It’s no secret that we’ve all been affected by the coronavirus. If you haven’t personally tested positive for it or have loved ones who are frontline healthcare workers, look around your communities. Your favorite family-owned pizza restaurant or handmade jewelry store may no longer be open.
Though they’re not nearly as noticeable as the quote-unquote essential personnel that we’re giving the majority of our attention to in the news and on social media, small businesses are taking the biggest hit, thereby irrevocably impacting the fabric of our communities.
But there’s a tricky narrative at play here. One that has demanded that we sacrifice small businesses as an offering for the official agenda of the media spin surrounding the virus. Not only is this a tragic outcome, but it was also most likely avoidable.
Ground Zero Areas
Though arguably all small businesses across the nation have been affected by the respective lockdown restrictions of their state, some are struggling harder than others. To see them, you only have to look as far as the states with the strictest, most draconian measures being taken to supposedly combat the spread of COVID-19.
Michigan, now infamous for such measures under Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, is one such example. In September 2020, a local outlet reported that 25% of all businesses in Oakland County — which encompasses a large part of the Detroit metropolitan area — had closed permanently, even after receiving $100 million in relief grants.
The pandemic is even affecting state economies which never even fully recovered after the last recession, reports Opportunity Insights at Harvard, a research project aimed at monitoring the economic impact of the pandemic. One such state is Connecticut. The state received $50 million as part of the Cares Act and distributed $5,000 to around 10,000 businesses. And yet, 1 in 3 small businesses have since closed for good since the start of lockdowns in Connecticut.
As our leadership implements policies that they then openly flout without shame, our small businesses shutter.
With California, it’s almost hard to know where to begin with the damage. The livelihoods of independent contractors were effectively changed with what was introduced as the “gig-economy bill,” AB5, which classifies those contractors as official employees of companies like Lyft and Uber. It went into effect on January 1. Following the AB5 legislation, some of the nation’s strictest lockdown policies were implemented in California. Meanwhile, following a bougie meal that violated his own health guidelines at a Michelin star restaurant, Gov. Gavin Newsom urged constituents on Twitter to support small businesses.
Small businesses throughout California have until January 8 to apply for relief as part of the state’s $500 million relief package, but with millions of dollars in PPP loans already having been distributed to Newsom’s own companies, the future doesn’t look bright.
As our leadership implements policies that they then feel it acceptable to openly flout without shame, our small businesses shutter, and the wounds on our communities grow deeper.
Ignoring the Obvious
We’ve already seen a lot of performative activism surrounding the virus, but perhaps the most sardonic of all is the concept we see repeatedly — that coronavirus has destroyed small businesses.
That’s not the case. Coronavirus has wreaked havoc on our families and our nation as a whole, but to claim that it’s now responsible for what’s more or less the eradication of the livelihoods of small businesses and countless proprietors, families, and communities allows the party responsible to completely escape blame, free from acknowledgment.
Incompetent leadership and overreaching policies are responsible for the destruction of small businesses.
Ineffective, incompetent leadership and overreaching policies are responsible for the destruction of small businesses. COVID didn’t close them; our elected officials, many of them drunk with authority, took advantage of a period of chaos and successfully capitalized on our fear. In a time when we should have been bolstering our communities, not through federal relief or so-called stimulus packages (which, believe it or not, we will have to pay back one day), we were told to stay inside and cower while the policymakers who work for us, the American people, vacationed on islands and lectured us on the necessity of sacrifice.
The irony is overwhelming. While anti-establishment types and critics of capitalism urged us to dethrone Amazon and Walmart from their places of power, we singlehandedly enabled them, along with others, to monopolize the economy and fill the demand our drowning community-led and organized businesses were forbidden from addressing.
It's Time To Face the Facts
We were told that lockdowns were in place for our greater good. For the good of our families, our vulnerable populations, and our communities. But three separate studies, which you most likely won’t see as a headline or on the breaking news in the mainstream media, have found that, for all intents and purposes, lockdowns haven’t accomplished what they set out to do.
An analysis from Bloomberg in association with Oxford University Stringency Data, focused specifically on lockdown practices in Europe, and found no correlation between “the severity of a nation’s restrictions and whether it managed to curb excess fatalities.”
Additionally, a study from Frontiers in Public Health examined 160 countries over eight months, and specifically those countries’ economies, populations, government, and other statistics, and found no correlation between strict lockdown restrictions and a lowered mortality rate caused by the pandemic.
Three separate studies found that lockdowns haven’t accomplished what they set out to do.
Before those two, The Lancet, a peer-reviewed journal, scrutinized 50 countries. Their findings resulted in the summation that lockdowns didn’t curb the pandemic mortality rate — and that while the virus wasn’t the main contributor to deaths, other lifestyle factors like smoking and obesity were.
All of this, however small scale and not widely considered it may be, is pretty damning. But it’s not accepted as fact or even acknowledged because it fails to fit the narrative; in fact, it contradicts it entirely.
Jon Miltimore for the Foundation for Economic Freedom summarized it best: “Public health officials believe they can manage a virus through effective central planning, but this is folly and hubris. Human behavior and action are incredibly complex, far too complex for bureaucrats and political officials to control through policy directives.”
Small businesses are desperately essential, valuable components of our modern culture. They encourage local growth in our communities, provide job opportunities, and represent meaningful, individualized economic freedom and entrepreneurship, some of the core tenets our country was founded on, long before there was any virus to contradict that natural instinct.
We’ve allowed the biggest robbery of all to take place, one that targeted all our small businesses in one fell swoop. We let flawed reason and deeply ineffective decision-making take those meaningful contributions away from us, and we continue to fail to hold those responsible accountable. And when we fail to question or even discuss that, we let them get away with it.