Human Innovation

| April 29, 2020

So much of what we read purports to tell us what the future will bring. Among the most common admonitions is that we should not expect things to ever be the same. Things are never the same, nor should they be. Extreme challenges drive the human capacity for innovation. Already, we find that many of the people in our lives who frequently said “I don’t do that” are quickly learning to use technology out of necessity. Several people that we know have recently “gone to the doctor” online. Others have connected themselves to cardiac equipment that efficiently monitors their health status, all while protecting them from Covid-19 and the many other viruses that could be life-threatening. We can only hope that necessity leads to efficiency gains in healthcare and everywhere else. Productivity is among the most important elements missing from our economy during the last several years. We can only hope.

What has not changed is the human capacity for innovation. We see it all around us every day. Locally, the Causeway Cove Marina in Fort Pierce has taken an empty waterfront lot and turned it into an outdoor cinema with four screens. Cars will be parked in every-other space to maintain social distancing and families can tune into the audio on their FM radios. Across the street, Chuck’s Seafood has turned their waterfront parking lot into a car hop where people can have food and drinks while watching boats pass by. Nationally, healthcare professionals are using innovation in their efforts to protect the lives and health of the general public. The Covid-19 Convalescent Plasma Program is an investigative treatment facilitated by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for use in patients with serious infections. Physicians on the front lines are urging people to donate blood for the purpose of determining the prevalence of the disease, in order to maintain the important stock of blood, and to provide the blood serum necessary to help our fellow citizens in need. So many people have responded that our local blood bank cannot handle walk-ins, so those who want to help must make an appointment in advance. Some of us at Treasure Coast Financial Planning are making reservations to give.

One of the most striking aspects of the current emergency is the failure of models to accurately predict the severity of the outbreak. This may be due to an underestimation of the compassion and community responsibility that Alexis de Tocqueville felt defined the American character during the 1830s. We cannot predict the future, at least not in the short term, but we can count on the twin capacities of innovation and compassion to provide the factors missing so far from the models.

We do not in any way discount the enormity or the challenges ahead of us. We will discuss the markets, particularly the demand collapse in energy, in our upcoming monthly newsletter. We are also hosting a live online review meeting this coming Thursday at 4:00 PM EST. We now have the capacity to host more than 100 participants, so please join us. We will have staff available to help those who do not have previous experience with this medium.

In the meantime, our experience with frequent hurricanes has allowed us to operate without a hitch. Most of us continue to work in the office, although the closure of the schools has required flexibility for our colleagues with children. This is nothing new for us. We are not having in-office meetings, but online meetings work better in many ways.