Five Huge Economic Opportunities We’re on the Verge of Unlocking

The period following the Covid crisis could be one of the most prosperous in human history

Prisons

In the U.S. we fetishize tech billionaires, elite universities, and incarceration. We’ve long been a global outlier, imprisoning far more of our citizens than any other country. The U.S. spends $88.5 billion a year on prisons — more than we spend on the Department of Justice, IRS, EPA, and NASA combined. What do we get for that money? Incarceration increases infant mortality by 40%, and a child with an incarcerated parent is five times more likely to go to prison themselves. The real expense of incarceration in America is closer to $1 trillion a year. And yet nearly two-thirds of federal prisoners are convicted again within two years of release, one of the highest rates in the world. It turns out that the U.S. prison system mirrors many of the “5-star” substance abuse rehabs in my hood (Delray Beach), which should be labeled recidivism centers: They seem to be aiming to create lifelong customers.

Feed Me

Siloing in place meant we started getting everything delivered. Grocery aisles have been dispersed to our homes, saving us time and reducing traffic and emissions. And we’re likely just getting started.

Remote Work

It’s been well covered, but that’s because it’s a big deal. Remote work saves people and businesses time and money. Let’s do the math:

  • $620 per month (20 hours 40 minutes)
  • $7,440 per year (10 days 8 hours)

Simplicity

When the virus hit, we reduced bureaucratic complexity and sent a $1,200 check to every American citizen earning up to $75,000/year, no questions asked. You didn’t have to apply for eligibility or register your personal information with a government authority or wait in a line — the money just arrived. We also expanded child tax credits and food stamp programs. It transformed many of the lives of lower- and middle-class people and cut the number of Americans living in poverty in half.

The Iron Throne

The biggest potential unlock stems from the reshaping of a $4 trillion sector: health care.

What’s Your Unlock?

What’s gotten you here today won’t get you where you need to be tomorrow. The ground beneath us has shifted. But there is opportunity everywhere … for each of us. We can look at the crisis, the changes in our economy and technology, and ask: What is the unlock? For me, it’s simple. In 2014, when my boys were 4 and 7, I spent 211 days on the road. Pre-Covid, the idea of charging someone to do a virtual talk, attend board meetings, or teach a university-level class remotely was nearly unthinkable.

Prof Marketing @NYUStern · Founder @L2_digital @redenvelope @prophetBrand · Contributor @bloombergtv · Cohost Pivot podcast · Weekly musings profgalloway.com