Friday, May 1, 2020

COVID-19: Lessons (Hopefully) Learned

Not actually Erin.
& is used with permission.
Now that people are returning to work in some states, I think it's safe to say that the COVID-19 crisis has passed. We may never return to how the world was before, and I think that is potentially a good thing; while I regret the loss of life, and my sympathies go out to those people who lost loved ones during this pandemic, I think we as a nation, and perhaps as a planet, got off easy. This could have been so very much worse, with deaths in the hundreds of thousands (as in the case of the 9181 flu epidemic) or even higher.

In that light, I look at this as both a wake-up call and a practice run. We were up to this point rather complacent about a great many things, and the events of the past few months have opened our country's eyes not only to dangers we hadn't considered but also to flaws and weaknesses in our culture and infrastructure. There are a great many lessons to be learned from all this, and I hope that our country learns the right ones, because the danger of learning the wrong ones, or learning nothing at all, is great and terrible.

Normalization of Prepping
Prior to 2020, prepping was viewed by the general public as the actions of a paranoid few. However, after such events as The Great Run on Toilet Paper, bare shelves in supermarket departments, long lines into stores like Costco and Sam's Club, and even now threatened food shortages, prepping now seems like a sensible course of action in the face of unexpected developments. Hopefully more people will see the wisdom of laying in supplies against an emergency and this will mitigate future runs on supplies. There will always be grasshoppers among the ants, but hopefully they will no longer be in the majority.

Normalization of Gun Ownership
We are well upon our way in this regard; March 2020 had more gun sales and more background checks than any other month in history. The American people, almost as a single entity, realized that if this virus was as bad as they feared then the police might not show up to protect them, and many of them decided it was in their best interests to buy a firearm for home protection. While things never did get that bad, there were many instances of police departments being gutted due to illness and/or issuing statements that they would not be responding to property crimes. Understanding that you are your own first responder and that the authorities might not arrive in time (or at all) is a healthy attitude to have, and so I applaud this development. Now it is incumbent upon the rest of us to retain these newcomers by making them feel welcome in the firearms community and helping them to get the training they need in order to be safe, effective, responsible gun owners.

Normalization of Home Schooling
Prior to this, home-school programs were looked upon by many as a form of child abuse. Now that all forms of education are being done from the home, those assumptions are being overturned. Not only does home-schooling reduce the chance of infection, it is also immune to schedule disruptions like this. Perhaps in a few years remote learning will become the norm, which would free up much-needed school funds to go towards teachers instead of classrooms.

More Working From Home
While there will always be jobs which require a physical presence, most office-level jobs can be done remotely. Not only will this be healthier for families, but it also will reduce the need for commuting to work and back, which will reduce pollution, traffic, wear on roads and vehicles, and the need for expensive office space, all of which will result in funds being used elsewhere (such as on better medical facilities instead of road work, or on employee salary instead of office expenses). This would also reduce the chance of infection from future diseases, both in the office and in mass transit during rush hour.

An Exodus from Big Cities
I confess, I am biased against cities. I do not like crowds, and ever since 9/11 I have seen cities as nothing but deathtraps where people are packed in so tightly that a single disaster will imperil hundreds of thousands of people who will be unable to escape in time. Given that COVID-19's toll was felt more heavily in large cities than smaller communities, it is possible that more people will move to less-dense parts of the country, especially if combined with an increase of working from home. I say this is a good thing, as people in cities tend to be dependent upon city services, whereas those who live closer to the country are more self-sufficient.

Better Supply Chains, a Return to US Manufacturing, and Ending Kanban
That's a mouthful, but it's all interconnected. Kanban is the Japanese term for the system whereby inventory is kept to the minimum necessary to supply a store for the day, and as product goes out it is replaced with new shipments coming in. This is a fine systems to reduce waste and spoilage... so long as everything works smoothly. However, if one part of the supply chain breaks, the entire system breaks as stores lack the inventory to hold out between shipments. A country which doesn't rely on international imports to feed, clothe and heal its people is better prepared to weather international disruptions, and shorter supply chains with redundancies for shortages and a more robust inventory will safeguard against local disruption.

A Better Disease Response
I am not talking about response from local, state and federal agencies (although those do need improvement), but rather response from people. We've all had a glimpse into the life of what it means to be a hazmat worker, and we've realized  how much it takes in terms of time, effort, materials, and mental energy. "Just one slip-up and I could infect myself and family" is a terrible thought that preys upon the mind and leads to mental and emotional exhaustion. While there is no way to ease that burden, now that we have done this once it is my hope that we will learn from our experience. We will keep better supplies on hand, we will learn how to properly put on PPE and take it off without contaminating ourselves, and we will be more mindful of infection.


We were lucky this time. The next time might be worse. Even if the nation doesn't learn these lessons, I hope you all do so that the next time it happens, you are not caught unprepared.

2 comments:

  1. I'm not certain that the crisis has passed yet, and am quite concerned about what will happen if we try to get back to normal too soon. It doesn't seem to me that testing has been sufficient to even determine where we are.

    I completely agree that prepping has been normalized, and I think my family will be an easier sell to have more shelter in place supplies, and maybe even a get home bag or bug out bag.

    I think it's too soon to tell whether gun ownership has moved towards normalization. I hope so, but wonder what the reaction will be from the panic buyers after things do go back to normal.

    I think all of your points are very good, and the start of good discussion.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The general consensus seems to be that outside of dense concentrations of people, such as New York City and the D.C. Metro, the crisis has passed and that the rest of the country needs to get back to work. I largely agree with this, although I freely admit that I could be wrong. We will soon see if this position is correct.

      Regarding panic buyers, that is why I stated that we gun owners need to make a concentrated effort to welcome these new people into our community so that they feel they made the right decision. If we ignore them, or mock them for panic buying, then they are far more likely to sell those guns and embrace gun control. It's therefore incumbent upon us to help create the world we want to inhabit.

      Delete

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