegate

      This is another example of the war on cash.

      Cash is agency. The spying may be efficient, but its main purpose is to take away agency. Just like “software as a service” or “in the cloud”, when you could just as easily have the same functionality on your device which you own. The vendors don’t want that. They want to control you.

      The only alternative is to support and keep alive businesses that accept customers with cash and agency. And boycott the rest. Even if it is inconvenient!

      1. juliania

        Thank you, Alternate Delegate; I very much agree! This is somewhat similar a situation to when our food choices dwindled down to pesticide and GM products. Resistance is not futile. And not only does it take away agency but it takes away jobs as well. And, from what I can see on the ‘self service’ aisle, it makes the jobs still available unpleasant and dangerous to customers and clerks alike.

  4. Vodkatom

    I can confirm in our small corner of the world a similar sea change. We’re a small distillery which pre-pandemic relied on the hand-sell. And legally in Oregon we weren’t allowed any form of e-commerce. In a period on a few months we were allowed to sell online for curbside pickup and local delivery, and we quickly implemented systems to make this happen. It was for us annoyingly painful and expensive with website redesign and experimenting with multiple payment gateways and pos systems to find the right combination. Many backend payment system won’t deal in alcohol sales.

    So we now sell in ways that would have been unthinkable, and against personal preference a year ago. And it’s not just our thinking, but our customers and the bureaucracies that regulate us who have change in ways I never would have imagined.

    And we have an infrastructure we never would have built under the old normal. I don’t see it going away.

    1. cocomaan

      Had no idea that it was so difficult on the backend to sell booze over the internet. Thought that only applied to weed dispensaries.

      This is why I read the comments at NC.

      1. Vodkatom

        Arizon Slim – no link. I don’t want to violate the nc policy on spam or link-whoring (as it’s written), but we’re new deal distillery in Portland if you want to look us up. Cheers

        1. Arizona Slim

          Got you bookmarked, Vodkatom!

          And here’s why: I am a homebrewer. Current learning project is ginger beer. So far, I have yet to make anything that has any alcohol content. Oh, well.

          OTOH, that ginger pseudo-beer would work well in mixers with, y’know, vodka or gin! So, Tom, I’ll see you virtually in the online store.

          1. Jerri-Lynn Scofield Post author

            I just bottled my first batch of ginger beer yesterday. My handbook says it’ll be ready to drink in 4 days or so. We’ll see. And I have another batch at the precursor stage: a ginger bug that’s ready to mix with water, then ferment for a while, in preparation for bottling.

            1. Arizona Slim

              Just bottled yesterday. Those two bottles will be ready for the fridge tomorrow morning.

  5. PS

    Yay, less human interaction, more isolation, fewer seasonal jobs for high school or college students. More magical technological solutions that the on-site staff has no idea how to fix when they stop working. You’re too busy and important to stand in line! That’s socialism! Let’s tell everyone that they’re risking imminent death by being around other people and then sell them ways to avoid it!

    1. Rod

      yes PS —

      MM– They are all people too, and being face to face with them you build more trust and compassion. This helps us both in times of hardship

      Vodkatom– In this instance standing in line was a benefit for me. I found it humanizing to cross paths with the wider world.

      PS– Let’s tell everyone that they’re risking imminent death by being around other people and then sell them ways to avoid it!

      imo: Humans are having Human type problems with other Humans–avoiding each other even more will not lead us to the solutions we need. I think ‘Narrative Makers’ have recognized this and are utilizing the fracture.

      Heard this from a well worn civic activist–
      “you got no Community without the Unity in it”

      Part of the bedrock of Military Strategy is the Divide and Conquer one…

  6. Steve Ruis

    I got all nostalgic from this post. I spent many a happy day at Royal Gorge. Of course, that was back quite a ways: wood skis, bamboo poles, boots made in Norway. Thanks! Nice to hear they are still in business.

  7. kees_popinga

    Amtrak, on its Crescent line from New Orleans to New York, now proudly announces “we’ve gone cashless!” in the cafe car (dining cars were phased out before the pandemic).
    If you’re a privacy nut and don’t like having your drinks and snacks monitored and in a database somewhere, you’re just that — a nut.
    This is not an improvement of life in the US, despite what Wolf seems to be saying here.

    1. grumbles

      My former morning coffee shop did this (It was pre-C19). I started going somewhere else.

      I ran in to the owner on the street at some point, and she asked me if I was angry about something, and I said no, I just don’t use plastic to buy things if I can avoid it. She started explaining why cash businesses want to eliminate it, and I said I understood, but have different priorities.

      Then she got angry with me.

  8. Jeremy Grimm

    The U.S. exported its production of goods and became a “service” economy or a “knowledge” economy. Thanks to Corona much of the service employment has become virtual. Knowledge workers can now work from home. How many knowledge workers possess knowledge unique to the U.S. and how many could be replaced by remote workers from somewhere else? This post describes changes, some of which may prove temporary and others may prove permanent. I believe most of the changes and their longer term implications require time to fully unfold. I am not fond of virtual service. I order online from the independent vendors still around as Amazon, E-Bay, Etsy, and other platforms grind them down, but how long will they remain independent? The U.S. Postal Service is under attack and when it falls to privatization what kind of e-commerce will come after that? Cashless means exposed to me — exposed to tracking and monitoring and exposed to theft from the shadows.

  9. Susan the other

    This leaves me thinking… we have already seen lots more refuse from people tossing their garbage. So garbage isn’t as controlled as it used to be. If there were some way to reorganize garbage and recycling by telephone that would be good. How can this translate? Decentralize and digitize garbage/recycling depots?

    1. Arizona Slim

      Tell me about it!

      In my neighborhood, we have a weekly cleanup. And believe me, we, the clean-uppers of the Arizona Slim Ranch Vicinity, find plenty of stuff to pick up.

      One of our regulars is a fellow, who, shall we say, marches to the beat of his own drummer. He won’t pay the city for trash or recycling pickup, and none of the rest of us ask him why. That’s just the way he is.

      But you know what? He takes his trash and recyclables over to the city park, which has quite the array of dumpsters.

      BTW, this regular is NOT a young man. So, if he can walk with his boxes full of discards and make it all the way to and from the park, others can keep their trash OFF the ground.

      [Rant over.]

    2. Societal Illusions

      not sure about telephone unless you mean as an app – which are really just means of entering and reporting on data, really.

      some regulation could help in terms of labeling perhaps, but would need be well considered or near useless.

      believet recycling and re-use could be efficient and valuable – perhaps even profitable. there is a will amongst a large group of folks for sure. maybe not corporately though…

  10. grumbles

    I don’t understand the rush to eliminating cash. Cash is the last way to opt out of commercial control. People seem to positively embrace it, and I don’t get it.

    (Exception: I understand why legal cash-business owners like the idea.)

    I hear crime prevention and money laundering prevention as reasons. The first is code for “control of poor people”, the second is true as far as it goes, but that’s not very far. You’re targeting mainly drug money while completely ignoring corporate and high-net-worth individuals.

    Again, all about control.

    And even if you only care about drug money, it still won’t help. It is delusional to think going cashless will stop the off-book transfer of value. (For instance: https://nymag.com/news/features/tide-detergent-drugs-2013-1/ )

  11. Anonapet

    My question (to no one) is how was the automation financed? Did the ski company issue new shares in equity with first refusal to the employees? Or did the company instead mosey on down to a local branch of the government-privileged private credit cartel to have themselves a heaping helping of the PUBLIC’S (including the employees’) CREDIT but for the company owners’ PRIVATE GAIN?

    As a partridge that hatches eggs which it has not laid,
    So is a person who makes a fortune, but unjustly;
    In the middle of his days it will abandon him,
    And in the end he will be a fool.
    Jeremiah 17:11

  12. Anthony G Stegman

    The human population didn’t grow from a single nesting pair to 8 billion through physical distancing, touchless interaction, and living in isolation. ecommerce is a thing now, but it may not have a long shelf life. There is an inherent need for human interaction if the specie is to prosper. The pandemic is transitory and will eventually pass; human needs, wants, and desires will endure. I look forward to the day when I can speak with a store clerk, browse shelves and racks, and pay for things with currency. I don’t believe that there is no going back. In fact, we must go back. At least most of the way back.

  13. lobelia

    So glad so many in the comments refuted the (horrifying to many of us) approval of: online only access; cash-forbidden transactions; and the clearly implied reduction of workforce. When I read the post early yesterday morning – I had to stop after the first few paragraphs.

    Wolf’s tone deafness to: the millions with limited, to no, internet access; the millions with no plastic, and or bank account; what happens when there’s no power (which I’m guessing is very, very rare – usually less than 24 hours, unlike other California regions that have outages for days – in his San Francisco community) was absolutely jarring.

    I guess it’s increasingly and blatantly being considered okay to obsolesce millions of humans in one of the wealthiest countries in the world now?

    1. KiWeTO

      Don’t think those living on Skid Row are concerned with dealing with electronic payment at a ski resort in their near future. So, yes, not considered part of the future.

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