Put the Jewish Voice on record as calling on our officials to give American businesses the green light to open their shuttered factories, store fronts, offices and get back to work. When we talk about “businesses” we are also thinking in terms of the employees, their incomes and the consumers who’ll throw their earned salaries back into the economy with their purchases. We can no longer survive with a nose diving economy that just three months ago was thriving. Each day that sees this near total shutdown continue just makes it that more difficult to start the ball rolling again when the starter’s whistle is blown.
The April unemployment rate surged to a record 14.7% and payrolls dropped by a historic 20.5 million workers, wiping out a decade of job gains in just one single month. Those hardest hit with job losses were those who are on the bottom of the economic ladder; women, college dropouts, blacks and Hispanics. We’d have to go back to 1939 to see a similar catastrophe of job losses due to business closures. President Trump, eyeing these figures seems to be considering unlocking the American economy from the grasp of the Chinese virus. His words: “We cannot let the cure be worse than the problem itself!” We agree.
Steve Hilton, a former advisor to Britain’s prime ministers chimed in: “Our ruling class and their TV mouthpieces whipping up fear over this virus, they can afford an indefinite shutdown. Working Americans can’t. They’ll be crushed by it.” It is time to start discussing the need for an absolute date when the economy can turn back on. Our political leaders and medical experts have already taken bold public health and economic measures to address the virus but businesses, their workers and production lines have assumed the worst and need the checkered flag to start the race to reach the heights they aspire to.
And what disastrous effects will our crashing economy have on our health care system that is now already being tested to its extremes? You can’t keep hospitals open without the economy supporting them with funding, masks, gloves, ventilators and the manpower to make more. We’re being told that we can’t fight the virus without shutting down the economy yet we can’t fight the virus without the economy. The warnings of thoughtful shutdown skeptics warrant careful consideration not doomsday-like condemnation.
Here is our quandary: Why is it not possible for all businesses to begin functioning again under stringent guidelines that ensure that our collective health remains a top priority? Today, millions upon millions of Americans are now back to work full time. If all business owners would submit to a Coronavirus test then we can determine if our economy can rise from the ashes and truly thrive again as it had been prior to the dreadful emergence of the virus. If business owners test negative and they wear masks and gloves and strictly enforce social distancing, then why in the world would it be inconceivable for them to open?
If such public businesses as laundromats which are considered essential remain open and which normally have a sizable number of people in their locations, then why can’t we open other businesses on a day by day basis? Case in point: In certain states outside of New York, barber shops and tattoo parlors are open. If they feel confident functioning, then why can’t hardware stores, pet shops, shoe repair businesses, book shops and others open? If newsstands are open, then why can’t a crafts store open? If a shoe store can be open, then why not other apparel stores?
We do not suggest that all of the aforementioned businesses open all at once and on the same day but if we can stagger their openings; then we can and will succeed