Life after the COVID-19 crisis

If anything, the coronavirus pandemic has showed us that it’s a very small world. The crisis in Wuhan quickly became the crisis in Jersey. We are, indeed, all connected, and globalization has a lot to do with that. Are we going to be as open to a world economy as we used to be?

“Supply chains will inevitably shrink because there’ll be greater risk aversion. That doesn’t necessarily mean that jobs will all rush back to the United Staes. But instead of, let’s say, China, they may go to Vietnam or India,” said Farok Contractor, who teaches international business at Rutgers Business School.

He continued, “And diversification could mean companies bringing production back to the United States to some extent. So also what that means, inevitably, is an increase in costs to consumers.”

He adds that the pandemic has exposed our own domestic economic inequality. He says this once-in-a-lifetime crisis presents a genuine opportunity to address critical issues like this, but only if our politics see a real change, in tone and content.

“I would hope so but I doubt it for the following reason. Unfortunately, what sells newspapers and what turns into clicks are the extremists,” Assembly Minority Leader Jon Bramnick said. “So as long as there’s a need in the public for the extremists to demonstrate how much they hate each other, they’re always going to be heard. They’re the loudest voice.”

But something good has to come of this, no? Maybe all those cars off the roads will mean we’re all going to be biking to work and cleaning up the air, and getting healthier.

Mass Transit advocate Janna Chernetz, an NJ Transit board member, says a lot of how we use transit in the future will depend on how companies see their roles in the economy.

“I think a large indicator of what our public transportation network is going to look like is how our businesses come out of this and what they continue to look like. Will there be more working from home options available? Will businesses prefer to have some of their employees working from home? Will employees who are working from home now want to continue that option as we come back to our new normal?” Chernetz said.

Even weddings will have to change. Ashley Case, of West Orange is finding that out right now after her wedding, scheduled for this past weekend, was postponed very likely until next year. It’s a prospect she does not relish.

“You’re going to take a lot of the special parts out of it, the garter, the bouquet and all that stuff. You know, all the fun stuff that makes a wedding so much fun,” Case said. “You’re going to find shorter weddings. More of like a ceremony and maybe like a meal and then, that’s it, you’re married. Bye.”

Of course, no one really predict what things will be like three, five years. But one thing is certain: If nothing changes and we go back to the way things were before this crisis, we’ll have lost a great opportunity. And our chance to not let a crisis go to waste will have passed us by.