“It was like a 98% drop in revenue overnight. All the bills keep coming in, it’s hard to pay those bills.”–John Rudolph, co-owner of Harry’s Coffee Shop and Diner.
“As of this afternoon, we’ve been forced to lay off our entire organization. Between all 5 locations that’s approximately 75 fantastic and very hard working people.”~Richard Walker, owner of Richard Walker’s Pancake House
“We are estimating that about 60% of all our restaurants have closed. You can imagine how many thousands and thousands of employees have been affected.”~Jeff Rossman, President of the local chapter of the California Restaurant Association.
The above 3 quotes are taken from a March 26th La Jolla Village News article profiling local restaurants in my area. Multiply them by 10 million and you get an idea of what the 30 million small business owners around the country are going through, not to mention the 100’s of millions of people they employ (or used to).
According to this Wall Street Journal article, the total amount of unemployment applications during the three weeks since the economic shutdown began has surged to nearly 17 million. Behind each of those applications of course is a human being who has suddenly found themselves out of a job, which means a group of people equivalent in size to the population of the Netherlands is now dependent on the government to survive.
This, to put it mildly, is a catastrophe and in a thousand other ways than just financially.
As insanitybytes22 wrote recently in her fantastic post, Economies are People!,
People who live paycheck to paycheck can often survive a couple of weeks, but then they find themselves unemployed, out of money for groceries, and the rent is due. People are already hurting under normal circumstances, but now they’re hurting even more.
Put in the language of social justice and bleeding hearts everywhere, the economy is the difference between whether or not a battered woman can afford to leave an abusive situation. An economy is whether or not a case of child abuse is investigated or a kid is left to die. An economy is the difference between a woman choosing to have a child or choosing to have an abortion. An economy is whether or not you can send a 13 yr old to drug treatment or they just go on the streets to sex trafficking and eventual overdose.
Yes, yes and yes. There’s so much more I could add, not least of which are the negative effects of the enormous amount of stress of being out of work, which brings its own nightmares of anxiety, depression, loneliness, addiction and poor physical/mental health. I cannot imagine having to suffer through any one of these things while isolated away from family, friends, church, therapists and doctors. Powder keg comes to mind.
There are also the compounding effects that occur when the incomes of so many people drop so dramatically overnight. Lots of folks in this country, whether rich or poor, give significant amounts of money to charity, which in turns goes towards helping those most in need. As millions of people become those most in need, these donations of course will drop off as well as government tax revenue that also fund programs for the poor.
It’s really just an ugly situation all around.
Let’s be clear, COVID-19 causes extremely harsh symptoms in some people and unfortunately those who succumb to it experience a particularly nasty and brutish death. While the majority of people appear not to suffer this way, if at all, we must take the quickly spreading virus seriously and do what we can to combat it.
Shutting down the economy until a vaccine is found however is not a viable option and we have to stop pretending like it is. Unfortunately fighting the coronavirus pandemic and saving the economy are intertwined in a sort of symbiotic relationship in reverse; what’s beneficial for one effort is detrimental to the other. We need effective ways of doing both at the same time.
This could involve keeping those most vulnerable in quarantine and still enacting existing measures like the 6 foot spacing rule between people, limited social gatherings, practicing good hygiene, wearing masks, etc…while gradually opening up businesses and churches who will find creative ways to meet whatever new strictures get put in place.
I’m not a health or public policy expert by any means, but I do know a strong economy brings with it health, wealth and innovation, all things we desperately need to win the coronavirus battle. Poverty brings much suffering and death, both physically and spiritually and will put our country in a much weaker condition to continue the fight.
A broken economy means broken people.