How COVID-19 Changes Our Perspective
by Stan Corey
April 22, 2020 was the fiftieth anniversary of Earth Day, and it offered a very different scenario than any prior Earth Day since the original one was held in 1970. There have been a number of stories about how, in the very short period of time since the COVID-19 pandemic has brought human activity worldwide to a standstill, global health on land, sea, and in the atmosphere has been positively affected. Cities that were previously encased in smog are having the lowest levels of pollution recorded, and the CO2 in the atmosphere has been reduced by over five percent in just the past month. Animals on land and in the oceans are responding in positive ways: sea turtles nesting on beaches that they had not visited in the past, wild animals seen in cities and on major thoroughfares where they never would have ventured before. Mountain tops have become visible to people in far-away in places who had never seen them before. These are all amazing, positive consequences of the stay-at-home policies that have kept people inside and the forced reduction in travel that has reduced fossil-fuel emissions.
The question I have thought about is: What else will be changing as a result of this global pandemic?
The unintended consequences are likely to have far-reaching impacts upon citizens of the world in ways that we may not have expected. The pandemic will certainly have an immediate impact upon daily life as we know it. We may be heading toward a “new normal” as new patterns of living evolve from the behaviors we have adopted during this unique global event.
Global history has had other major events that have forever changed our way of life: World wars, pandemics that wiped out millions of people, population shifts, population explosions, and climate changes from prehistoric times to present day. In addition, the great discoveries of “germs,” penicillin, blood typing, vaccines, and technology have brought the world closer. Tumultuous events are an inevitable part of life, but focusing on the positive aspects may lead us to better understanding of the global community that we all depend upon and that we all need to survive and to preserve the freedoms we have fought so hard to protect.
The most obvious change is that our way of doing business has been changed forever. We have learned that we can accomplish work from our own homes, grow vegetables in backyards and on balconies, consume less energy, and have almost everything we could possibly want delivered.
Our health-care systems are also being changed dramatically. Maybe the new high level of hygiene will enhance our wellness going forward, as we provide less opportunity for ailments to spread among our communities. Having bio-tech companies collaborating will accelerate discoveries of new medical treatments and cures, not just for viruses but many diseases we are currently battling.
What about birth rates? We will likely see a rise in births at the end of 2020 and early 2021. Will they be called “Corona Baby Boomers”? Conversely, there may also be a rise in divorces, since being together 24/7 can create more opportunities for conflict as well as bring families together.
Will the way we provide education change? Will more people opt for home schooling? Or will parents realize that teaching is much more difficult then they expected and that teachers are underpaid?
Will large group gatherings be the norm once again or will they be the exception? Will wedding attendees all be wearing masks? How soon will we be getting on a packed airplane, let alone siting in a stadium with 50,000 of our closest friends?
Has travel been changed such that we will prefer driving or riding on trains with plenty of room between passengers? Will a “continental tube” be built just as the continental railroad was in the 19th century?
What industries have been most affected by the pandemic? Which ones will not be able to recover, which ones will survive, and which will thrive?
The largest employer in the US is the restaurant and hotel industry, and they have been brutally affected by the restrictions imposed on them. Few can survive as only take-out venues. How can a restaurant or bar business survive if not permitted to maximize seating and pack them in for special events? Will hotels survive without conventions and other banquet events, which typically generate the best profit margins? Will smaller roadside accommodations be revived, the old motels where you park in front of your room?
Is the “share economy” going to continue? Are you going to want to share a ride with a stranger? Stay in the homes of strangers?
What changes have you made as a result of the pandemic? What changes will you continue going forward? What impacts, favorable or unfavorable, do you see in the future as a result of the pandemic
Photo by Chris Barbalis (Italy) and fellow Silver Sager.
Stan Corey has been a Certified Financial Planner Professional (CFP), Chartered Financial Consultant (ChFC), and Certified Private Wealth Advisor (CPWA) for almost 40 years. Though retired from the day-to-day activity of providing financial advisory services, he continues to consult in specialized areas as a financial fiduciary. Stan is a sought-after expert who regularly provides financial commentary at national conferences, in print and online publications, and on TV. He has a reputation for taking complex financial issues and making them understandable to the average person. He likes to say he is a “financial translator.” He has published two books: a novel, “The Divorce Dance,” in 2016, and a non-fiction work, “When Work Becomes Optional,” in 2018. Web site: www.stancorey.com.