The title of this post might seem premature, to say the least. As I pen this post (13 march originally) there are 137,445 reported cases and 5088 deaths. On the grand scale, this is a drop in the bucket. The US has barely been touched, with only 1268 cases reported.
Despite that, we can already see, sense perhaps, that this is something more. Perhaps not because of the virus specifically. Mankind has faced such before. On a philosophical level, many people know that when presented with something like a new disease, the best thing to do it be smart and carry on. But we are not simply carrying on, and that fact, not the virus itself, will be the catalyst for change. Something is off and has been off, for some time in Western Civilization. It is hard to define in a few words - trust, reason or an anchor and foundation might approach it best. Leaving aside the definition of what has been wrong in Postmodern Western Civilization, and accepting the premise that something exists, the current Coronavirus hysteria makes sense. What comes next, the ramifications make sense.
What Will Change?
- The 2020 Presidential election outcome has certainly changed. Unless something significant happens Trump has no chance of reelection. His words during his Oval Office address made historical and philosophical sense the other night - 'these things happen, we will hunker down and get through and take steps to keep the economy going'. In times past that would have been sufficient to calm fears, in 2020, in our new reality, it had no positive effect, people did not understand his words, the markets still panicked. The old way, solid wisdom from the past has no currency now. People will either come to see that an American First policy was right and needs to be implemented full-force - or they will see full-throated socialism as the answer. It is Bernie or Trump, people simply will not choose a man like Biden, all things considered now (unless the Democratic party manipulates a choice that is somebody versus Trump and excludes Mao Bernie)
Scratch that - Trump has won reelection in the last three days (15-17 March). His press conferences have been measured, informative and reasonable. His administration's plan has been proactive, reactive, forward-thinking, innovative and creative. Partnering with industry, eliminating regulations to speed the delivery of medical supplies, data-focused response, various tools to save the economy. Only a fool could really throw rocks at this point (and such people would anyway). Biden (current Dem frontrunner) was in Pence's position when 13,000 Americans died of SARS with no response. The election is over. Trump's plan will get us out of this as long as Americans act responsibly. This was his crisis, and to the chagrin of his detractors, he rose to the occasion.
2. Trust. If people had a difficult time trusting anything they were told before after this is over they will trust even less. If 1.6 million Americans die and our hospitals are overwhelmed (worst case projection) people that were originally naysayers and believers alike will become convinced they were lied to. If it all passes with just a few thousand cases, naysayers will never believe an emergency (confirmation bias) and original diehard believers will distrust their preferred sources and outlets. Either way, we come out of this trusting everything less, believing almost nothing and basically becoming more nihilist. Unless...we look at some of the flawed premises that supported postmodernism and our culture prior to Cornavirus and find the foundation and anchor that was missing.
2. How we shop. If things get really bad and supply chains are strained or broken, people will question the current global economy. If things become just a little stressed and more people are sent home to telework, many will turn to online shopping for groceries. In the first instance, coming out of this, people may demand the government do more to return key industries to their own nations (food and medical supplies). In the second, milder scenario, people may find they really like having groceries delivered. This could almost kill the local supermarket.
3. How we worship. (or if we worship). Many churches will be canceling in-person services in the next weeks. Many of those will offer online service formats. Some people will become enamored with the idea. On the other side of this, churches may find fewer people in seats, opting for online viewing instead. Long-term, without the ties of in-person community relationships, online worship arrangements will invariably fail to maintain interest. Fewer people may actually attend church in any form after this is over. Conversely, this could spark America's fifth great Awakening. Old stale denominations and structures might change or fade away and something new and real, or perhaps revitalized, might replace them.
4. Our demographics. If the virus is anywhere close to the worst-case projections it will decimate the older populations. The Silent Generation and Boomers will die disproportionately. Such a demographic change will affect the markets, government expenditures, how companies market products, and even the vacation industry. It will fundamentally, and quickly change many things.
5. Our view of government. China, apparently did a pretty good job of controlling Coronavirus. They mobilized armies of workers, built hospitals from scratch, sent armed groups to drag suspected infected from homes and perhaps even build temporary crematoria (unconfirmed). Those are the sorts of things a totalitarian government is good at, all of those actions can only occur in a nation where the government has a lot of control and the people few rights. If all of this goes south in the West, many people will wonder why their government did not act as effectively as China. Some people will long for totalitarianism. Others, the wiser among us, will realize we have come to rely upon government too much for many things. This could change us into dystopian totalitarianism of return us to our individualistic roots.
6. Working from home. With massive levels of telework going on one of two things will happen. 1) people will come to view the corporate management model for what it is, a stupid prison. Companies may come to see the savings and benefits of remote employees. OR 2) humans being human, many will mess up this opportunity, and not work and corporate pea brains will assume they were right from the beginning, instead of admitting that perhaps they have hired the wrong people.
7. Online school. With all major universities transitioning to online learning for the rest of the semester students might just begin to wonder why they are going in debt and paying outrageous tuition, rent, and fees for the privilege of sitting in a room with someone that really does not teach them much anyway. This might just bust the entire education bubble.
8. Cynicism. If nothing really comes of the Coronavirus but a few thousand infected and some 'old people dying', many people will become entrenched in their cynicism. If there is ever a truly deadly, population destroying germ to emerge in their lifetime, they will simply blow it off and not act. In a way, Coronavirus might be preparing mankind for just that sort of stupidity. If it is very bad, worst-case scenario situation, many may adopt a 'ring around the roses' attitude - we all fall down. Conversely, we could come to see the ineptitude and dishonesty of institutions like the media and rebuke them and cause something better to emerge.
Those nine effects are almost guaranteed, depending upon the severity or lack thereof in each element.
Right now, 13 March 2020, only some areas in America are experiencing anything close to a 'run on the stores'. Over the next few days, we will begin to see the picture better as cases pop up in areas where people are basically non-plussed at present. What all that means and how people act, and what they start saying they want the government to do will determine other elements that might signal real and permanent change. I will add those as the situation unfolds.
My daughter and I have toyed around in various discussions with the Strauss-Howe Fourth Turning generational theory. She commented to me "might this be the crisis that they spoke about that changes everything for my generation?" (she is a Zoomer) ---Yes darling, it perhaps could be, this could change many things - perhaps almost everything.
15 March 2020 Update: The Trump administration today in a press conference demonstrated innovation and creativity, partnering with industry and by-passing the ineffective CDC to expedite testing. Man does not control nature, and no matter how loudly some scream for government to fix this the simple fact is governments cannot control everything, nor should they try. Asking for too much, in a panicked rush will only have negative long-term costs to freedom and prosperity. This may all become terrible, it may just be an annoyance, either way, we must endeavor to persevere and retain our values and principles.
Something of note, Italy's mortality rate is at 7.3 percent as of today. That is outrageously high. These numbers throw all sorts of doubt on the numbers that China reported. Those 'fake news' sites that reported crematoria and smog from the smoke they produced in Wuhan perhaps deserve a second look. Did we ever really believe we could trust much of anything China released about their outbreak? All we know for sure is it was very serious in China, serious enough for them to shut down an entire industrial region and cordon off millions of people. I am not suggesting the situation in Italy will repeat elsewhere, but it is within the realm of possibility. It is worth considering if you are still on the fence thinking life can go on as before right now. Take steps to take care of your loved ones!
I have noticed some 'conservatives' trending progressive and calling out Trump for 'not doing more'. Do more like what? Do you want the Federal government to send armed groups into homes to drag people out or lockdown entire cities like China or nationalize industries perhaps? We are Americans, we have different principles to uphold. We need to do all we should but we cannot become something we are not, and should not want to be, just based upon fear. We need to be reasonable, cautious and stalwart and weather this like free-men!
Also, the Google built website that the Trump administration promised and the regular news outlets called a hoax went live today. https://www.projectbaseline.com/study/covid-19/. We really cannot trust any of the news companies in the US to be truthful, perhaps this situation will finally make that clear to all.