Trends and Changes

Let’s get really, really clear about a few things:

First, the net effect of the ongoing Covid crisis — especially in the United States — has been to accelerate pre-existing patterns. Working from home feels different, but we’ve had the current generation of tools for years, and the digital workforce was already growing. The brokenness of our health and insurance systems shouldn’t surprise anyone; that it’s been breaking even faster in recent months shouldn’t surprise, either.

And the disparate experiences of people of different races, classes, and household-wealth percentiles have been accelerating, too. There was great hope at the outset (in some quarters) that this would be the great reset, but evidence is still lacking. Instead, we’re getting austerity-lite: without the macho “confidence” narratives of 2008, perhaps, but with all the pious tropes of “discouragement” and “disincentives” that just won’t die — even in the face of a pandemic.

The second big thing is to recognize that change — if it’s going to happen at all — is going to have to come through politics (and the culture, which is as ever upstream of the politics).