American Consequences - May 2020

By Buck Sexton

Forever lockdown has lost...


“Permanent” losses – of businesses, jobs, and financial stability – have not been getting much attention in the early stages of this crisis. Polling from just last week showed that 77% of laid-off or furloughed workers expected to get their jobs back once the lockdown orders are removed. This may end up being a far too optimistic view for many of them... Much of the self-inflicted damage here is on a time delay. Furloughed employees understandably expect that since they are on payroll, they’re going to just slide right back into their old job, in their old workspace, and return to corporate status quo. For laid-off employees, there’s certainly more immediate anxiety, although the federal government’s Paycheck Protection Program has softened the blow for many workers who would otherwise be going entirely without income. Sitting at home watching Netflix and eating ice cream for months is one thing while there’s money coming in, but it’s entirely another when someone has an empty bank account. It has cost trillions of dollars, but the government has bought time (with future generations’ money). Unfortunately, while the reopening is a positive move, we may all be in for a rude awakening as states get going. Sure, more productive activity in sectors like

at least for now. Voices that have been advocating for extending the most extreme virus-mitigation policies have not been able to prevent several major U.S. states from beginning their reopening processes. Georgia has been out of lockdown for two weeks, and still hasn’t seen the widely predicted “second wave” of infections. California, Texas, and a whole slew of other states are also in the first phase of economic awakening and appear to be doing well. It’s about time. The lockdowns have gone on far too long. The startling unemployment numbers have played no small role in shifting public sentiment on the reopening timelines. More than 33 million Americans have lost their jobs since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, with millions more losses expected this week. We managed to take the best jobs numbers in our history and turn them into our worst in a matter of weeks.

Even the usually sanguine Treasury Secretary, Steven Mnuchin, has talked

about “permanent” economic damage if the governors don’t lift their shelter-in-place orders and allow for economic activity to resume, with sensible precautions and limits in place to prevent avoidable spread of the virus.

American Consequences


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