It is low-wage employees who are most being hurt. The knowledge class can shelter in place and work from their home computers. Their employers are not shutting down. Not so people who physically provide goods and services. The employees who have been let off now may not be able to find work again if the economy continues to collapse. While governors and mayors declare some businesses essential and some not, to their employees, they are all essential.
A prolonged depression will stunt lives as surely as any viral epidemic, and its toll will not be confined to the elderly. The shuttering of auto manufacturing plants led to an 85 per cent increase in opioid overdose deaths in the surrounding counties over seven years, according to a recent study. Radical social upheaval is possible.
The arts world is being decimated. For the last two years the New York Times and other left-wing newspapers have been bashing the boards of major cultural institutions for being too white and too male. Those institutions had better hope that their “non-diverse” trustees feel flush enough after the $5 trillion loss in the stock market to bail them out.
While the coming explosion of deficit spending – possibly $2 trillion worth – may be necessary to keep people afloat, government cannot possibly replicate the wealth-creating effects of voluntary commerce. The enormously complex web of trade, once killed, cannot be brought back to life by government stimulus. And who is going to pay for all that deficit spending as businesses close and tax revenues disappear?