It’s time to review lessons as COVID–19 subsides

Now that the COVID-19 bombing has begun to subside, we can look around at things and see the initial damage.

America has taken a big hit in many ways, but our businesses have taken a huge hit. Millions are unemployed and millions of businesses have been destroyed, damaged and crippled in one way or another. By my count, about 20% of all businesses have learned from the experience in ways that will benefit them in the future. Some will benefit greatly; others will gain marginally. It is a Darwinian moment in our evolution.

In my research of the impact of the COVID event, I have found a full range of emotions from the business owners and employees who have been through it. It is just like witnessing a bombing — those closest to the center of the explosion experienced the death of their businesses and jobs; those farthest have a different kind of response. Some will never forget; others will remember this time as inconvenient.

Regardless of anyone’s point of view, this country needs to get some things straight.

First, we need to get people back to work whether they want to or not. There are signs everywhere begging for help wanted. They are mostly going unheeded. Many capable people are staying home and experiencing a unique kind of avalon. There is little desire to go back to work with the government shelling out free money to get by on. Evidently millions of people would rather stay home and learn how to downsize rather than go back to work — especially in lower-paying jobs.

It is not helpful that government, at the same time, is broadcasting the idea that $15 per hour be the new minimum wage. That would be a much more palpable message were it to come within a much bigger economy — say, in the middle of a 6 or 7% growth. But, it is what it is and it will be what it will be. As long as government is divided against the people’s best interest, the best business can do is what it sees as possible. The gridlock has not changed for the sake of the bombing. The cows just have to produce as best they can until the farmer sobers up.

Were I young, I would look at the whole of it and set my sights on getting a good education to secure employment in something that I enjoy — something that matches my natural talents and skills. I would not wait for the world to get better then decide. I would seek to identify my best fit and I would go for that at all cost.

If that is a trade rather than profession, I would go to trade school then business school. If I came from a family that had no college experience but I wanted to be a college educated professional, I would strike out in that direction no matter who said what about my background. Many people have done exactly that and have gone on to do great things.

But the call to rise up and make something out of oneself is a call from within. That single quest — to hear the call and commit to a proper goal is the most important thing a young person can do. Never allow the bad news to negatively influence what you might be able to do. If a person wants something badly enough, it always is worth fighting for.

We got bombed. We got hurt. We need to learn the right lessons from all of it. Some of the lessons regard our individual businesses. Some of the lessons involve larger issues that deal with the crucible within which our businesses and our lives are contained. We need to learn to speak to the larger issues.

If we have not learned much from the blast, we ought to have learned that through it all, so far, there was no effective voice from business regarding anything. Businesses live as catamites within the polity of possibilities, not as potent drivers of it. This, too, might change some day.