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BizTalk 2020 Series: Issues. Changes. Solutions. Part 2.
Transcript of video blog Ep 2. Deeper View.
Written by Yuliya Suleymanova,
Ed.D. Candidate & Researcher, SULÉY Group Co-Founder.
In this episode, we will dive deeper into the most critical problems of this dramatic year. We will analyze the causes and discuss possible solutions. The view angle that I am going to make is not one of a political or technical opinion, but is through the lens of human behavior, decision-making process, and social perspective.
It started just like another year with the world going back on track after the holidays. Everyone was looking forward to accomplishing their New Year resolutions and were stepping on to a path to start working again on their plans, dreams, and tasks. Life was going on just as usual, with its usual problems but with dynamics and hopes.
Until some strange but very aggressive new virus started spreading rapidly, taking its toll around the globe. It was first reported back in late fall - December of 2019 in China but no one predicted that it would take our planet and our civilization by the storm. No one could imagine its scale but what is much worse is that people in the XXI Century were totally not ready for that and we can surely say failed to recognize the threat and minimize its impact. Governments in many countries and jurisdictions would hesitate for too long before making drastic and unpopular measures, such as social distancing, closing businesses, and mandating wearing protective gear. While China, South Korea, and Japan managed to contain the pandemic fairly quickly, Italy, France, Spain and then the United States, Brazil, and other countries faced devastating amounts of deaths, and their health care systems were on the verge of collapse. Lack of protective gear and supplies, lack of hospital beds and ventilators, shortage of tests - all that should not occur in the richest, most developed countries in the XXI century. People’s reactions were even more polymorphic. While some took the situation quite seriously, there were still a lot of people who would deny the virus or its danger. Those who would refuse to wear masks because it looks funny or compromised their “freedoms” and those who would start spreading fake news and conspiracy theories. Scientists warned us: this virus is not going away, and we need to learn how to live in a “New Normal”.
After 3 months in isolation and fear of getting sick and dying, emotional and mental issues, anxiety, and depression, skyrocketing unemployment were at their peak.
The death of George Floyd ignited the biggest social unrest in the United States since the ’60s. He became a national hero and is now compared to Martin Luther King. Thousands on the streets of almost all major cities started demanding racial justice and calling to stop police brutality. The powerful wave of this protest brought along destructive forces as well. Stores were looted, cars burned, people were killed. Other countries had their own issues that ignited another wave of protests, especially in Belarus and most recently in another former Soviet republic - Kyrgyzstan. In both countries, people protest against unfair elections but the COVID-19 pandemic and continuing economic crisis are also important factors.
On August 4th 2020, a large amount of ammonium nitrate stored at the port of the city of Beirut, the capital of Lebanon, exploded, causing at least 203 deaths, 6,500 injured, and 15 billion dollars in property damage, and leaving an estimated 300,000 people homeless.
On May 29 2020 when a fuel storage tank at Norilsk Energy's Thermal Power Plant No. 3 failed, flooding local rivers with up to 17,500 tons of diesel oil.
And in September, in my native Kamchatka, a suspected toxic spill along a coast has killed 95% of marine life on the surrounding seabed, local scientists have said, following a weeks-long campaign to investigate the mysterious incident.
Climate Change is undeniable. It is just like the weather and seasons do change all the time and has had dramatic changes many times in earth’s history. Human activity, especially in the last 200 years of industrial development and the massive growth of the world population definitely is a huge factor that affects the balance of our environment and our biosphere. The Arctic is melting, ocean levels are rising, and forests are disappearing with alarming pace. Natural disasters become stronger and more devastating each year. Wildfires are more and more massive and destructive, killing wildlife, burning homes, and taking death-toll among not only firefighters but residents of affected areas as well. Air pollution spreads across thousands of miles causing health problems in areas far away from the epicenters.
Another sad and problematic trend of the year 2020 is continuing division among social, ethnic, racial, religious, and other groups of people. Hate, bigotry, and intolerance ignite not only verbal fights and abuse in social media but now fires the streets, ruining communities, and even spark old and new violent military conflicts and wars between nations.
In the United States, this year started with historic low unemployment, great performance of the stock market indexes, introduction of new technologies, and a growing real estate market. It all abruptly ended with the forced lockdown of most retail, manufacturing, and especially travel businesses.
Governments around the world did make some drastic emergency measures to not allow their economies to collapse completely, each in their own way, but the unemployment skyrocketed and many businesses, especially smaller brick and mortar, restaurants, and even movie theaters are now closing and filing bankruptcies. On the other hand, we see certain companies, like Amazon, home delivery services like Instacart, or providers of teleconferencing platforms such as ZOOM showed unprecedented rapid growth just in the first few weeks of the pandemic.
Stock markets and real estate seem to stay on float and create an illusion that things are not so bad after all. Many analysts explain this with the fact that interest rates are still historically low and that the government is bailing out many large publicly traded corporations in order to avoid major market crashes. It does really help in the short-term because it protects financial markets, mutual and retirement funds. It does protect property owners and real estate developers and investors as well. In this sense, these actions are definitely helping, and we can see that these moves and actions by the United States and European governments are the result of the lessons learned from the previous big financial crisis of 2008 - 2009.
However, we should not take all the government stimulus and support of financial markets for granted. The other side of this coin is that it does inflate a huge bubble that we have not seen since the time of the Great Depression. It might grow into an even much worse crisis. And this is why.
First of all an unprecedented 14.7% unemployment is an indicator of a slowing economy and a huge decrease in the production of real products and services and continuing decline of quality of life, increase of poverty, and widening the gap between rich and poor. Another huge crisis will blow when landlords will start collecting the delayed rents and eviction and foreclosure bans will be lifted. Government stimulus money will run out very soon, the global national debt will continue to grow, and continuing bailout and market support might no longer be bearable even for the strongest economies. Companies continue the job and salary cuts; small businesses continue closures and consumer confidence and their buying power will start to affect even the most stable e-commerce markets. The startup community will be under the hit since investors will try to monetize their portfolio much sooner and might freeze their support of the companies that do not show positive traction toward those that fit better into the changing situation.
Just like the financial crisis of 2008 - 2009 did not hit right away, this time the ripple effect of current events will reach its peak possibly during the 2nd or 3rd quarter of the next year or possibly even later. A lot would depend on the fiscal policies of the governments, the situation with the pandemic, and how quickly the markets and economies will be back on track.
Now the big question is not only why these events happening and who is at fault because many of them are either unpredictable or inevitable, or might have some deep and objective causes, but what should we do and what can we do now to minimize the damage and in the best scenario to prevent many of the problems from happening.
There is no simple answer. Of course, solving most of such issues require a lot of resources, will, power, and community engagement. But most importantly it requires strong intelligent leadership on every level of society, and this is where our generation lacks the most. We do need a new type of leadership, a new type of mentality, and a new level of visionary, a new level of understanding the reality and the challenges that continue to fall at us from every side of life.
We also need to build new socio-economic models which would reshape our environment to better fit and adapt to such a rapidly changing world and would be focused on solving problems, satisfying real human needs, and provide tools and incentives for all and any group of people for positive development in all parts of the world.
My next BizTalk Episode will be covering some basics of the 4th Industrial Revolution and how it affects our lives and our consciousness. It will uncover some causes of today’s problems and will bring some light to our future.
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Yuliya Suleymanova is a Doctor of Education in Leadership Candidate and Researcher. She is an accomplished college professor with 18 years of instructional experience, teaching Psychology at the Kamchatka State Teachers’ University in Russia, at the School of Fashion Marketing & Design at the Art Institute of Seattle for 12 years, and now at the Year Up program at the Seattle Central College where she leads Business Technology Management Classes.