Culture

Don't Miss the Silver Linings

There are many positive changes afoot as the nation confronts the COVID-19 pandemic.

Brian Mark Weber · Mar. 27, 2020

As the nation awaits the flattening of the Chinese coronavirus curve, it’d be easy to come up with a laundry list of all that’s going wrong. And while we’re weeks or months away from knowing how this will all play out, it might help to focus on the good that’s coming out of the experience.

One of the important changes brought about by our nation’s response to CV19 is the deregulation in various industries, from healthcare to food distribution. Initiated by President Donald Trump and the nation’s governors, these steps have unleashed innovation and made the production and delivery of a wide range of products more efficient. In fact, companies are hiring tens of thousands of workers in order to keep up with the demand for essential services.

For example, Texas not only waived size and weight restrictions of commercial vehicles but now also permits trucks that typically deliver alcohol to transport food products to grocery stores. Other states now permit restaurants to offer carryout meals without first going through a bureaucratic approval process.

“The ability to suspend these laws without fear of endangering the public opens the door to questioning their purpose,” writes Charles Blain at the Foundation for Economic Education. “Many of these regulations appear to serve as no more than impediments to free exchange. If these measures exist simply to generate additional government revenue, the public should ask themselves, once the crisis has abated: should they exist at all?”

It’s a great question. And the answer seems to be a resounding “No.”

Another area of American life that’s transforming right before our eyes is education. College students (and their parents) are beginning to realize they don’t need to take on crushing debt for room and board when classes can be effectively delivered online.

For the parents of younger children, homeschooling may now be a more viable option. It allows parents to take their kids out of unsafe or underperforming government schools and provides them with more say over what and how their children learn. While this undoubtedly presents a challenge for some parents, there are unexpected rewards.

“Families are struggling to adjust to a new reality,” Martha Ross writes at The Mercury News. “Parents have to play the role of teacher, a job they have no training for. They’re also trying to manage their own anxiety, while their kids, generally pretty social creatures, are cut off from friends.” But, Ross adds, “Parents interviewed said their families are enjoying time together.”

Think about it: How many of us saw a myriad of daily activities canceled and are now sitting down to a family dinner that was once all but impossible?

And married or committed couples are also enjoying more quality time together, leading to speculation about a 2021 “baby boom.”

Who would’ve guessed that social distancing would actually bring American families closer together?

We’re also realizing that millions of office jobs can now be performed just as well from a home office. Allowing employees to telecommute reduces traffic, allows families to settle in affordable neighborhoods away from cities, and gives workers more time with their families. Sure, there are some downsides to working from home, but the option is now there for millions of Americans.

Kyle Sammin of The Federalist reminds us, “Others’ jobs cannot be done from home, including many people who are still working right now: doctors, nurses, police officers, firefighters, and more. In between those two groups, however, are millions of office workers whose jobs can take place anywhere there is an internet connection.”

Eventually, we’ll get over the coronavirus curve and return to work and school, but these two institutions may never look the same. And that’s a good thing for many Americans.

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