March 23, 2020 – Can We Even Get Back to “Normal”?

While watching all the activity in DC this morning, it occurs to me that every action our government is (and isn’t) taking is aimed at restoring what they see as normalcy. I’m not sure that normalcy is possible anymore.

This health crisis, and financial crisis, and election cycle have exposed the cracks in our systems and society.

The advantage and hubris of the 1% is writ large when basketball players have access to a critically important medical test and healthcare workers are having to make-do with cloth face masks that offer next to no protection from the virus that is all around them.

We turn to technology to offer a different way to keep educational services going. But what happens to the students who don’t have fast, reliable internet service at home or rely on school for the one or two healthy meals they get during school days? There are no libraries or coffee shops with free wi-fi open. Does it matter if you can go grocery shopping if you cannot afford to pay for it?

Today’s headlines are all about the financial system. It’s taken a lot of hits lately. The stock market has lost all of its gains from the last three years. The Fed has interest rates set at (effectively) zero and is pledging to buy up municipal bonds. Anything, to keep a potential depression at bay. But, which would be more effective? Spreading big chunks of money to the companies at the top of our economic pyramid? Or spreading much smaller chunks of money across the masses at the bottom? Either way, the total amount of money they’re talking about isn’t enough to make anyone whole.

Right now staying at home is the new normal. And, if you’re lucky enough, working from home is also part of the new normal. But in the long run who can say what the true new normal will be?