ART Blog Image Economic Pandemic A 1

The Economic Pandemic is Next

Gov. Tim Walz, this is an open letter—er, blog post—written to make a case for starting the first phase of the opening process on or before May 4th.

Someone let something loose in a faraway land and it spread like many could never have predicted. We learned a lot along the way about the virus,how it impacts our health and wellness. Our response, specifically in Minnesota, in my humble opinion, was Olympic Gold Medal worthy. We proactively took our social distancing medicine and went to our corners for a state-wide time out. Sure, we pouted a bit and even shot a few evil eyes in the beginning, but like great Minnesotans’ we sat quietly and patiently in our caves with little complaint. Thank you Governor for leading us through this highly unusual situation.

We went into lockdown to slow the spread, flatten the curve, learn to respect the virus and identify new safe behaviors. Respect for the disease should be at its highest level. This virus is an efficient and ruthless killer. We are ready to face it head on, with masks tightly strapped.

Yet, our national government and political system is a bit worrisome. “'Civil' liberties have been ignored. Subsidiarity has been abandoned. Globalization will accelerate its reversal. People moving out of cities will accelerate. The world moved to a state of absolutism – safety first,” says Kevin Griffith a financial and legal expert at AmpliFi Capital Corp. If only we could rally around the nation's number one killer (heart disease, 647,457 people a year), vs Covid-19, which looks to average out as number six or seven, behind cancer, accidents, chronic respiratory, stroke and alzheimer’s, per the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

We have a grasp on the health implications and can see a horizon where we won’t break our healthcare system. This was, and should continue to be the focus of our attention. Coming out of this, our healthcare system will likely be stronger and more agile from the effort of our healthcare heros. Now, we must turn our attention to the economics of this and if the first word you associate with economics is money or pocketbooks, please read this: Economics is about making choices.

Let’s turn back to Kevin for his blunt view, “The question is not how deep and how long is the recession, but whether the government can hold on, and whether we enter a zombie state where economic decisions don’t have consequences.” Pause and consider the implications of this quote. Our governments have put the implications of the sixth or seventh leading killer (Covid-19) above all the other diseases. For that matter, how much have we impacted heart disease and the other leading killers by the food we ate stuck inside, scared to leave for a walk or bike ride? Do that math and get back to me.

Now, this is me, Monday morning quarterbacking in the worst form. Our national health advisors didn’t know how bad it would be and the data was flawed, so we can’t blame our politicians or our scientific minds—even if some politicize this. We can only make better decisions based on where we are, at this moment.

We can’t shut down an economy until a cure is found. Searching for a cure in that manner would kill us. We can start practicing our new guidelines as human beings to slow the spread of any virus. We can get out there and face our fears, wear our masks, respect our elderly and show how much we’ve learned from this exercise in seclusion. We can make better choices and you, Governor Walz, have the power to make better choices for your citizens based on the knowledge currently on the table. We’ve let fear rule long enough, let’s move to a healthier emotion.

Fear does not have to lead to hate. Thanks, Yoda.

Here are few lessons I’ll pack in my Osprey pack coming out of this period in time:

  • Misleading people is a form of breaking trust. Take this headline from the Washington Post, “Covid-19 is rapidly becoming America’s leading cause of death.” If you read the article, the data is for two weeks, not annualized which is what you’d expect in such a statement.
  • Media is a business, incentivized by controversy and base emotions. If you’re looking for trustworthy sources of data and knowledge go to the CDC, state healthcare sites, and the Small Business Association. In other words, go where they are not incentivized to sensationalize the data.
  • Trust and accountability are at an all time low. This pandemic hits our society when the trust in institutions is lower than it has ever been. The “It’s not my fault” and “I don’t believe you” stew we’re brewing is in need of some people who can be accountable, authentic and honest with us.

Governor Walz, let’s move away from a state of fear, to a state of recovery, empowerment, and strength in the face of a pandemic. Let’s get back to work.

Originally published in Twin Cities Business Magazine.

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