Our AEI colleague, Yuval Levin recently published an article in Commentary Magazine exploring how the COVID-19 moment might affect social solidarity. Will it lead to increased cohesion or fuel polarization?
Yuval points out that it is too early to know — a function of what another AEI scholar, Nicholas Eberstadt, has called the “fog of war.” As pattern-seeking primates, we are nonetheless compelled to speculate.
It is likely that the economic impacts of the pandemic will reverberate for years. More than 30 million new unemployment claims have been filed in the past six weeks, resulting in a potential unemployment rate in the mid- to high-teens. Some analysts have suggested unemployment might not drop below 10 percent until the end of 2021. This “recession of choice” was the trade-off for slowing the spread of the disease and protecting the capacity of the health system. Essentially, we are paying people to stay six feet apart. While relatively easy to shut down, rebuilding the organic and complex web of exchange we call “the economy” will be far more difficult. Various federal stimulus initiatives will keep many businesses alive in an induced coma. Others businesses simply won’t make it. Fragile supply chains will have to rebuild themselves in adverse circumstances.