I hate to say it, but..

I really wish I didn’t have to feel vindicated, but even if you are a high level manager at a big corporate outfit, even if you have worked passionately in the private sector and you know the value of free markets, competition, and capitalism, even if you run a little one, two man shop — there’s one thing I’m betting you don’t know unless you have been responsible for an entire organization: businesses and economies can’t just shut down and turn back on as though nothing happened.

Brian Wesbury, Chief Economist of First Trust Advisors LP is saying what I’ve been saying for six weeks now.  “People think you can just turn off an economy and then turn it right back on.  You can’t.”

I’m surprised by the number of people — some of them high level professionals, some of them executives even — who think we all just show back up at the office, answer our voice mails, start up our marketing programs and plow right back in.  You assume that because someone else did all the real planning and worrying for you.  Someone else made sure the liability and property insurance was paid.  Someone else was checking the margins.  Someone else was projecting future sales.  Yes, you did some of that, but you were never required to look at the entire picture and you never knew how tough it was to keep the whole enterprise going, even in good times.

Imagine, now,  the kind of roadblocks that are in the way for private companies, large and small.  Imagine trying to project sales and hire the proper amount of staff in an environment where no one knows how fearful the consumers will remain?   Bring on 10 people, or 100?   Plan for $50,000 worth of sales or $500,000?   This is unknown territory.  Do you want to risk your money at this time?   No?  Well then maybe the owner of the business you once worked for doesn’t either.

Imagine trying to re-hire employees who are now receiving, in some cases, more money on unemployment than they were working.  Imagine advertising chicken pot pie but not being sure if the supply chain will break down right in the middle of your campaign?

Imagine Brian Wesbury’s lament here (God bless him!  I’ve been saying this for a month.)  Imagine opening a business where the faucian geeks in government think they can just shut you down whenever there’s a new bug?

Okay, so you don’t run a business and you don’t want to, but just imagine what this climate does to the production of all the things you buy regularly.  Imagine a morning without coffee because — d’oh! — we’ve got coffee beans, and we’ve got trucks, but the guy who maintains the big roasting equipment has gone bankrupt or the packaging material supplier has been economically body-slammed.  Imagine a summer without ice cream and hamburgers.  Imagine your clothes starting to look a little frayed.  You’ve got all those goodies because millions of small business owners were willing to do all the worrying for you.

It might be a little more serious too.  Suppose this idiotic stretch of no “elective medical procedures” puts a few small medical supply companies out of business, and when you can find a hospital who will help you, they say they are willing, but they just don’t have the parts, or the medicines to put you back together, because you were sheltering at home, happily singing “we will get through this,”  and thinking you were putting lives over dollars.