David Marcus: COVID has given us a new normal and it's not bold or beautiful

Among the most foolish utterances of the COVID pandemic, and it’s a very competitive category, was that it was the chance to create a bold and beautiful new normal. 

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Well, the results are in. 

We are indeed living under a new normal, but far from being a reset for the better, it is rather, an objectively terrible state of affairs.

At grocery stores, prices for what actually makes it onto the shelves are skyrocketing, as are gas prices, and frankly the price of everything, with the highest year of inflation since the great recession. 

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Many of our kids are wearing masks every day at school, even though most of the rest of the developed world has abandoned that ridiculous policy. 

Labor shortages abound as Americans drop out of the workforce, and now we are told there might not be any Christmas presents.

Put simply, the bill has come due for our decision to shut down our entire economy and live like scared hermits. 

The impact of our response to the coronavirus is much like a pointalist painting. Each restriction, mandate, or hoop to jump through on its own was just a dot of color, just a small inconvenience. But as we step back and look at the entire canvas an image emerges from it, an image of an America we would scarcely have recognized just a few short years ago.

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Aside from the economic disaster that is becoming clearer to Americans every day, we also have a social disaster of political polarization, rooted in the lockdowns, that has made credible people on both sides contemplate a “national divorce.” 

This, of course, is impossible because there are no neat regional lines along which to divide ourselves. No, in the new normal we just stay together and hate each other.

It is tempting to believe that the parade of horribles listed above were unintended consequences born of our need for emergency action when COVID hit. But that isn’t quite true. 

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The entire reason that the term “new normal” popped up in the first place is that we knew and understood we were making choices with profound long term consequences. Those who warned of this, who stated the plain obvious truth that the longer we kept lockdowns and restrictions in place the worse the result would be, were scorned as Grandma Killers. 

The lesson here is that when you radically and dramatically change systems, like the economy, education, health care, which took decades of complex decisions to create, there is a very high likelihood that you will foul it up, not make it better. 

The bad news is that we cannot undo the past. Our kids will never get two years of education back, our supply chains will remain broken for a long time, prices will continue to climb, and our disdain for each other will continue to grow. These are all the results of choices we already made.

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The good news is that we can learn a lesson here about enacting “fundamental change” as the Biden administration is intent on doing with its trillions of dollars of spending. 

What America needs now is not more transformational change, we’ve had enough of that already, thank you very much. What we need is slow, steady, restrained time to heal from our self-inflicted wounds. 

We made a choice, beginning in March of 2020 to simply ignore the very real costs of our aggressive COVID mitigation methods and instead blindly follow, not the experts, but a very select set of experts who told us to shut it all down. 

That which took a mere two years to break could take twenty to fix, maybe more, maybe it never will be fixed. 

This is the new normal, and it is just as bad as the Grandma Killers said it would be.

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