Each passing day proves to us that in personal and social life alike, as well as in private and professional life, and in relationships and friendships, our fate is strongly linked to our ability to anticipate. In particular, can we understand in a timely manner what others expect of us?
It is because we sorely did not anticipate that we are where we find ourselves today: it cannot be repeated enough that, if we, in the West, had anticipated, like the South Koreans, the probability of the pandemic emerging, we would have paid a much lower price in terms of human lives, unemployment and bankruptcies. And if we had anticipated, like the Israelis, the need to prepare in advance the logistics of a vaccination rollout, we would not be in this double failure: too late and not enough.
For both of these problems, there is still time to fill the gaps and repair the mistakes: we can still give ourselves the means to mask, test, locate and isolate, efficiently and quickly; we can still mobilize a very massive global production of vaccines to give ourselves the means to vaccinate every human being older than 40 years old by 2021. Achieving either of these objectives would require a general mobilization.
And let us not say that we do not have the resources to do it: the central banks and the States are currently providing an unlimited amount of funding; it is a matter of using the money wisely for these two major causes, and not, as we do too often today, use it blindly and hopelessly to keep alive companies whose deaths are certain and that we should rather be prepared to replace.
Because beyond what is at stake during the health crisis, there are other matters that require our urgent attention and that we should anticipate if we do not want to be caught short and overwhelmed again.
First, there are the climate issues, for which it is urgent to accelerate the transition: 2050 is a target that is too far away. And there are other, more burning issues, particularly in Europe, in 2022.
If we let things continue as they are and if we continue to believe that this state of exception can become the rule, and that entire economic sectors whose business activities have become obsolete can remain as stowaways in the global economy for a long time, then a major economic, social, and political crisis will occur in 2022: even if we have managed to put an end to the pandemic by then, there will be a moment of reckoning when we will have to balance the books, reimburse the emergency loans, end the subsidies that are only justified by the pandemic, face the end of unemployment benefits and the countless business bankruptcies that neither the banks nor taxpayers will be able to continue to fight to support. And these sectors, which by then would have become zombies, will not be relaunched fast enough to compensate for the end of public and private financing that kept them in artificial survival mode.
If we do not act now, if we let everyone believe that this state of exception can become the normal regime of our nations, we will head toward serious setbacks: Either we will continue for a while to fund non-performing activities and assets, and the States will go bankrupt; or we will give work its importance, while abandoning other activities, once the pandemic has been defeated, and we will witness immense bankruptcies. In both cases, 2022 would then be a dreadful year, which would open up all possibilities; in France, in particular, during an election year.
There is only one way to avoid this: anticipate now the imminence of these risks; and to do so, launch vast programmes to convert and redirect the most sustainably affected sectors toward those that will be needed in the future. By paying employees not just because they are out of work, but also because they are undergoing training for new jobs. By launching major European, national, regional and personal projects in industrial projects in these sectors that are so obvious and so much needed: healthcare, education, public health, tech, clean energies, food, supply chains, water, recycling, culture, security, and a few others.
If we want to see an impact next year, we have to decide now. Now is the time for public authorities to issue calls for tenders; now is the time for companies to prepare their projects. The companies and countries that know how to do that will emerge victorious from this crisis; the others will sink into a decline that is less and less reversible.
All of this implies stopping and thinking about the now, looking a little farther ahead, and thinking about others. If this crisis teaches us at least that, then we will grow.