One thing we've learned from the coronavirus is this: many of our assumptions about how life should work are not valid. We used to think everyone needed to go somewhere to be productive. But we're learning that many jobs can be done effectively from home. I've been telecommuting for 10 years. Now millions more are doing the same. One of my friends is a fraud analyst for a bank. Although it took her employer much too long to authorize teleworking, they finally made the call. Everything in her department that needs to get done is getting done.
With much of the world sheltering in place, some of the damage caused by humans has been mitigated, if only briefly. Noise levels have plummeted. Energy use has declined significantly. The air is cleaner, water too.
But don't worry, we'll fix that. Those who control government and industry can't wait for us to get back to our old ways. They profit by exploiting the people who do the work. All those health care professionals, EMTs, delivery people, and service workers who we consider "heroes" today? They'll go back to being "costs" in a few months, if not sooner.
The Orange Menace wants to get workers back to the salt mines by May 1st. He's not worried about their health, he's worried about his reelection prospects. If a few hundred thousand more people have to die to goose the economy, so be it. There are plenty who agree with him, a whole right-wing world of people who want their $7.25 an hour, even if it kills them.
One business sector that could suffer long-term consequences from coronavirus is commercial real estate. That sector has already been hit by the Amazoning of America, and now it's going to be hit by falling demand. A client of mine had already cut its global office space by half, allowing most of its 200,000 people to work from home. I'll bet they shed office space for another 50,000 in the next two years.
Another vulnerable sector is energy, where the collapse of oil prices (caused by falling demand) has made coal the most expensive fuel in the world. I don't see coal ever coming back.
Collapse in demand for office space and for fossil fuels is going beginning to ricochet through our economy, triggering an avalanche of bankruptcies and restructuring. That, in turn, is going to unsettle every other business sector well beyond the virus era. We'll be feeling the aftershocks for years,
I like to think the coronavirus will teach us something about managing our world more carefully. But I'm not optimistic. We were stupid enough to let Donald F. Trump become president.
Looking ahead, there's nothing more important than getting this Orange Menace out of the White House.
The second most important thing is keeping Dan Forest as far away from the governor's mansion as possible. Forest is fully on board with Trump's lies, obstruction, and incompetence.
The third most important thing is getting rid of Thom Tillis. Trump wouldn't be free to exploit America if it weren't for the likes of Tillis. The Senator had the chance to remove him from office and he failed. History, in this case, is a swift and brutal judge.
We're at Peak Pollen here in Chapel Hill. I'm putting on my face mask and heading out to do some sweeping. Be safe.