I’ve now lost track of how long we’ve been in lockdown. We miss the stimulation of social contact. I devour the papers. l read a lot. We trawl Netflix and the rest hoping – usually in vain – for diversion. We try to have a walk most days. I’ve been decorating in our house.
Beyond that, we look after our grandchildren as we are allowed to do. And we Zoom with friends.
We may be bored. But it’s a privileged lifestyle in retirement, We live more simply than usual and we spend less. Our pensions keep coming. We aren’t unemployed or likely to be so. We aren’t struggling to keep a business which we have built up afloat. We are fortunate
Irish Times journalist Una Mullally wrote recently that,
‘The divide is between those who have not been financially hit by the pandemic and those who have not just been financially devastated, but have seen their livelihoods implode
But perhaps the greatest social, cultural and political force right now, and into the future, is resentment. Resentment is a potent force and sometimes lacks a basis in reality, gets weaponised and finds the wrong targets. But this time it’s authentic.’
This is bad enough when we are still in the midst of the pandemic. But it has profound implications in the post-Covid world. Things surely will not just ‘go back to normal’. Some like the retired and those who have been paid by the government will continue to be relatively secure and will enter the post-Covid world with some reserves accumulated when we didn’t have much to spend money on.
Those for whom Covid has brought financial disaster will start in the new post-Covid world at a significant disadvantage – and they will have to rebuild not just their finances but their initiative and their hope.’
This is inequality – and to some extent injustice. It certainly strikes at the ‘we’re all in this together’ narrative. Plainly we aren’t – and there are all the other differences as well .. big houses and small apartments, for example
Writing in the Church Times (19 February) Bishop Peter Selby drew attention to the Financial Conduct Authority forecast that ‘
‘one in three adults is likely to cut back on essentials; one in ten to will use a foodbank; one quarter will be financially vulnerable, and one eighth will face increased debts — all increases of about 15 per cent on pre-pandemic levels. At the same time, the charity sector has been hit by a tidal wave of demand and a serious reduction in income.
I’m not quite sure where this leads. But it certainly suggests to me that, when the economy opens up again, people who have been financially secure during lockdown need to think about the impact of their spending on jobs. Those who have suffered need to be able to rebuild as quickly as possible.