Mark Mullins

Sep 21, 2020

3 min read

Get Comfy Questions: Summary

No need to await the new normal — it’s already here and wants to stay forever

The new normal arrived in mid-March at the peak of viral contagion.

We can see evidence for this in social attitudes and government policies.

The change is permanent unless we collectively decide otherwise.

There’s no need to await the new normal — it’s already here and it wants to stay forever.

We can see it in public attitudes; for example, in a growing comfort with mask wearing, and in the acceptance of social distancing restrictions for work, school, travel, and play.

The new normal is also enmeshed in public policy, everything from myriad Covid regulations to over $10 trillion in easy money to grease markets and the economy.

With this realization that yesterday is no more, and coming after only a few months of a pandemic-fueled social crisis, I think we can only conclude that we are already living a new normal life.

In order to assess this new state, we need to consider balance, proportion, trade-offs, and rationality, and what we believe to be the natural state of our society.

In this context, here are some obvious questions for now and the future:

Does it make sense to physically avoid each other for a pandemic wave that has come and gone in most places, especially when population immunity through contact is the only viable end state?

Can we afford to replace the real economy of jobs, businesses, and incomes with government debt-financed payments?

Is there a controlled economy that can replace the real McCoy, where freedom, risk-taking, and innovation drive progress?

Is it healthy or socially beneficial to cover our faces with masks when we meet in public places?

Will our societies be strengthened by limiting our social interactions to the internet or small groups of six? Are larger gatherings no longer essential to building social cohesion?

Do we need to force everyone in society to follow public policies, like quarantine, contact avoidance, and movement restrictions, that are better focused on specific dangerous activities or vulnerable people?

Can we thwart nature and evolution by becoming hypochondriacs regarding viruses, germs, or communicable diseases, starting with Covid but possibly extending to influenza and other diseases?

Is it sensible to have government set the permissions and boundaries for all of our public activities, ranging from work and play conditions to public gatherings and political protest?

Do we want to continue to mix socially in ways that induce anxiety, awkwardness, anger, blame, and shame? Will we never be able to meet each other again in a natural, physical, and unself-conscious way?

Do we want less freedom to move, connect, speak, associate, dress, or behave as we see appropriate?

I lean to a “no” answer on these questions but, at the end of the day, it is something that can only be resolved through our collective democratic process.

It is for us to decide: new normal, for only today or forever?

The full article can be found here.