Giving government grace

CBJ Editorial

Rarely do we defend government and its legislative or executive actions because all too often they generate unintended consequences or simply fail to solve the problem.

The COVID-19 pandemic has given us pause, however, to appreciate the difficult challenge elected officials face. Most of our government officials, regardless of party, have been doing an admirable job, particularly at the state level. Trying to balance health and economic concerns in a physically large state with population centers of different sizes and needs is nearly impossible, but Gov. Kim Reynolds should be commended for being forthright and action-oriented.

No doubt, mistakes have been made. But there isn’t a tried and true playbook for leading a state or country during a pandemic in modern times. Making hard decisions that affect millions of people often lead to cases of “20-20 hindsight.”

We had hoped that the pandemic would enable our politically divided country to put aside its partisan differences and fight with a unified front. While there was some initial political momentum with a few of the early stimulus packages, it seems that has all gone out the window.

Now we are back to finger pointing and saying “I told you so.” Wearing or not wearing a mask is now viewed as a political statement. As the pandemic continues and our fragile economy is attempting to restart, it’s simply not helpful. Voters will have the opportunity to second-guess elected officials on how they dealt with the pandemic in the next election cycle.

Fortunately, hospitals and health care providers are in a better position with personal protection equipment and other medical equipment if spikes or multiple waves of the pandemic hit. Many businesses, individuals and families should be thankful that some financial assistance has been provided. To be sure, it hasn’t made unemployed individuals whole nor has it helped all businesses, but it has been a start.

We could certainly express the angst and confusion that some businesses owners voice with some of the federal and state economic aid programs, but we won’t. We agree with Warren Buffett that the Paycheck Protection Program, which gives loans to businesses with 500 or fewer employees that can be forgiven if they don’t lay off workers, was a “very good idea.”

“It must be hell to administer,” he said in a recent Wall Street Journal article. “It just isn’t that easy to inaugurate incredibly large [programs]. There’s going to be a certain amount of fraud. Everything doesn’t go perfectly. But I’m 100% for taking care of the people that really get hurt by something that they had nothing to do with.”

As we continue with the recovery, we are asking for a little grace for our elected officials and hoping for more efforts like the Marion Economic Recovery Task Force that are unifying people and focused on the long term. CBJ