Posted on April 21, 2020The COVID-19 pandemic of 2020 has delivered several different wake-up calls to policymakers and voters alike. How we react to them as a society will determine our national fate for decades to come.
Wake-Up Call Number One: The people prefer personal safety to personal liberty. Polls show that voters, by a rather overwhelming margin, prefer to continue the draconian orders to stay at home than have the economy open up way too early. This gives governors and mayors great leeway to impose whatever ridiculous regulations and deploy whatever extra-Constitutional orders they want. Many of those same voters are more than happy to inform on their friends and neighbors if they see them not toeing the line, or worse, shame them through social media. For those few who care about liberty and the Constitution, this means that the work to protect freedom must not be fought primarily at the federal level, but locally.
Wake-Up Call Number Two: Our supply chains need to come home. The global economy is great in peacetime or when the world is free of the pandemic. But when the shit hits the fan, our reliance on unsteady trading partners becomes a weakness rather than a strength. Policymakers and capitalists alike need to understand that Lenin was right when he said: “The Capitalists will sell us the rope with which we will hang them.” We need to avoid making Lenin’s prediction a reality.
Wake-Up Call Number Three: We need to rethink the future of work. So many jobs in America turned out to be really non-essential, so non-essential that they aren’t coming back. Ever. At the same time, so many jobs that turn out to be really essential aren’t very well paid and can be rather dangerous, in this new pandemic world we live in. We need to gear ourselves as a society to better appreciate the essential jobs and stop encouraging people to embark on careers that are non-productive and non-essential.
Wake-Up Call Number Four: Americans need to get healthier. COVID-19 preys on the old and those who have pre-existing conditions, many of which could be self-managed. Obesity is the No. 1 reason people who have the virus end up in the hospital and is the No. 1 predictor if you are going to die in the hospital. It turns out, also, that weakening your lungs by smoking or vaping cigarettes or pot, is not a good strategy to protect yourself from COVID-19. Many governors, especially in blue states, think it was wise to keep pot dispensaries open even as they closed churches down. Maybe that wasn’t the right choice.
Wake-Up Call Number Five: Just-in-time delivery is over-rated, especially in hospitals and in toilet paper. Efficiency experts have preached over the years that the money saved by not having any excess capacity is better returned to shareholders. That’s why most hospitals ran at a 95 to 97 percent occupancy rate and why paper companies don’t have extra rolls of toilet paper to sell to desperate consumers. Well, we found out the hard way what happens when we don’t plan for unforeseen events, like pandemics.
Wake-Up Call Number Six: Don’t trust the media. Many of our national media outlets (but not all) seek to inflame rather than inform and have a partisan agenda that is ingrained deeply in their cultures. Throughout this pandemic, they have inflated numbers, ceaselessly attacked the president and failed to put into proper perspective the choices and the decisions made by policymakers on both sides of the partisan divide. And they venerate “experts” who are far from infallible and have spotty records in predicting the future.
We don’t know how long this crisis will last and we don’t know what America will look like after it is over. But we do know that things have changed and that we need to challenge many of our assumptions as look to the future.