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Bender: You're expendable

Tony Bender
Tony Bender
We are part of The Trust Project.

Reality check. The grand reopening of America, complete with used car dealer windsocks and kazoos, is all chrome with a rubber band under the hood.

Here's the deal. People won't shop for anything but the necessities until they're convinced it's safe, and the only way that'll happen is with freely-available tests so we can isolate the infected and get the healthy back to work. Without a viable treatment and a vaccine, people won't willingly become sacrificial lambs for the economy.

Willingly.

But desperate people have few choices, and when you combine economic desperation with irresponsible employers, you get a Smithfield pork-processing plant in Sioux Falls, S.D., that paid sick employees bonuses for not missing work. That's 725 cases of infected workers who've exposed a city of 182,000 to one of the largest Coronavirus hotspots in the country.

“We're not New York City,” South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem famously said on April 1, in defense of the free market. Twelve days later, she blamed Smithfield workers for the catastrophic outbreak.

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Then there's LM Wind Power in Grand Forks, N.D., where feverish employees were allowed in, exposing nearly 900 workers, in a city of 57,000 people. That's how quickly it happens when workers work elbow-to-elbow, as I warned in a column a month ago.

Who couldn't see that coming a mile away?

As much as the virus, government paralysis is killing us.

President Trump, who reacted slowly because he didn't want to spook the stock market, now wants you to believe that the coast is clear. It's so biggly safe. And the thing is, folks who get their “news” from radio talkshow troglodytes and Fox News fantasists, will wade into bars and tattoo parlors convinced it's just a liberal hoax, anyway — that it's about freedom. But when your freedom puts others at risk, it's assault.

Of course, having everyone wait it out on the couch for two years isn't an option, but that means reengaging responsibly with protection for workers and consumers, distancing and masks for workers and customers alike.

Meanwhile, forcing individuals with high-risk health conditions back into the workforce at this point is unconscionable. They need a safety net. However, Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick says, “There are more important things than living.” So, I guess it's death, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. In that order.

It's so simple, and yet the “smart” guys don't get it. The economy's always been about confidence. If consumers aren't confident, they won't consume. But these Ayn Rand death panel cheerleaders believe you should patriotically get out there and die to save the economy.

“Over the top, Grandpa! Ignore those bone spurs! Oil futures are down! Save the rich!” It's like a bad movie. In a generational crisis, we have the most inept, corrupt leadership in history. It's 3 a.m. and he's on Twitter.

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It's up to us to be the adults in the room.

Finally, a reminder to support local merchants with curbside pickup and delivery options. You need them upright when this ends. Newspapers are among those reeling businesses, and if you lose yours, you'll lose a bulwark of democracy — local journalists who'll tell you which politicians think you're expendable. A subscription — knowledge — is power, and these days, knowledge is a matter of life and death.

Tony Bender writes an exclusive weekly column for Forum News Service.

Related Topics: DONALD TRUMP
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