Carol Perry: Things will get better
Well, last week we finally saw the end of 2020. It was a year more interesting than most thanks to a novel coronavirus, civil unrest, a red-hot stock market and a controversial presidential election.
Zoom became a verb, allowing us to abandon the decency of wearing pants, makeup or combing our hair. The bar has now been lowered to bathing and brushing our teeth.
We experienced lockdowns, a first in managing outbreaks so I had to research what we did in the past.
I was born in 1957, a year when a novel flu strain (H2N2) first emerged from China and swept the globe killing up to 4 million. A vaccine became available later that same year limiting the damage this pandemic could cause. No businesses were forced to close but some schools did for a time. The Dow Jones Industrial Average lost 15% because there was no massive stimulus to prop up equity prices.
H2N2 was bumped from the viral hit parade in 1968 by H3N2, a virus emerging from China that was fond of people over 65 and killed between 1-4 million. History was starting to sound familiar in some ways.
This year also brought us massive protests globally after the killing of a black man in Minneapolis by police. Some devolved into riots and looting, not helping Black lives or anyone for that matter. Lots of businesses were seriously damaged and still remain closed.
Business owners discovered that insurance does not always cover these kind of events, it was on page 67 of their policy. It did force those going out into the streets to put pants back on though. You have got to look for the positives.
This year the markets partied like it was 1999 again. It was the year of the IPO (initial public offering) setting a record eclipsing the dot.com era.
We had DoorDash and AirBnB go public showing that even unoriginal ideas like getting someone to deliver your food or renting your house to a stranger could be profitable. It’s been fun and the party will likely continue but it’s hard to forget the cleanup up after the 1999 party.
That year ended by shaving 80% off the value of most NASDAQ listings. The hangover was worse than drinking too much tequila on your birthday and took 13 years to recover. It was also the year of the SPAC (special purpose acquisition company) a company with no commercial operations that is formed just to raise capital through IPOs. What were folks supposed to do with all the excess capital that central banks and governments provided this year? I am sure Mother Teresa would have approved, well maybe not.
It’s hard not to forget that we had a presidential election this year. More folks mailed in their ballots than usual, not wishing to contract COVID-19 or put pants on but for reasons not validated by courts, states or the electoral college, we still have citizens not believing the results. Perhaps this will change when Joe Biden is inaugurated, perhaps not.
Regardless of your political affiliations, a person who votes for someone you didn’t is not the enemy, they are just citizens that have a different opinion than you. In a democracy, this is not considered an extinction level event. As a libertarian leaning person, I did not find the overall message the Democratic Party put forth appealing but I do think we will survive having a Democratic president. It has happened before so there is precedent. There is no precedent in electing a 78-year-old guy so I hope for his sake that he has good genes.
In 2020 we said goodbye to hugging, going out to the movies, taking a vacation, seeing our family, friends and doctor in person, leaving our house, eating in restaurants, and in some cases being civil to each other but there were good things that happened in 2020. Pet adoption increased, I got a pandemic Corgi puppy in March that I’m crazy about even though she pees on people and chews up everything that hits the floor.
We learned to sew masks, bake things, and honed our gardening skills. Nothing says America like paying $1,000 for gardening supplies to grow $20 worth of vegetables. We got out the board games again, watched Tiger King and dancing kids on TikTok. We actually read books, rediscovering the joy of the printed word. Many donated their time or money to charitable causes.
I won’t be sorry to see 2020 go. It was a global dumpster fire, but things will get better. Thanks to the combined efforts of governments and private enterprise we will have several vaccines approved, some using mRNA instead of an actual virus. This will either revolutionize the way vaccines are made or cause the first zombie apocalypse.
Once herd immunity is achieved, we can take off those masks, wear makeup, comb our hair and wear pants again, if they still fit. An unfortunate side effect of quarantining is being intimately involved with the contents of one’s refrigerator and pantry but hey if that’s the worst thing that happened to you in 2020, count yourself lucky.
Things will go back to normal, but some changes we saw accelerate during the pandemic will most likely remain. Zoom will remain a verb, more jobs will be replaced by automation and AI and many small businesses we enjoyed will never reopen.
But if there is one thing I can say about change, it is that it is constant. A new year will bring us new ideas, new businesses, new investments, and new hope. America survived a novel respiratory virus from China in 1957 and we will survive this one. Hopefully having learned what not to do the next time we see a novel virus again. Happy New Year.