Emergency Political and Business Policies That Could Outlast the Viral Outbreak

Who doesn't want a margarita to-go?
Who doesn't want a margarita to-go? Photo by Alan Levine via CC
As we enter another month of quarantine from the Coronavirus outbreak, all levels of business and politics have been affected. From mom and pop shops to huge corporations, city managers to the President, everyone is being forced to adapt to a relentless virus and the changes we are all having to endure as a result. The federal government has implemented concepts previously unimaginable and local governments have relaxed laws in place for decades.

But how much of this is temporary and what will remain once the virus subsides? So many concepts in politics and business that may have been only a pipe dream before COVID-19 seem like necessity now. Here are a few examples.

Universal Healthcare

If there isn't a radical revamping of healthcare in America in the wake of the Coronavirus, it will be one of the greatest tragedies of the crisis. Clearly, our healthcare system was broken long before anyone had even heard of COVID-19, but the gaping holes in it — from a lack of ventilators to poor preparation for a catastrophe — only seem to be highlighted right now. If the idea of Medicare for All wasn't already in the forefront of American politics thanks to progressive democratic candidates for President, it should become a front-and-center issue in the 2020 elections now.

Paid Sick Leave

And speaking of hot button issues, the very idea that people are being paid sick leave — despite the intense limitations on it — is a remarkable change for a U. S. Congress dominated by business special interests and conservative lawmakers diametrically opposed to the concept. But this virus has, like with healthcare, only rammed home the point that we cannot be truly secure as a nation if its citizens are not protected from illness and debt as a result of it.

Cash Payments to Americans

When former democratic presidential candidate Andrew Yang floated the idea of $1,000 for every American every month, most people thought he was nuts. It went against nearly everything the country has stood for since its inception. And yet, in a time of crisis, handing over cash to average Americans suddenly sounded like not such a bad idea, even for the most hardcore conservatives in politics. It's an idea that bears watching even after the crisis ends. It's not a perfect solution, but it's difficult to see how businesses can get billions of dollars in bailouts while everyday citizens are left holding the bag.

Working from Home

If the idea of working remotely was a progressive ideal for some more adventurous businesses prior to Coronavirus, it may very well be mainstream by the time people are ready to get back to work. A huge portion of the workforce has transitioned, nearly seamlessly, to working from bedrooms and sofas and kitchen tables. No doubt businesses are taking notice and imagining the money they could save in office lease costs and other office amenities. It might not be perfect for everyone, but no doubt it has changed the landscape of the workforce dramatically.

Take Out and Delivery

Anyone who had never tried getting groceries delivered or considered fine dining in takeout form may have changed their minds. The incredible convenience of delivery services — from Amazon and Favor to Uber Eats and Instacart — has only highlighted how we can all get things quickly, easily and, yes, safely. And restaurants that may have shunned the notion of to-go food could potentially find a new avenue of income as they work hard to survive.

Alcohol Take Out

And perhaps nothing is more radical and practical as take out alcohol. Note that one of the "essential businesses" during the outbreak has been the liquor store. Why? The fear of withdrawal adding to already crowded hospitals mixed with the nature of people's need to relax during the outbreak seemed to outweigh the moral concerns, particularly when it came to getting it to-go from restaurants. Who hasn't wanted to grab a marg on the run from a Tex-Mex place? It will require some monitoring — will it increase drunk driving? — but that's a rule that, given the success, could easily stick.
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Jeff Balke is a writer, editor, photographer, tech expert and native Houstonian. He has written for a wide range of publications and co-authored the official 50th anniversary book for the Houston Rockets.
Contact: Jeff Balke