In his latest article, NC Policy Watch’s Rob Schofield attempts to summarize the recently-concluded legislative session.
As we would expect by now, it was unhinged and divorced from reality.
Several pages could be devoted to correcting his fantastical sloganeering, but this post will focus on a couple of his key claims.
First, the shutdown. Because Progressives are limited to overly-simplistic and misleading binary thinking, Schofield presents the lockdown situation as one where “GOP leaders opted to ignore science and the imperative of protecting human life and well-being of vulnerable people to abet the cause of promoting short-term profits.”
The choice was protecting human life or greedily promoting “short-term profits.” The benefit was saving lives, and the cost was brushed aside as merely sacrificing some “short-term profits,” no doubt easily made up in the future, as Schofield would have you believe.
Of course, thinking adults know the trade-offs were never that simple.
First, there are very serious health consequences of the shutdown. Researchers have predicted as many as 75,000 deaths of despair nationally (i.e. suicide, substance abuse) resulting from the lockdowns. Doctors have warned of a “disease surge” causing additional deaths that could “end up rivaling or exceeding deaths due to Covid-19,” because of the hospitals shuttering non-COVID treatment and screenings, and people’s irrational fear of going to the doctor or hospital.
According to CancerHealth.com, “screenings for breast, cervix and colon cancer are down between 86% and 94%” as of May. Also, a report by Human Data Science estimated “More than 80,000 diagnoses of five common cancers may be missed or delayed by early June because of disruptions to health care” due to COVID lockdowns and restrictions. Of course, early diagnoses of cancer can lead to earlier treatment and a higher survival rate. Delayed screenings can translate into more deaths.
The longer the lockdown, the more of these deaths there will be. But increased cancer deaths and deaths of despair warrant no mention from Schofield.
Moreover, instead of just “short-term profits” being sacrificed, the shutdown has resulted in a significant number of business closures, disproportionately harming black-owned and small businesses. This Vox article reported that “the number of African-American business owners plummeted from 1.1 million in February 2020 to 640,000 in April.”
The roughly 42% drop in black-owned businesses due to the lockdown dwarves the 17% decrease in white-owned businesses. Immigrant businesses saw a decline of 36%.
And small businesses were forced to shutter their doors at a significantly higher pace than incorporated ones, by a 34% to 20% margin.
These are often family businesses built up with decades of sweat equity, sacrifice and risk; and will never come back. Livelihoods destroyed. The callous Schofield nevertheless shrugs these off as nothing more than insignificant loss of “short-term profits.”
Furthermore, job losses from the lockdown struck the black community much more severely.
But pay no mind to these details, because they might be inconvenient for Schofield’s oversimplified binary narrative.
So, what would Schofield have done differently? According to him, North Carolina should “have immediately imposed an even more thorough societal shutdown and cushioned the pain with a much more robust set of social safety net benefits.”
So closing schools, ending social gatherings and locking down all “non-essential” businesses just wasn’t draconian enough for Schofield. And how exactly does Schofield think the state would have paid for the more “robust set of social safety net benefits”?
A shut down economy does not generate a whole lot of tax revenue.
Naturally, Schofield thinks the state would have had plenty of money if it hadn’t cut taxes years ago and considered “new sources of revenue in the present crisis.”
Sure, raising taxes on closed businesses – I’m sure that would’ve generated tons of revenue.
Moreover, it’s the tax reforms that Schofield demonizes that has helped spur more robust tax collections over the past several years, helping enable the state build up a healthy rainy day fund. A recent analysis found that North Carolina ranked 8th nationally in terms of increased income for the state.
The more hospitable tax climate encouraged more economic, job and income growth; which in turn generates more tax revenue.
There’s much more to Schofield’s article to be dissected, but I think you get the point. It’s shameful how disingenuous Schofield is when he ignores real-life suffering from the lockdown and reduces it to mere loss of “short-term profit.”