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Mike’s Musings: Is a government shutdown the right cure?

By Mike Wilcox, Publisher

What a week. Coronavirus has taken America by storm, and in many respects I feel helpless.

I’m a little older than most, and have studied history, particularly American history, more than most people. This is not the first pandemic, we as a nation, have endured, yet it seems to be the most prolific. Never, ever has our government shut down two-thirds of our industrial and business economy and demanded that we self-isolate.

And we’ve endured a lot. Most recently the Swine Flu pandemic of 2009 infected 22 million people and was responsible for 4000 deaths in America. At that time, President O’Bama called a State of Emergency but few were quarantined and the government ordered no businesses to shutter.

We will never reach the 22 million number. We won’t even come close. We could see 4000 deaths when coronavirus is all said and done, but as this written we haven’t even accounted for a 1000. Please understand I’m not minimizing death- no one should have to die from this virus, but I ask might more die from the consequences of shutting down our economy than the virus?

The Wall Street Journal editorial board has asked this question and so do I. Partially driven by the panic on social media and the media in New York City- the epicenter of the virus, the President and his advisors have demanded self-quarantining and the closure of many businesses. State governors have taken it further, ordering all non-essential businesses shuttered.

The result of this unprecedented action is/will be massive layoffs and thousands of businesses that will not return- because they couldn’t endure the economic hardship, once Big Brother tells us we can go back to work. Estimates indicate our economy will shrink by 33%.

In the meantime, many of us will lose our homes. Our downtowns, which are made up of small businesses will be decimated. They will give way to Amazon and Walmart who are making a killing as they remain open. Some of us will have further health complications because we are being told those with coronavirus take priority over our health problems. Suicides will skyrocket. And don’t think for a minute that China and Russia won’t take advantage of our self-induced economic shrinkage.

All this may happen because of the unprecedented steps we have taken to control a virus. Our leaders will point out that there is no one to blame- that no one could foresee such a destructive virus coming our way. But the truth of the matter, at least in my view, government failed us. They failed us because to this day they still don’t have enough testing kits available to test all of us that think we may have coronavirus.

If we would have had the testing kits- South Korea and China had no problem manufacturing them, we could have isolated the sick, those with underlying conditions and the elderly. We wouldn’t have had to have these blanket government edicts demanding quarantine and business shutdowns. It would be business as usual for the majority of us.

But now it is this. I flew from Detroit to Atlanta Sunday. Both airports were like a ghost town. Shuttles services weren’t working. Masks and goggles were worn by most. People are afraid, people are irritated Upon landing in Atlanta, a shoving match ensued as passengers disembarked. Cops were called by wary flight attendants concerned it would get out of hand.

I understand we’re all on edge. Our future is uncertain. But like with the Spanish Flu when a 50 million people died, and Ebola when another 18 million succumbed, we will get through this. Despite what you might see on social media or on cable news, you will be okay.