Haims column: Damned if we do/don’t — a complicated juxtaposition
You can feel the tension in the air. The debate of re-opening the economy versus continuing the stay at home order is divisive.
After many weeks of the stay at home order, people are anxious to get back to work, see family and friends, and embark upon re-establishing some essence of normalcy. Unfortunately, “normal” is now, and for the foreseeable future, ambiguous.
Regrettably, moving forward is going to be a balancing act between dollars and lives.
Fueling the divide between people is the squabbling between health experts and lawmakers. Health experts across the world are apprehensive to have people return to life before social distancing as doing so will jeopardized public health. On the flip side, without people working, debt is piling up, bankruptcies are occurring, business are closing and the world economy is tanking.
The trillion-dollar question is, where is the balance between people’s lives and the economic life of our country — and world?
Across the country, people are in dire financial straights. Feeling that they can no longer be without a paycheck, many people have chosen to open their businesses. Owners’ and employees’ need for a paycheck has led to a defiance in adhering to state and county laws.
In Michigan, Gov. Whitmer made a difficult decision to extend the stay at home order in effort to curb the pandemic. The decision fueled protests and led to personal threats against the governor. The decision also infuriated business owners to the point that some opened their businesses defying the state order to remain closed. One business owner, a barber, wound up having his license suspended after he chose to open his shop. As of last week, Worldometer placed the state seventh in total U.S. cases and fourth in number of U.S. deaths.
In Texas, another salon owner ran into legal problems after defying the state order to remain closed. The owner was sentenced to jail time. Community member were so outraged with this event that protests against the lockdown developed. Protesters showed up at the capitol building and various other locations dressed in combat clothing and armed with semiautomatic weapons to show their outrage.
Here in Colorado, community members and businesses are also frustrated with shutdowns. In Castle Rock, a local restaurant opened for service on Mother’s Day only to be closed down shortly thereafter for defying the state’s public health order. While no violent protesters showed up, community members were upset. Rather than imposing jail time, Gov. Jared Polis chose to suspend the restaurant’s food license and stated, “When folks feel the need to engage in activity that may spread COVID-19, I want you to pause and think about the grief that families across our state are feeling.”
Life cannot continue with the shuttering of businesses and people staying at home. For an economy to work, people need to bring home a paycheck and people need to make purchases — it’s the cycle of money and the foundation of any successful economy.
Further, the effect of long-term unemployment will be catastrophic for individuals and business alike. During the Great Depression, and four years from the stock market crash of 1929, unemployment hit a high of almost 25% in 1933. It was not until about 10 years later in 1942 that unemployment reached 1930 levels of 10%.
Currently, we are more than halfway there with an unemployment rate of 14.7%. Unfortunately, many top economists believe we may go even higher before a recovery is seen. Luckily, our world economy is quite different than that of the 1930s. Likely, our country and world economy will recover much faster. However, even should we recover in a year or two, it is not going to be without great pain and anguish.
Until such a time that people feel more financially stable and concerns of how daily life will be managed, it will do us all well to manage our frustrations and anger. Whether by watching TV, listening to the radio or being in public, clearly people have opinions about wearing masks. Sadly, some people are verbally and physically accosting people — innocent people who do not deserve to be the focus of such great wrath.
Surely, nobody is enjoying having to wear masks. If your frustration levels rise to the point of verbally or physically accosting people, you have a serious problem. People who work at retail outlets that mandate wearing a mask are not trying to impose restrictions on your freedom. Rather, they are asking for you to be considerate of others who may be concerned or vulnerable to the coronavirus.
Telling someone that they are stupid and verbally or physically accosting anyone, including employees at stores you choose to frequent, for attempting to protect themselves, is unacceptable.
We live in a great part of the county where most people are kind, considerate and respect others. Please don’t ruin someone’s day by taking out your anger on them. We all are having challenges during these tough times. Eventually, businesses will completely reopen, the economy will return, and we will find a way to protect lives.
Judson Haims is the owner of Visiting Angels Home Care in Garfield County. His contact information is http://www.visitingangels.com/comtns and 970-328-5526.
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