The Covid-19 pandemic is testing every country. There have been massive social changes, virtually overnight, whose ramifications will echo for years to come. These are the issues to watch.
Citizens face lockdowns, social limitations, drastic changes to daily routine, and experiments in universal basic income. Otherwise innocuous social roles have been re-cast as essential services. The grocery, sanitation, utility, postal, maintenance, and transportation workers of the world have risen to the highest pedestals of appreciation for those facing isolation and restrictions. They are on the front lines, keeping daily life as normal as possible. Going forward, this re-alignment in social priorities and highlighted importance of these jobs will be something to watch. Future laws may grant them special protections and benefits. Canada also plans on boosting EI and giving cheques to help citizens pay bills. Talk of a universal basic income (UBI) was a discussion among social progressives before Corona. The theory follows the presumption that providing the most vulnerable with cash to meet their basic needs will save social and welfare programs money in the long run. The effectiveness of this stimulus may lead to a form of UBI going forward.
International supply chains are showing their weaknesses. Lockdowns in one country directly impact the supply of goods in another. One of the hallmarks of globalization is decreased manufacturing costs by placing production in regions with cheaper labour. Now, in this pandemic, the access to goods has been thrown into question, not only by travel restrictions, but also local lockdowns, resulting in many factories temporarily closing. In the future, the benefits of relatively expensive domestic production will have to be weighed against the vulnerability of cheaper foreign services more sensitive to global events. Countries like China will likely have to prove to the world that they will be able to respond quickly to emerging problems, or face the withdrawal of foreign investment. The movement to buy local may find a resurgence in Covid-19’s fallout.
Nations are being tested across social, financial, and health fronts to a degree not experienced in recent times. Some countries will weather it, others will not, and individual outcomes will certainly affect global organization. Countries like Iran, already faced with an oil crisis and vulnerable social stability, are now coping with a pandemic. Italy is facing a total lockdown with healthcare stretched beyond capacity. Spain is not too far behind. A major test of the European Union’s finances is guaranteed if national defaults become a threat like in 2008. The very spectre of Globalization will be in question.
This is a defining moment for our generation, and will greatly impact the future. We’ll be with you as the world learns what comes next.