Editors Note: This column has been submitted by an influencer in the state of Florida who wishes to remain anonymous. At this critical time for our state, nation and planet we at TFS are committed to bringing various perspectives into the discussion about public health and our economic future.
You may have heard of it, just not in that form. Yes for now I’m avoiding the various names we’ve been forced to hear when listening to the glorified photo-ops that are being masqueraded as press conferences by the federal officials. The fact of the matter is we are dealing with a virus we know very little about. The few things we do know are to put it bluntly frightening in and of themselves:
* We know it can take at a minimum of 5 days for symptoms to appear…up to a possible 2 weeks. During that entire time a person can unknowingly be infecting others they come in contact with.
* We know for some it will pass almost like a cold. However we have also seen the consequences can be horrendous for some, to the point of being fatal. We are seeing the serious cases also get younger in age as well.
* We also know there are no procedure or diagnosis codes in regards to this virus. The longer the delay the longer it is going to take for testing, doctor visits and hospital care to be paid.
In this we have seen some serious flaws in our system in both the public and private sector:
* We have seen how ridiculous the “certificate of need” is for a hospital to have. Because of this no hospital can be prepared for a worst case pandemic situation. That red tape needs to be eliminated now so that in the future the current hospitals and ones that will be built in the future can be as prepared as they need to be with all the necessary equipment.
* We have an unemployment system that does absolutely nothing for workers that are stuck signing up to companies as contractors and have very limited abilities, if any at all, to collect unemployment. The current unemployment system also does nothing to those who are in the new ‘gig-economy’. Those employees need the ability to pay into the unemployment scheme so when we arrive at times of a national emergency that causes their income to either be the first to be let go or dry up completely they can collect unemployment. To add an additional layer, as long as employees can claim unemployment from a corporation, the health insurance they had at their prior company should be deducted at the rate the employee paid. That way Medicaid and Medicare funds are diverted to those who truly need them.
* The public has gone into panic mode and (cue the not fairers) price gouging laws are preventing companies from setting prices to where people only get what they need instead of stockpiling to the degree they are. In certain situations price gouging works in keeping necessary items on the shelves so people can get what they need. If things get absolutely drastic, companies should be limiting what one address can purchase.
* Corporations decided that having sustainability funds were not a priority and instead decided to not only be severely overleveraged, but that stock buy backs were the tack they were going to take. Now these same companies are screaming they are too big to fail and need to be bailed out. While I completely understand the plight of the small business owner and hope that zero-interest loans are made available to them so they can keep their companies afloat during these trying times, any publicly owned company screaming for a bailout should not get one without conditions being approved that most corporations wouldn’t approve. In my twisted view (for now I’m going to ignore Boeing because of the bailout Airbus is going to get from France essentially forces our hand) those mandatory conditions to receive any federal funds in a bailout are:
* Government has complete oversight of the business until 10 years after payment of bailout funds are…returned.
* A 6 month of revenue sustainability fund that is equal to all operational costs of today’s workers so that … in the event all board members take an immediate 50 percent pay cut and all officers take an immediate 75 percent pay cut. This pay cut will be mandated until all bailout funds are paid in full.
* These companies cannot engage in the business of stock buy backs for a minimum of 10 years after bail out funds are paid back to the government (with appropriate interest). Furthermore they cannot start the process of merging with another company for the same amount of time.
* It is embarrassing the number of people who are ignoring guidance for social distancing to the point states have been left with no choice but to order shelter in place guidance. For those idiots who frequented Florida beaches all because you could, the shame you should feel might only be rivaled if you end up testing positive later. As a Florida resident I am embarrassed at the slow response by all leaders to not close the beaches sooner. Furthermore it is shocking that as cases skyrocketed in certain locales, local municipalities did not go to shelter in place. It’s now to the point I am in agreement with the agriculture commissioner Nikki Fried that is is time for a state wide SIP.
* It is remarkable what some companies are doing in this crisis. Some alcohol companies have suspended operations in the name of making hand sanitizer. While that is just one example, we need to keep tabs on those companies that respected their work force and contributed to the greater good without needing a federal executive order to do so. Those are the businesses we should be frequenting.
* It is beyond time we define what an essential worker is in this country so that in time of local/state/national emergency everyone knows where they stand in terms of what is open and what is required to shut down…and define fines that are so high it completely encourages them to close. I’m talking directly to Elon Musk, Sheldon Adelson, Game Stop and AT&T. In the case of the first two I firmly believe they are the reason states and cities were ordered to shelter in place. In the case of the last two, the fines are not enough. If you are a health care worker, grocer, gas station employee, employee at a pharmacy, trucker, restaurant worker and a fire/police officer you are forever in my debt for the grace in which you have had to handle these trying circumstances and it’s shocking certain states have had to add them to their essential personnel lists. It’s time both state and federal governments unified that list.
* Government checks are not enough when bills still have to be paid. In my low cost of living area, assuming I had no car or house payment because I had them paid off, to make it through monthly I would still need 1000-1200 a month to live on. We know that is only the case for a very small few. For small businesses that are going to end up out of business because of this, I can only offer my sympathies and belief you will be able to reopen soon enough. For these large companies that decide to throw in the towel, the pensions will be wrecked forever. For those of us who are on 401Ks, solder through knowing that what comes down (and I still don’t think we’ve hit the stock market floor yet…just an uneducated hunch) eventually levels out and might come up. To make matters worse, we’re going to use 50 year bonds for this.
This is a moment we ignore the impulses from the last two generations of do what we want without consequence and come together to unify so that this emergency doesn’t last as long as I fear it could be. The time is now to make sure these people either have the resources to stay employed, or the unemployment benefits. This is a war that we have to band together against. Once it’s over, we can get back to living again, with a greater appreciation for what we had before our world came to a half.