“If you go to war, you must plan for peace” is a saying which is often forgotten by aggressors who find themselves in lengthy conflicts afterwards. The Corona-virus is a different aggressor: it attacks and moves on, leaving humans with a broken economy, wrecked healthcare systems and massive debt for years to come. But mankind is always at war with viruses which want to wipe us out!
Already finger-pointing has started by some which is a complete waste of time: there might be a second or third wave, a vaccine might be around the corner or over the horizon, we just don’t know. Others are praying for a return to normality: protecting patents, paying dividends, manipulating share prices, squeezing wages and when it all goes wrong, the states will provide a bail-out. A proven business model for decades.
We are now observing first-hand which are the critical jobs: nurses, doctors, teachers, cleaners, lorry drivers to name a few. Not: investment bankers, hedge fund managers, lawyers, managers, consultants, McKinsey and BCG to name a few on the other side of the argument. And with all my heart I hope and pray that at year ‘1 AC’ (After Corona) society will revalue these jobs, the people, their wages and conditions and give them what they deserve and reflects the importance of what they do for society. Because there will be a new Corona, a SARS, a MERS, Ebola, HIV, Spanish (actually Kansas) flue. And we’d better be ready for it.
After this curve has been flattened there is still the Climate Change curve, which will be of a total different order. Economic slowdown reduces emissions, the air above China is cleaner than ‘ever’, from India & Pakistan they can see the Himalaya again. But the root causes ‘Human activity’ does not go away.
Should we support and bail-out the airlines when there tickets almost for free? Companies which used all their spare cash to push-up share prices, pay dividends and squeeze salaries? Perhaps not all or entirely.
Should we bail-out industries which continues to pollute rivers, air and produce massive CO2-volumes? I would not think so.
Continue to subsidise coal and oil industry as governments have been doing for a century? Bring them through this crisis? We still need oil but less and less every day. And we do not need coal at all! Renewable energy is combination with sunny and windy days is already causing negative energy prices like on Easter Monday recently.
What about Big Pharma? A recent investigation showed they have become financial institutions buying small research companies with their patents. And then jack up the price to the max per country. Don’t let them get their hands on the vaccine please!
Are global supply chains still the right way to go? Where are your supplies when the whole world needs them? Shouldn’t every country be able to look after themselves for essentials? Find the right mix with a long term view?
Being ready for the next Corona-attack means spending money on research, preparation of people, processes and supplies, collaboration between states etc etc. But never going alone like some do now. If only 1% of the billions which are spent now to prop up the economy had been invested every year on research and preparation, a vaccine would have been waiting.
Finally: if a 2 month lock-down causes so much economic damage, so may business models were flawed since no reserves have been built up. An a private citizen I should be able to survive for at least 6 months so I have that buffer in the bank. I would expect a corporation to have at least the same depending on the type of industry. And running out of cash after 1 month!
I intend to address the topics above in next blogs in an attempt to see the big picture and what such a society should look like for a Dutchman living in the EU.