Two earths exist. One is called the private sector, populated with those engaged in commerce and focused on accumulating wealth, while the other is called the public sector, focused on addressing health, education and opportunity disparities. They do speak the same language but in reality, they rarely understand each other.
This is a problem to be remedied if we hope to make COVID-19 recovery a statewide strategic plan to strengthen the lives of all residents, not just the wealthy. Note that I said “statewide” plan, as each state will have to create its own way out of this pandemic and economic free fall. There will be no comprehensive federal plan to help your state to ensure that a future beyond a Mad Max apocalypse-inspired reality exists. The last big, good idea to help people the Feds were able to pull off was Medicare-for-All (if you are over 65) and that was in 1965.
Who is supposed to fix all this?
The work of ensuring your quality of life will involve both your state and local government and business leaders. The private sector, with their share of brilliant minds, are key players in ensuring that we survive and thrive in the post-pandemic world, even if they don’t yet know it.
At forums on designing community systems of health and safety, I will often get a participant standing up and saying “What about the private sector? What’s the role of business in all this?”
I love this question. This public health crisis and economic disruption is impacting families, education, work readiness, workplaces and small businesses. This challenge certainly requires the participation and creative thinking of the business community. Seven government bureaucrats on a Zoom conference call won’t be quite enough in this time of unprecedented change.
Across every state, there are entire communities, cities and counties that can’t get businesses to thrive because of factors related to the lack of training that aligns with the current and future job markets. And this was before COVID-19. Imagine what economically depressed cities are like today, with mayors and council members without any support to create a meaningful strategic plan that addresses unemployment and lack of jobs.
Entrepreneurial thinking welcome
We can connect the dots from COVID-19 to our economic downturn that is crushing for local businesses. How best to respond is a question the private sector needs to be engaged with.
We need business leaders in each of our 3000+ counties across the nation to invest in the public good. This means that leaders in the private sector collaborate with those in the public sector to improve the quality of services and increase the quantity of vital sectors like medical care, behavioral health care, housing security, food security, transportation and fully-resourced community schools and colleges. Since well-resourced communities produce employable and entrepreneurial people, let us make sure 100% of our communities are set up to succeed.
As we move through this transition to post-pandemic times, tons of jobs will never return. Many more will disappear because a robot can do it. And if one is lucky, you will be working from home, delivering services online. Others will be delivering meatball sandwiches to you, while Amazon gets you the right dose of self-medication.
Star Trek vs The Walking Dead
There is a way forward that’s more explore-brave-new-worlds-Star Trek than the zombie-infested-survival-of-the-fittest-universe of The Walking Dead.
If caring and brilliant minds come together to create cities that ensure the services for surviving and thriving, we all get through this economic free fall together without hitting the pavement. If we retreat into silos, I don’t see this ending well for most of us.
In an era when technology and artificial intelligence is radically reinventing every product and service on the planet, now is the time for innovative socially-engaged business thinking. It’s no longer business vs. public good. It can instead be entrepreneurial thinking and technology vastly improves everyone’s quality of life. We just need to be vigilant about the “everyone’s” part of the equation.
Pull up a chair
We need everyone at the table as city halls convene smart folks from all sectors to come up with THE PLAN FORWARD. If you are reading this article, you need to grab a chair and add your insights to the local brainstorming. If your mayor is not convening public and private sector folks to guide all residents into the brave new future, you need to do it. And soon, before the era of machete-wielding zombie prevention begins.
The future is what we make it. Join the evolution.
Please excuse any typos as I construct an article at 3am on only one cup of Joe. These stories are mine and mine alone. I do not represent any organization here. If one of my illustrations looks like a real human, Vulcan or zombie, that’s total coincidence. Words and images ©Dominic Cappello but share with everyone you know. Any questions? The future awaits: www.tenvitalservices.org