Updated: Aug 7
We can all learn from the horrors of the pandemic. Let me laugh!
COVID-19 Pandemic is hitting the world, people are dying, protesters for nothing and everything are storming the streets, businesses are going down the drain, one does not know whether laugh or cry. We are living a whole new level of absurdity.
Six months ago, it was “normal” for the richest 1% of the world to own more than half of the world wealth and to take home nearly 26.3 times more than the bottom 99% of the world population. Six months ago, the fact that we were moving far too slowly to decarbonize the world’s economy, opening ourselves up to potentially catastrophic climate change, was more or less okay.
The Pandemic’s Challenges and Opportunities
For many, capitalism is one of the great inventions of the human race, an unparalleled source of prosperity, opportunity and innovation. For them, without it, we will never solve the problems that we are now globally facing. To solve inequality, we need good jobs, to solve climate change, we need to transform the world’s energy, transportation, and agricultural systems. According to that belief, only the relentless pressure of the free market can drive this kind of transformative innovation at scale.
In this context, the pandemic is both a massive challenge and an opportunity. A challenge because millions of people have died, the global economy has been massively disrupted and millions of people have lost their jobs. A challenge because the combination of deep economic disadvantage and the unnecessary killings of countless by the police forces have brought anger and calls for justice to the streets. Like it or not, believe it or not, the Covid-19 will still be making victims for the next 18 months and the world will certainly be poorer, more divided and more fearful in 2021.
The COVID-19 pandemic is reminding us that we stand and fall as a society and that the welfare of the poorest among us is integral to everyone’s welfare. The pandemic is showing us that planning for the future is essential.
A New Path Forward
Now more than ever, we need to rebuild our democracy. We need strengthen our public conversation so that it is firmly based on facts and mutual respect rather than fake news and senseless protests. We need to commit with everything we have to building an inclusive society for everyone and find positive and constructive ways to rediscover the importance of democratically accountable, capable, responsive government.
We will only successfully address inequality at scale through structural reform. Collective action could make a huge difference in helping to drive this kind of institutional change. Some powerful firms are already working together to solve some of the world’s toughest problems. Businesses across the world are increasingly coming to realize that democratically accountable, freely elected, capable governments are critical to long term economic health and are willing to say so in public. But they need to do more.
The vast majority of the world’s leading firms know that we must tackle the challenge of climate change, that we must find a way to ensure that everyone has a chance to share in the world’s wealth, and that it is vital that we not let democracy lose out to either oligarchy or tyranny. We know that we need to change but change is hard; change does not come easy. It is not surprising that we are re struggling to adopt new ways of thinking about the world and business’s role in it.
As a species, human have a gift for problem solving. Thousands of powerful firms and millions of people are now exploring ways to solve our common problems. This kind of cooperation must continue beyond the pandemic. For the last 10 years and even more during the pandemic, trust in business has fallen. At the same time, during the pandemic, at the exception of Trump, trust in government has risen dramatically.
We can learn from the horrors of the pandemic.
There is no better time for business to see government as a partner, not an adversary, in helping to make society work everyone, not just the lucky few. Together, businesses and governments can help ordinary people build a more just and sustainable world. Together, we need to reimagine capitalism. We need to find a way to balance the energy of the free market with the power of competent, responsive government.
Let me laugh:
This will never happen!
Michel Ouellette JMD, ll.l., ll.m.
Systemic Strategic Planning, Crisis & Reputation Management
A division of King Global Earth and Environmental sciences Corporation
Michel Ouellette / Joseph Michael Dennis, is a former attorney, a Crisis & Reputation Management Expert, a Public Affairs & Corporate Communications Specialist, a Warrior for Common Sense and Free Speech.