News from the front desk: Issue 474: Looks like this virus has already rearranged our DNA. Acts of extreme kindness are appearing where before there was only cold-hearted neoliberalism.
Our feds, for instance. With a living wage of sorts. And even, just mooted, a Job Keeper payment for landlords missing out on rent. BHP and Telstra hiring people instead of sacking them. The supermarkets hiring thousands of people laid off elsewhere. Day by day, more help and outstretched arms.
With luck we will see minimal negative change in people who might be usually kind but stand a chance of cracking under the weight of the four walls that must contain them for long weeks ahead.
But already alcohol consumption has shot up by 30 per cent or so. Then again, some brewers such as Young Henry’s have taken to brewing hand sanitiser instead of beer. At prices like $12 for a tiny pocket bottle we saw this week in a small supermarket, you can see this is not a bad commercial opportunity (although Young Henry’s, for one, is giving away it’s hand sanitiser at this stage).
More concerning was the letter to the editor from a mother saying she’s starting work at 3 am to do the day job before getting into home schooling. And the reports from Sydney’s inner west of non-stop jackhammering and concrete crushing as work on Westconnex stops only to let other projects start up. While parents work at home.
Then again, there is the massive plea to keep construction going. It’s such a huge part of the workforce, executive director of the Property Council of Australia NSW Jane Fitzgerald and chief executive of the UDIA Victoria Danni Hunter both told us this week.
The changes are deep and enduring because they will last so long.
Nothing will ever be the same again say people like Blackrock’s Larry Fink, who says, sure, we’ll get out of this, but different.
At the other side of this dark tunnel, many people will harden their former attitudes and flock back to a life of climate crime. But hopefully there will be many others who can see that massive generosity of spirit and collaboration is possible in this world, and that it’s exactly what we need to solve the even bigger existential challenge before us.