Already today, in 2021, there is talk of a post-coronavirus “baby bust”—not simply because of economic collapse but also because of the collapse of human interaction, the suspension in many places of socializing, festivals, and countless other elements of the natural human background. For a certain sector of economic actors, these changes have been beneficial, indeed positively good. Kept in their houses, people have no option other than to consume media and communicate through social media platforms, while ordering food and consumer products online for delivery. None of the changes to our way of life in the last year fosters the family formation that modern society depends upon for future economic success.
At the same time, the home itself has become more economically important. Once a place to rest one’s head, the home has become a workplace as well as school. While many industries expect to bring their workers back to the office, the trends toward remote work and distance learning were rapidly accelerated. As Michael Lind observed last fall, this shift offers a rare opportunity for reorienting American economic growth, at least partially, around family-centered and home-centered activities. Whether we like it or not, the trend toward working from home accelerated over the last year, and even a significant recovery in normal, office-based working conditions will still leave us with a substantial shift in the work-from-home direction.
For social conservatives who value home life, this moment thus presents one of considerable opportunity—and responsibility. Yet the normal conservative instinct, particularly in policy matters, is to preserve or tweak existing arrangements in a piecemeal way. In a normally functioning political system, such an approach has much to recommend it. But the experience of the last ten years should have taught conservatives to look a few years ahead. Criticisms of American economic policy, and especially trade policy, were outré a decade ago. Today, many are now taken for granted. Even so, conservatives still have not “reset” their approach to economic and cultural policy with a more forward-looking vision. From Public Discourse.