This is the weirdest autumn ever. Everything feels off balance.
The covid-19 pandemic continues to kill people with no relief in sight. Our economy is teetering on the edge of recession due to the knock-on effects of the pandemic, like job losses and slowing demand. The economic blows are made worse by protectionist politicians who ignore what is good for the average consumer in order to protect monopolistic industries run by big campaign donors.
We have a new class war brewing as our society splits between those who can work from home and those who can’t. The ones who can’t are mostly blue collar workers who are paid less and have fewer employee benefits. Blue collar workers are also less likely to have options for ensuring their children will keep up with their schooling. Parents who are struggling with fears of layoffs don’t have energy to try to help their kids solve math problems.
As if a pandemic isn’t bad enough, our political lives have fractured due to the ugliest electoral season since 1968 and 1860. In 1968, race riots caused by racial injustices and protests against the Vietnam War turned most major cities into mini-war zones. In 1860, half the country was ready to secede and fight a civil war to keep the institution of slavery. Then as now, self-serving political and religious demagogues got their 15 minutes of fame by exploiting the situation.
But this is the point when I realize that not everything is doom and gloom. The political violence of 1968 and 1860 can’t happen again in our country. Today, hardly anyone supports the notion of seceding or going to war to protect racial purity and racial inequities. Unlike 1968, today people of all races, ethnicities and ages are marching demanding a fairer social bargain for everyone.
Eventually, there will be a vaccine to beat back the threat of covid-19. That vaccine will be created faster than any other vaccine has ever been thanks to advances in bio-medical research in recent years.
There are also signs that the economy is adjusting to the new ways of doing business. Some old business models will fail and be replaced by new models. That’s what capitalism calls creative destruction.
We’ll adapt even as we carry the psychological scars of the pandemic and its economic destruction. Everything feels off balance but we’re still standing.
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Norma Shirk is an author, speaker, business owner and an attorney. In 2011, she founded Corporate Compliance Risk Advisor, LLC (www.complianceriskadvisor.com), a human resources consulting firm for small employers.
She writes a weekly blog that alternates between human resources issues (www.hrcompliancejungle.com) and history (History by Norma, www.normashirk.com). She is also a founder and monthly contributor to the Her Savvy blog, www.hersavvy.com. In 2018, she published, Psycho Bosses and Obnoxious Co-Workers, an amusing look at workplace behavior.
Ms. Shirk frequently speaks to a variety of audiences on topics ranging from human resources issues to historical events and persons. She may be contacted at email@example.com.