In the midst of chaos and crises there is a natural tendency to rush to do something, anything that indicates action. Counterintuitively the better action is to do nothing until the damage is assessed and an inventory is compiled of the resources needed for corrective purposes.

Unfortunately, this thinking runs counter to politicians who feel they’ve been elected to solve problems as in the case of the COVID-19 pandemic. National, state and local governments and their respective agencies have been working feverishly, pardon the pun, to address the health concerns of the pandemic, only to make decisions that have created new problems requiring corrective action, which in turn could compound the impacts of the original threat.

The closure of business operations across the country, dictated by local, state and federal governments, is devastating the nation’s economy. Thousands of businesses are closed, some permanently, which in turn has left hundreds of thousands unemployed. Now the country is faced with an economic calamity that will equal if not surpass the health impacts of COVID-19.

To soften the economic damage created by the national quarantine directives, the federal government initiated the Paycheck Protection Plan (PPP), designed to provide low interest loans and grants to small businesses to allow for re-employment of displaced workers. The program was supported with $350 billion designated for small businesses (500 or fewer employees) to be used to rehire those employees laid off due to lost business as a result of the various “shelter-in-place” regulations.

The federal government’s paycheck program, passed in a pitch of political activism and little strategic forethought, is flawed on three counts. First, many of the small businesses were, and still are, closed due to state mandates. And because the businesses are closed there is no justification for hiring workers until the doors can re-open. The question remains, will these small businesses in fact re-open?

The second failure was inadequate funding. The funds to be doled out to small businesses lasted just under two weeks, not the two months as anticipated. The list of outstanding requests is so long that Congress is in the process of creating additional funding with another $250 billion in PPP version 2.

Thirdly, the rules for acquiring the funds were so loosely designed that major corporations were able to benefit from the program.  Attempting to restrict the recipients to small businesses, under 500 employees, the designers of the program failed to disallow large corporations with smaller operational units such as major restaurant chains that identified each operating unit independently.

The situation was so embarrassing that one recipient of the PPP funds, Shake Shack, a 1.6 billion  New York-based burger and fry chain, is returning its $10 million grant. Other well-known and highly successful restaurants such as Ruth’s Chris Steak House (stock value of $20 million) and the Potbelly Sandwich Shop franchise ($89 million valuation) are among numerous hotel and food chains benefiting from federal largesse.

At least Shake Shack has the integrity, albeit in hindsight, to realize it was gaming the system at the cost of hurting the very small operators that were the intended target.

This one effort to aid the economy is just one of many the good intentioned, yet poorly planned and executed, actions that are typical of government thinking.

Last week Morehead City commissioners, again with the best of intentions, created a special loan program to assist small businesses impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic and the subsequent closure of many retail businesses at the direction of the governor. We opined then and reiterate that the city’s loan program is poorly defined, discriminatory and questionably funded since it is using public dollars to assist a select few.

Just as the federal PPP is creating embarrassment for the administration, likewise the Morehead city program is creating a similar challenge for the town board.

The answer to solving our economic woes can best be had if government, at the local, state and national levels, stops erecting barriers and controls. Government should focus its role as being a facilitator not an arbiter.

(18) comments

David Collins

If only those local “leaders” could comprehend what you are saying . A dictionary would be helpful but only if they are functionally literate . Sadly , the urge to be a part of something over rules common sense .

DeadBolt

SERIOUSLY , CITIZENS, IF YOU CONTINUE TO LET THESE PEOPLE LEAD YOU, WELL, YOU DESERVE EVERYTHING YOU GET, WHICH WILL NOT BE MUCH EDUCATE YOURSELVES PLEASE [ https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xl7J2u_YHlE ] YESTERDAYS PRESS BRIEF.

DeadBolt

What is the fear of crowds?

Enochlophobia refers to the fear of crowds. Not everyone who feels uncomfortable in a crowd lives with enochlophobia. Rather, this phobia involves irrational thoughts and behaviors that are excessive in relation to the actual danger in a situation. [ https://www.verywellmind.com/an-overview-of-enochlophobia-4782189 ] Maybe the 'clown' whom started this was promoting this irrational behavior, but, i'm getting ahead of myself. What i think WE ALL NEED TO TAKE AWAY FROM THIS is that OUR FRONT DOOR WAS JUST KICKED IN, AND THE CASH REGISTER IS GONE, lets point fingers later, and remedy this FAKE STORY now! BACK to work, IF NOT YOU WILL ALL BE ON FOOD STAMPS, not just the needy? (and that will run dry within probably 1 week. )

taxpayer

This is a great editorial. There is a long list of reasons why we don't ask government to administer every detail of our lives.

This whole episode echoes of the "climate crisis". There is no way to measure the real problem or the effectiveness of all of the government interventions, so there is no accountability. Whatever happens from either "crisis", politicians will claim that we would have been far worse off without their "leadership".

DeadBolt

Brian Stelter Admits What We've Known All Along [ https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cv4hVkyskNQ ]

CARTERETISCORRUPT

Well done article. The ego of some of these "leaders" is enormous. They will save us from ourselves. Beaufort Mayor is one of these types. It makes me question the quality of our military leaders indeed. Do we really want a military in charge during a martial law declaration? With unchecked power, we are in for a rough ride indeed.

dc

Unity of effort transcends govt. What is "legal" is not always useful.

kenwood

I would venture that your editorials do not carry much influence with the general public. That those derogatory comments made about The News Times etc are not directed at the reporters who work to inform us on current events, but are meant for this page. This page seems to serve no useful purpose but to rattle the chains of those who already know all the answers, require no useful input, declared all they disagree with as shams, and have their heads deeply stuck in the sand. The current virus is not the only sickness our nation is facing.

DeadBolt

Hot Mic at the White House briefing - weren't supposed to hear that! [ https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Dx5SiS0lVf8 ]

dc

Better than the hot mic was one adjacent to it with Kim Strassel who is one of the few real journalists nowadays.

tarheelcacti

Something going on at Bogue Field? Google Maps satellite view is showing some sort of black advanced fighter(Not F-35B) parked in the corner of the tarmac, never noticed any of these types of fighters parked there.

CARTERETISCORRUPT

Kenwood is right; this virus isn't the only sickness we are suffering. We have all manner of other maladies. The point is that most of these other diseases far exceed coronavirus mortality rates exponentially. Then we have the stupid high death rate from medical errors (or is it frank malpractice)? We have very near destroyed our economy, congratulations to all those responsible. And of course, this "crisis" had nothing to do with affecting the upcoming presidential election; just like the impeachment fiasco. There are those who will stop at nothing to destroy our president. But, more importantly, what he stands for; getting rid of the nasty swamp dwellers infecting our government. Read or google about Operation Sea Spray. Then tell me it isn't highly possible this whole mess was engineered to do exactly what is happening relative to the economy, election, and furtherance of governmental power. As Mao said, "Useful Idiots" will enable the fall of our country.

dc

Understand what the experiments were probably about but obviously they weren't they weren't harmless. That there was no consequence nor compensation is more troubling.

dc

There's not much the CCP would not do to further their agenda & the Ds silence & actual support of the communists should be s wake up call for any D with integrity. Even Bill Maher who called for a deep recession to beat the president called out his fellow travelers on who was responsible for the virus. They hate this president, the country & what they both stand for. We're one election away from not just radical socialism but communism. Biden voluntarily or by necessity is adopting Bernie's platform. If their radicalism wins the day we're done. Biden's history with China should tell anyone with common sense all they need to know. The low info crowd are like zombies marching off the cliff.

Livin in Paradise

Sorry but Biden has NOT adopted Bernie's platform. No platform has been completed and approved. Do you not understand how it works ?? Won't have an approved platform until the convention in July/August. SMDH

DeadBolt

Democrats Are Desperately Struggling To Hold The Party Together, But MORE Defectors Keep Emerging [ https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g3uyJxmWL9E ]

dc

Doesn't matter what the platform will be. Guess Bernie won't be on the China train.

dc

Bernie might still be your man if y'all get over Brett & find your metoo.

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