Economics of COVID-19 in Slab City

September 22, 2020 |

Economics of COVID-19 in Slab City
This disease COVID-19 that we will be studying for decades by the unique way of its presentation, of all the different angles, should not be overlooked in Slab City. The economic impact in this California tourist town has been to stimulate it to unprecedented heights with not a single cough or case on record. The outlaw resort for decades has subsisted on low cost living in a nearly cashless barter of, first white (methamphetamine) through two years ago when marijuana became legal, and now the green of weed. With the virus cash cascaded onto the concrete Slabs which are our living quarters this modern shanty town is enjoying its first boom since WWII.
There have been two steps to this turn into a cash society. The first was the blanket issue of stimulus checks three months ago. Issue does not mean arrival here since half the town is on the lam from the law, three-quarters has no ID, and nobody know's anybody's name except by road handles. Suddenly with the stimulus it became important to have a bonafide name, even if no identification or mailing address. Where there is a buck and a need there is a way among entrepreneurs, and outlaw doesn't mean a person doesn't have the IQ of a CEO or is all bad.
A typical moll I know opened up a stimulus check service to advise and enable even the highest-as-a-kite client she had sold drugs to. In a week she was overwhelmed with 20 Slabbers who suddenly remembered their real names and didn't require an ID but needed her other wherewithal. This was the stimulus package deal. She took $200 of each $1200 stipend and had the money direct deposited into her account under her name. Verbal agreements are binding here since otherwise the debtor slides into hell with the little shoves of one's dog being stolen, home burned down, and walked to the Union Pacific RR track with a shirt on back. The moll never defaulted and built her business as a hundred times as much money poured into the Slabs for the past three months as has in any previous era since General Patton marched 100,000 troops through here.

That left $1000 for each Slabber in her account that she mandated that she take the first $100 to buy each a tent, Coleman stove, and sleeping bag to kick-start them back into normalcy. She took the loss from her personal drug sales to them with the commission and joy of seeing the scheme work. She used the $200 cut from each to outfit her own camp with bigger solar, a generator, and freezers that any clients could use throughout the summer. That left each with $900 in her account owed to others that she doled out at $200 per week, plenty to live on in the Slabs, for about one month.
The rest of the town went to hell in a hand basket by spending all their stimulus on drugs in one week, but it was a memorable one.
The second stage of our town boom began two months ago with the announcement of unemployment benefits to any Americans whose jobs were impacted by COVID-19. Suddenly, a majority of the citizens became self-employed at inventive professions such as selling Slab trinkets to tourists who had dried up, or an improbability of landscaping the slabs with social distancing. Again, where there's a dollar there's a way, and I interviewed three employment benefit consultants who self-taught themselves the application process and offered it to other Slabbers charging on average 10% commission. The government sends to the money to our Niland, CA PO boxes or general delivery, and as with stimulus no physical ID is required. I labored through the application in two hours to know that anyone with a SS and driver's license number will get the  huge payoff if he uses the right words. In Slab City these phrases are self-employed, less than $2500 income last year, backpay starts in March, live in a resort town, and there are no more tourists. The job here doesn't matter as long as it relies on tourists. 

No one I know has received less than $14,000 each which is more money than most of them have seen in their lifetimes. It arrives daily n the form of EDD cash cards which can be used for cash or as a debit card. $6000 has been put on each of them for backpay, with about $200 per week added for another eight months. Slab City has become a large sampling of what an individual does when he wins the lottery. Some Slabbers have bought property elsewhere and moved out. Many have purchased new used cars. There are lots of new generators and solar panels dotting the Slabs. One person bought a pound of meth for $2000 and another a pound of heroin for $14,500. It is pure and straight from Mexico so is given away or at moderate prices to first time users, which creates a habit, and these persons will be rich because the government has sponsored a drug epidemic in the Slabs,

The dogs are too fat to chase me, no one wants to leave their new AC to accost me, robberies are diminished, and the streets are vacant as if an apocalypse had struck. 
The impact of COVID-19 on our immune systems means nothing to the Slabbers but the economic and sociological results are something that will be written and remembered in our history for years to come. 


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