Opinion » Letter From The Editor

Farewell to the “Risk-Takers”

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The big, bald, white guy standing in line at Midtown Home Depot is laughing loudly, sharing a joke with a couple of co-workers, or maybe employees. They look Hispanic and they are wearing masks, so I can't tell if they're laughing. In fact, everyone within eyesight in Home Depot is wearing a mask except the big, loud guy.

Maybe he's one of the DeSoto County Sheriff's Department deputies who don't wear masks because, as their boss says, "they're risk-takers." Yeah, that's probably it. The guy in Home Depot is a risk-taker, a macho dude who needs to let everyone know that he don't need no stinking mask, 'cause he ain't skeered of the 'rona.

What can you do when you encounter selfish idiots like that? Not much, except stay away, move to another line, let him check out before moving forward. You can't expect Home Depot workers to put their own health and safety at risk confronting someone who is probably hoping someone confronts him, so he can proclaim masks don't help and they infringe on his freedom and what are you gonna do about it, punk?

There were some similar sentiments vociferously offered at Monday's Shelby County Commission meeting, mostly coming from folks in the restaurant community, which has arguably suffered more damage from the pandemic than almost any other business sector. One Germantown restaurant owner proclaimed that in regards to actual deaths from COVID, "There are no hard numbers showing anything." I know of 260,000 dead Americans who might differ with that assessment. And the numbers showing that masks, social distancing, and other health measures save lives are very hard, and undeniable.

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But I get it: COVID is not just killing individuals; it's killing jobs and businesses; it's getting people evicted; it's putting millions of Americans in food lines and on unemployment rolls. The entire economy is devastated. Movie theaters, music venues, bars, brick-and-mortar retail stores, and yes, restaurants are dying every day. In Memphis this week we learned that two of our cultural icons are in trouble: The P&H Cafe (The Beer Joint of Your Dreams) and Earnestine & Hazel's (Home of the Soul Burger) are both precariously near extinction.

Here's the deal, as President-elect Joe Biden might say: Health regulations aren't what's killing businesses. That's like blaming seat belts for car accidents. COVID is killing businesses. And nothing gets better until we get this pandemic under control. And it doesn't get under control until we have a coordinated national strategy to flatten the curve all over the country, one that gets masks on as many sentient beings as will wear them, that gets adequate amounts of PPE and other vital supplies to hospitals and healthcare workers, and that ramps up a strategy to deliver vaccines and cutting-edge remediation meds to those who need them most. And yes, one that will probably require continued social distancing in certain indoor spaces.

The U.S. is like a tornado-ravaged village. The damage is everywhere. Except maybe on certain golf courses. It's time to begin to start the recovery process. We need a domestic Marshall Plan, including a comprehensive COVID relief package that puts real money in the hands of struggling business owners and real Americans — and soon.

And we need to accept reality.

A few shell-shocked Republicans are climbing out of their bunkers and finally, sorta, kinda saying maybe we ought to possibly consider — I mean, just spit-balling here — that Joe Biden may have, you know, theoretically speaking, won the presidency ... Pleasedon'thurtmeMr.Trump!

This is what passes for political courage in the GOP these days. Lord knows they don't want to rush to judgment and contradict the very plausible theory that millions of votes in several states were changed by a sneaky voting-machine program created by Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez (who died in 2013!) and used by Democrats and certain RINOs to steal the election from Fearless Leader.

This evil cabal was so fiendishly clever that its conspirators decided to allow Senator Mitch McConnell to be re-elected, as well as pushing several toss-up Senate and House races to the Republicans.

This is pretty much the actual theory being pushed by the president's crack legal team of Slapdash, Dipshit, and RunnyDye, because it makes perfect sense in the Bizarro World of QAnon, OAN, Breitbart, Newsmax, and Parler.

So yeah, it's been a fun four years, America. But damn, it's time to move on, time to take the bowl of nuts off the coffee table, time to say enough to the "risk-takers." There's a real mess to clean up.

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