STAY HOME!

That’s the demand from the state governments in California, New York, Connecticut, Illinois, and New Jersey. It may soon be the demand from the U.S. government as well. 

Schools are closed. Businesses are locking their doors. We either work from home or we don’t work at all.

Welcome to Spring Break in the Age of the Coronavirus.

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Our elected officials are anxious to show how serious they’re taking this crisis. And, as patriots and concerned citizens, we all dutifully fall in line. We’ve locked ourselves inside our homes and have barricaded the doors with mountains of newly purchased paper towels, toilet paper, and sanitized hand-wipes.

Frankly, I don’t mind the lockdown. I work from home anyway. It’s usually just me and my two little dogs, cooped up in my office for hours on end. 

Now I get the company of my sons and my wife. So, for me, the lockdown is a net positive.

My sons and my wife may not see it the same way. But, they comply… because that’s what the government has told them to do.

“We’ll get through this together,” our leaders insist, and we repeat the slogan. And, like children who hold bake sales and then send the proceeds to the U.S. government to help pay down the national debt, we lock ourselves inside and feel good about “doing our part” to beat this crisis.

Meanwhile, my mother-in-law cries to me over the telephone because she can’t hug her grandsons. My friend, Giovanni, locked the doors to his restaurant last Thursday evening and decided he won’t open them again. Claims for unemployment insurance have skyrocketed. Airplanes, hotels, and shopping malls are empty. Manufacturing plants are shutting down.

The U.S. government has decided it will drop money from helicopters to help its’ people through the crisis. But, what will we spend it on? And, where will the money come from? After all, tax receipts are going to grind to a halt. There’s no income, and thus no income taxes. Nobody is buying anything – except the aforementioned paper products – so there’s no sales tax.

How will the apparently essential services of the government continue if there’s no revenue to pay for it?

I guess the real question – the one just about everyone has in the back of their minds, but is unwilling to ask for fear of being politically incorrect – considering the trillions of dollars of economic damage is…

Is the cure worse than the disease?

I don’t know how to answer that. We don’t know how many deaths will ultimately be assigned to the virus. We don’t know the ultimate cost of shutting down the economy. Heck, we don’t even know if the demand to STAY HOME will solve anything.

The numbers, as of this past Saturday, show that about 300 Americans have died from the Coronavirus. We know that number is going to increase. 

We don’t yet know the cost of having everybody stay home for two weeks, two months, or longer. But, we do know the stock market has lost more than $4 trillion in value so far this month. And, it loses more every time someone from the government says, “Here’s what we’ll do…”

You can do the math for yourself and reach your own conclusion.

As for me… I’ll do my part. I’ll STAY HOME. That’s not hard for me. I stay at home most days anyway. So, I’ll dutifully comply with what my government has asked me to do. 

But, in the back of my mind, I can’t help but recall what President Ronald Reagan called “the nine most terrifying words in the English language…”

I’m from the government, and I’m here to help.

Best regards and good trading,

Jeff Clark

Reader Mailbag

Do you think a government-issued quarantine is helpful to society, or a hindrance? Send us your thoughts at [email protected].

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