Entering the second week of forced closures and social distancing to mitigate the spread of Coronavirus, Arizona small business owners and employers are doing their best to cope with the economic shutdown. It appears most in Arizona are following the restrictions enacted by State and local government and, in some cases, sacrificing their lively hoods in the hopes that this will stop the spread and save lives.
Unfortunately, many employers and employees will not survive much longer under the current shutdown. Over 3.3 Million people have already filed for unemployment, a catastrophic figure that will continue to rise over the next couple of weeks. We are reaching the point that a serious discussion needs to occur on how and when we reopen our economy in a safe and practical way.
Despite what some have suggested, having a discussion on the dangers of a long-term economic shutdown is not immoral or some ploy by selfish corporations or the rich wanting people to die in the pursuit of money. The truth needs to be said: if a shutdown continues much longer the US economy will descend into a depression that will threaten every facet of our lives and bring immeasurable pain, suffering and death to countless Americans.
The damage will be permanent and it will affect everyone. Thousands of businesses will be gone. Tens of Millions unemployed, many of which that were living paycheck to paycheck. Life savings wiped out. Supply chain disruptions and rationing of basic goods and essential services. Widespread hunger and homelessness. Increases in suicide and social disorder as local and state governments buckle from a collapsing tax base.
And anyone that thinks that the Federal government can step in and provide for the masses during a shutdown, think again. For some perspective, Congress is close to passing a $6 Trillion Dollar Coronavirus aid package, $4 Trillion of which will be liquidity provided by the Federal Reserve. This is an obscene amount of money, much larger than any spending bill passed in US history. Yet that amount equals roughly only 3 Months of US GDP. Suffice to say, if our economy remains in hibernation for too long it will be the Federal Government in need of a bailout.
Some of our elected leaders appear to understand this, despite the insane pressure from various groups to ignore all economic consequences for their actions. Governor Ducey has taken reasonable steps to try to balance concerns between mitigating the epidemic and our economic survival. His executive order provided broad guidelines to allow some businesses to safely operate while working with Hospitals and medical professionals to ramp up for any potential outbreaks. His order also stopped local governments from setting up their own lockdown restrictions, a much needed intervention to prevent a patchwork of different social distancing standards throughout the state that would have been impossible for businesses to comply with.
Unfortunately, some politicians are using the crisis to sow panic and fear throughout the state for political purposes. The biggest offender is Senator Kyrsten Sinema. Earlier this week she partnered with Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi to block the Coronavirus relief package in an attempt to lard it up with unrelated liberal policies. Now there are reports that she is holding discussions with business leaders in the state and providing them with apocalyptic scenarios about having to accept another great depression.
Putting our country into a depression is no way to handle any epidemic and will only make the situation worse. South Korea has contained the outbreak and they did this without any widespread lockdown. There is no reason that the US cannot do the same.
President Trump is right. We need to start thinking about when we start working again. A goal of Easter may be ambitious, but that should be a date political leaders in Arizona strive for to start opening up our economy. Arizona will prevail in this fight, but only if we ensure that we don’t destroy the economy in the process.