Can we get a thread going with the many good brains here about what’s likely to change whenever it becomes okay to go outside again?
Because I’m pretty damn scared that for most of us, life in general is going to be pretty bad, and nowhere near “normal,” for a long, long time.
As for “better”? Despite apparent potential for positive changes, that seems even less likely. And of course, life is going to be more different, and a lot worse, for most of us than it will be for some privileged others.
A couple of days ago, Mark posted this libertarian tech-bro utopian vision of post-viral life, and its vision of post-pandemic life just doesn’t ring true or likely at all for me.
Not to rehash that post’s thread, which is a great start. I think that Reason Magazine’s speculations in that video about how “work” will change fail to see and hope for the possibility that most of us will be able to not just work differently, but also do LESS work. Instead of the more and more and more work that so many of us have been doing lately.
I’m hoping this thread can be a repository of not only this community’s good-brained speculations but also links to good think pieces about the coming future, like this one (thanks @gracchus ) –
Where do you think we’re going?
Of course in the U.S. (and maybe even elsewhere), how much will change, for good or bad, seems to hinge SO much on whether the demonic Trump gets re-elected. I suspect that’s exaggerated in American anti-trump minds, especially now that it looks like Biden will be his opponent. Yes, Trump is worse, but etc., etc.
And so, with that election looming, but still a fair ways off, a lot of us USians feel even more like we’re in a sort of holding pattern, with that much less of a clear sense of what’s coming post-virus. Assuming there even will BE a post-virus era.
Sometimes when I’m reading my daily dozens of news reports, articles or projections, I’m struck by all the trillions of words yet to be thought, spoken and written about this whole thing… that might make our speculations, hopes and fears of this week seem so quaint and naive… and it’s just overwhelming. We are still so early in the actual catastrophe, and as you so correctly emphasise, we really don’t know what’s coming next.
I hate the kind of speculative fapping that requires us all to “go along for the ride” in someone else’s vision of the future, so I stayed out of that initial thread.
This is a pivotal point where things could change. There are also long standing, deeply rooted systems to prevent change from happening.
I think the beneficial thing for most of us to ask is: “what do we want to change, and what in this moment gives potential for making it happen?”
Certainly inequalities are currently in stark relief. Economic philosophies of the past are showing their weak points in ways that can’t be ignored. There are places to get leverage, while issues are hard to ignore.
I don’t expect utopia, and expect a lot of the same old thing we’re used to getting, sold to us in a new package, but I do think there is potential to do things better, and maybe get more momentum towards egalitarian goals at a moment like this.
I’m thinking about this, on and off… but no idea so far.
Right now every futurologist is pushing their pet theories, maybe I’ll just pick one?
I think company policies for working from home will be overhauled. But the impact I see happening will be
The workforce will be divided into those who can work from home, and those who cannot. This will make a cultural divide roughly along blue-collar / white-collar lines.
Companies will have to expect work from home to be inquired about during interviews, and need to be prepared with adequate responses.
Companies will begin to shift the burden of costs to upkeep ones workplace to the employees. They will of course continue to use the same burdened overhead costs in their billing rates, artificially inflating margin and improving stock performance, temporarily.
There will be a large resource impact to home internet systems. Too much there to package into one bullet. But Ajit Pai might expect to have to answer a few questions.
The business fashion industry will take a hit, but they can pivot. I see a new type of clothing for working at home. Call it “casual business” instead of “business casual”. Suits and the like will become more of a special-occasion clothing.
A great piece not exactly on how the world will change, but more on how monied interests are going to try to get it back to the shittier forms of our former normal.
And so the onslaught is coming. Get ready, my friends. What is about to be unleashed on American society will be the greatest campaign ever created to get you to feel normal again. It will come from brands, it will come from government, it will even come from each other, and it will come from the left and from the right. We will do anything, spend anything, believe anything, just so we can take away how horribly uncomfortable all of this feels. And on top of that, just to turn the screw that much more, will be the only effort even greater: the all-out blitz to make you believe you never saw what you saw. The air wasn’t really cleaner; those images were fake. The hospitals weren’t really a war zone; those stories were hyperbole. The numbers were not that high; the press is lying. You didn’t see people in masks standing in the rain risking their lives to vote. Not in America. You didn’t see the leader of the free world push an unproven miracle drug like a late-night infomercial salesman. That was a crisis update. You didn’t see homeless people dead on the street. You didn’t see inequality. You didn’t see indifference. You didn’t see utter failure of leadership and systems. But you did. And so we are about to be gaslit in a truly unprecedented way. It starts with a check for $1,200 — don’t say I never gave you anything — and then it will be so big that it will be bigly. And it will be a one-two punch from both big business and the big white house — inextricably intertwined now more than ever and being led by, as our luck would have it, a Marketer-in-Chief. Business and government are about to band together to knock us unconscious again. It will be funded like no other operation in our lifetimes. It will be fast. It will be furious. And it will be overwhelming. The Great American Return to Normal is coming.
Well, lets start with putting it out there that Socialism is not equal to Communism and is not the same as Stalinism.
And follow that up by saying people can believe in whatever God stuff they want so long as they aren’t impinging on anyone else. Religion should have no place in government. Politicians who mention God (or whatever) as an argument for or against something should be ridiculed in the most medieval way possible. Also, if a religious entity is making money it should be paying tax.
Healthcare. This is a no-brainer. Everyone should have free healthcare for reasons that are becoming increasingly obvious.
Education. Starting with free childcare which benefits children, workers and society. Quality education should be available freely to everyone. Including third level education for those who want to go that far. This is a good way to ensure that half your population isn’t gullible to misinformation which has the really obvious benefit of keeping your government in line.
Infrastructure. Power, Water, Roads, Bridges, Rails, Tramlines, Internet all that good stuff. This should be owned by Government. Maybe it can be operated by private companies, but the actual infrastructure should be socialised.
Minimum Wage. Another no-brainer. This should be a livable wage and should be increased in line with inflation. Minimum wage is only a problem now because it has been kept artificially low for so long.
Military. Having an organisation that can operate when existing infrastructure fails is a really cool thing that is going to be increasingly important over the next 20-30 years. It doesn’t need to be enormous but it should be well resourced, well equipped and well trained and pretty much self sufficient. It should be redirected towards civil defense rather than foreign adventurism.
That should sort out the basics. Also, if the last 10 years have taught us anything, it’s that Covid 19 is just one of the many shit things that are going to happen over the next couple of decades until we reach our clean, fair, Solarpunk Utopia around 2050 or 2060.
*Edit for typo
Well, in my field, telemedicine is becoming a bigger and bigger thing. I suspect that will become permanent. I don’t like it, but it is what it is…
I have not seen any news on this, but i suspect AI applications related to telehealth are in ths offing as well. I never thought about being replaced by a bot, but it is looking more likely all the time.
Wow, there’s something both new (to me) and likely. All to make more money for the insurance industry.
I do fear that in “developed” countries at least, the neoliberal squeeze of most of us for the financial benefit of a few is just going to continue in some new ways, along with revival of some old ways.
Welcome to the Solarpunk Utopia
In short, an effort to turn the rest of us into the type of folks who attend 45’s rally events, excuse his incompetence, swallow his lies, and forget the harm he causes? I’d like to believe that folks who refused to accept this as normal and managed not to buy into this since 2016 can make it until the next election.
Maybe, or maybe it runs just a little slower. The current conspiracy theorists have children. These children grow up to tell them that the pandemic never happened.
Where’s the money in that?
I work for a large company and while my team is geographically distributed and has been for many years so working from home is no big deal, other teams are not so … enlightened.
I’m not really attached to the area, and I’d love to move out of the state but there has always been that underlying fear of this coming back to bite me if I wanted a job change and was told I wouldn’t be considered because of my geography.
So many big companies these days are professing to become carbon neutral or negative in the next 10 years and the whole “stop forcing employees to clog up the roads and infrastructure just to be close to HQ” idea seems so obvious to me. This is a wonderful chance to shake up this mindset and corporate culture. I’ve been joking with my colleagues that they better not fuck up this golden opportunity.
Sounds like good (possible) change.
If only say, garbage haulers and janitors could do their work remotely.
I won’t say this is “better”, but I do see a shift in industries to speed up automation.
A lot easier to stay open when you don’t need pesky people there all the time that suddenly want to unionize. Especially big players like the Big River Online (to quote one of my favourite authors), as well as food production and service. Instead of being “job destroying robots”, the pivot will be towards public health (we’re preventing transmissible disease) to sell the public on this.
In other words, a lot of jobs won’t be coming back and as a society, we’re going to have to reckon with that. I don’t know how we’re going to handle it, but I fear it’s not going to be “tax the big $$$ so we can feed the small.”
I also predict a change in how we look at “working sick”. Again, I don’t necessarily see there being an increase in PTO available for illness, but I do see more employers sending people home for appearing even the slightest bit ill.
IOW, it’s not necessarily going to be pretty.
I have no idea what the future holds. I cried about that the other day. It was about 24 hours later that I fully stopped crying.
But in the shorter long-term, I know this much: I’m going to become a ridiculous hugger. Any where, any time, any reason. Hug it out! Can’t wait
There are two sets of assumptions to be made.
Assuming that the 1% remain as powerful as they were before this started, then all the changes will be about protecting their investments. Good stuff they make happen will be because it saves or makes them money.
Building capacity will have to include a social distancing mode, and when another event comes along, violating that smaller capacity will mean shutting things down.
Our whereabouts -or that of our cell phones, anyway- are going to be known to authorities, and there will be large swaths of space where only a certain kind of antibody credential will get you in the door.
Still no universal health care in the US, but a whole lot more medical toll roads.
The other set of assumptions has to do with an actual shift in power. Keeping America overworked and underpaid has been a great success in disenfrancgising us, and keeping us ever vigilant against scapegoats we can blame for our predicament. This enforced pause gives many of us a chance to stop and compare notes and reconsider. “The” economy that Trump wants to restart, may turn out not to be his to flip that switch on. It may be that american workers want to come back under certain condituons.
A living wage and universal health care seem lkke no-brainers to me.
But I’m an optimist, and I’ve frequently been wrong about such things.
Coming soon? Seems likely.
The numbers aren’t precisely comparable, but there have been 16 million new jobless claims in the past 3 weeks and the total net job losses during The Great Recession were… 8.7 million. If we’re gonna just take a little break and then go back to our old lives, how come it took 6 years to get back to the beginning during the Great Recession? It is true that, contrary to the myths made by the people who did it, the policy response was sadistic and disastrous. Solving the Great Recession should have been easy (if not painless), but some people needed to suffer for the sins of bankers, and so they did. It was actually an easy problem and they failed spectacularly.
This is a hard problem. A much harder problem. And I do not think the people currently in charge are likely to be either smarter or more well-intentioned.
A few weeks away from blaming unemployment on the unemployed. It’ll start on Fox and in the WSJ but spread everywhere.