Social Changes to Expect After the Coronavirus Pandemic
This essay is a review of the social, business, and economic changes that can be expected in America after the pandemic caused by the COVID-19 Coronavirus.
I’ll discuss how our society may change as a result of the experience we all endured during the beginning of 2020.
- Have we learned anything that will change our behavior?
- What will become of our new way of life?
- How will we handle our finances?
- How will we behave socially?
This article is mostly about society in the United States, but the results of the crisis can apply to the entire world.
What the Future Holds After COVID-19
We have experienced the need for social distancing. We all learned a new social skill of shelter-in-place. We have acknowledged the need for better hygiene. We even found new ways to order our food necessities—online.
I don’t think we will go back to our old way of life completely. New rules and policies that were necessary during the crisis will have left an impression on our society. Some of the changes we learned to respect will remain with us.
We Learned to Accept Less Freedom
People were willing to give up their freedom during the COVID-19 crisis. That shows how much control the government can impose on its citizens. I’m not belittling the crisis. It was necessary to instill social distancing and lockdown rules to reduce the spread of the virus.
Unfortunately, it has taken longer than hoped. That is because many people refused to follow the rules. Any single person who is a carrier can spread it around to two, three, or twenty others.
The point I mean to focus on is that we are all getting used to having less freedom. We are getting used to following strict rules. Once we learn to oblige, how far will that go?
Apple and Google Create a Surveillance Plan
China already has a public tracking of all citizens. Now the U.S. is planning to track everyone's whereabouts, including monitoring whom we are in contact with throughout our daily lives, with a smartphone app being created in a joint effort by Apple and Google.1
That's just one example of how we are learning to accept reduced privacy, and it may continue to become a thing of the past.
Economic Stimulus Will Cause Increased Inflation
The printing of money to give everyone $1200 plus $500 per child with the stimulus bill has reduced the value of our currency, thereby making everything we buy in the future more expensive.
If you believe that stimulus payment was free money, you are highly mistaken. We all will pay dearly for it because of inflation. We will pay it back through the hidden tax known as inflation. Sure, it’s indirect. But it’ll be paid back nevertheless with our higher cost of living in the future after COVID-19.
Added Spending Is Becoming Acceptable
When President Trump wanted to pass the stimulus bill, the Democrats requested to include funding for their own agenda that had nothing to do with Coronavirus, such as:
- Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts
- Public Broadcasting
- Green New Deal
President Trump had to negotiate with the Democrats to focus on things required for American citizens during the crisis. That caused unnecessary delays in getting the much-needed funds into the hands of the people.
In the end, Trump had to give in with a few unrelated requests just to get the money out to the people finally. It’s the art of the deal that he wrote about in 1987—one needs to give in to some stupid things to get what’s needed.
Anyway, the point is to show you how increased spending by our government is becoming acceptable. We are accepting it by voting for politicians that impose expenses on unrelated things that don’t serve our present needs.
A Cashless Society Is in Our Future
People won't want to handle cash any longer for fear of spreading viruses. Instead, restaurants and retail establishments will require payment over a smartphone at the checkout counter.
Of course, not everyone has a smartphone. But I imagine credit and debit cards will be the solution. People who can't handle their finances with credit cards can safely use debit cards for retail purchases.
The card readers will be touch-less, no longer requiring touching the screen or pressing buttons. Just slip in the chip-enabled card and remove it.
Loss of Energy Independence
President Trump succeeded at making the United States an oil exporter so that we would no longer be dependent on buying oil from our enemies.
During the Coronavirus crisis, the May Crude Oil Futures dropped below zero for a day. Yes, it went negative because the pandemic reduced our use, and there weren’t enough storage facilities. Investors who bought futures couldn't sell the contracts and had to pay to sell them. Hence, negative pricing.
Crude Oil Futures were well over $90 a barrel ten years ago. The June Futures opened below $10 the next day, April 21st. At such low prices, drillers can’t make a profit.
Therefore we will revert to importing again, possibly putting a lot of drillers out of work in addition to drillers going bankrupt. If the price doesn't go up again, the U.S. will no longer be a dominant oil exporter.
Working From Home Will Be a Common Routine for Some
During the COVID-19 pandemic, essential personnel had equipment set up in their home so that they could work remotely.
I would not be surprised if that practice will continue. Companies will have learned how to ensure employees are doing their work.
The experience also gave management a good understanding of cost savings. Using the Internet to set up at-home business communications is low-cost and easy to maintain. That will also help eliminate costly office space.
Social Isolation From Friends and Family
It was mandatory to stay in seclusion to avoid spreading Coronavirus. In the process, some people may have become accustomed to being detached from the world.
If that experience leaves a mental impression, some people will end up being a recluse and find it difficult to get back out to social engagements with friends and family.
New emotional stress will affect some people who may have the feeling of being abandoned. That can happen due to the loneliness caused by a lack of companions with whom to hang out.
Therapists will find it necessary to recognize withdrawal symptoms caused by the shelter-in-place rules.
New Lessons With Social Awareness
On the other hand, many people will have learned to remain in contact with friends and family. Technology has provided so many ways to connect while maintaining social distancing.
I think the new pattern of meeting over Internet conferencing will continue to be a big part of personal and business endeavors.
Finding Long Lost Friends
With the extra time people have while sheltering at home and practicing social distancing, many are making more phone calls. They are reaching out to stay in touch with friends and family members.
Some people are taking that to another step—searching for friends they lost touch with and emailing or calling them to see how they have been handling the crisis.
That trend may continue since people will have reconnected and fostered new relationships.
New Job Opportunities
Although many people were laid off, other opportunities have been developing. Companies have been discovering alternative products and services that they never considered before the pandemic.
Ford, GM, and Tesla discovered they were able to retool their plants to manufacture ventilators needed for COVID-19 patients.
Walmart needed to hire thousands of additional workers to deliver food orders to people who were self-quarantining.2
All this experience could very well open a whole new way of thinking, creating opportunities for companies to profit from additional developments. That will eventually create more jobs to America as well.
New Business Opportunities in America
Jobs lost due to outsourcing will be brought back to America after the crisis is over.
Major corporations saved money in the past by outsourcing. Now they learned that there is a tremendous cost of the risk involved.
A couple of examples:
- Apple has been dependent on China to manufacture the iPhone and other Apple products.
- Most of our pharmaceuticals are made in China.
We are learning that we need to have control over the manufacturing of these products, even if the cost is higher in the U.S.
The benefits outweigh the cost:
We’ll have more jobs, more people paying taxes—adding to the tax revenue, more people paying into social security—which will help maintain that dwindling reserve.3
Modified Relationship With China
Ever since President Nixon attained open trade with China in 1972, we have been victimized by their untrustworthy attitude that allowed them to become a world power.4
American companies have farmed out the development of their technology to China to take advantage of the lower cost of labor. That included giving China control of our pharmaceutical industry.
The experience with Coronavirus may be a driving force to initiate much needed change. We need to do our own manufacturing of technology and pharmaceuticals. That will end of our reliance on China.
We can’t trust anything China says or does. They kept the Coronavirus a secret long after they knew they had a problem. They started hoarding facemasks in January 2020 before announcing the possibility of a pandemic. They obviously knew more than they were admitting.5
Reliance on Communications Technology
The development of 5G cellular technology by China's Huawei would be under the control of communist China. That can have drastic effects on our national security. No one has any knowledge of how that can impact us economically and socially if China can monitor the activities and communication of all American citizens.
Lessons learned from the pandemic may make many American communications companies reconsider using Huawei's chips in their phones and 5G infrastructure.6
Future Lifestyle Changes With More Awareness
During the pandemic, people have learned to take care of themselves as never considered before.
- Avoiding handshaking,
- Practicing better hygiene,
- And considering things overlooked before.
An example of that last point is the handling of shoes. People used to hold their shoes from the bottom, where viruses could be present. Who ever thought of washing their hands after removing their shoes when they come home?
Coronavirus has made people more aware of what’s required to remain safe. They press elevator buttons, touch screens at credit card checkout terminals, and they touch doorknobs. All of which could have live viruses present.
All things considered, in addition to the economic and health-conscious changes, people will have a different social attitude with life after COVID-19!
- Zak Doffman. (Apr 20, 2020). “Apple And Google Contact-Tracing Surprise” - Forbes
- Kevin Smith. (March 20,2020)."Walmart, Amazon, Domino’s hiring thousands amid coronavirus pandemic." - Los Angeles Daily News
- AARP. (April 23, 2019). “How much longer will Social Security be around?”
- “Richard Nixon's 1972 visit to China” - Wikipedia
- Keith Bradsher and Liz Alderman. (April 2, 2020). “The World Needs Masks. China Makes Them, but Has Been Hoarding Them” - NY Times
- Ken Dilanian. (Jan 28, 2020). “Does China's Huawei really pose a threat to national security?” - NBC News
Questions & Answers
© 2020 Glenn Stok