BRANDON J. WEICHERT | THE WEICHERT REPORT
President Donald J. Trump is convinced that he can defy the advice of the country’s medical professionals on the matter of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak. Of course, he can. But his defiance of the data is profoundly dangerous to you and I. Perhaps he is right. The data is certainly incomplete. Although, from what we have thus far been able to determine from other countries, this is an exponentially growing pandemic. If we are not careful, given the size of our population relative to the capacity of our hospitals, we could be facing a completely collapse of our medical system.
Meanwhile, the economy tanks. This is a serious concern for everyone. Trump is not wrong to worry about its health. The Left talks about things as though we are making a choice between profits and people. Given how many people are in favor of Trump’s announcement that he plans on reopening the economy in mid-April–in spit of the best medical advice he received–most Americans do not share the Democrats’ opinion of the matter…right now.
The concern here is that we are all whistling past the grave because the death toll has not been anywhere near as catastrophic as things could get with this pandemic. All of the data suggests that mid-April will be the peak of America’s COVID-19 outbreak. Therefore, reopening the country in the middle of that mess will only ensure that we put so much pressure on the country’s strained hospital system that it collapses under its own weight.
Should that occur, the Trump administration will be facing not only a healthcare crisis. But, ultimately, the disease will propagate to more places and cause greater economic dislocations than what was happening now. Plus, the economic damage has already been done over the last few weeks. The Trump administration has decided, however, to utterly reverse course. This is a gamble and it is one uninformed by the data. Fact is, we have decided to place markets ahead of workers. Many of the very same people approving of Trump’s decision to reopen the economy will likely be the first people to decry his decision when they fall ill.
The disease is no laughing matter either. Every medical professional I’ve spoke to or heard or read about indicates that the disease is a significant health threat. Its physical impacts are terrible. That so many patients are in need of ventilators–when there are so few available presently–is another concern. Then, of course, there is the matter of America’s medical staff being exposed to the illness and a significant shortage in staff becoming a prolific problem.
In history, great leaders often faced with a lose-lose situation, such as the one that President Trump is being faced with, often take risks to get through the crisis. That Trump is acting boldly and taking risks does not bother me. This is why I voted for him. That President Trump is totally defying not only medical professionals but basic math is worrisome. Gambling doesn’t bother me, per se. Behaving recklessly does. He is making a momentous decision that could cost the lives of many Americans and could still destroy the economy–based solely on his intuition as well as his desire to prop up the economy to ensure that everything stays “normal.” But it cannot go back to the way things were. This is the essence of a paradigm shift. Any attempt to return to normal will fail royally and the person struggling to hold back the waters of change will be destroyed by those flood waters.
What’s more, if we reopen totally as the president seeks to do, we could end up with longer-term economic damage as people struggle to avoid infection or recuperate from the disease (or worse, die from it). Trump will be blamed; the Democrats will have all of their desired talking points in the election, too. Trump should not fall into their trap. He should embrace that which I’ve been saying: shut the country down at least through April, when we are supposed to be at peak COVID-19 infection. Flatten the curve. Push policies that will allow for a total restructuring of the American economy also to be more pro-family, fairer to the American worker, and friendlier to responsible medium-and-small businesses.
The disease highlighted many weaknesses in the American system that will come back to the forefront repeatedly until they are addressed. Notably, the need for 5G internet across the country. Work-from-home guidelines, as well as people’s overall increased internet usage during the social distancing period in the country, has taxed the internet here. Rather than use that as an example for why we need to return to the old nine-to-five office structure, we should use that as an excuse to invest in American-made 5G so as to encourage greater remote work. The greatest invention of the last 50 years–the internet–has been seriously underused in the country that invented it. Work-from-home rules would encourage more familial stability and would also allow more people to work from places that are far more affordable than the cities they currently live for work.
Meanwhile, the president could use this crisis to provide greater benefits to America’s beleaguered workers while forcing structural changes to our high-priced higher-education system (remote education should be the norm, not a special event). We are living in a higher-education bubble that is set to burst. Remote education might be part of the solution for preventing a total collapse. Under “normal” conditions, society will never embrace these changes. After COVID-19, though, they might.
But, Trump is too busy trying to return us to the way things were. Respectfully, that way of life is going away with the Baby Boomers, though. It is now time for the Gen-X, Millennial, and Zoomer generations to band together and impose their standards and will upon a system that has for far too long catered to a generation that no longer understands that the future is here. The COVID-19 outbreak proves it. Rather than gambling with our lives and livelihood to return to “normal,” Trump should embrace the changing times and push forward to ensure the country enjoys a relatively safe landing on the other side.
There is nothing wrong with doing that which former Trump adviser Steve Bannon argued for recently on Fox News: shut the country down for five weeks. Pass an even larger stimulus than what was proposed. And then, if I may add to that, work to ensure the longer-term changes I favor are passed. This was a missed opportunity that may cost Trump his presidency. We’ll see. He’s risking much–notably for the rest of us–just to get the economy online again (which, I remind you all, would be irreparably damaged if the pandemic spreads beyond where it has and more people in more places get sick).