A big dividing line in our country today is whether to wear a face mask or not. For Memorial Day services, former Vice President Joe Biden and his wife Jill wore masks. In contrast, President Donald Trump and First Lady Melania Trump paid their respects on Memorial Day without masks.
In many cities and states across the nation, the number of Covid-19 cases is going down, yet the masking requirements are becoming more stringent. In New Orleans, residents are always supposed to wear a mask, even when outdoors. For businesses, both employees and customers must wear masks. These are more stringent requirements than the State of Louisiana which just recommends mask-wearing.
Today, if the weather prevails, America will hit two milestones. The first is our return to space with the first launch in nearly ten years of a US man-occupied spacecraft. The second did not take a decade. Nor did it take ten months. Within less than three months, this country has witnessed the most destructive population genocide in American history, thanks to Covid-19. On leap year day, the first corona-virus death was recorded. The virus which we were told would suddenly disappear has resulted in the morbid and jaw-dropping disappearance of 100,000 loved ones.
Is the New Orleans area and Louisiana, as a state, entering a new phase of coronavirus protections and risks, too quickly? Are we emphasizing our health and safety needs more than we should? Are we abandoning the very real risks of the aged, the unhealthy and those prone to get sick or worse, die? Or, shouldn’t we recognize the irreparable harm to our institutions, our economy and our way of life?
A few days ago, I discussed these general issues with Arnie Fielkow during a Facebook Live event. I looked forward to the interview because it is not everybody who has held the positions of President of the New Orleans Saints, the New Orleans City Council, the National Basketball Retired Players Association and now, the Greater New Orleans Jewish Federation. I thought he would bring an articulate, divergent and interesting perspective to the controversy. After all, looking at the issue from the vantage point of an NFL team executive would be different from the perspective of a top public servant or a head of a major not-profit organization.
Who could have ever imagined that our lives would so dramatically change by a virus that just a few months ago was dismissed by our leaders as a minor problem that really would not affect our lives that much? A little social distancing and we will all be back to normal in no time. How wrong they were.
I turned 80 years old this month. It seemed like my life had peaked, but I was ready for the long and relaxing ride back down. I looked forward to enjoying my later years and be on this side of troubled waters. But now, I’m not so sure.
Most of us are aware that our democracy is not the perfect form of government. But we still believe that few other countries come close to our freedoms, benefits, and opportunities. Our country is special, and we take pride in being prepared for whatever difficulties we face. America cannot and should not have to rely on any other country for help in the time of a major crisis. Churchill said it well back in 1934.
“We cannot afford to confide the safety of our country
To the passions or the panic of any foreign nation which may
Be facing some desperate crisis. We must be independent.
We must be free. We must preserve our full latitude and
Discretion of choice.”
I don’t think the blame game helps, but the fact remains that our country needs better preparation for future epidemics. But it often comes down to tax dollars. Current financial needs often are given priority over long-range planning for future catastrophes. I made the same arguments for a major federal response to a Katrina-like catastrophe when I proposed and testified in Congress for the immediate need of a National Disaster Relief program back in 1995. A similar proposal was part of my detailed Brown Papers where I outlined such a need in my race for governor back in 1987. Such suggestions were put on the back burner and never revived.
And what about all these food pantry lines? Millions of people across the country wait for hours to get a box of canned goods. Yet while so many Americans go hungry, farmers are plowing up ripe fruits and vegetables, and milk is being dumped in waste pits. There are congressional proposals for a major distribution program through the Department of Agriculture.
Why not eliminate all the bureaucracy, help our grocery stores, and just enlarge the food stamp program that is built around a private business structure already set up to distribute food? Let those in need just go to their local grocery stores. Why not let those who qualify and need food use SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) to buy groceries even online if necessary. Why abandon a workable program that makes use of the private sector?
This current pandemic is not going away soon. I know that many people are fed up with what they feel are draconian stay-at-home restrictions. But we are being naive if there is a feeling that life will return to the old normal in the not too distant future. There could well be a second wave of the virus, and a vaccine is most likely many months away.
We need to balance such caution with the realization that our economy is stuck in an induced coma, and needs to rebound so people can get back to work. And our kids need an education. Finding the right balance is the single biggest challenge facing our political leaders in Washington.
There’s a new normal yet to be determined. Many folks might not like it, but guess what? The coronavirus doesn’t give a darn. We are just going to have to face this fact.
Peace and Justice
Jim Brown’s syndicated column appears in numerous newspapers throughout the state and on websites worldwide. You can read all his past columns and see continuing updates at http://www.jimbrownusa.com.
New Orleans Mayor LaToya Cantrell is a progressive Democrat schooled by the Aspen Institute to follow a very left-wing agenda. It should have been no surprise that she visited Cuba to learn about economic development or Ghana to study how to bring a slave ship attraction to New Orleans.
During this Covid-19 crisis, she has not disappointed her liberal benefactors. Every day, her decisions are following their playbook to seize more government control and limit the freedom of the people.
So many Coronavirus economy questions. For now, very few answers. Lots of disappointments. For some, hopefully, a new promising new normal beginning .
Questions such as: Can businesses in this region recover? Are we ready to reopen? Which industries might be the winners? Which could lose?
Michael Hecht, the President of Greater New Orleans Inc seemed optimistic but worried. Hecht has been the face of the region's economic development engine. He moved to the city after Katrina and has been at the center of major developments in the airline, technology, manufacturing, transportation, aerospace, logistics, just to name a few.
It took President Trump three years to build the world’s best economy with an unemployment rate of only 3.5%, rising wages, strong consumer confidence, and a robust stock market. Sadly, it only took three weeks for that healthy economy to be destroyed and the longer the economy is closed for business, the harder it will be for our nation to recover.
Did you know that those individuals around the United States and locally, who want the national governments to be prudent, follow science and put life before money, are “unconstitutional anti-business, socialists who have destroyed the American economy’?
If you looked around over the past week, you will see these epitaphs all over. They’re on protests signs, on social media posts, on certain cable networks along with revolutionary-war era slogans such as “Don’t Tread on Me”, “Give Me Liberty or Give me Death”.
As you grab your hat on the way out the door to work did you know?
The coronavirus, aka Covid-19, is a scheme to destroy the American economy, to bring down President Donald Trump and to install socialism as a body-politic.
Or, at least, that is what I have read on twitter, other social media and have heard on rush radio and the like.