Lately, I’ve been wondering if we should get back to normal after the COVID-19 pandemic fades into the history books.
Personally, the pandemic exposed several areas in my own life that I am woefully underprepared. For example, I don’t have enough freezer space. I probably should also install a bidet for the next toilet paper panic. Even some financial decisions that I usually make have come under fire recently – I have decreased the amount of comics I buy and am planning on limiting the number of comic-cons I attend each year, assuming they ever happen again.
But what about nationally? Yes, I can improve my freezer space with another freezer, but what is the national equivalent?
In a classic “Doctor Who” episode, someone asked the Fourth Doctor, played by Tom Baker, if he was in charge. The Doctor got a big, mischievous grin (as only Baker’s Doctor could) and answered, “No, but I’m full of ideas.”
That’s me. I’m not in charge, but I’m full of ideas. And since I get this monthly chance to shout at the void, you get to hear them. So, strap in, you poor soul.
Schools should modernize and go to a year-round model, make breaks around flu and cold outbreaks, and give every student a computer. We should also train teachers differently and look into learning models that are lest standardized-test and more adaptive to 21st Century needs.
We should simplify the government – especially at the state level. How many township supervisors, borough councils, county commissioners, state senators, national representatives, state representatives, etc., do we need? And the districts should look like logical districts, not the Jackson Pollock paintings we have now to ensure Republicans and Democrats win their usual seats all the time. And why do we have full-time legislatures anyway? Plus, on the national level, why do we have departments that have analogs in the states? The old joke of the Department of Redundancy Department needs to go away.
What about modernizing the military? It would probably be safer, no doubt. But it might even be cheaper to develop fast-attack and flexible forces, especially if we keep hanging out in the Middle East. And why can’t we become 100 percent energy independent and avoid oil wars? We’re Americans! If anyone can figure that out, we can!
What about taxes? Increase sales tax, ditch property tax, close loopholes, increase taxes on parts of incomes over a couple million, and then do something terrifying but necessary: eliminate tax exemptions for non-profits and religious institutions. And as far as taxes go, I can’t help but wonder if we simplify the way we do taxes – some ideas even proposed by Republicans in the past – we couldn’t find more money suddenly by getting rid of a bloated bureaucracy and convoluted tax code.
Next, we need to look into some form of universal basic income. I hate to break it to you, but automation is taking our jobs, not Mexicans. My grandpa used to work at a pressed metals factory. I remember him talking about when computers came in and jobs could be done with fewer people. Twenty years ago. What’s coming? Estimates say that 50 percent of jobs will be automated in the next 50 years. Of course, universal basic income would replace welfare and things like that, but we won’t know if it’ll work until we start putting some old-fashioned American ingenuity to the problem.
And what about healthcare? Socialized medicine won’t work here, we say. We have too many people. Well, how defeatist is that? I may be a millennial, but I remember a time when America was the best at everything, and if there was something that worked elsewhere, we took it and made it better. We’re smart enough to do that now.
I have many more ideas, but that’s all the room I have for today’s rant. But, listen, I’m a patriot. I believe we can be the best country for the 21st Century and not be stuck in the 1950s. I don’t believe that “It won’t work here” is something a real patriot would say. A patriot would say, “It won’t look exactly the same, but I bet we can make something that will work here.”
COVID-19 exposed a lot of areas of weakness. It’s time for us to turn them into our strengths.
Andrew Bundy is a husband, father, teacher, writer, and nerd. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.