The Governor of Minnesota issued a business shutdown and stay-at-home order with no real data to support the need for the orders and no analysis of the economic and other harms that would come from the orders. The first ad that was run, over a month ago, referred to this as economic suicide. The effects on jobs have been worse than even I feared. The numbers in the ad come directly from the State. Layoffs are still occurring. 500,000 Minnesotans who have lost their jobs. That is far more than the entire population of Rochester, Duluth, St. Cloud, Mankato, and Moorhead combined.
Most of those losing a job are low and middle income. They don’t make campaign contributions, they don’t hire lobbyists, they don’t have Twitter or Facebook armies to advance their agendas. This is why we never see Governor Walz bring up small business owners or laid-off workers at his briefings. He brings up business heads who make millions of dollars every year and have nothing to worry about, who are afraid to criticize the Governor’s actions, and really have no motivation to do so. They will be fine. And then they turn around and lay of tens of thousands of people.
The Governor says he is keeping Minnesotans safe, but the most at-risk group, the elderly in nursing homes and other group living situations, make up two-thirds of all deaths in the state. This epidemic started in the United States in a nursing home in Washington State in mid-February. There is no excuse for not having been prepared to protect the most vulnerable.
And for the rest of the population the risk is extremely small, if you are a healthy working age Minnesota it is truly miniscule. The youngest Minnesotan who has died is 56. Meanwhile the Governor and his public health experts scare everyone into thinking they are going to get sick and die. People are so frightened that it will be almost impossible to get the economy restarted even if the orders were reversed. Consumer spending is 70% of the economy, but if people don’t have jobs and don’t realize that they are safe, that spending will not rebound.
The infamous model of the epidemic’s effect that the Governor used to justify his actions has been wildly off the mark, with erroneous assumptions based on data from China. Why haven’t we seen any updated projections from that model? Could it be because the projected deaths are now even lower. And why was absolutely no analysis done of the job losses that would stem from the orders? How can that even have happened, that you gave no consideration to what would happen to the lives of hundreds of thousands of Minnesotans? And no analysis was done of whether less restrictive actions could have achieved the same results in regard to the epidemic, without such horrendous loss of jobs. In fact, the Governor’s model says that the number of deaths would be the same without the extreme shutdown.
So we are now living in a destroyed economy caused by actions based on unreliable data about the epidemic and no analysis of the economic harms that would follow. The general population has been frightened unnecessarily, but those who should be worried have been left unprotected.
That is why it is important that we all demand all the facts and insist that the shutdown of businesses stop now and that the stay-at-home order be limited to the vulnerable groups while the rest of the population follows basic mitigation of spread procedures.
Understand, this is not political. I despise politics as it is practiced in this country today and I have very low regard for politicians. This is about what government is supposed to do–create the greatest good for the greatest number of people, or do the least harm. These were bad decisions made by a bad process.
So please, write or call the Governor and your state legislators. Let your voice be heard too, it will make a difference. And donate to groups that are helping those who have lost jobs. One of my favorite organizations is the Union Gospel Mission. If you are on Twitter, share your story at #thecureisworsethanthedisease