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My wife was in Walmart today. The woman in front of her was buying wind chimes made out of fake shells. New Jersey is still under a lot of restrictions from the governor’s COVID-19 lockdown. Walmart, and its plastic wind chimes, have been deemed essential.
When governors decided to shut down their states for the sake of people’s physical health, they also made decisions about people’s economic health. By calling certain businesses “essential” or “non-essential” they gave themselves the right to pick winners and losers. More often than not, the small guys were the losers.
Since Walmart sells food, it is considered essential. The Walmart in my town is not a “Super” Walmart so they don’t sell produce, meat, or fresh baked goods, but they do sell lots of other food. While I accept that food is essential, why is it that you can buy clothes at Walmart but a small clothing store must remain closed because it is non-essential? Is it safer to walk through Walmart with hundreds of others than to go into a small boutique with one or two other shoppers? Probably not? Could a clothing shop put a few bags of chips on their shelf and magically become essential? I don’t think the governor would go along with that. But why not let the big and small businesses both safely compete?
Sure, we are all in this together, but these shutdowns are boosting certain businesses at the expense of others. All restaurants can offer take-out, but the big chain ones already have online ordering and customized apps for that. And then there is the chart above. When governors around the country started to react to COVID-19, Walmart’s stock took a hit, as did much of the economy. Since then? Well, it sure looks like having the government close down your competition is good for business.
A lot of the governors making these essential/non-essential decisions are Democrats who like to say they fight for the little guy. Truth is, big government and big business get along pretty well. If you run a small business and are unsure if you can survive after two months without revenue, maybe you should consider a more “essential” career … like selling plastic wind chimes that were made in China.Published in