By The Biz Team (Jules)
"When things get back to normal" seems to be a constant phrase uttered these days. But what does that actually mean? The most obvious answer, is it means we can all go out to eat in restaurants, attend gatherings with large groups of people, travel freely, and walk around with no masks. But what some aren't taking into consideration when they wish for normalcy, is that for many, the idea of going "back to normal" isn't all that appealing. For a lot of people, what's become normal, is anything but.
Working two jobs and still not being able to pay bills should not be normal. Struggling to afford healthcare, or not having it at all, should not be normal. It should not be normal for women to make less money than men. It should not be normal for people of color to experience job discrimination. Hiring overseas and foreign manufacturing should not be normal. Multi-million and billion dollar companies not paying their workers a living wage should not be normal. But for many, these have become normalized and accepted realities that leave some wondering if going "back to normal" is such a good idea.
This sudden lapse in "normalcy" is a prime opportunity to contemplate what the world could look like, whether the danger of spreading COVID goes away soon or not. Instead of going "back to normal," perhaps we should be thinking of a "new normal." Necessity is the mother of invention. When so many opportunities are limited, the time is ripe for us to get resourceful. Allowing things to go back to the old normal, would mean we've underestimated human creative ingenuity. The old normal was everyone having to do things one way. Go to school. Go to college. Get a job. The new normal could mean something different for everyone.
From a business perspective, a recent article in Forbes predicted that companies will now become less reliant on imported goods from China. Manufacturing in China has been good for providing cheap products, but it's been terrible for the environment, and terrible for job creation. Maybe the "new normal" could mean manufacturing high quality products on a smaller scale in the United States. This would help the environment, provide higher quality products, and create jobs.
The article also predicted that people will spend less and save more. Great! People will be more inclined to buy less, which let's face it, the planet could use a break from overconsumption. But when people do spend, they'll be able to purchase high quality, long lasting products made in the U.S. The "new normal" could be less flash, and more class. More people realizing the importance of buying superior products at a higher price, but making do with less.
Finally, the article predicted that entrepreneurs will be reluctant to start their own businesses. Well it's no wonder. Considering the lack of support small businesses have received since the pandemic, who would want to take that risk? A new report from Morgan Stanley, found that over 90 publicly traded companies received $243.4 million in Payroll Protection Program (PPP) loans, that were meant for small businesses. A second report by the Associated Press revealed that at least 75 public companies have received more than $300 million in taxpayer-funded loans. This is unacceptable. Small businesses are the foundation of a strong, sustainable economy. Perhaps the "new normal" should be one in which small companies put corporations out of business, instead of the other way around.
Now is the time to reimagine what we want "normal" to look like. Is it a world where job security is scarce, stress levels are high, goods are cheap but low quality, housing is expensive...the list goes on? Or will it become normal to make community more of a priority? Will it be normal for local businesses and domestic manufacturing to drive the economy? It's our choice.
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