The pandemic our world is experiencing will result in some modifications to life as we know it. After living through a bad event, we tend to come out the other side with new knowledge that will bring about some needed changes to better our world. Yes, death is bad and the loss of one’s job is bad. I don’t want to minimize the effects we are feeling in the midst of the pandemic, but I am tired of hearing all the bad news. Today let’s spend a little time thinking about what good will come out of this horrible situation. Every cloud has a silver lining so the saying goes.
Pollution is down
In our large cities, pollution has become a severe problem. With people staying home, the number of cars on the road, and planes in the air has plummeted. Along with it the levels of pollutants in the air from engine combustion have also dropped. Researchers have shown the levels of carbon monoxide in the air, mostly from automobiles, is down 50%.
Along with fewer vehicles on the road comes lower fossil fuel use and the plummeting of oil and gas prices. This is not a good thing if you are in the oil business, but if you are a consumer, it’s great! Unfortunately no one is buying this cheap gas. My car is getting 4 weeks to the gallon right now.
If we get a taste of what clean air is like, we may be more inclined to initiate behavior to keep the air clean when this has ended.
We are learning to slow down
Life has been moving forward at breakneck speed. Today’s society is certainly a go-go society. Social distancing has brought us back home to spend much needed time with our families. Parents who were always at work are spending more time with their kids. Dogs are really loving the extra attention too.
Most of us dream of a time when we would be retired and not having to go to work. Now we get a firsthand look at what that might be like. Although you might not have the money you expect to have in retirement, you get a taste of the free time retirement offers. How do you like it? Is it what you imagined?
Use your time off wisely, learn to play the guitar, take the online course or read the books you have always wanted to read. Before the governmental imposed shutdown we never seemed to have the time to do these things after coming home from work exhausted, but now we do. Are we taking advantage of this opportunity? Are we spending our time improving ourselves? Are we taking the kids for a walk and playing games with them? Or are we spending our time watching the news all day and gripping about the situation.
If you are out of work, take advantage of your free time and use it to its max. You will have to go back to work soon and this opportunity will have been lost. Read my article about not wasting this opportunity.
The emergency department is now being used appropriately
With emergency departments full of patients with COVID-19, people with noncritical problems are afraid to enter the building, and I don’t blame them. I have read many posts from emergency doctors who are asking where all the chest pain, back pain and stomach aches went. With people staying home, automobile accidents have also gone down dramatically and less trauma is a good thing.
Those diagnoses were a big part of the emergency department. Most of those people were examined and sent home to recover. Now they are just staying home and recovering on their own. Their pains must not be so bad, if they are now willing to stay home instead of going to the hospital. Maybe they are finally calling their primary care doctors instead.
Now people are not going to the hospital unless they truly need to be in the hospital. If this behavior continues after the pandemic is over, it will drastically decrease the cost of healthcare and improve the physician shortage problem, two things we all want. Then our emergency departments can go back to treating the true emergencies.
We are reminded of the importance of vaccines
We have become complacent about infectious diseases. Since vaccines have wiped out most of the bad ones like smallpox, measles, diphtheria and polio, this generation is no longer scared of viruses. The only infectious diseases we now see are the common cold and the flu. My father told me about the time, when he was a kid, that people were afraid to play at the public swimming pool for fear of contracting polio. Vaccines have eliminated that fear.
Recently, some people feel there is no need to keep vaccinating against these diseases they have never seen. But if we stop, these awful diseases will reappear, as we saw recently with the measles outbreaks.
Now that people are dying and scared of getting COVID-19, we are all praying for a vaccine. This is a good reminder of why vaccines are so important. If we only had a vaccine for this, there would not be a pandemic in America and 22,000,000 people would be back at work, 40,000+ people and climbing would not have died from COVID-19, and the stock market would not have crashed yet. Man I wish we had a vaccine right now.
We are reminded of the need for good financial preparedness
We have grown accustom to using debt for everything in America. We have house payments, car payments, boat payments, recreational vehicle payments, and multiple credit card payments. We also spend all our money and don’t set anything aside for emergencies.
Now that so many people have lost jobs and have realized that they can’t get by when they miss a single paycheck, we may see a mass improvement of how we handle money when this is over. For the first time in history, physicians are feeling the pinch of job insecurity.
If the loss of a single paycheck was painful, changes need to be made. Debt needs to be paid off and savings accounts need to grow. Hopefully, many people will get the picture and make the changes needed so the next crisis will not hurt so badly. Sadly, many will go back to their old ways of debt and overspending.
I can tell you from my own experience, having no debt, a good passive income source and a large emergency fund has left me feeling financially comfortable during the shutdown. I don’t know what I would do if this happened back when I was $500,000 in debt and dependent on my income to make the payments. I like my new position much better.
Hopefully the paycheck to paycheck lifestyle will become a thing of the past. When you see physicians living paycheck to paycheck on a salary in the top 5% of the nation, you know this is a choice and not a result of lack of money. Most of the time living paycheck to paycheck is not caused by lack of money, but lack of discipline. Maybe the pandemic will bring more discipline to our financial life.
This is a wakeup call on our dependence on other countries
The beginning of the downfall of most of the great nations in history was the beginning of the export of their nation’s money. When our products are made in another country, we are sending our money to that country. When a Chinese worker gets paid to make a shoe for an American company, it is the Chinese economy that is boosted, not ours. We are shipping our payroll money to China.
Over the years we have been seeing fewer “Made in America” labels and more “Made in China”, “Made in Japan”, “Made in Korea”, or “Made in Mexico” labels. In an effort for an individual company to make more profit, we shift our national wealth to other countries and become poorer overall in the process. In times of crisis, we are then dependent on those countries for our wellbeing. Much of our medications are made in China. What if China stops producing products for us and instead only produces goods for their own people?
In the 70s we realized how dependent we were on foreign oil. When OPEC decided to reduce our oil supply, we had a hard time functioning. We learned and made needed changes so that today we are not so dependent on OPEC.
Hopefully we will come out of this with a new appreciation for the need to keep important manufacturing in our own country, so we are not so dependent on others.
This is a terrible moment in our history. Many people are sick and dying, unemployment has skyrocketed, the stock market has fallen, and our economy has slowed immensely. I hope in all the bad we can take time to see the good things in life.
Good things do not go away simply because
bad things grow more prevalent.
Stop and smell the roses through your mask.