An Open Letter to the First Frontier – Blair County
No one could have guessed that during an historic national economic growth cycle, we all would face a global pandemic – one that has forced businesses to close, locked us in our houses, separated us from loved ones, friends, children from school and is threatening the fundamentals of our economic system – our way of life. Yet here we are. Over the past few days, many people have reached out to ABCD. They are not just in need of emergency funding. They also want to be reassured that every-day life – the one we knew way back 14 days ago – will return. I offer up this thought: We will be ok, possibly even better than before.
We Will Be OK…The Economy
Keep this in mind: we are facing a health crisis, not an economic one. The media, politicians and talking heads, who choose to dramatically conflate the 2008 recession and the Great Depression with what we are facing now, are not helping the cause. Please stop that now.
Those previous collapses were driven by market flaws; things like over-valued housing inventory and under-valued currency. Lack of business sales and high unemployment were the direct result. Those failures were not coerced through life preserving public policy mandates. Prior to COVID-19, our fundamental markets were strong, labor market tight, wages rising, demand for goods and services growing, production efficient, profits big, record capital investments coupled with almost daily game changing innovations. That is still the case.
The public policy interventions, declarations and mandates are damming up that economy. Cash flow has stopped, demand and supply side ledgers interrupted, unemployment claims skyrocketing. Some have characterized it as the “snowstorm effect.” What we’ve earned can’t be spent and what we need can’t be earned. Reverse the mandates, the cash can start flowing. Recovery will happen. Maybe at different speeds for different businesses, but it will happen.
We Will Be Ok…The Response
The policies, closures and shelter-in-place mandates are intended to prevent an overwhelming demand on our health care system. They will not cure or stop the virus. That is not the measure of success. This virus will always be with us and we will always have the chance of contracting it, like all other viruses. We simply don’t deal well with mass casualties without a prescribed or ready treatment. So, we must ramp up quickly, add capacity for this newbie microbe. Producing more ventilators, masks, and ensure beds are available is the immediate solution. Many businesses are responding to the crisis, working at full speed. This is not complicated really, nor should it be. We are pretty good at making things in mass. We will catch up with what is needed.
We will Be Ok…Perspective
Most things we do come with risk of death or injury – risks often much higher than succumbing to this virus – driving on the highway for instance. Thinking this way gives me some clarity. We can’t prevent the inevitable, but we can manage and mitigate the when and how: buckle up, stop smoking, make more ventilators and please for God’s sake wash your hands. This virus, like the other nasty viruses we have encountered and now treat, will be treatable as well.
We Will Be Ok…Connectivity
There have been many viruses before COVID-19. This one is the latest – it’s novel. But unlike the others, COVID-19 has appeared in the age of true instant one-to-one communication, global connectivity, never-ending news cycles and a white-hot divisive political environment. All-of that keep things dramatic, current and flowing despite of, or in some cases in lieu of the facts. The point here is that public officials who have made far reaching orders for people and markets to respond are the same voices who can reverse our current course in short order when the time is right. They can instantly influence the markets, people, communities – ensure the confidence needed that things will be ok – they should, because it will.
We Will Be Ok…Money
Our government is about to invest a few trillion with a “T” at this virus. The money is intended to stop the economic hemorrhaging, get money to small businesses and their employees, increase production of what is needed most while fast-tracking the vaccine research. When you get that type of government backing, investment, and resources to stimulate private sector research and innovation while ensuring the financial markets that it’s not their fault, stability and growth will result. It has in the past, it will again this time.
We Will Be Ok…Resiliency
We are all a part of the response and recovery process. In that process we are reimagining how we work, interact and adding value in new ways. We are building greater economic and social resiliency; testing how far we can bend before we break. That is a simple part of any new product or process development. It ensures things will work as designed; always improved upon. This virus is testing us, bending and the breaking. What comes out the other side must be better than before. It will prove what systems works and what doesn’t.
We Will Be Ok…Better Than Before
Stay safe everyone. Things might not be the same as before. We will think differently and behave differently. And that’s a good thing. This event has directed people to spend more time at home, play in the front yard, take a walk and appreciate the social time we may have previously taken for granted. When we get back to normal, I suspect virtual meetings will be a more natural option, we will spend a little more time and money at our favorite pub, take a walk more frequently, value that vacation more all while being highly productive if we choose. This lock down won’t last forever. We won’t let it. We persevere. We create work arounds. We innovate. When it’s all said and done, we will look back and likely see that through the steps we have taken, the lessons-learned and the time spent, we made things even better than before. We will be ok.