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E: Is for Everything

Including: Exit, the Environment, Exercise and Employment

Exit

Remember that time animal rights activists released hundreds of mink from captivity and the animals refused to leave their cages?

Well, it appears that’s now us. We want the lockdown to be eased, but we also don’t want to leave our homes.

The UK government may be hopeless, but, with regards to scaring the shit out of its citizens, it has played a blinder. Sending Boris to intensive care was a masterstroke. British people are so scared of dying in an underfunded hospital, surrounded by overworked, marigold-wearing nurses, that they don’t want to ever go out again.  

An Ipsos survey, looking at 14 countries, found the Brits are more worried than anyone about returning to normality. Over 70% of British respondents said they would be nervous about leaving the house, even if businesses were allowed to reopen and travel restrictions were lifted. 

The government has got us securely locked up at home, and soon they will want to set us free. But first they’re after all our information. 

It’s not just ordinary citizens who are nervy. A lot of people would be cheered by the return of Premiership football, but the footballers, most of whom are on full pay, are wetting themselves over the health risks of playing in an empty stadium.

Three months ago, there was no way that up to 80% of the UK population would hand over all their personal information to the NHS and the government, (who will sell it), to ensure their safety. But that is what is about to happen, and perhaps without a fight. Maybe six weeks in isolation has made us soft. Might as well microchip us all now. Big data has won.

If you think your data will be safe with the government and NHS, just remember that last year,  the Observer reported that the sainted NHS sold data about millions of its patients to international pharmaceutical companies for research, including US drugs giants, Merck, Bristol-Myers Squibb and Eli Lilly. US/UK trade talks are now underway.

A conspiracy theorist might even speculate the government is encouraging the media to create an atmosphere of hysteria to pacify the population, in return for some juicy data, which will benefit their advertising revenue.

This lockdown will be good for the data harvesters, but it has also been good for the Environment.  

NASA first noticed the drop in air pollution over China’s Hubei province, where the virus outbreak began, last December.

Carbon emissions have dropped by more than a third since lockdown. The environment hasn’t been this good since the 1920s.

Airline emissions have almost completely stalled, with air travel down 95% on last year and greenhouse emissions have been driven down as a result of the closedown of factories, offices, schools and shops.

The green lobby must be happy with the current state of the environment, but the return to the ‘new norma’l has to be allied with environmental issues if this global lockdown is not to be a monumental waste of time.  

It is ironic that the largest amount of waste currently being generated, is probably from PPE products, made using single-use and non-biodegradable plastics. The NHS has always used an excess of plastic packaging, but my contacts insist new recruits are constantly questioning the rationale behind the packaging of drugs, syringes etc. and operational changes down the supply chain are to be hoped for. 

Now is the time for people concerned about the environment to pressure governments to employ ‘joined-up thinking’ in their exit strategies and the way they treat the airlines, for example, will show whether their business strategy is long or short-term.  

Exercise: Runners run because they love running, joggers jog because they love cake.

E is also for Employment

Rod Bailey, CEO

What to say about employment in the second half of 2020?

Actually, let’s scoot ahead to P for ‘predictions are a load of bollocks’. 2020 used to be a sloganista’s gift. We used it for our predictions for executive pay in 2020 way back in 2016 when novel viruses were an Asian oddity. Companies up and down the business district have used it ‘for the way we’re going to be in 2020’, a natty little vision conflation (our vision is that we’ll be biggest, beautifulest, sexiest, leanest, famousest, respectedest, greenest by 2020 and such is the clarity of our vision that we’ll call it 2020 vision.)

And as the year that we toasted a few short months ago meanders its way towards a lockdown mid-point, 2020 is starting to sputter out. Its futuristic sheen soon to be replaced by the adjunct, ‘hindsight’. As in, ‘if only we’d (fill in with the first 10 things that spring to mind).

We’ll soon be equipped with 2020 hindsight. 

So let me get in early and take a stab at 2020 hindsight for the employment market way off into a mind-blowingly distant 2021.

We’re all going freelance. Don’t fight it, embrace it.

Just because national debts (with a couple of notable exceptions) will reach levels we thought were the exclusive preserve of countries quite a long way away from here where the police wear army fatigues and have impressive looking hardware strapped to their shoulders, doesn’t mean to say the world will need fewer skills. The skills gaps will remain. It’s just that companies will no longer be able to afford to employ you on a permanent contract to fill them. Get ready for a peace tax that’ll last for generations. Corporation tax, VAT, employment, income tax…pick a tax and it’s gonna sky-rocket.

So instead, lease your services in the short term and for a higher price to compensate for your diminished security. Lease them anywhere. There’s no longer any technological reason for you not to. After all, prospects and job security were a thing of the past anyway. When was the last time your future father-in-law asked about your prospects? Oh yes, and banks need security for your mortgage application. Filled out a stack of those recently?

Executives will do the same because we’re all in this together. 

Key-workers will be paid their true worth and not their arm-lock; ‘listen dude, if you want permanent residence here, then you’ll take what you’re given and thank me for it’ wage. They’ll also be given affordable housing. It won’t ever be a stable job (see above), but it will be compensated at a level sufficient to pay food bills, rent and utilities with some to spare for living.

Walls will come down as politicians rediscover the benefit of working together. This will be ‘led by the science’ to coin a phrase. Or rather, led by scientists and academics who never really stopped collaborating across borders despite the best efforts of their national leaders who claim now to be following them. But corporates will follow suit – especially those who benefited most from the lockdown; Netflix, Microsoft, Facebook, Amazon…. you know, the ones with the dodgy tax histories. They’ll all wake up to their social responsibilities and contribute globally/ locally to foot the bill of paying a free basic income to all citizens. 

Our less secure, skills-based employment contract will look so much more attractive as a result. Those same companies will also step up to guarantee that any personal data collected as a consequence of Covid-19 will be destroyed and no profit will be derived.

Employment in 2021 will be a dip in, dip out affair but this will be a two way street. No side will bully the other, they won’t need to. And as a result, we’ll live in a fairer, more equal society where obviously, some serious wealth still exists, but nobody will need to go hungry. We’ll build on the new/old skills we learned during the lockdown. Such as talking, appreciating, sharing.

Obviously bollocks but does it really have to be?

 

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