Squandered Pandemic Opportunity

Since the pandemic, there have been so many cultural changes. The end of handshakes. Working from home. Outdoor dining.

The pandemic represented a major change in lifestyle. In rebuilding, there was a chance to forever change the culture for the better regarding how reopened sectors would function. As some sectors were essentially shut down, government had the opportunity to implement policy changes in each of those industries.

Many of these opportunities were squandered. As things have reopened, in many cases, we haven’t built back better, but instead we’ve returned to normal.

Take the restaurant industry. One of the great outcomes of the pandemic is a tendency for customers to tip more. But what if the pandemic had been seen as an opportunity to end the system of tipping as the main source of income for servers, instead moving to a system where they actually earned a salary?

It’s not like you couldn’t still tip in this situation. There are several jobs where people earn salaries above minimum wage and also sometimes get tips. But in the restaurant industry, the dependence on tips causes a variety of problems, even beyond the obvious economic issues.

The government could have gotten rid of the disparity between tipped and normal minimum wage, and upended the system. If there was ever a time to do that, it would’ve been when most restaurants were closed to in-person dining. Now, it would be much harder to suddenly make the change any time in the future.

There are countless other opportunities that were squandered in areas that were shut down and restarted. There was never a better time to introduce changes to the educational system, but it didn’t happen. The same applies to several aspects of travel, from hotels to museums to airplanes. We had an opportunity to change everything, and we chose to revert back to what it was.

Political musings of an alt