The late TV comedian, Jack Benny, was known for his deadpan facial expressions and for being tight with money.
On one show, he was approached by a robber, who pointed a gun at him and said, “Your money or your life.”
A few seconds of silence lapsed, then the robber nervously said, “Well, which is it?” Benny, looked into the camera with his classic pose and responded, “Don’t rush me, I’m thinking.”
Let’s hope this doesn’t become an option facing us with COVID-19. A growing number insist that even with the threat of serious illness and death we cannot afford to wreck our economy. We need to get back to business.
Just as loud are those who say that nothing is more important than the health of our people and we can rebuild our economic engine after we have defeated this disease.
Some have even suggested that elderly and at-risk individuals might gladly sacrifice their lives to save our economy.
Speaking as one included in this group, let me emphatically say I’m not willing to die just to put a few coins in your pockets.
If you are one who believes there might be those willing to sacrifice their lives, why don’t you get in the front of that line?
Then there are those postulating that more people will die from a depressed economy than from this really scary and contagious pandemic. The claim is totally unfounded, but if true, it is an acknowledgement of where we are as a society. It speaks volumes about our charity and concern for others.
Have we really become so callused to others’ needs that we cannot share with those who suffer?
It is understandable that sufficient personal protective equipment was not on hand at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Our country faced similar shortages in World War II, but government mandates, coupled with a cooperative spirit and Yankee ingenuity, resulted in unimagined production levels attained in a remarkably short time.
Once set in motion we were turning out completed B-24 bombers, which contained 1.5 million parts, every 63 minutes.
We have better machinery, smarter IT, better educated people and more efficient supply chains than existed in WWII. The same formulas that worked then could work now to ramp up and turn out the supplies needed, then direct them where most needed.
We asked Dr. Mandy Cohen, N.C. Secretary of Health and Human Services, how she would respond to this money or life question.
Her response was that she didn’t think this needed to be an “either-or” scenario.
To avoid this scenario, we must stay home, follow our state leaders’ advice and pull together as a community.
Under no circumstances should anyone be put in the position of playing God, of choosing who gets to live and who has to die.
Our government has passed a massive relief package that will hopefully stave off financial disaster for many, but should it come down to having to choose between money or lives I would hope we would choose life and put our financial house back in order when the health threat is not so great.
Try this out as the slogan for this time: “Victory Over the Virus – It’s Up to Us.”
Tom Campbell is former assistant state treasurer and is creator/host of “NC SPIN,” a weekly statewide TV discussion of North Carolina issues that airs on UNC-TV.