Free People Always Overcome, So End the Lockdowns

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Growing up a headbanger, you get used to hearing about the apocalypse. 

From nuclear annihilation in Metallica’s “Blackened,” to “environmental holocaust” in Testament’s “Greenhouse Effect,” to Slayer’s more recently prophetic “disease spreading death/entire population dies” in “World Painted Blood.”  One could say we’re desensitized to it.

Or, we take it for the fiction it is, and maintain a belief in a free peoples’ ability to overcome.  Count me in that group.

No sane person is taking the coronavirus lightly, or calling it a hoax.  Everyone in my family and office started washing/sanitizing their hands more diligently.  I spotted our CEO wiping down door handles.  We’ve had travel plans and concerts (ugh) cancelled. 

Our kids’ schools have closed, our colleges have closed, and some of our employers started limiting office hours.  If you think about it, we’ve been moving in a direction the last couple decades that makes these precautions manageable.

My daughters’ teachers have pushed out assignments via Google Classroom, I took a crash course in Zoom to learn how to conduct my class online, and my colleagues did “trial runs” to ensure we could carry out our duties from home.

Now the drill is real, as San Antonio and Bexar County joined other jurisdictions by issuing a “Stay Home, Work Safe” order.  These technological trends of the last generation are getting a swift kick forward in this effort to “flatten the curve.”

To an extent, I get it. 

We’re learning daily what we’re dealing with, and trying to get our arms around it.  Nobody wants to see someone close to us succumb to this new, unknown threat, much less hundreds or thousands of our fellow citizens.  We want to ensure we have enough capacity for the critically stricken.

But we need to leave these “lockdowns” behind us ASAP, and it should start with the biggest silver lining in all this.

I can’t be the only one who is supremely grateful that our kids don’t seem to suffer from this malady like other age groups.  If it were otherwise, I might also not be the only parent whose house would look like Elliott’s when the authorities found E.T. 

Re-opening schools would have a dual upside: first, it would allow our kids to finish out the last month or so of their school year under normal conditions.  It would also allow parents to return to a regular work routine, which would be particularly important if they’re in the medical field or another role on the frontline dealing with this virus.

This crisis meanwhile, has split my friends’ opinions like I’ve rarely seen before.  I’ve sensed fault lines breaking along who’s fairly comfortable in life, who earns a wage, who can work from home, who’s prone to hysteria, etc.  But I also have the feeling health concerns come into play. 

Yours truly feels fortunate to have started running again this year, and to have overcome my stubbornness toward taking medication to address a burgeoning blood pressure issue.  I imagine some might be a little wary having recently emerged from surgical procedures, or they or a loved one has a pre-existing condition. 

Yet others may feel a not-so-healthy lifestyle might come back to bite them.  All are more vulnerable to the serious consequences of getting COVID-19.

Needless to say, folks with naturally-occurring ailments merit close attention, just like our parents do.  Given the regular trickle of information, we should all continue to exercise a healthy dose of caution, especially toward those we reasonably suspect of being careless or outright foolish, something we already do every day on the road, but I digress.

That said, before the end of April approaches, we should be free to go about our lives without the threat of being lighter in the wallet for doing so. 

If I want to take my family out for my daughter’s birthday, I should be able to.  If the restaurant wants to institute new capacity limits in order to spread people out, so be it.  If my wife wants to go get her hair and nails done, she should be able to.

People in service industries are the ones getting hit hardest by these shutdowns; both the workers AND the owners.  Many are adapting by creating makeshift drive-thrus to deliver takeout orders, for example.  Those who have lost their jobs will certainly have the opportunity to find work at one of the companies whose business is already predicated on delivery. 

But with all the newly unemployed cramming into that space looking for work, those who do secure jobs will likely earn lower wages given all the competition.  That’s not something an ill-advised, pork-filled, political redirection of $2 trillion will be able to remedy.

And barely mentioned in all this is the personal toll taken on the unemployed, and those at risk of a subsequent rise in domestic violence, or worse. 

We keep hearing that we should expect infected numbers to continue their march upward, that it’s more contagious than the flu.  Consequently, many of us have come to accept the distinct possibility of contracting it ourselves, if we haven’t already. 

A 1.4% mortality rate makes that an easier pill to swallow, even moreso because that merely includes knowninfections.  Know what else softens the blow? 

Faith in the American system and human spirit.

Though a vaccine may very well be a year or so away, there are promising possibilities in transferring antibodies via convalescent plasma from those who recovered from COVID-19, to those who are suffering.  Another is an old anti-malarial drug hydroxychloroquine, sometimes used in conjunction with a Z-Pak.

Some doctors are finding success administering high doses of vitamin C. 

We’re seeing clothiers making garments for healthcare workers.  Fragrance makers and distilleries are converting operations into producing sanitizer.  Concert venues are being converted into makeshift hospitals.  Vacuum companies are shifting to build ventilators.  

In addition to that, auto manufacturers are undergoing “thorough cleaning and disinfecting“ of their plants, enhanced sanitary measures that could create new job opportunities going forward.

We’re going to last only so long being cooped up in our homes, and this is coming from a person whose picture you’d see if you looked up the word “homebody” in the dictionary.  I love my house.  I love being at home reading, writing, playing music, etc. 

But I also like going to a show.  I like taking my daughters to the newest superhero movie.  I like going with my wife to join our colleagues to blow off steam after work occasionally.  We benefit from being around them at the office as well, exchanging ideas and whatnot. 

My daughters miss being around their friends at school.  I’m sure they’ll find some goofy new way to greet each other in the wake of this shock to the system. 

If some parents want to keep their kids at home, and continue to utilize online learning, that should certainly be their prerogative.  Employers ideally would continue to be flexible about work-from-home arrangements. 

Regardless, we all need to be free to call our own shots, and if increased testing that appears imminent shows fewer infected/recovered numbers than expected, we’ll cross that bridge when we come to it.  But if those estimates bear out, maybe we’ll be able to borrow a line from Hatebreed’s tune “Own Your World,” and “burn the bridge to the place where (our) fear lives.”

Christopher E. Baecker manages fixed assets for Pioneer Energy Services and is an adjunct lecturer of economics at Northwest Vista College in San Antonio. He can be reached at, or on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.

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