Restoring the Economy Is the Last Thing We Should Want

The sooner we open up the economy, the faster we simply recreate what got us into this mess. It’s time for a radical shift.

In reality, the sooner and more completely we restore the old economy, the faster we simply recreate the conditions that got us sick in the first place and rendered us incapable of mounting an effective response. The economy we’re committed to restoring is no more the victim of the Covid-19 crisis than it is the cause. We have to stop asking when will things get back to normal. They won’t. There is no going back. And that’s actually good news.

If we approach this moment of pause mindfully, the post-Covid economy we create could turn out to be a whole lot more resilient than the old one. Beyond exposing the brittle nature of global supply chains, top-down monetary policy, and a vanquished domestic manufacturing sector, the Covid crisis is also unleashing a powerful drive by local and networked communities to rebuild business from the bottom-up. The mechanisms so many of us are now inventing and retrieving under duress may just survive after this crisis is over, and augur a new era of sustainable commerce and much better distributed prosperity. Think local farms, worker-owned factories, and companies for whom the bottom line has more to do with selling products than selling shares of its stock. Their value created by such enterprises isn’t sucked up and out of communities (the way Amazon or mall stores do), but circulates again and again from one person or business to another.

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