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5 reasons why we shouldn’t rush to ‘get back to normal’

Is getting back to the ‘normal’ financial systems we’ve been part of for so long really a good thing for our own personal finances and for society as a whole?

This is a slightly different post to usual but given the unprecedented events this past season has bought, I wanted to address some issues I’ve been thinking about for a while.

There’s a lot of talk about ‘getting back to normal’ and what we’re going to rush to do after the lockdown is lifted and the threat of Covid-19 has been diminished. So many people are saying they’re desperate for hairdressers to reopen, or to be able to go to family and friends’ houses and have a drink in the pub. Some are still even holding out hope to jet off for a summer holiday.

Don’t get me wrong, I can’t wait to get my hair done again and have drinks with friends. But, there are other aspects of ‘normality’ I think would be best left behind. This is particularly true for financial matters, as the current system does not work for enough people.

Here are five reasons why we should not rush back to financial norms:

1.The climate crisis

While all focus has quite rightly shifted to the pandemic and the global response to it in recent months, there is no escaping that we are still in the midst of a climate emergency.

If used appropriately, financial markets have the power to help create a greener world. Investment is necessary for all companies and sectors, so if everyone used their investible capital to only fund sustainable projects or businesses, many would be forced to adapt and become greener.

The same can be said for tax policy. If there is a clear financial incentive to be greener, firms will undoubtedly change their ways.

2. Inequality

Industrialist and philanthropist Andrew Carnegie (1835-1919) argued that people who succeed have a “natural talent” and therefore acquire their fortunes almost by accident. As a result, they should give away vast amounts of their wealth to help others. “The man who dies…rich dies disgraced,” he argued in his essay The Gospel of Wealth.

And yet, in the past 20 years or so, wealth inequality has increased hugely and the current financial systems support this. Forbes’ annual ranking of the 400 richest Americans found the US’ three richest individuals (Bill Gates, Warren Buffett and Jeff Bezos) collectively hold more wealth than the bottom 50 percent, which equates to 63 million American households.

Surely this is neither sustainable nor fair, particularly when so many are living below the poverty line and wondering where their next meal might come from. Tax policies favouring the wealthy may make the economy look healthy but at what cost?

3. Gender differences

Women are unfairly disadvantaged simply for being female. At 65 years old the average women’s pension pot is a fifth of the size of the average man’s, according to Yes She Can, a campaign designed to raise awareness of the gender investment and pensions gap. If we keep going at the current rate it will take over 100 years to close this gap.

Financial marketing rarely targets women and, on the rare occasion they are targeted, the volume of jargon used puts them off. Yes She Can’s research found women say: “We’re hungry for it. Tell them we’re interested. We want to know more.”

Even lockdown has not been without its inequalities for women. Freelance mothers were left penalised with less state aid because they took maternity leave. The scheme allows struggling freelancers to claim grants of up to £7,500 to cover up to 80 percent of their normal earnings for income lost between March and June, based on average profits over the past three years, but originally did not discount maternity leave.

It took a major campaign from lobby group Pregnant Then Screwed (supported by Telegraph Money) to force the government to change this unfair ruling.

4. Racial inequalities

The current systems also negatively affect BAME individuals. I’m sure you were also moved by the Black Lives Matter protests, with people all over the world calling to put a stop to racism, police brutality and racial inequalities. The issues dealing with race and racism and racial inequality are fully intwined with the issues of wealth inequality. People of colour continue to be economically disadvantaged due to the built-in inequalities in our society and financial systems.

The Covid-19 pandemic has heightened these inequalities in both the UK and the US. People of colour make up a disproportionate share of low-wage essential workers who have not had the advantage of being able to work from home. However, in the US they have also suffered more job losses. 61 percent of Latinx households and 44 percent of Black households have had a job or wage loss due to the pandemic, compared with 38 percent of White households, according to inequality.org.

Closing the persistent “wealth divide” between white households and households of colour, which is already a matter of social justice, must become a priority for broader economic policy if the US is to maintain its strong middle class going forward.

5. Lack of financial education

The UK has completely neglected financial education and, having spoken to those in other countries, it seems the UK is not alone in doing this. This gives wealthy children an immediate advantage. Their parents may have a financial adviser who will in turn advise them, or they’ll be able to learn from their parents. Those who don’t have this advantage have to try and learn everything themselves, but without knowing what they’re missing out on, they’re unlikely to be able to fill all the gaps.

Financial education must become a priority if we want future generations to be more financially stable and less unequal.

In my next post, I will offer some suggestions of changes we can all make to be more financially inclusive and hopefully become part of an improved financial system.

If you found this post interesting, please like it and share across social media or send it to your friends. I’d also love to hear your thoughts and experiences, especially about how you think we should rebuild after this crisis, so please do leave a comment!

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By The Twenty Percent

Hi I'm Katie and I use my blog to help young people take control of their personal finances.

53 replies on “5 reasons why we shouldn’t rush to ‘get back to normal’”

This is a great article! I really like how you’ve mentioned things that aren’t just economic reasons because life stretches so much beyond finance. The climate crisis, racism, sexism and class inequality are very real problems that we need to address!

An insightful article that I thoroughly enjoyed, thanks

Thank you, I’m glad you agree there’s so many issues we need to tackle globally. I’m glad you liked the post 🙂

This was a very interesting read and something I’ve been thinking about a lot recently. The idea of everything going back to normal makes me slightly uncomfortable, because as hard as the pandemic has been, normal isn’t that great either.

I completely agree. I think there’s an opportunity to rebuild in a way that will benefit more people in the long run!

I agree, I think patience is really key here. And now we can get so much online going out to shops really isn’t necessary right now!

This is so true! It’s surprising how many major issues have been neglected for so long because everyone was too busy with their everyday lives. I’m actually thankful for lockdown because it’s given me the time to really educate myself on topics that I should’ve taken the time to learn about years ago!

This is so true! I can’t believe the number of major societal issues that have come to people’s attention now that we’re not all too distracted by our everyday lives. Lockdown has actually been a blessing as it’s given people so much time to educate and hopefully better themselves!

I couldn’t agree more about the importance of financial education. The amount of young adults who I see making long-term financially damaging decisions because of lack of education is appalling (myself included!). I took the time about a year ago to educate myself and it made such a huge difference in my day to day life

I know, it’s really worrying. I’m glad you’ve found learning more has benefited you!

Thank you very much! I agree- we at least need to discuss how we all want to move forward 🙂

Going back to normal seems semi impossible right now! And I can’t imagine the situation the climate will be in! 💔

This an amazing post!! Thank you so much for sharing. I live in the US and things here are so unbalanced and unfair. I myself have never been wealthy. I worked in the service industry for most of my life and had to live day-to-day, shift-to-shift. Have never been able to afford health insurance or an education. WE DO NEED TO MAKE A CHANGE!!

Although this pandemic has been devastating, it has also brought light to many important topics! I agree that we shouldn’t go back to how we were before the pandemic! Thank you for sharing such an insightful piece.

Much love always,
GABBY

I totally agree, there’s a lot of things that need reassessing rather than rushing back to old ways. It’s a great opportunity to do something, whether it will be taken or not. I’m not convinced.

Thanks for reading! I really do hope we reassess our priorities before diving straight back in

I really do hope that we will move into a ‘new normal’, one that is shaped by the lessons that we have learned throughout 2020. It’s been a challenging year but we have had many very, very important topics brought to light – injustices in our society. It is now our responsibility to use this to create change as we move forward.

Thank you for reading and commenting. I couldn’t agree more with what you’ve said!

Brilliant article. It feels a lot like we’ve been given a chance to hit the reset button and rebuild an economy that improves the environment along with the health and wealth of everyone… Let’s hope there’s enough people making their voices heard to shape a future that works for everyone.

This is a great article! I hope that we as, well, the world, can step back for a moment and really reassess what we’re doing and in what direction. There are so many opportunities as you’ve mentioned that are needing to be looked into and I think now is the right time to do so. Hopefully that just becomes the case!

I definitely agree, lots of issues seem to have been forgotten and all the focus is on covid, but if anything it has shown the vulnerablities and we should go forward in a more knowledgeable way changing things for the e better!
Great post, thanks for sharing 😊

Chris

Thanks so much for reading. I agree- there’s a lot of changes that need to, and hopefully will, take place!

When the world talked about the ‘new-normal’, I always wondered what the new normal would look like but I have always been a supporter that we should not go back to normal, we should go to be better. The last couple of months have been hard, I really hope we all learn from it and be wiser 🙂

So many issues need to address globally and these have been ongoing for decades. I am glad that you mentioned financial education as I also believed that each person must have sufficient knowledge in financial matters. The home and school should start teaching kids to be more financially responsible and dependent.

I agree with everything you’ve said, we have to wait a bit longer before considering the ‘back to normal’ if normal is ever going to be a thing again

I completely agree with everything that has been said. It’s going to be a while before we can go back to ‘normal’ if normal will even be a thing again

Thank you for commenting. It’s a very uncertain time and it’s hard to see what a new ‘normal’ will look like!

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