Much of the present economy is a mirage. From James Howard Kunstler at kunstler.com:
Beneath all the psychotic babble that sore besets the collective national hive-mind over a pandemic that comes and goes in waves, and phantoms of contrived identity animus, looms an economy that would collapse without gigantic IV infusions of “money” from the false god that our government has become. The collapse is working its way out in strange ways as we create ever stranger work-arounds for avoiding it — such as the unanswered “help wanted” signs while legions of unemployed adults cash government support checks.
Of course, a lot of those unanswered signs are for what used to be called shit-jobs, flipping burgers, bagging groceries, and such. For a lot of Americans, those are the only jobs. We can argue about whether the government ushered better-paying low-skill factory jobs offshore or whether other nations would have developed industries in the natural course of things (or a combo of both). But the end result is a country full of people who can barely support themselves, let alone a family, and the consequent loss of all the psychological infrastructure for a society that can respect itself.
With the spring zephyrs blowing, the great expectation rises for a return to “normal,” which seems to mainly consist of bustling restaurants, brisk car sales, and the construction of suburban houses. It’s not that these are the only things we can do in life, but they’re what the dynamics of the moment allow. Those dynamics include incentives, laws, regulations, habits, and customs.