April 10, 2020

…random thoughts continuing from yesterday’s post:

8. So given what I am predicting, what to do with all that empty real estate – the shopping malls, the strip mall real estate left vacated by the failure or discontinuation of businesses? Not to mention all the workers unemployed as a result of these failures. As I have previously mentioned, many of these are workers involve industries or services whose associated job losses were already on track for elimination due to the natural ebb and flow of economic changes resulting from emerging technologies; the “stay at home” measures adopted across the country during this contagion have only served to accelerate those changes. For these workers, while the short-term pain is going to be acute, there will be opportunities in the emerging post-Coronavirus economy if capitalism runs its course and creates new opportunities out of the pain we are going through.

9. One of the industries I can see arising out this crisis is (for lack of a better term) is the disinfectant industry. I’m not talking about just the industries associated with the manufacturing of disinfectant and sanitizing products, but new businesses associated with how these kinds of products are deployed across other industries.

10. Consider the hospitality and entertainment industries in general: prior to this crisis, in hotels you had housekeepers who would do some basic cleaning – clean the baths, vacuum the floor, overturn the beds, etc. – and move on to the next room. That’s their job, after all, to turn over rooms. Now imagine if you’re an entrepreneur who has devised a way to follow up that housekeeper’s visit and both effectively and efficiently disinfect those rooms before they are opened back up. Most certainly there are folks out there who already know how to do this – both from a supplier and a contractor of services. It doesn’t take a genius to imagine how this kind of business and industry would explode in terms of contractors and workers in the new, emergent economy.

11. That’s just one example: think about how restaurants, stores, theaters, the airlines and the cruise ship industry and such would require this kind of service, whether it is contracted out or from additional workers hired to perform these duties. And not only that: think about the construction design companies who will be contracted to advise and redefine the way various businesses in these industries operate to physically re-configure their floor plans and physical footprints to accommodate safe operations (advising clients on business operations involving supply chain, inventory management, profit & loss) under the new norm that will inevitably result. Certainly some savvy and inventive entrepreneur out there has already devised, or is developing, a service around this. They’re gonna be millionaires before they know it!

12. There is another area of the economy that I expect will get heightened consideration once this outbreak subsides that will invite new ideas and opportunities for industries and workers displaced by the so-called “old” (pre-Coronavirus) economy, and that will be in the area of public health. Those who have frequented this space know I’ve long advocated for a complete reassessment of how we handle the issues of mental health in this country: its inattentiveness and tolerance at all levels of government leading to the rapid rise in homelessness and homeless communities, drug use, and the other health-related and public safety issues that result.

13. Regarding mental health, I’m not advocating a return back to some Dickensian model of insane asylums where folks are scooped up off the streets, put away and the key tossed away. What I am proposing is a new generation of health care professional recruited and trained in rehabilitating those who have mental health and addiction issues. And I could envision the idea of a public / private partnership involving self-help centers and faith communities employing the number of empty buildings never going to utilized in their original purpose as public health recovery and treatment centers where folks get the help they need. Think about it: how good would that be? It would be a win/win for both the public good and our communities, not to mention – most especially – those who for so long have had no real place to go or desire to be treated. It will require an investment at all levels of government, but I think if we are going to mitigate the impacts of future epidemics or pandemics, taking a new look at how we handle the homeless population and those struggling with mental health and addiction issues and hiring workers and putting to good use empty spaces will benefit all.

14. Finally, keeping with the issue of public health, I think once we have a chance to look at the data resulting from this virus we are bound to see its adverse impact on those both in our inner cities and those having preconditions associated with obesity and the sociological/cultural health choices they have made involving habit and diet; these are all going to have to be looked at in a different way. My guess is that when all is said and done we’re going to find out that the Coronavirus was relatively harmful to very elderly people (not much one can do about that, unfortunately), relatively harmless to younger, otherwise-healthy individuals, and devastating to those with preconditions associated with heredity, obesity, and unhealthy lifestyle choices. The first there’s not much one can do much about, but the other two…

15. I can easily see there to be a push on realistically addressing this problem – in some ways punitively (for example, companies no longer hiring, or insurance companies no longer covering) those who are determined to be obese or otherwise unhealthy; in others in a supportive way (financial incentives, programs, and treatment plans) to help them get healthy and make healthy choices in their lifestyles. Once again, there are, and will be, incredible opportunities for entrepreneurs and a new generation of healthcare professionals specifically hired to work with those wanting and encouraged to improve their overall health and emotional and well-being. As with other areas involving our nation’s public health, it will require investment and involvement at all levels of government (and I’ll admit there will need to be careful treading here, most especially when it comes to constitutional rights, civil liberties, and patient confidentiality), but it is inevitable that the country’s public health community will be looking at ways to mitigate the impact of future epidemics, pandemics, and the costs of health care in general. You and I might not like it, but it’s bound to come. If we don’t it would be equivalent to malpractice.

All I am trying to say here is that, if we are going to be honest with each other, this country is going to be forever changed by what has occurred here. We can use it as a positive or as a negative force for change going forward. There will be a myriad of opportunities for change in the way we do things that will open up vast opportunities for folks displaced because of the Coronavirus contagion if we allow ourselves to discard the idea of “business as usual” forever. Taken together with actions that will ensure China is never allowed to be put in the position to harm us economically (or militarily) in the future, we can look at this (hopefully) brief interruption in our lives and our economy as a unique opportunity for positive force in this country’s future going forward. If we do not, all those lives that have been lost during this crisis will have been given in vain.

Filed in: Politics & World Events by The Great White Shank at 01:32 | Comments Off on What Comes Next? (Part 2 of 2)
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