Don't Let COVID-19 Destroy our Local Businesses

By Jim Dodge - Orland Park Village Trustee

Don’t let Covid-19 destroy our local business.  The virus will pass, the business might not come back.This week my wife Linda and I have been trying to have one meal per day take out from a local restaurant.  Tonight, we picked up dinner from Tradycja near 144th and LaGrange.  Great food and service.

They, like every small business need our help. While waiting for my order, and standing 6 feet away, I was chatting with the three people working, a true skeleton staff.  Things are tough.  Very tough. As was brought up to me, how can it be fair when we don’t give restaurants or bars a chance to adapt (like limiting people in the dining room), but the panic buying at grocery stores and Costco that forces way too many people, way too close together, for hours is ok?

Business is way down, it is unclear how the federal government will help and more importantly, when.  I’m a student of history and economics and I don’t know of any modern examples where business and demand just simply died because of a necessary “stay at home” order from our various levels of government.

I’ve long held that government needs to be small and effective, and right now I’m not seeing it.  There is a lot of talk about federal support for economy, which is the right thing to do in a health crisis that will very likely induce a deep recession.  But something is missing.

Bigger businesses have more options to survive, smaller businesses don’t have that luxury.  Washington bickering is over the focus and the money: workers or the businesses. Here’s a news flash for people who set government policy: workers work for businesses.  I know shocking. 

To paraphrase Lincoln, capital exists because someone labored.  Washington and Springfield make it an art form to tell us the money they will spend on us.  Guess what?  That money doesn’t exist, there is no magic money tree, there is no lockbox.  We, you and me, will pay for all of this in future taxes. Given the pandemic, we of course have no choice. However, let’s do it the right way.

If you want to help people keep their jobs, help the people who employ them. That business has to pay the loan or rent, they have to pay for insurance, they have to pay taxes. Where is the shared pain if the bankers, the insurance companies and government don’t flex? We are all literally in this together.  So where is the federal legislation forcing bankers to just take interest only to help keep someone job? Ditto for the insurance companies? Let me know if I missed the press conferences by politicians saying they will reduce to zero all the taxes due for the next two months to help save private sector preserve jobs. With some luck and hard work, the coming recession can be short and shallow.  At some point, when does government actually solve the problem structurally and not throw out money it doesn’t have?

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