Aardvark Daily

New Zealand's longest-running online daily news and commentary publication, now in its 25th year. The opinion pieces presented here are not purported to be fact but reasonable effort is made to ensure accuracy.

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The world feels weird

24 March 2020

On Saturday I made some videos.

Some of those videos were made with my old Sony camera, some with a drone and some with the new Panasonic HC-X1500.

On reviewing all the video, one thing because very clear.

No matter how I graded the footage, the sky had a very, very weird cast to it. In fact it was all kind of dark and foreboding. Strange, very, very strange.

If you don't believe me, check out the recent vids I've posted to my XJet YouTube channel.

Then, yesterday, as news of the pending level 4 lockdown was being broadcast, the skies overhead loomed with thunder and threatening heavy downpours.

Wow... just like being in some dystopian, appocalyptic sci-fi story!

Just for a moment, it was like those times you've imagined "what if the world was going to end, what would you do in the final few hours?".

But then reality kicked in and it was back to the grind.

The next few months will be very significant and "interesting", albeit I doubt I mean "interesting" in a good way.

With many businesses forced to shut and people already being made redundant from tourism and travel industries, things do not look good for "Joe average Kiwi".

Being someone who has always worked from home and who isn't dependent on face-to-face interactions with other folk, I'm kind of luckly. I doubt I'll need to call on the good graces of the taxpayer to bail my arse out of the fire. However, of course, I (and every other taxpayer) will be paying for those bailouts for a very, very long time -- assuming I survive the pandemic.

My meagre income will hugely impacted though, there can be no doubt of that.

Just this afternoon I've noticed that virtually all the advertising on YouTube has switched from the more expensive pre-roll ads to simple banners. That alone will cause a drop of about 75% in ad revenues on my videos.

Add to this that everyone seems to be searching out and watching COVD-19 videos at the expense of their usual viewing and this can be reflected in the much lower view-counts for my regular video uploads. Videos that would normally score 10,000 views are now lucky to get a quarter that.

Of course there's little point in uploading the videos that people want to see -- those with COVID-19 as their subject material, because YouTube instantly demonetizes those so that no matter how many views they do get, they won't put more than a few cents in your pocket.

The only winners here are the mainstream media -- whose COVID-19 videos are fully monetized... because they're "special" and granted privileges that the "regular folk" to which YouTube owes its very existance growth to, are not entitled.

The only silver lining I can see is that with the Kiwi dollar down at around US$0.57, the paltry payout I do get produces more NZD than would otherwise be the case.

All things considered, I'm expecting my own YT earnings to drop to about 15%-20% of what they usually are... for the foreseeable future. Given that I earn a "subsistence" income at the best of times, that could be a problem.

My landlord will still expect his rent. The power company (even though the generation side of things is owned largely by government SOEs) will still expect payment. The ISP that provides my connectivity (for which I now pay a premium, unlike my neighbours who get the same service for a fraction the price) will want paying.

The next few months will surely test my budgeting skills to the limit -- as it will the skills of almost every other Kiwi.

I find it interesting to note that in the USA, the government looks as if it's simply going to give every single person $1,000 to help see them through the next month.

That's actually the best way (IMHO) to deal with this. It's simple, straight-forward and practical.

Here in NZ we seem to be mired in bureaucracy and it appears that companies and sole-traders will get payments only if they can prove they're suffering at least a 30% loss on previous months' earnings. They seem intent on making it as complex and difficult as possible to qualify for the help that may be on offer. I'm hoping I won't need that help -- life is too short (and may be shorter than we think, in light of the current crisis).

Over the next month (which, coincidentally marks the 25th anniversary of Aardvark), subject material for this column may be scarce... or it may be plentiful, I have no idea which. However, stay tuned and I'll do my best to entertain, inform and outrage you all through the words that appear on these pages.

To the comments with ye!

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