The Lonely Cabin

Escape from the Mayhem
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Return to Cynicism

July 03, 2020 — Slugmax

When the pandemic started I had a thought that perhaps it might be good in the long-term, despite being horrific in the short-term for many. Here is what I was thinking (these apply to the US and/or Canada, the two countries I have lived in, but I suspect these observations could apply to many countries):

  • Job loss would be ameliorated by UBI after societal acknowledgment that yes, many people's jobs are complete bullshit.

  • The US would finally realize that tying healthcare to one's job is nuts, and join the rest of the world with 'Medicare for All' or some other public healthcare offering.

  • Essential jobs would be recognized as such and pay/benefits would rise accordingly (healthcare, elder care, food harvest, storage and distribution, public utilities, public safety, etc).

  • Companies would finally realize that endless economic growth is not possible or desirable.

  • Global stock market collapse and financial uncertainty would return us to a time where saving money, rather than spending it was considered a virtue (and yes this assumes some amount of inflation, forcing the hand of central banks to raise interest rates).

  • Remote work/education would become the norm, on-site reserved for those who must work that way (typically just the essential jobs noted above).

  • In support of remote work or education, countries would begin to fund broadband internet access in remote regions and subsidize it for the poor anywhere.

Sadly, I think none of these things will come to pass. The counter-example to all of these is the US, which, outside of a few regions, has collectively given up on the pandemic and resumed business as usual, grim reaper be damned. In Canada we saw some token changes like pay increases for grocery workers, but those have since been rolled back. Global stock markets did not collapse - central banks have just printed and loaned money with abandon, and have cut interest rates to near zero, encouraging debt rather than savings.

One thing I've noticed here in Canada is that most people long for a return to "normal", as destructive as that was and is. They don't seem to be able to conceive of something better. Government backers and lobbyists in the form of large corporations and the uber-wealthy certainly have an incentive not to change things, and continue to influence mass media outlets, including social media. In a lot of cases there are no good options for people who lose their jobs or become ill. My naivete was that the pandemic would force the hands of governments to enact meaningful, long-term change, when it did nothing of the sort.

Tags: pandemic