By Josh Resnek
There have been times in the past when the entire city was closed down and everyone in business was out of business.
During the Blizzard of 1978 and following it, everything about commerce and society came to a near complete stop here and everywhere in Massachusetts.
For about a week, it was impossible to get around. If you lived in Everett, you were marooned here.
Your automobile was buried. Your job went unattended. The elderly were snowed in.
The sick could not be moved around.
Your income went out the window, and then came the costly clean up which required the National Guard.
It took about a week before Logan Airport was open for business. The entire region was declared a disaster area
It took about a month for the region to come back to normal and for everyone to get on with their lives.
What an experience that was.
Next came the near shutdown of the nation in the aftermath of the suicide bombing of the Twin Towers in New York City, and of the Pentagon and the taking down of yet another jet airliner in a field in Pennsylvania.
This happened all I the same day.
More than 2,000 victims died that day.
The American economy didn’t shutter, but everything took a bit of a dive – the stock market sank.
No air traffic was allowed in or out for longer than a week.
In its immediate aftermath, our society locked down
As the dead were dug out of the mangled Twin Towers site, the nation was holding its collective breath that nothing else would befall us.
It took about a year, but we came back from that disaster and pledged to never allow another one to happen like that – and it hasn’t.
Now comes the coronavirus and our nation’s effort to stop it from wrecking our lives.
What we are finding out as try to combat the virus is that the virus is a bit like chemotherapy.
Chemotherapy has the ability to cure many patients of their cancer but generally comes very close to killing the cancer in ridding him or her of it.
We may dull and blunt the effect of the coronavirus with Draconian steps taken to stop us all from breathing upon one another, and interacting by forcing us to remain in our homes, shutting down all businesses and bringing the US economy to a stop but in the end, we might find killing the virus might be worse than the virus itself.
The Everett economy and society coming to a stop two major things to happen at exactly the same time.
First, we may top the virus from spreading uncontrollably and in doing so save our lives and those of our children and the elderly.
Second, we may, all of us, find ourselves absolutely broke for the effort.
Stopping the world economy is a disaster almost as bad as the virus.
The world may survive the virus but it cannot survive being broke and unable to eat.
If you can’t afford to pay for your food, what good is curing the virus as the cost for that?
The state is right now considering doing what San Francisco ordered Tuesday – home shelter.
Everyone needs to stay in their home unless out on an emergency mission or buying food.
In other words, Greater San Francisco’s 7 million residents are now all confined to their homes and to their apartments.
In other words, San Francisco has gone out of business for the short term without knowing what the short term holds.
Mind you, when our income stops, when the income of great corporations stop, when the flow of food and everything else stops, when airlines don’t fly, when trains don’t head down the tracks when busses don’t run, when schools and colleges have closed and when only our supermarkets remain open…these are all signs we are in trouble.
The virus by itself is a dose of trouble.
The economic fallout caused by the virus is bigger dose of trouble. If you listen to economists speak or to business talk radio, you come to understand that one thing is more important than everything else economically.
What is that?
It is keeping the American consumer flush with money so they can spend it on food, gasoline, health products, clothing, automobiles and everything else that powers the national economy.
When the president suggested Tuesday a $1 trillion bail out with the stipulation that all American adults will receive $1000 checks or more from the federal government in the next two weeks – well, that’s the kind of economic stimulus that keeps us from going totally out of business as a nation.
If we can afford trillion dollar wars we can certainly afford to take care of our citizens – and receiving a check for $1000 or more from the federal government will allow for most Everett residents to breath just a bit easier about meeting obligations.
Contending with the virus is very expensive business.
Not knowing how bad the epidemic will be is another reason to fear it. If it is full blown and many of us die, well, that’s a big problem. Any comeback from a full blown epidemic that causes millions of deaths will alter the course of history here and in countries around the world.
If the epidemic can be controlled and the spread of the virus stopped and a vaccine manufactured that makes us all safe, well, there is very little to fear about such a scenario.
The net result of beating the epidemic, beating the virus, snuffing it out, is that the economic comeback will be made that much easier and very likely, that much stronger.
Right now, we are sitting around waiting for the ceiling to cave in or for some of us to get very sick and others not so sick, but still sick.
We are not ready for the worst.
We can never be ready for the worst unless we mortgage out futures to be protected from viruses and all kinds of sickness.
We are all too complacent about our lives to do that.
We tend to kick the can down the road on pressing problems. Coronavirus is not so easy a can to kick down the road.
We should all have some confidence that we will get out of this.
It will be expensive. It will be disruptive.
Your 401 K is gone as are your retirement accounts.
But we are all still alive today.
Where there is life, there is hope.
Hunker down. Stay inside. Don’t move around in crowds and don’t get up close with people you know and with people you don’t know. Let’s see where we are next week.