The following article is an opinion piece and reflects the views of the author and not those of TheGeorgiaVirtue.com
Every day it becomes more and more clear that, in addition to dependency, one of the ‘end goals’ of pandemic-related policies is the destruction of small businesses.
In an op-ed published in the Savannah Morning News on Monday, State Senator Tonya Anderson lambasted the decision by Governor Brian Kemp and Labor Commissioner Mark Butler to opt out of the federal unemployment programs, calling it “punitive” and one made without taking into consideration the challenges of the adversely affected group, people she referred to as “unemployed workers.”
Anderson also said state leaders were disrespectful for ignoring the need of people to earn a living wage of $15 an hour. She acknowledged a worker shortage but said state officials had made no attempt to understand why people are afraid to go back to work after “enduring the real trauma” of the pandemic. You can read the complete op-ed here.
The Senator, who represents DeKalb, Rockdale and Newton counties and serves as the Chair of the Georgia Legislative Black Caucus, places considerable blame on those who seek to remove incentives for people to stay home while ignoring how her own policies and ideology have damaged communities near and far.
Her diatribe in the SMN would suggest that she has not perused the streets of the communities where her editorial was published – the empty storefronts in the historic district, the still-shuttered businesses in downtown, the game of leapfrog one plays in searching for an open establishment due to lacking employees. Temporary and handwritten signs appear on doors everywhere, indicating a pattern of unexpected early closures due to understaffing.
On the Saturday before Mother’s Day, I took my own mom to Savannah for the day only to find the once bustling city that had people walking shoulder-to-shoulder on both sides of the business-lined streets was seemingly desolate, with an eerie quietness about it. The restaurant we stopped at for lunch had one waiter working the bar, serving all of the tables, and acting as the host. The others had once again not shown up for work that day so this guy was left to tend to 50+ guests at a time on a holiday weekend…which also happened to fall on graduation weekend.
A travel destination, a stalwart of tourism, a port of call for conferences of every variety – that’s what Savannah once was, pre-pandemic. Pre-policies of compassion instead of policies of principle. Pre-throttlehold by the likes of Senator Tonya Anderson and those who share her values – Mayor Van Johnson, President Joe Biden, Sen. Jon Ossoff, the list goes on.
While Savannah is not alone in its suffering, it’s not as if we couldn’t see this train coming down the tracks. In September 2020, Yelp data indicated that 60% of the pandemic-induced closures of small businesses would be permanent and in April 2021, the Wall Street Journal reported that year one of the pandemic claimed 200,000 businesses across the country. The fact that anyone thinks now is the time to saddle a small business with a government-mandated increase to minimum wage is mind blowing.
Since Senator Anderson identifies as a Minister and not a business owner, she is deserving of some slack as we can presume that she has no comprehension of supply chain economics because she is not responsible for adding value to our economy. She doesn not keep an inventory, make a payroll, or produce a good intended for a specific consumer. Ironically, as a faith leader, she has a job that is free of government oversight and intervention. But as a minister, she should know that the place for compassion and support is in a House of Worship, not the People’s House.
Senator Anderson should also know that the term ‘unemployed workers’ is flawed, at best. An individual is either unemployed or they are a worker, but they are not both at the same time. At least if you’re not propelling a disinformation campaign.
More concerning, and the senator is not alone in this, is the complete lack of awareness with regard to her own ideological inconsistency. Like most elected officials these days, Senator Anderson’s social media accounts offer COVID vaccination calls to action: “Don’t delay – protect yourself and your loved ones.” A ‘free’ vaccination that is supposed to offer a return to normalcy, is available to anyone, anywhere, with zero out of pocket costs. You don’t even need an appointment in most places.
But that is not enough to justify demanding that people find a job and get off the government dole. It matters not to these political leaders that the system is being taken for granted, that upwards of 250,000 jobs are available every single day, or that business owners are willing to pay employees more than ever.
No amount of vaccination accessibility, no chart depicting consistent reduction in COVID-related hospitalizations, no pattern of statistics showing the lowest number of confirmed cases since May 2020, no empty coffer of $22 billion in unemployment benefits and lost wages assistance will ever be enough.
It won’t ever be enough because vaccine availability, depleted hospitalizations, and staggeringly low case counts weren’t the end goal. It won’t ever be enough because the policies being pushed only work if people need government in order to survive. It’s why Anderson and her colleagues are willing to exploit the supposed fear and trauma of their constituents to advance their own agendas. They need people to be afraid, dependent, and fanatical.
The corporations so many left-leaning ideologues claim to hate have repeatedly taken precedence over Mom & Pop shops – from early on PPE distribution to government handouts to tax incentives on the back end. And don’t forget whose doors were ordered shut last year as others saw record revenues.
While small business owners everywhere may be afraid for the future, they are not driven by it, nor are they dependent or fanatical. An individual is more likely to be hired by a small business owner than a major corporation that has the funds and resources to work in perpetuity to find ways to hire fewer people. For a driven, ethical, and honest employee, a small business is more likely to accommodate concerns for health, upward mobility, and childcare – something Anderson said was a major concern for people returning to work.
Small businesses have the tools, resources, and desires – for now – to build communities, boost local economies, and sustain individuals with all kinds of backgrounds. Small businesses cultivate environments where people are not afraid, dependent, or fanatical…and yet, so many of our ‘leaders’ continue to work against them.
If you still don’t understand why, you’re probably working against small businesses, too.