covid-19 teaches us about family

While we all cannot shelter-at-home as well as we all might wish to, shelter-as-home has reminded by of how important family is to me.

During this time, we have both children at home. Both are in college now and one mostly permanently lives a couple of hours away–a bit too far to drop by at the spur-of-the-moment. The other son will soon start a rigorous program that will not allow him to visit home very much for a few years.

I know there are a lot of bad things going on with covid-19 and many people are suffering. The burden is great. However, in spite of these burdens, there are moments of grace and joy. Having both children home again, eating dinner, watching a bit of the internet, and gabbing about current issues/solving big problems reminds me that the health of the family is top-of-the-list important.

I’m glad they are safe. Parents cannot protect children forever, but we can always be supportive, encouraging, and committed to helping them succeed in life the way they want to succeed. Doing that during the pandemic reminds me of these simple ideas.

Now if we can just get them to clean up their dishes and wipe up the crumbs 🙂

covid-19 teaches us, again, the importance of in-person

While many states reman under lockdown, it is clear that sheltering-in-place and working-from-home are truly enabled by technology. From the internet to your phone to your tablet/computer, we communicate, get work done and do things from home.

However, not all workers can do that. Many people need to touch and interact with the everyday world. Technology helps them, but they still need to be out there helping. While the promise of robots is great, they are not ready to do everyday chores. Those that cannot shelter-at-home are teaching us the value if being in-person.

covid-19 is really teaching us the importance of being there. For those who are working from home, we start to miss the interactions with friends, co-workers and others.

I used to work in sales and delivery, and much more in sales. Interactions are key. It’s hard to develop trust over the phone although it is possible. It is almost always better to be there with a customer to work with them where they feel the most comfortable. You cannot do that sheltered at home.

Let’s hope that technology, small molecule and/or biologics, can step up to help us sooner rather than later and get our society back on track.

stimulus package shows that there is no free lunch

The relatively large, not in absolute terms, stimulus package indicates that corporate America and the marketplace, by and large, are not really working well. Over the past few years, we’ve had multiple interest rate drops, panic buying at the Fed window and other indicators that things are amiss.

If we as Americans want to reduce taxes on companies and people and take on an emergency funding model for running our government, that’s our choice. It’s a poor model but that’s where the conservative push-and-shove has led us.

However, the implications are staggering. That means that over time, as emergencies and other critical items come up, we will spend either the same or more than we would have had we handled payments more smoothly over time. We will need to print money, devalue our currency (through inflation) as well as cause substantial market distortions that are highly localized. That’s how we have decided to pay for our standard of living, print money when a bump comes.

The stimulus package also highlights the massive cost-shifting that corporations have been doing for a long time. By using more temporary workers, companies pay less per employee as there fewer taxes and commitments that companies make towards the workers. Also, gig workers need to still buy health care insurance and other important necessities. When issues come up, such as a pandemic, the government then needs to, as a matter of helping the citizens it serves, provides relief in some way. Costs that should be borne by companies are being cost shifted to the American public.

While the stimulus package seems to be a large subsidy program for companies, it also provides relief to workers directly. Essentially, its a highly concentrated form of “programs” that should have been in place already for companies *and* people.

Corporations have pushed for tax relief, deregulatory actions that they believe impose costs on themselves regardless of the costs on others and deliver value to their corporate leadership team lopsidedly (vs shareholders). Then when something happens, companies plead hardship to the government to get cheap loans. Companies did not take the benefits provided by America and use them to build rainy day funds, develop corporate planning or do things that governments normally do.

For companies and CEOS who claim to be capitalists, they act entirely the opposite.

In other words, there is no free lunch. Political ideologies on the left and the right seem to think that large imbalances either way are the way to run the government. The coronavirus pandemic suggests that a smoothly running, well, but not excessively, funded government is just easier and more responsive over time. Today, distortions build up then resolve in more convulsive and painful, acute events such as the coronavirus pandemic.

We have great and smart people in the country, we can do better.