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Setting our expectations now will help us adjust
McKinsey warns us to get set for "the new normal" and Seth has christened "GENC". Both signal a new way of life, different in ways as yet unimagined to how we all lived at New Year 2020.
They're both right - the future will be fundamentally different in both the roles of the agents of the state and capitalism and in the attitudes and expectations of individuals.
Schools and jobs will be changed forever. Large population centres (cities) might be changed forever - to become more decentralised.
What's the transition period?
Centralised energy supply and citizen dependencies on centralised bureaucracies and government to provide emergency preparation and prevention are gone forever. This shift to citizen-based-energy and resources will threaten the funding of major infrastructure - which will also change forever.
Most economies will be changed forever - they won't risk being beholden to the supply chains from China again.
Some nations will be changed forever - some will face extinction, e.g. Guam and other pacific countries. Ironically the lower island nations will be saved from climate change, but obliterated by the thing that saved them.
But what McKinsey and others don't touch on is how we get there. What will happen in the short-term, the next 12 to 24 months?
We were in state "A". We are now all on a path to state "B", as partially described above. McKinsey and Seth talk about state "B" and the new normal, but how about the transition period?
18 to 24 months
The next 18 to 24 months are going to be incredibly difficult - much more than we currently imagine.
This morning, I had the realisation that the borders will be closed for that long - up to the end of 2021.
I came to this conclusion after seeing today's infection graph in the Financial Times. It's shocking. The rate of infections in the US is astounding.
The infection rate in the US won't be stable for several months. Even then, because of the variability of the control measures applied by each US state, there could be sporadic outbursts. Not mutations, just flare-ups.
Strict border controls will remain after that time because other countries will still be out of control.
And that's the gist of my argument - the revelation that I had.
No country who has the pandemic under control will want to risk an outbreak.
The most obvious way to show that you are doing this, as a politician, is to keep the borders closed. At this time, when xenophobia has been ignited in every nation, to do otherwise would be political suicide.
You could say, logically, that up to now mutations have not been proven, and people who have had the virus remain immune for up to 12 months. Therefore, the borders can and should be open.
When should they be open?
As I looked at the FT chart, I was struck by the number of countries that are not on it yet.
Those are the ones that are going to be out of control in 6 months. They are mostly countries with the worst corruption and the least transparency. India falls into this category also, but at least it is on the chart already.
Looking ahead - which of the countries who have the virus under control in 6 months would be prepared to open their borders to a country still amid the battle?
Whole regions will remain closed off
So in that case, borders will remain closed to all of Africa, the Middle East, Western Asia including Iran, Irak, and Afghanistan, the former Soviet Republics, India, Indonesia, Papua New Guinea, and all of South America.
India and many African countries will suffer particularly badly, and the virus will linger, because in addition to their endemic corruption their caste and tribal cultures will perpetuate the pandemic.
Then there are the less corrupt but equally virulent countries such as Vietnam, the Philippine, Malaysia and Thailand. They have problems because they border or are close to Cambodia and Myanmar - where corruption rules the day and border access is bought and sold.
No Western country will risk dealing those any of those countries for the foreseeable future.
Borders to these all these regions will remain closed until the end of 2020, no doubt. Almost certainly borders to the US and Europe will also remain closed in practice until then (even if not in political gesture).
Few politicians will take the risk of reopening the border with China, especially after Trump flaming the xenophobia.
The "new normal" will kick in towards the end of 2021
That takes us to the end of 2020.
We still have not arrived at the "new normal". In fact, by this time we will yet have a long time to go.
The easing of borders will take at least the next 12 months from that time. That means all of 2021.
Although the majority of the humanitarian aid to the world's stricken nations will be donated by China, China itself will not be allowing free entry to those nationals. It will be closed to inward business.
Start messaging now, to avoid community despair
The transition to the "new normal" and the new world of the GENC will take place slowly and painfully during 2021. The fabric of the community is going to become very fragile.
That is a reality that we need to start to assimilate now. Otherwise the mood of the masses will be beyond despondent when reality strikes.
Expecting the "new normal" to emerge in 3 months can only lead to tears - political tears and community tears. In 3 months, we will not be at the new normal we will be at the extension of today's normal - the transition.
The outlook is severe. It is best to start setting expectations about just how tough it will be, and this includes presenting a realistic timeframe.
Once people have assimilated the timeline, then work can begin on plans to manage a country and its economy during an extended period of sealed borders. Count on that being until the end of 2021.
Let’s start thinking about that now — today.
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