Life After Coronavirus
By Don Rosenberg, 4/13/2020
We are finally starting to turn the corner on the pandemic. That is good news, but the cost in lives and to our economy has been very high.
It is important that we all get back to work as soon as possible. I’ve made some notes in another article this week on the best and most sensible approaches to do this.
As our economy is started back up, there are other aspects of life in America that will need to change. If we make these changes thoughtfully, we will be able to resist future pandemics and be in a stronger position than before.
Certainly the basics of social interactions will need to change. Handshaking may become a thing of the past, and people will need to be encouraged to stay home when they’re not feeling well. Cleanliness and hand-washing will need to become universal.
A lot of the changes will need to be made with our partners around the world. Those who refuse to be honest about future outbreaks will need to be watched very carefully from now on. At the first sign of trouble, all other countries should restrict travel and insist that steps be taken locally to ensure a local disease doesn’t become a world-wide pandemic.
If this virus had been a little more deadly, or even more contagious, the world would have suffered hundreds of millions of casualties.
World trade is good, but President Trump has pointed out that it is foolish to have essential industries controlled by a few countries, especially of those countries have proven to be unreliable. It is now clear that trying to save a few dollars by consolidating manufacturing of key goods, like pharmaceuticals or medical supplies, or mining of key minerals like uranium or rare earth metals in unreliable countries, is not worth the risk of being held hostage in the future. Supporting local mining is more important than avoiding a small environmental price. Supporting local manufacturing is worth paying a little more at the register.
I am less optimistic about changes that can be made in our political leadership. In a world where everything is running smoothly, it’s OK to have political parties bickering with each other for control, but in a crisis, the parties can no longer hold each other hostage in order to reward their favorite constituents. The Democrats need to learn to work with the other side or risk being thrown out of office en masse in the next election.
One area of bipartisanship that might emerge is hardening our infrastructure to future disasters. Everyone made fun of the “Preppers” who spent a lot of time preparing possible future disasters. A massive solar flare, a nuclear meltdown, an electromagnetic pulse, or a global pandemic. They don’t look so silly now.
We need to take advantage of the current low cost of money for a stimulus bill that will address some of the Preppers’ concerns. We need to start rebuilding our critical roads and bridges, hardening our electrical grid, or upgrading our water, sewage and phone systems.
Perhaps this is an area where bipartisanship can be practiced for the first time this century…