Everyone has an expectation of when this COVID-19 thing will be over and we can return to normalcy. Some folks talk in weeks – even months. Some say that even as we relax most of the restrictions, we are likely to face some level of shutdown again in the Fall flu season. There will still be no COVID-19 vaccine and we will likely be hit with the double whammy of the normal flu season.
History shows us that after dramatic events – wars, depressions and pandemics – the return to normalcy takes years. Unless we quickly return to no government restrictions — and the people re-engage at pre-COVID-19 activities — the economic path to recovery will be much longer than predicted.
There will be permanent changes in our culture. In retail spaces, more clerks and cashiers will be operating behind Plexiglas partitions. We will still be able to perform our transactions, but with a lot less sense of personal connection.
Masks will be around for a while. Many people will wear them whenever out in public. If you extend your hand, your offered handshake may be dismissed – and you may even be criticized for making such a gesture. And as far as greeting old friends with a hug or peck on the cheek — fuhgeddaboudit.
Because of COVID-19, we will have even less in common when we meet on the commons. The freedom versus security divide will become starker and more obvious. The security-types will accost people on the streets for not living by more extreme safeguards. Conversely, the freedom lovers will condemn hyper-cautious as a bunch of paranoid scaredy cats. Just what we needed. Another excuse to divide.
It is not just a matter of easing restrictions. It is how we the people will react to a re-opened society. Current indications suggest that a lot of folks will NOT be going about their daily lives as they did just a few weeks ago. They will still be avoiding crowds.
Even as restrictions are eased, seniors will be advised to limit their exposure in the outside world. There will be a permanent recommendation to stay at home as much as possible. You are less likely to take grandma out for that birthday dinner.
We are told that in a few weeks, restaurants will open where I live in Florida. But already senior citizens – the most vulnerable to the virus –are being encouraged to stay at home. And many seniors say that they will still be fearful of being in public places where distancing is no longer the practice. That means that the restaurants in southeast Florida—with its high senior population – will not see their businesses return to former levels of patronage for the foreseeable future. We are talking maybe one or two years AFTER a vaccine is developed and distributed – if ever.
Take that dynamic across the entire retail sector and you will see that tens of thousands – and maybe more – of those who were laid off during the pandemic will not be returning to work very soon. There is an assumption that every business needs the workers that they had previously employed.
Even in good times, we see thousands of workers being laid off because of decreasing profits or general restructuring to make the business more efficient. It is very likely that when businesses re-open, they will not re-hire all those that they laid off. That is an almost inevitable outcome.
The sudden expenditure of several trillion dollars over-and-above America’s normal irresponsible and reckless spending will impact on our bloated government bureaucracy. Efforts to reduce the size and scope of government at all levels will increase dramatically. By the end of Trump’s first four years in office, the National Debt will have risen from $5.6 trillion in 2000 – when President Bush II took office — to almost $30 trillion by January of 2021, That is an average increase of $1.5 trillion each year.
Instead of slowing down the growth in the National Debt, President Obama actually increased the trajectory. The interest payment alone on the debt for FY 2021 stands at $479 billion. That is more than the ENTIRE United States budget expenditures in 1978. Imagine that. We now pay more on the National Debt than we did to run the country – including the debt service – only 40 years ago!
While politicians see this COVID-19 emergency funding as absolutely necessary to keep people afloat during the crisis, it is unfortunate that it came at a time when we have stretched the limits of deficit funding. When the next economic crisis hits America in the future, those affected can look back on this era of excessive government growth and spending as the culprit.
Socially and economically, America may no longer be the wonderful nation based on maximum personal freedom. Instead, it may well become a nation with an enormous central government constantly manipulating the national treasure to compensate for regulatory excesses.
To defend our free Republic, it will take work and sacrifice by we the people. Unfortunately, it seems that more and more Americans believe that a strong central government can provide for their every need – without hard work and sacrifice.
The left-wing has taken advantage of the COVID-19 virus to scare us – and then to claim that THEY are the only means to have security. If we succumb to that, the future for America is very grim.
So, there ‘tis.