Time for banks and government to shout “car”
By Ian Cobb
Eight days ago the World Health Organization declared the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak a pandemic.
In the past week we’ve witnessed a steady tightening of the social distancing method of trying to halt the spread of this respiratory menace, including most government offices and facilities closing, along with the Canada/US border to non-essential travel.
In addition, entire industries have been put on hold, with more businesses shuttering doors by the hour – in the attempt to do the right thing – to halt the spread and not infect those in our society most susceptible to suffering from COVID-19.
Because this scenario – a steady decline away from so-called day-to-day norms due to a pandemic – is entirely new to most folks, there is no shortage of lessons being learned the hard way. The great toilet paper rush of 2020 will be discussed as often as the great baby boom of 2021 a decade from now.
There are many rational voices urging calm among people but a fairly large chunk of our society is freaking out and binge buying/hoarding. Some of this is due to, sadly but not shockingly, thoughtless and reckless reporting by some news agencies that prefer to operate sans proper mentorship of young reporters.
Despite the fact we here in the East Kootenay enjoy relative isolation, panic buying and behaviour is evident here and there is no need for that. We need to work together and think of one another now more than ever before.
That leads me to the point of all this; the powers that be are the things driving this massive change in how we live our lives. With each new closure and cancelation, with each new case of COVID-19 found, self-isolation will become a must for everyone, such as what is occurring in Italy, if this pandemic does not start petering out.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced an $82 billion COVID-19 funding package, designed to help taxpayers and businesses whether what could be a lengthy slowdown or shutdown of societal interactions, including basic economy.
While this is a decisive move by the government, I question if there might not be an easier route to take, such as what France is doing.
If said powers that be really want the public to remain calm and cooperative, they best quickly move on banks and loan sharks to pause the collection of mortgages and loan payments until people can get back to work.
Government must pause the collection of taxes and other like payments so our society can take this challenge head on without becoming terrified at the prospect of rapid financial ruin. Whatever little support the feds provide to those of us out of work, losing our shirts in our small businesses etc. won’t be enough to stave off bankruptcies aplenty and likely another recession.
Short of good news coming shortly, this COVID-19 challenge is going to last for weeks – possibly months.
The way we all traipsed through life two weeks ago no longer applies. Even here in the sheltered, wild Rockies and Purcells. Tourism has gone splat against the windshield; ski resorts losing some prime bread and butter time. Radium Hot Springs cannot wish for a break, it seems.
As of March 17, schools will remain closed after spring break concludes, creating further disruption in the work force that is left.
So dear government and bankers, ye who reap royally on our rumps year after year after year, we dearly hope you are contemplating such steps because throwing ‘loans’ at people and small wads of emergency money to those who need help but still demanding blood from an ever growing army of stones will not lead to anything but chaos and anarchy.
Some people are showing themselves to be flighty and panicky and that number will increase as the pandemic proceeds, with uncertainty and financial/economic turbulence growing.
Now is the time for decisive leadership.
Our world economy is nothing more than a game of ball hockey on a street and COVID-19 is an approaching car. Players shout “car” and move the nets to let the car pass, before replacing them and resuming play.
It is time for banks and governments to shout “car” and move the nets until this car passes. Obviously, it would not be an easy thing to accomplish, which would make we customers and taxpayers all the more grateful once you achieve that feat.