Whiting column: We must adapt to the ramificationsof COVID-19
As COVID-19 decreases, we will be affected by ramifications beyond the obvious. Some will happen and some should happen.
A resurgence of emphasis on work ethic will happen. Employers will use this opportunity to not rehire an employee who was marginal, but not worth the hassle to terminate. Those possessing it will have a job; others will need to acquire it.
Private employers will permanently reduce staff. Even without social distancing regulations, employers have learned to get by with fewer employees working harder. The money saved is essential to their recovery, then better spent providing benefits for remaining employees or better products and services.
Many businesses have learned they tend to initially create position titles to perform functions than fill them, rather than letting time or skill need dictate. Quality employees can perform more than one function.
A true case study is illustrative. An entrepreneur researched and determined a community could support a TV station. He acquired property and building filling it with necessary equipment. He felt a TV station should have a station manager, news person, weather person, sports person, news director, production director, equipment manager, three camera persons, two advertising salespersons, three reporters, two custodians, two receptionists and an accountant. He hired the 20 employees. He was bankrupt in 6 months.
Another entrepreneur bought everything and opened the station with three employees. Everyone doing everything. As the business grew employees were added, but only when the current number couldn’t get everything done. Three years later, the station had 20 employees and was financially successful.
Additional people moving to a more rural environment will happen. Density has been a contributing factor in the spread of COVID-19. This movement is a multi-edged sword. It will provide increased economic opportunity and activity but will bring with it increased demand for housing and correspondent price and traffic increases. Additional demands for public services from police to education, recreation to public assistance will require additional tax revenue. Taxable property is a finite quantity and increased sales tax revenue arrives significantly after the people have arrived.
It is up to us to assure the ramifications that should happen occur. Increased local shopping is essential. Most small business doesn’t have the financial backup possessed by large corporations. When a small business disappears, the consumer need it was meeting doesn’t, generating two possible outcomes: either the need isn’t met locally or a large corporate brand will come in. Neither option is desirable. One requires shopping in another community or online and the other sends profits out of town and doesn’t tend to support local civic activities whether a festival or little league.
We all want rec centers, parks, attractive downtown, good streets or other community amenities. Most are facilitated through local economic activity and sales taxes. $500 spent locally for clothing is economically as valuable as $500 spent by a tourist. We can’t be sure when the tourist will again be part of our economy.
Better decision-making should happen in our response to COVID-19. We need to drastically reduce or eliminate the money we spend on alcohol, tobacco, marijuana, and drugs. For most, that money is better spent elsewhere on family needs. It’s our personal responsibility to adapt our choices to changes that occur; even those beyond our control. We’re not making the correct choice when we spend $30 on beer and go to the food bank because we can’t afford food. What does it say about our priorities let alone the government’s when liquor stores and marijuana dispensaries are deemed “essential” business.
The most important factor facilitating complete economic recovery in a timely manner involves our doing everything possible to reduce the burden on the taxpayer. Recovery requires economic spending by both individual and business. Every cent, let alone dollar, staying in the hands of those that earned it is money that will be spent increasing the demand for goods and services enabling increased employment and tax revenue.
This can be accomplished through several strategies:
• Postpone all planned and approved capital expenditures,
• Postpone if not cancel all planned mill levy elections,
• Postpone the vote on all ballot initiatives,
• Delay the increased mill levy increases already approved in the past year,
• Postpone if not eliminate the replacement of laid off or furloughed employees.
It has nothing to do with whether the capital expenditure, mill levy or ballot initiative is good or bad. It has to do with cost. They all cost money. The wolf initiative, if passed, will cost Colorado $5.7 million to administer.
It has to do with empathy. Every entity receiving tax money, whether individual, institutional, or governmental must be empathetic to the fragile situation most people and businesses find themselves: doing their best to try and economically survive.
Recently, given decreased governmental revenue, there has been discussion of the need for emergency taxation to cover the above items. We not only don’t need, we can’t absorb or afford emergency taxation. We need emergency saving; reduction in spending on items that can either be eliminated or delayed.
It’s our personal responsibility to adapt to the ramifications of COVID-19 that will occur and advocate for those that should.
Bryan Whiting feels most of our issues are best solved by personal responsibility and an understanding of non-partisan economics rather than government intervention. Comments and column suggestions to: email@example.com.
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