After The Virus

Almost everyone underestimated the havoc that COVID-19 would wreak on public health. Will the same be true for the wider effects on society that have just begun to unfold?

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Photo by The New York Public Library on Unsplash
  • Zero (or negative) growth doesn’t sound all that bad for a typical Westerner because the consequences appear bearable — fewer restaurant visits, maybe wait a bit longer for the new car, those kinds of things. The situation looks quite different in developing countries, where lost economic opportunities often translate to a family going hungry for days or worse. And it’s not like we can neatly separate “our” economy from “theirs” — if international trade decreases, as one would expect, the world’s poorest will suffer the most.
  • Do you really think large firms are going to suffer most from the crisis? If anyone has the resources to make it through this, it’s the giant multinational, which has the expertise to secure government funds, the pockets to sustain operations, maybe even the platforms to continue selling their product. A horrible CEO might even welcome the development, as it crushes many of their smaller competitors.
  • Prosperous societies are better places to live in. They have better healthcare, take better care of the environment, and their values are more inclusive. As primal fears and immediate material concerns recede to the background, our moral circle is expanding and now includes people with different sexual orientation, non-traditional lifestyles and even animal. Life expectancy is much higher in rich countries, probably stemming for a combination of these factors. The reactionaries’ favorite meme about how good times create weak men has it exactly backwards — as societies prosper, the sphere of justice widens to include minorities and issues that were ignored before.
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Le bonheur et l'absurde sont deux fils de la même terre.

Le bonheur et l'absurde sont deux fils de la même terre.