May 13, 2020
A perspective from the ‘middle’.
If you read on, you’ll be subject to a few minutes of opinion regarding our next phase of handling this pandemic.
The re-opening of society while still dealing with the realities of Covid-19.
As the CEO of CurtCo Media, I should probably say that these opinions are not necessarily those of the hard working producers and editors at CurtCo Media. So, please don’t blame them.
Ok, I warned you. This is my perspective, from the middle.
Here we are, in various stages of readiness toward opening our towns, operating our businesses, restaurants, theaters, busses and even subways. Anyone paying attention, knows that it’s not that we can honestly say we’ve gained control over this virus or the risks it presents to the people we love. It isn’t that we logically expect a miracle treatment or a land-speed record for the delivery of a safe and effective vaccine – even with all the rhetoric spewed by hopeful politicians. It is simply that our society isn’t built for endless downtime. People need (or want) to work and provide for their families. Business owners and operators are anxious to patch the mortal wounds inflicted on their life’s work by these necessary lockdowns. Millions of us simply want to focus on feeding our families and keeping a roof over our heads.
Having to serve so many people with different perspectives, few politicians seem willing to express complete plans or set realistic expectations as we crawl, or even sprint toward the prospect of opening our towns and economies. Our governors are charged with the unenviable task of leading our society as a whole. Government may create rules, closing society to flatten the curve or manage the rush to our hospitals – or, they may lift those rules, giving the economy and our jobs a chance to recover. Regardless of the choices politicians may make, the responsibility to protect ourselves and our families rests personally with each of us at the end of the day.
While we listen to pundits talk about a readiness to rebuild our economy, few are talking about the fact that the infected population out there will be at least 20 times larger than it was when we first locked ourselves down. So simple math promises that with so many more virus carriers, the next infection wave could make our current situation look like a dress rehearsal. Expecting that people will stay socially distant (6 feet apart) as we walk our streets and ride the subways is simply unrealistic. Gathering in groups is our ingrained behavior. Even now people are flocking to beaches and parks, packing in shoulder to shoulder. They feel impervious, I guess. Certainly they are not thinking about how many ‘at risk’ people they may affect by their actions or, for that matter, whether they are a part of the growing statistic of young people, (or even children) who experience alarming symptoms. And then there’s the shocking number of people who make the myopic and self-centered decision not to wear masks in public places, showing their lack of caring for all of us - in spite of all the constant messaging.
So - get ready. We are facing an inevitable whiplash. This next phase will be ‘more’. More difficult. More affected. More loss. Even while our (apparently) fearless leader claims that next year could be our best economic year ‘ever’.
The pundits rush to suggest the opening of shops and restaurants, hoping to spark economic activity that will drive jobs, GDP and (oh yes) taxes that may someday offer balanced budgets. We must remember back to a seemingly brighter day some 12 weeks ago, when restaurateurs were barely making the rent and paying their staff - when their tables were full. So, who’s kidding who when we rush out to open up for 25% or 30% of our previous customer base? Yet, we still have to pay the rent, hire the staff, carefully disinfect and attempt customer management as suggested by CDC guidelines.
Will Congress surprise us with a sensible stimulus package? Will they think it all the way through to a structure that averts the likely lineup at our local bankruptcy courts? Or will they focus on ‘optics’, campaign slogans and appearances? Will conservatives push only their agenda? Will the liberals only push theirs? Or is it at all possible, that they will meet in the middle and focus on benevolently ‘governing’ us toward a healing place in this massively difficult time?
Perhaps for a change, just for a moment, our media could even switch it up and positively focus on bi-partisan, productive thinking.
The challenge is monumental and the uphill climb is going to be long and exhausting.
But, “The enemy of my enemy is my friend”.
A mutating virus is an enemy. Unemployment is an enemy, a crushing economy is an enemy.
So, that must make all of you - - my friend.
Some of us are blessed to have options – making decisions without having the absolute panic associated with empty checking accounts. Lucky, perhaps; hardworking, maybe; and possibly in a unique position to be able to lend a hand. Perhaps we could even find the strength to skip one or two Amazon orders and venture out for the sole purpose of giving a few bucks to our favorite local restaurateurs – not asking for anything in return, other than that they make it through this mess, that they survive and remain a part of the towns and communities we love. And dammit, remember that these ARE the communities we love. When did it become socially acceptable to be cruel to an overwhelmed ice cream server, or the guy who bags our take-out dinner or stocks our grocery shelves? As humans, we have an innate ability for understanding and kindness. We can certainly show compassion for the overwhelmed workers who make it all happen for us.
Lastly, if you’re still here…we may as well go the rest of the way…
How about we use this opportunity to reset and re-think a few critical issues;
How we use our resources - keeping both business realities and our children’s world in mind.
Perhaps we could take this moment to address the inequities that this virus is shining a horrifying spotlight on. Would we all consider paying for our food, lodging, gizmos and fashions in such a way that allows for a living wage to be paid to workers? Are we as employers willing to pay that living wage to our workers, even if it means that we’re sharing some of our profits with the people whose lives hang in the balance? Is this a time when we as shareholders, decide to sacrifice just a smidge of return, while insisting that our corporations provide real health care, safe working conditions, a living wage and parental support for a grateful workforce?
If we did identify with all sides - viewing all these issues from the middle and acting accordingly, the result would inevitably be more about showing appreciation and gratitude for each other - - and the returns would be infinite.
That’s it, thanks for your time