The following is the opinion of Bill Beard, a Republican candidate for the Pima County Board of Supervisors in District 1, which includes Oro Vallley, Marana, Casas Adobes and the Catalina Foothills. Learn more at beardforsupervisor.com or email him at email@example.com. Tucson Local Media welcomes opinion columns from political candidates that focus on specific issues facing the community. Submit yours to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Uncertainty is mentally, physically and emotionally taxing. Over the last month we have learned that it can also be financially taxing as well.
Whatever you may think of the government actions regarding COVID-19, choices have been made that have real-world consequences. With their often over-reaching emergency declaration, governments have imposed an Uncertainty Tax on all of us.
Public health advisors have been describing some ominous scenarios. We have seen horrific models with charts and graphs that assume increasing numbers of hospitalized and dead. Our elected leaders have implemented orders to limit human contact and alter that spread by effectively shuttering many businesses. Here in Pima County, our elected leaders have taken an even more dramatic step by issuing stay-at-home orders.
I’m not arguing whether limiting human contact to limit the spread of disease is right or wrong. But there is another question that is rarely discussed. What will shutting down so much of the economy do to the lives of the people we are attempting to save? If the economy shrinks by 10, 20 or even 50%, how will government have the resources to combat the virus?
Common sense and social scientists have been telling us that poverty kills. We know that increases in suicides due to depression are one result of increasing poverty rates. We also know that poverty lowers the overall health of individuals increasing overall costs. History also warns that some of those forced out of work will remain in poverty for some time.
What we need from our leaders is an honest conversation about the costs of shutting down so much of the economy. This isn’t just about the number that may die from the disease. It’s about the very real-world consequences of forcing so many into poverty and in some cases bankruptcy.
The policy makers will insist that keeping the economy on lockdown until the threat is removed is the wisest course. They will even point to their charts again and talk about the number of those that may die from allowing people to go about their business as usual. No one wants to harm someone else purposefully and those who have lost people to COVID-19 deserve our compassion and support. But why don’t our leaders trust us to make wise decisions for ourselves and each other?
What our local leaders must do is let individuals and businesses begin to make their own choices about how we will live in the post-COVID-19 world. In this new world, no sane business owner would allow the status quo to remain.
What we know today is that many of the jobs and businesses that existed even six weeks ago will not return. None of us can know for sure what comes next. What we can do is make sure our local leaders understand that we can make good decisions about not only our personal lives but work effectively in ways that limit the spread of this disease. What we also know is that when our citizens and our economy are provided even a small amount of certainty about controlling our own lives, we can overcome anything.
We can solve this problem, but not by sitting on our rear ends on the couch at home. What we need from our city and county is simple. Remove the costs associated with the Uncertainty Tax. Revise the stay-at-home orders they imposed to allow people reasonable control over their own lives. The American Idea is based on personal freedom, not dictates from government. That can happen only when the economic straight jacket our so-called leaders put us in is removed. These authoritarians may not deem our individual jobs as “essential” but for our well-being, they certainly are.