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Speaking of never-ending wars, spotty consumer goods, a pending housing crisis & newspaper production issues
dennis Wyatt web
Dennis Wyatt

Delta Airlines is being a tad silly lately.

They are avoiding references to the delta COVID-19 variant like the plague.

In a way, who can blame them? The jackals running loose on social media these days are liable at any minute to destroy the reputation of a solid company to secure hits. Internet junkies are indiscriminate. They don’t care whether they ruin the innocent. They are just collateral damage in the echo chamber where getting high as a kite on clicks and likes matters more than working toward a solution.

Image concerns aside Delta is being an adult about one thing. Now that the issue of full FDA approval on vaccines is being resolved with Pfizer first getting full clearance, the airline is showing the nation a way out of the economic quagmire the pandemic has created.

And to be clear, it is not a about corporations and companies making money and profits per se, but about people on the lower and middle rings of the economic ladder to be able to shelter, feed, and cover basic needs for themselves and families as well.

Delta this past week declared that any employee that does not get vaccinated and accesses the company’s health insurance plan will have to pay a $200 month surcharge to retain their coverage. They did not go the vaccinate or weekly testing route for one to keep their job. They went for a solution that preserved individual choice and minimizes making others bear the cost of a choice others make for themselves.

It is decision rooted in reality. COVID hospitalization costs are astronomical. While vaccines aren’t 100 percent effective, they have been proven as the most significant way by far to reduce the severity of COVID illness if a person contracts it. That, in turn, reduces medical losses and manpower shortages.

In one fell swoop Delta found reasonable middle ground. The decision to not get the vaccine outside of a compelling medical reason won’t place an unfair burden on those who are vaccinated and pay into the same insurance funds. The collective risk in company insurance pools is always passed onto all members.

It also doesn’t force a vaccine on anyone by threatening them with a loss of employment.

Every employee is allowed to make their own decision, weigh the pros and cons, do what’s right for them and their families, not force their will via financial considerations on others, and respect individual freedom as well as the protective the collective need to keep civilization intact.

Is it fair to make the unvaccinated pay the price via higher insurance premiums to exercise their rights as individuals? It’s no more unfair than making the vaccinated pay the price financially with higher insurance costs and even loss of revenue to support their families by those who make the decision to be unvaccinated and then get gravely ill with COVID-19.

Approaches similar to the one Delta is taking appears to be the only way to stop what are clearly shaping up as never-ending wars on mask mandates and vaccines. Regardless of where you fall on either issue, government —and by extension the institutions in our relatively free market system — need to move this nation forward.

It is clear that COVID-19 just like terrorism of any strain on the political spectrum isn’t going away. We still have upwards of 70,000 flu deaths a year in this country since the last pandemic started in 1918. It took the better part of a decade to drop fatality levels to the point they were acceptable.

Extending “bonus” unemployment benefits and eviction bans not only kicks the can farther down the road but it drags others down as well.

Look at consumer goods. Supply chains have been severely weakened by the inability to fill jobs. And that applies to everything from producing, mining, or forging the raw materials to the manufacturer, shipping, and distribution of both soft and hard goods.

The lack of manpower driven by fear of COVID-19 manifests its way in many ways. It can be the inability to secure key parts to repair vehicles, build homes, to print this newspaper as well plus other publications and the inability for artisans to make a living selling their wares at street fairs or entertainers to perform in person to pay their bills.

Initially lockdowns, unemployment bonuses, COVID relief, and eviction stays were arguably the only tools government had to deal with a public health crisis and to stave off economic collapse.

We now have other tools with vaccines being at the forefront. Those vaccines have helped make masks more effective at reducing the rates of serious illness and death to allow the economy to move forward.

As for the handwringing over the Supreme Court ending of the Centers for Disease Control’s eviction moratorium unless Congress acts to make such a moratorium legal, it is a tad melodramatic.

Only 6 percent of $1.3 billion of the $25 billion in federal COVID rent relief distributed to states over a year ago has been spent.

Dropping the eviction ban won’t mean everyone will be thrown out on the street at once. Evictions still need to make their way through the court system which is not exactly a speedy process. It will even be substantially slower given the scope of the situation. Some experts and advocates contend 6 percent of renters nationwide — 3.5 million people — may be subject to eviction for not paying rent for more than a year.

Instead of pointing fingers governments on all levels need to severely pick up their game and use the remaining $23.7 billion as Congress intended.

And the place to start is by setting up a triage of sorts in every court that handles evictions.  The government can settle accounts at that point with COVID rent relief funds. If a landlord is made whole with another three months of rent tossed in, they must not physically evict tenants unless they don’t start covering their own rent in 90 days after a court’s decision.

That way people are on notice there is an end point. They can work on securing employment and, if necessary, use the standard safety net to bridge the gap or else find other options such as temporarily moving in with family or friends or combining resources with other households to secure shelter.

As it stands now the pumped up COVID safety net is snagging and choking many parts of the economy just like previous tuna fishing methods on a large scale entangled and killed dolphins.

We need adults making decisions on implementing actions needed to move forward as a nation.

Adults don’t go into screaming rages, belittle others, clamor for short term gratification at the expense of long-lasting solutions, pander, worry about their political hides, act as if they are the chosen ones, or allow themselves to be blinded be their self-righteousness regardless of where they fall on the political spectrum.

Adults find a way forward. They make workable decisions rooted in moving the country forward instead of issuing decrees.

Adults in power on both sides need to be willing to compromise. They also need to move on instead of engaging in never-ending political carpet bombing whether the rocket launchers they use are a bright red, deep blue, or any shade in between.

It’s time for the adults — if they are still out there — to step up and lead us out of this mess.