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A Personal Commentary from my Newsletter

My regular blog posting is suffering because I'm busy writing a weekly newsletter instead. I share links that I find interesting and have recently added my personal commentary, which I'm reposting below. Consider this a 'teaser' of what you get if you subscribe to it.

Personal Commentary

I'm super lucky to have a career where I can work from home and travel. When I'm not traveling to client sites, I'm working from home hosting virtual meetings, coding, or just doing normal work stuff. Slack keeps me connected to my coworkers and I do make it point to go into the office once a week if possible.

One day at home, I overheard a newscast that spoke about how South Korea was grappling with the Covid-19 outbreak. They had mentioned that the majority of people and even school children have been moved to a virtual platform. Students stay home but continue their studies. Workers log in and do their work via video conferencing and email. I was reminded by how similar this is to my work situation.

Then the newscaster exclaimed how this remote arrangement is really making people rethink the whole 'commute into work, sit in a cubicle, work, and commute home' process. On the surface, it does seem really silly to go through that every day. Would all this office space really be needed and could this be a way to reduce greenhouse gas emissions too? I found these questions to be deeply introspective and I think remote work is a really powerful way to leverage talent and 'flip the script' on this work-life balance thing to 'life-work balance.'

That's all great until I watched this PBS News Hour discussion on the workers who can't remote in to work, especially in the United States. The discussion starts at the 11:25 minute mark and talks about how low wage service workers might be adversely affected by being forced to take unpaid sick leave. The statistic they quoted is that 40% of workers are in the low wage service industry. They are the ones that serve your food, drive that Uber, etc. Most of them have no health insurance or are underinsured. This could have a two-fold negative effect by keeping the outbreak going (not getting tested or going to work to earn $) and cause an economic shock as people lose homes and jobs.

Without getting political, something like a Universal Basic Income (UBI) and Basic Healthcare for all Americans would be beneficial here. With UBI you would be able to still pay some of your bills and with the basic healthcare, you might be able to get the care you needed if you were sick. The end effect is that our economy would be more stable and could weather these shocks more easily. Whatever your political leaning is, something needs to be done to stabilize our economy if Covid-19 really gets going in the US.

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Neural Market Trends is the online home of Thomas Ott.