Those who ignore History are doomed to repeat it

di Joe Volpe del March 24, 2020

TORONTO - Not to understate the obvious, but it’s probably fair to ask why our medical, entrepreneurial and political leadership have not been as prepared to handle this Covid-19 crisis. From a health perspective, the response has ranged from the totally oblivious to the alarmist paranoid.

Society seems to have thrown out all sense of balance, common sense and the normal ”due diligence of every-day living”. With the benefit of hindsight, we can all question other people’s judgement. We should nonetheless learn from the misery of others in Italy, Spain France and elsewhere. On the medical challenge, incomplete data hinders strategic planning.

It would seem that North American society took matters a little too lightly. Now we appear to be headed in the direction where Italy and others have already proven we will end up next. We should have tested for the virus weeks ago – if not months ago when the Chinese put some 30 million people on lockdown.

As of last night, 100 million Americans found themselves in similar conditions. New York City, arguably the richest city in the world, will be short of medical supplies by this weekend.

In an interview on CNN, Dr. Antonio Fauci, the medical lead on the Covid-19 response in the USA, described testing as "one clear issue that needs to be relooked at.

Why were we not able to mobilize on a broader scale?" But asking those questions right now was "premature," Fauci said. "We really need to look forward." On the issue of looking forward, the attention has bifurcated to include the health of our economy and the survival of businesses of all shapes and sizes.

The Big Boys, so to speak, know how to take care of themselves. Whether right or wrong, they are the first in line with their hand out and clenched fist when others approach them.

“This is a situation when those with liquidity are primed to take advantage of a Crash looming on the horizon”, observed Sam Primucci, President of Pizza Nova. “We’re not in the category. We and our franchisees operate on volume and small margins. We have substantial fixed costs (rent, operating loans etc.) that must be met, regardless of revenue, which in the last two weeks has dropped by over 66%".

In businesses like his – restaurant, take out, reliance on driver- delivery dependent on close human interaction – government measures to recondition human behavior are lukewarm at best. “We are in the process of changing everything about the social construct that men and women in the last century sacrificed to achieve”, he added wistfully.

Perhaps the best thing that governments can do is shut everything down and give the general public a two week pause until we have a firm handle on the crisis, he offered. That means that landlords, banks and other “lenders” also have to put a freeze on their collections, he said.

“If we’re all in this together – and we are – then government should seize the opportunity to show leadership and pull the plug on everything and ensure that everyone is treated equally”, he commented regretfully. “Maybe when we reopen, we’ll have an invigorated milieu. Right now, this piece-meal approach is not working”.


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