The virus forces the state and markets to work together.
Good morning. This is working theology.
In extraordinary times, extraordinary measures force a change in the rules of the game. I’m seeing the “three pillars” of society—the state, markets, and communities—work together to tackle the coronavirus, and it makes me wonder how much more they could tackle if they worked together more often.
For now, I want to focus on the first two pillars, the state and markets.
On the front page of the Washington Post website yesterday, ServiceNow bought what marketers call a “homepage takeover,” which afforded them every ad spot above the fold. They wanted to get an important word out.
ServiceNow is a software platform that helps businesses set up digital workflows for IT, HR, and customer success. During the coronavirus outbreak, they’re now offering their platform for public organizations to fight the disease. The technology allows these agencies to run their crisis response operations, emergency outreach, and reporting and communications seamlessly.
This move from ServiceNow, what my CEO might call a “brand-defining moment,” also shows the power of capitalism. Markets self-organize around wherever resources are most needed. This is the famous “invisible hand” at work.
Emergency response teams need software to scale their efforts, and here’s a private entity raising its hand to join the fight.
Shopify is also joining in to help—in some small way—by giving its employees $1,000 to set up a home office during this period of self-isolation. Alibaba’s Jack Ma shipped 500,000 test kits and a million masks to the US to support our shortage.
It’s exciting to see the state, markets, and communities come together to help each other on a scale I haven’t seen before. With the coronavirus spreading further and further every day, they’re going to need all the help they can get. Here’s the Johns Hopkins data from this morning.
How does this square with Milton Friedman’s philosophy? I don’t know.
Thinking theologically though, this is what the human race was meant for—building systems and machinery to be a steward of the earth given to us, to build the great city, to look out for each other. Sadly, you see the brightest example of this during only the darkest times.
Maybe this will change our habits for the better, if only temporarily.
Thanks for reading.