There was a defining moment that kicked off all the Coronavirus cancelation announcements that showed the indelible spirit of America. I’m speaking of when the NBA made the decision to cancel their season on March 11 and Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban shared his thoughts. Cuban honed in on the economic impact among other things, but focused on the hourly worker at their home games:
Now that we aren’t playing, what about all the people who work here on an hourly basis? We will put together a program for them, but there’s so many things that go through your head it’s hard to know what is exactly right.
Cuban added, “It’s like out of a movie. Just…it’s not even real.”
We’ve all seen the massive cancellations from things we love, falling like dominoes. It’s almost every large public gathering now. The intent is obviously good, which is primarily about protecting vulnerable citizens and minimizing the influx of hospitalizations. The plan is all about curtailing the spread of the virus so that healthcare workers and caretakers aren’t overloaded to the point that the system is shocked. The goal is to continue to provide optimal care for the people that will need care, many of them for conditions and diseases unrelated to the virus.
Unfortunately, large segments of the economy are shutting down. The market is tanking. Travel and service industries are being hit particularly hard. There are legitimate fears of massive job losses and a looming recession. Cuban is right to focus on workers who are more often on the margins of society, living paycheck to paycheck — just scraping by. Obviously, it will be they who are hardest hit.
His concern is a great contrast to the people on social media, many of them well known, who are spreading hysteria and panic, often for political purposes and without lifting their own finger to offer any help. For many of them, weaponizing the virus into a political football is only a means to an end — more political power, or merely cementing more state control over the lives of Americans.
Our state and country have been through many a crisis before. Two world wars, a catastrophic civil conflict, a Great Depression, terrorism in the homeland, and natural disasters. North Carolina remains a great model for fiscal discipline, showing that states with their financial house in order are better equipped to react effectively and competently in a crisis. When the cost of government is high, it can prolong the ability to recover, stunting one of America’s greatest engines of human flourishing— a free market.
We’ve already seen some governors act to reduce bureaucracy in medical licensing, allowing for nurses and other medical professionals from other states to quickly provide care when crossing state lines. A reminder that a lot of permanent things can be done, like reforming our absurd certificate of need laws to better equip medical facilities to increase their bandwidth for care, while lowering costs. Hopefully addressing cost and access to care, not merely doubling down on regulatory mandates and a clunky bureaucratic system is a lasting effect for improving health outcomes in North Carolina and the nation.
Obviously, it’s all of our hope that things will return to a more normal standard sooner rather than later. And because of the American spirit, there are so many great opportunities for innovation and to help those in need. There are a lot of opportunities for good to come out of calamity or uncertainty, particularly in the places where human freedom and ingenuity are valued. Let’s all find ways to help and check up on those vulnerable. Even in a season of social isolation, we are still stronger together. And look to the Psalmist, who reminds us, “We went through fire and through water; yet you have brought us out to a place of abundance.”