My business is essential, at least according to DoD guidelines – our customers build the trucks your cable, power, cell phone, and sundry other utility and delivery companies use to make staying at home a bit less awful. In many respects you could say this shutdown passed us by: you cannot do manufacturing at home, engineers are next to useless after a few weeks if they lack for hardware to test, while everyone else has been needed to answer the phones, place orders, receive goods, and ship. We only had 2 people working from home during the entirety of the shutdown, and 1 person on reduced hours because daycares were basically shut. But our industrial park was otherwise a ghost town tucked behind a ghostly strip mall, with ghostly commuters on drives to work and home again.
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?
My company is in the aerospace industry. Our industry has been declared Essential by all levels of government. However, we are apparently not quite essential enough. We had been working steadily through the Wuhan Virus crisis, building and shipping flight-deck switches and control panels to a wide variety of customers, from the Army and Navy, […]
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