As I write this post there is no toilet paper in the supermarket and not much in the way of pasta, rice or tinned veggies. The frozen foods section is cleaned out and eggs are down to the last couple of dozen. The long-life milk is restricted to two per customer but on the upside, remarkably, the fresh food is as abundant in variety and quality as ever. The deli counter looks like it always has and there is every cut of meat you could wish for waiting for a culinary touch.
I am wiping down the trolly handle with anti-bacteria surface cleaner and I have no idea if it is dumb or not. I scratch my nose. Idiot, can’t even get the basics right.
I leave the store with a trolley load of provisions nearly identical to the loads carried home before this virus changed everything. I say thank you to the ether with gratitude for my good fortune. Then I say it again.
I try desperately not to give in to the mischievous imp on my shoulder telling me it will not last, make the most of it.
Is he right, that little fear-mongering bugger? Can supply chains keep going with everyone locked down?
I have no idea. Not the foggiest.
This is the new world we have entered. The place of lockdown and isolation, witty memes and singing on balconies. A place where nobody knows if they can protect themselves from the virus and where some seem not to care at all if they do, for themselves or others.
Nobody knows if it will last weeks or months or if the fallout will take years for the world to recover. The economists are delighted for they are in fashion again even though they have absolutely no idea why the neo-liberals resumed the rampant printing of money for the biggest social programs in history.
And in Belarus, they are still singing on the terraces at soccer games.
Unable to fathom any of this I took to thinking what it might look like after the virus.
We could have got so used to working from home that we actually quite like it and persuade companies that this should be the norm and flex days are the ones we go into an office rented just for the purpose.
Only the mothers with young children decide that this home schooling thing is too much and can’t wait to send their kids back to the organised daycare of the education system so they can enjoy the working from home.
We actually got used to fortnightly grocery trips and online orders so much that the shopping malls were converted into community centres for recreation and social persuits. The old folks in the day and the yongsters at night.
So as not to get too worried about the money situation we voted in governments that introduced a liveable universal income with incentives for working two to three days a week on jobs that get us out of the house, away from our partners and keep the place clean and tidy.
They also agreed that they would underwrite the supply chains so that we didn’t have to accumulate personal wealth for a rainy day.
We enjoyed the cleaner air and the lower emissions so much that we agreed staying at home was actually preferable to burning fossil fuels and we would only take trips in electric vehicles from now on. There was a global competition with grand prizes for the invention of fast train and air travel without all the mess.
The mental fallout from the virus was so great that psychology became the most sought after training in colleges and universities and along with the guaranteed income was universal access to mental health care.
The governments realised that QE was actually not going to send inflation up in a rocket and that the concept of money, lending and borrowing against yourself did not actually bring the house of cards down. What they came to realise was that the resource base was what mattered all along. So they invested heavily in understanding how much we needed to look after land, water and the natural world for all its services. They even figured out that soil was the most important resource of all.
Along with this back to nature came a surge in technological advances that made everything and everyone more efficient. Robots with AI blockers built in made all the mudane work routine freeing everyone to work only as they wanted and on service tasks, the necessarily touchy feely work that make us all human for thanks to some very smart researchers a universal viral vaccine was invented that kept us safe from COVID-26.
All up the world became a much better place. There were rouges and the mentally disturbed and the accidents and the unwanted deaths from neglect or stupidity but, all in all, the world was cleaner, smarter and a lot safer place to live.
This is what step changes can do.
They can make us all smile.
Please share or add your ideas for the nice changes we could make happen.