- - Wednesday, December 2, 2020

Tracktherecovery.org — a database ran by Harvard University — has continued to track the economic fallout since COVID-19 has spread across the United States. As of Nov. 16, a reported 47.1% of small businesses have failed to remain open in the District of Columbia. This number has been steadily increasing since July 4, at 36.1%. 

The industry hit the hardest by the lockdowns enforced by Mayor Muriel Bowser remains leisure and hospitality, which has bottomed out by a 68.71% reduction. Miss Bowser has also kept her order for houses of worship at 50% capacity, depriving people of faith and putting pastors and church administrations into a corner.

As of Nov. 30, the D.C. Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs ensured fitness gyms shut their doors, after several instances of owners fighting the lockdown orders. Anne Mahlum, founder and CEO of Solidcore Gyms, argued that customers have been to her establishments over 340,000 times since June and avoided any instances of COVID-19. 

“We are confident we can continue to provide a safe, clean environment for our clients and coaches,” Ms. Mahlum said. 

Still, her operation is being halted — or potentially shut down indefinitely — because of the bureaucracy’s love for telling people how to live their lives. For making promises that seldom come to fruition.

In nearby Bethesda, Hispanic owner Juan Carlos Castillo says he has fired 81% of his staff at Tierra Events, an event company. Asked if he could survive another government lockdown, Mr. Castillo said, “It’s tough, it’s tough. Probably not … It’s more like survival.”

It is small business owners, especially, that do not have the resources or means to perpetually stay open in the midst of lockdowns. In D.C., this is no joke. According to D.C. Policy Center, 69.11% of businesses have fewer than five employees in the area. Businesses with less than 50 employees account for “almost 60 percent of employees in retail-trade,” 47.41% in accommodation and food services, and 42% in arts and entertainment. 

These three industries have been evidently wrecked economically, taking into account the data from the Harvard-funded study. Retail shops are being supplanted by Internet shopping, people are cooking more and restaurants are failing to stay open. D.C. theaters are still closed for in-person performances. Live musicians are barely making it, too, having to move to social media platforms to connect with people.

On Dec. 1, lawmakers finally agreed to unveil a $908 billion COVID-19 relief package. This bill will grant $160 billion to states and cities, while delivering $180 billion for unemployment benefits. The remaining allocation is set for small business relief, transportation-related relief, vaccine funding and health care provider relief. 

It is about time the government coordinated to compensate small businesses to some degree, since tyrannically forcing owners to go on welfare. But where is the $1,200 stimulus package? Where has it been for months?

“If I am sent a Stand Alone Bill for Stimulus Checks ($1,200), they will go out to our great people IMMEDIATELY. I am ready to sign right now. Are you listening Nancy?” the president tweeted on Oct. 7 — demonstrating the degree to which House Speaker Pelosi put off any relief to ensure it would not benefit Mr. Trumps’ reelection chances.

Barring the COVID-19 relief bill, and the problematic element of the government failing to compensate people individually for stripping them of their livelihood, there is a greater issue here. 

Lawmakers like Mayor Bowser, or Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf, or California Gov. Gavin Newsom — to name a few — are playing God with people’s lives. Instead of allowing the American market economy to thrive, while also giving people personal choice, they and others fail to trust people to make pertinent decisions about their lives. They seek to re-compensate based on security, continually making us reliant on their decisions to get dinner on the table each night. 

The economic data in D.C. is just one piece of the puzzle. Across the country, millions and millions of hardworking Americans are being led like sheep to the slaughter. In Maine, there has been a 39.4% small business loss; a 37% differential in Massachusetts, 38.7% in New Mexico — 37.2% in Connecticut. 

It’s happening everywhere. And it comes down to whether our lawmakers (a) believe in us to be responsible and weigh the risks in life or (b) ceaselessly fondle with their Ivy League degrees, presuming the rest of us don’t have what it takes to use our brains. 

I can fairly assume the latter is their interpretation of everyday Americans. 

According to prior economic data from the book “Corporate Flight: The Causes and Consequences of Economic Dislocation” by Barry Bluestone, Bennett Harrison and Lawrence Baker — there are an estimated 37,000 more fatalities each percentage-point rise in the unemployment rate. This data is a benchmark for understanding the link between being poor, going on welfare and, consequently, dying. 

Putting small business owners on welfare in D.C. is a temporary fix. The government is putting a Band-Aid on a scathing wound. The reality is that this same wound will grow bloodier and bloodier until the selfish bureaucrats realize the antidote. 

A beautiful thing called freedom. 

• Gabe Kaminsky is a student at the University of Pittsburgh and can be reached at gkaminskycontact@gmail.com

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