Governors across the country are deploying their unilateral power to institute draconian measures which close small businesses, mostly those in the service industry. They use outright Orwellian language to justify doing so, all in the name of the greater good of halting COVID-19 cases. But it’s not working anymore.
Total cases are higher now than they’ve been since the spring and people are losing their livelihoods. No federal relief has come and there is a nationwide feeling that the dam is about to break. When people were told they had ‘15 days to slow the spread’, they listened. While they obliged, they watched crowds gather in protest of their personal causes and politicians ignore their own rules.
As Gavin Newsom dines at French Laundry and Andrew Cuomo collects Emmy Awards, small-business owners in their states are going viral for fighting back against the orders rendering their businesses not essential. That’s how the governors have justified the shuttering of thousands of businesses since March: you are not essential. As it turns out, the least essential workers happen to be the mayors of Denver, Austin, Chicago, Philadelphia, Washington DC, New York City, San Jose and San Francisco, all of whom violated the COVID restrictions they had imposed on their own constituents. When members of our media flatter the likes of Cuomo with giant cotton swabs and late-night appearances, here’s what they should be asking: what is not an essential business?
Which businesses are not essential to people? What defines a non-essential business? Every business that employs someone is essential. Every business owned by a private citizen on personal capital is essential to that person. In Los Angeles, a woman named Angela Marsden recorded a video of her bar, Pineapple Hill Saloon and Grill shut down, including outside dining, which she had paid to have installed in the parking lot. In the video she shows a catering set-up for a movie production, showing the distance to be about 50 feet away. The clip went viral, garnering over five million views in two days. Rich and powerful celebrities (or podcasters) have been deemed essential workers in Los Angeles, but a small-business owner and her employees are not.
In Staten Island, Danny Presti, who owns Mac’s Public House, is defying shutdown orders and the city’s absurd coloring system for neighborhoods and continuing to operate in the face of losing his entire business to health code violations. Presti’s bar sits on the border of an ‘orange zone’, meaning anyone can walk two blocks to another bar that is not shut down. It’s madness. A few miles away in Manhattan, the late-night ‘comedy’ show Saturday Night Live is allowed to operate indoors. This past Saturday, Staten Islander Pete Davidson lampooned the people defying government shutdown orders as ‘babies’.
The powerful and the famous are lining up against everyday people losing their livelihoods without any assistance or incentive. That’s how social revolutions and populist backlashes happen — and Donald Trump won’t be to blame for it anymore. Small-business owners who have been deemed non-essential are waking up to the fact that there is no help coming — and that people forcing them to lose everything are not there to assist. The message is clear: you are on your own.
Eventually governors like Gavin Newsom and Andrew Cuomo will learn that of all the people they are deeming non-essential, they might be the least essential of them all.
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