MARY REICHARD, HOST: Today is Wednesday, May 6th. Good morning! This is The World and Everything in It from listener-supported WORLD Radio. I’m Mary Reichard.
NICK EICHER, HOST: And I’m Nick Eicher. World Founder Joel Belz now on what the “new normal” might be once we’re back to business.
JOEL BELZ, FOUNDER: Normalcy. What would you trade to get it back? How deep into your pockets would you dive to regain the life you had just three months ago?
Forget it! It’s not only that “you can’t go home again,” as North Carolina writer Thomas Wolfe said years ago. We’re not talking about nostalgia. The past, we are discovering during this incredible “reopening” process, will prove to be profoundly different in the fundamentals.
Our president has repeatedly reminded us that both our economy and our healthcare system are unlike anything in human history. He says, “They are coming back quite quickly.”
I’m not so sure. For two reasons, the freedoms we inherit on the other side of this tragedy will be altogether different from what we had before.
The first reason is that we have largely moved to a managed economy.
In short order, we have accepted some form of government control at just about every level. For better or for worse, we are accepting the orders of our president, our governors, our mayors, and all kinds of consultants and bureaucrats in between.
The very path being proposed to “open” our nation for business smacks of socialism. It presupposes there are people smart enough to lead us out of the fix we’re in. But why do we imagine that the best way to untangle the mess is to do the same thing over again?
The second reason is that even the free market will exert huge pressure to reshape much of what we do.
This is much more nuanced than the matter of government control. Now I’m talking about choices you and I will make, resulting in finished products quite different from the pre-coronavirus era.
Try this epic example:
The Federal Aviation Administration says that prior to the virus airlines typically boarded 6 million passengers every day. By early April, that figure had fallen more than 80 percent.
Even with fewer flights, many planes had mostly empty seats—and not because of government controls; indeed, government folks wanted them full! The seats were typically empty because hundreds of thousands of would-be passengers were making the decision not to fly.
The reverberations of that collective decision will echo back to that particular airline, to Boeing aircraft factories in Washington state, and to the nation’s capital, where projected tax revenues look skimpier every day.
And that’s just one example. The stakes are similarly high among the more than 2,000 assisted living centers throughout the nation. The same goes for the nation’s quarter-million local churches.
Whatever freedoms await us on the other side of our government’s “reopening” likely won’t look so familiar. The “normal” we want to go back to just isn’t there anymore.
May God grant us wisdom for the days ahead.
I’m Joel Belz.