By John Stone
There have been a couple of interesting developments around the world we have seen with our experience with COVID-19. And these are hopeful signs, not just stuff about the numbers of people tested or who have died.
The first has been the observations of the environment. There has always been a discussion of what impact human activities have had on the environment. With the pandemic, many countries shut down, people stayed home, factories closed and people didn’t drive cars and things kind of stopped. Places that had a lot of air pollution suddenly didn’t have lots of air pollution.
One set of pictures that caught my eye were taken in an area of India which had lots of air pollution. Some people there said they hadn’t seen the Himalayan Mountains for close to 30 years. In a matter of days they were visible.
Other cities in the U.S. that had problems saw things get better almost overnight. We’ve had clean air laws for decades that have cleaned our air more than some countries but, even so, people noticed a reduction of haze in the sky in places like Denver and Los Angeles.
So it is clear that much of that is man made, because when man stopped making it things cleared up.
The second item is the role of the average person in the economy. Our government has operated for some time on the theory that if the rich had more money and lower taxes they would invest that money in new businesses and create more jobs which would improve everybody’s standard of living. It’s called the “trickle down theory.”
But when our nation shut down almost overnight because of the coronavirus, our economy came to a screeching halt. People stopped buying because they had no income or couldn’t because businesses were closed. Close to 40 million people lost their jobs.
Airlines lost 90 percent of their business, cruise lines lost all of their U.S, business, factories shut down because what they made wasn’t being purchased. Hotels were shuttered because people stopped travel, restaurants closed to avoid virus spreading.
We have a consumer economy. When the millionaires and billionaires stop spending, it doesn’t affect most small businesses or even chain businesses. There aren’t enough wealthy to cause a recession and the percentage of their income that is necessary for daily living is relatively small.
When the average Joe and Sally stop spending, things grind to a halt. There are more of them and they spend most of what they make for daily living. They buy the Chevys and Fords, clothes from JCPenney and Macys, food from chain restaurants, daily needs from hardware stores and grocery stores and things from the small local businesses in the towns where they live.
The average person is the key to the economy. When Joe and Sally don’t have money everybody suffers. That indicates that the reality is that the economy trickles up.
Whether or not this information influences national policy in the future remains to be seen.
John Stone is the former mayor of Glenwood and former publisher of the Pope County Tribune and Starbuck Times. In the Know is a rotating column written by community leaders from the Douglas County area.