Profits over people. That’s how the effort to begin “opening up”’ the U.S. economy is being framed. It’s a false distinction. Sober-minded people recognize that the current suspension of business and commerce is unsustainable. Big business loses billions, small business (i.e. 1-500 employees) millions. With our inter-related economy, bankruptcies will spiral out of control, the federal government helpless to stop it. As goes the U.S. economy, so goes the world. Witness the Great Depression of the 1930s.
Within this very possible doomsday scenario, consider the millions of lives affected: loss of job, home and hope. A plague worse than the coronavirus.
We saw this ripple effect on a much smaller scale beginning about 25 years ago when manufacturing moved to China. Local businesses that supported them and profited from them dried up and the middle class shrank. Ashtabula and thousands of communities across the U.S. suffered greatly. Many people never recovered and thriving communities became ghost towns.
Communities now are facing a loss of tax revenue that we depend on to make life livable. Remember this when our streets aren’t plowed, law enforcement officers are laid off, school levies fail and hospitals close. As Cleveland Clinic and University Hospitals lose revenue due to suspension of elective surgery, how many hospitals will remain in Ashtabula County? Don’t imagine for a minute that the federal government will bail us out. To print money without a solid base supporting it will render our dollar as worthless as the Confederate dollar with hyper-inflation like that of Venezuela.
I’m thankful to Auditor David Thomas, who knows more about money than most of us, for his letter to the editor last week pointing out the drastic effects we’ve already experienced. President Trump, the supposed “dictator,” has wisely left the “opening up” process to individual governors while urging an intentional but gradual process.
The coronavirus will always be with us and more will die. That’s not callous, I’m in a vulnerable group myself, but far fewer have died than was predicted. We must confront it with safety precautions and all the medical tools at our disposal, while we return to a strong, robust economy that will protect the well-being of all of our citizens.
Mary Ellen Blake