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Making a bad situation worse: The choice between the economy and lives is a false one

Attorney Scott Pilutik wrestles with the news of the day, from a lawyerly perspective…

The choice between the economy and lives is a false one. Our collective internal risk calculus won’t simply flip from ‘unsafe’ to ‘safe’ because a governor lifts a stay-at-home order.

Sure, some people will go to the movies or a bowling alley this weekend now that Georgia’s governor gave the green light. But will enough people go that those venues are actually profiting? Probably not. And will enough people go to those venues to increase the likelihood of the spread of the virus? Assuredly. That is, it won’t be so crowded at the bowing alley that it makes money, but it’ll be crowded enough to increase the spread of the virus.

And when the hospitals and morgues start filling up as a result of your governor’s negligence, people are going to be even more hesitant to break out the bowling shoes. “Reopening” too early is lose-lose because you increase deaths while prolonging economic recession.

The economic ramifications are made worse by the lack of a unified strategy across the fifty states, which will adversely impact travel between the states for the foreseeable future, travel being a key component of any economy, exacerbated by a president whose divisive reelection strategy — indeed, pitting the states against each other for scarce resources — is taking precedence over responding to a pandemic.

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The infuriating thing, the lost opportunity thing, is that the converse to lose-lose is true. The path to economic recovery is to reduce deaths: win-win. A sober diagnosis and a strategic, unified response, would get the entire country back faster, somewhat together. Instead we’re trying 50 different approaches, some of them grossly negligent.

Also in the news:

— Why Trump stopped pumping hydroxychloroquine: More deaths, no benefit from malaria drug in VA virus study

— $243.3 million of the SBA PPP program was given to publicly traded companies: Here are the largest public companies taking payroll loans meant for small businesses

Ruth’s Chris had $42.2 million in profits last year, spent $5.2 million buying its own stock, pays its CEO $6.1 million, has $86 million in cash reserves, and took $20 million from the SBA. Unlike Shake Shack, Ruth’s Chris isn’t giving that money back.

— Bill Barr is contemplating what sounds like Civil Rights Act lawsuits against the states, perverting the same mechanism that ended state segregation policies in the South. Suit suits would be viewed through the same analytical lens as the religious freedom cases, determining whether the state had a compelling interest and whether it used the least restrictive means. Bill Barr is just the worst. Barr: Some governors’ action ‘infringes on a fundamental right’ during coronavirus

— Texas Lieutenant Governor and self-proclaimed “pro-life” advocate Dan Patrick: “There are more important things than living” Like what, asshole? I know calling out Evangelicals for hypocrisy is a giant waste of time, but c’mon.

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