It took a pandemic to allow us to see just how vulnerable our lives, our jobs, our nation and our world can be without proper planning. The coronavirus has highlighted the world’s weaknesses.
It also pinpoints another element: just how sensitive the interconnectedness of present day living is. It reaffirms the Newtonian-principles of motion, especially “For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction.” In effect, the world’s economy is tightly-wound, with something happening in one place always eventually affecting other places. In our everyday lives, we seldom think of this. But this phenomenon is working all the time.
A strike or disruption in the Philippines can affect the flower market in Amsterdam. Meat packers in Virginia can impact Chinese pork and chicken consumption.
Our nation’s (and the world’s) weaknesses are seen during this pandemic. A few observations:
- The world’s stockpile of medical supplies is inadequate. Much of this is made overseas, meaning America needs to make sure it can have sufficient storage of key components, like masks, surgical clothing and cleaning supplies.
- Broadband Wi-Fi in the United States is sorely lacking in rural areas. This shows itself when school children in these areas fall farther behind, compared to their counterparts in built-up areas, because of the lack of interconnectedness.
- The pandemic has highlighted that some school children, now relying on distance-learning, particularly in rural areas, lack basic computers to augment their education. This can also be seen in urban low income households. How are these children going to compete without these basic necessities for the modern world?
- Senior living, nursing homes, and correctional institutions have become focused points of problems during pandemics, because of people living close to one another. Have you noticed how the advertising of senior living facilities have dried up recently? Suddenly many living in such facilities feel they are essentially in jail.
- The just-in-time supply chains are stressed like nothing before. This idea goes hay-wire during times of stress, causing shortages. It makes some industries recognize the need for larger warehouses.
- The airline industry is wobbly, much more than we realized. With airline companies being highly leveraged financially, the drying up of ticket purchases is shaking their very business foundation. Airlines have big notes due to banks. Some may not survive.
- Likewise, cruise companies are scratching their heads on how to get passengers to return. Today being cooped up on a ship brings questions, no matter how good the food and entertainment could be.
We now have new heroes, people we once never thought much about, those working in the medical field, funeral homes, grocery stores, meat packers, trucking lines, and even the National Guard. We’ve appreciated first responders before (police, fire fighters, EMTs) but now recognize them even more. Just like our military personnel, we need to continually thank people every chance we get.
There are pluses from the pandemic. We see new ways to use technological features that we did not know that we could use effectively: i.e., cameras on computers, Zoom, etc. And many executives are finding that working from home has more advantages than once thought. Some recognize improved performances. And think of the time we once wasted in meetings; working at home allows fewer such gatherings. Now we see how much time we have spent in such often unproductive assemblies.
While we are impatient to return to normal, the pandemic has become a warning to us. If we react correctly, it can eventually improve our lives in new and exciting ways.