The world will not be the same again. Better get used to it. These are some of the disconcerting remarks on everybody’s mouth. In the absence of a vaccine to put the diabolic coronavirus in check, everything points to a really weird new way of living.
Our minds cannot but imagine what’s around the corner for all of us in the not distant future, once this scourge afflicting humanity has abated but not completely gone. All this lends itself to speculation and at the same time to well reasoned analysis of the impact on society at large, trade, economy and politics.
We hear some people talk about a leveling effect on our socio-economic systems. If by leveling they mean the disappearance of inequalities, it’s difficult to imagine things changing in countries, Ireland included, where even before the current pandemic hit us hard, inequalities prospered undisturbed with the blessing of the institutions. The chances are that the rich will get richer and the poor poorer.
Pre-pandemic Ireland enjoyed the lowest unemployment rate of all times yet the number of homeless people were steadily rising, pay inequalities were palpable, rents were, as they still are, exorbitantly high, so were corporation rates and insurance premiums. Houses were built with the preconceived idea of class distinction, so that those who could afford to buy a spacious house or rent a spacious accommodation had no reason to complain, while those who worked to merely survive, the majority of the labour force, had to buy or rent poky houses or flats where they couldn’t swing a cat. All this coupled with scandalous rents asked for sub human habitations . Now in the post-pandemic foreseeable future space is going to be the name of the game for a good chunk of the work force who will be asked to live and work from home. There will be a myriad of ghostly empty office spaces, and it will be interesting how they will be dealt with, either by the big corporations which own them or indeed by the state. Will they end up like so many properties whose owners prefer to keep them locked rather than offering them at a reasonable rent?
What will happen to thousands upon thousands of workers who will not be re-employed or small businesses forced to close down? Will the state intervene to create the conditions for the survival of these people and small businesses?
The pandemic will have destroyed some businesses for good, while making other businesses prosper. Purchasing items of necessity will be primarily done online. The likes of delivery services will profit a lot. Even meals are already being ordered for delivery to once our favourite restaurants.
On another front, what will be the societal impact of the distancing rule which is here to stay for the foreseeable future, be it in offices, shops, theaters, bars, restaurants, stadiums , or schools? We already know how this rule has turned us all into something like pawns on a chess board. We will move around like ordered automatons with the concept a grids implanted on our brains.
Will all this have an impact on our mental health as we will all have to move around, live and work like regimented robots?

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