The future after the pandemic

It seems like all that happened in 2020 brought issues to light that will not simply go away after the pandemic ends

The pandemic and its consequences have brought unique issues while seemingly exacerbating previously existing issues. There are talks of vaccines, returning to normal, and of a “new normal”. It seems clear that post-pandemic time will not necessarily resemble the time pre-pandemic.

Consolidation of power at the top Many articles about the ideal way to handle lockdowns have been written, but this one aims to evaluate what comes after.

Throughout the pandemic, large corporations have been growing while smaller ones have suffered. Small businesses have struggled immensely, and larger corporations have been able to grab more market share.

Some of these small businesses are not as likely to go away completely. For example, it is hard to imagine that people will not want to return to bars for their nighttime fun, and there aren’t a small number of corporations that have that industry locked down. However, there are a lot of industries that have market share waiting to be grabbed up by large corporations.

The easiest example to focus on is Amazon. Amazon essentially sells everything we purchase. They aren’t the most efficient way to purchase perishable goods like food, but most products are sold by them. Amazon was already a major seller of all of these goods pre-pandemic, but lockdowns have more or less forced people to purchase from them.

There is something to be said for the life that smaller businesses can bring to a community and one’s life. For example, bookstores offer an often cozy place to browse books. There are usually people operating them who care about books. You can physically walk to them and spend time there, and you may even be able to grab a cup of coffee and hang out at some. Places like Books a Million had already corporatized the bookstore experience, and they ate up a lot of market share from smaller bookstores. Now, the bookstore example will not pull on everyone’s heart strings. Some people genuinely prefer to just order books online and avoid the hassle of going to a bookstore in person. However, this example is representative of what is going on and what will continue to go on in any industry where physical shops made up part of life. It also a microcosm of the sorts of changes that seem to be occurring in business generally.

Less people in the cities

Office work is unlikely to go away completely any time soon. It is true, though, that many people and businesses have realized that they do not always need workers inside their office buildings. Some work can be done efficiently working from home on computers. The normalization of video calling for communication will prove good enough for many businesses.

The logic is simple. The big driving factor for people flocking to cities during the industrial age has been for the abundance of jobs. As more work becomes remote, people may feel less need to live in close proximity to others.

This also ties into the growth of the gig economy. A data entry job that may have employed a full-time worker with benefits may now be delegated to a gig worker. When you realize that you don’t need a worker in your building full-time, you can hire a remote worker to do perhaps just 10-20 hours of work a week. Freelance data entry workers can be brought on and dropped off as the need for the position changes at given times.

This may benefit some people. Perhaps one person enjoys not having their location tied to a specific city or area. Many people will likely suffer in this kind of economy without things like benefits and a stable place of employment.

These changes are not likely to come immediately. Everyone in our society will not wake up as a struggling gig worker. The landscape is likely to slowly morph in this direction ending with a significant amount of the workforce living very different lives.

Paradigm shifts?

At the end of it all, we seem to be in a time where people recognize a need for different ways of thinking.

Thinking on capital and business seems to be aching for change. Other things may be changing as well. We saw an increase in gun ownership this year. The lack of a sense of security brought many prior anti-gun members of our society to go out and purchase firearms. 

The first 7 months of 200 brought over 5 million new gun owners, and that number has assumedly risen since. Many of these first-time gun owners are left of center on politics. An increased want for firearms and an increased use of ammunition signify a realization that firearms are not only for conservatives. The Second Amendment, whatever one’s thoughts on its utility, applies to all Americans. With the recent focus on minority issues, the phrase “an armed minority is harder to oppress” seems to resonate with many.

This is one of a number of major shifts. Thinking on race, gender, safety, security, and freedom may shift in many ways. It seems like all that happened in 2020 brought issues to light that will not simply go away after the pandemic ends.

Jay Chambers is a pro-free speech business owner based in Austin, Texas. 

Source: CounterPunch