Every job matters

by State Senator Jim Gurthrie

I was a short scrawny kid in my early teens and it would be a couple more years before I hit 100 pounds. I couldn’t dribble all that well and as for the term jump-shot, I wasn’t totally clear in which order those two should occur. But I didn’t lack for effort and loved being on the seventh and eighth grade basketball teams.

I was one of those who sat at the end of the bench and got put in the game for garbage time. You know, your team is either up or down by 20 with 78 ticks on the clock and the coach looks down the bench and signals this is your moment.

The thing is I truly felt that I contributed, that my effort mattered, and you know what, it did. It mattered to me. Sometimes the try that matters the most in our lives does not necessarily have the biggest impact at the time. Because as that effort sustains and our will to contribute grows stronger we migrate into situations where our roles and decisions can have a dramatic impact in the game of life.

I think it’s safe to say that with the current coronavirus pandemic we find ourselves in a situation that is more rare than a once in a lifetime experience. Right now in varying degrees, decisions are being made by public officials, bureaucrats, and those business owners and citizens in the private sector. It is likely that history will show some of those decisions were fruitful and some not so much.

The purpose of this writing is not to call out any of those who carry the heavy mantle of responsibility in making decisions that will have a lasting impact on virtually every man, woman, and child. Heaven knows, the crystal ball on how to deal with this crisis is hazy at best and I believe key decision makers from the president on down are doing their best in dealing with this unknown.

But in the midst of government mandates people will cling steadfast to their rights, freedom, and sovereignty. It’s the premise on which we were founded. I have visited with many citizens over the past few weeks and a common theme has resonated, is consistent with how I feel, and I would be remiss not to note some glaring realities.

To start with I am really struggling with the whole essential, non-essential worker nomenclature. Every single job matters, every single job is essential, because that employment is essential to somebody and somebody’s family. If the job wasn’t needed, it wouldn’t exist. People are under huge economic stress and many will lose much, or in some cases all of what they have worked a lifetime to build.

Enter the Cares Act. I am not debating whether or not and to what extent the government should have stepped up financially. That’s above my paygrade. Some help in some areas was likely necessary. How much of that money finds a pathway to those who truly need it or how much lands in the coffers of those who are skilled at finding the cheese remains to be seen. I don’t believe you have to look far to find waste of already adjudicated funds. While some components of the Cares Act may help us, IT WILL NOT SAVE US. Only we as citizens can do that.

Some sobering news? Future generations, maybe our kids or grandkids or beyond will be faced with the reconciliation of our staggering national debt. The trillions being now piled onto the already existing 20 some odd trillion is not free money. It’s ultimately our money and our responsibility to repay. For too many years and now on steroids, the government is writing checks a good economy can’t cash, let alone one in stalemate.

Yes, staying healthy is paramount and I believe the citizens have taken this disease seriously. You can see with the social interaction practices that folks now employ they are doing the best they can to stay as safe as they can. But there are many tentacles that make up our overall health. Suicides, depression, uncertainty, increased substance abuse, coupled with the already mentioned financial challenges are taking a brutal toll on our nation, our state and the well-being of our citizens.

People understand risk and have different thresholds for how they deal with it. Vulnerable populations will approach day to day activities differently than a younger, healthier demographic. The guidelines that will help us stay healthy are well known and can be seen in practice every day. Yes we need to be careful, maybe even fear this virus, but the free spirit that is so ingrained in our culture wants the freedom to make more of the decisions. Moving forward, and unless things drastically change, common sense guidelines will be a less bitter pill to swallow than further mandates.

I’m not sure if it’s still there but years ago in big letters on an end wall in the Highland High School gymnasium were the words “Everyone Can Do Something”. I will tell you that the folks I talk to want to get back in the game, they want to contribute. We may be down by 20, but it’s not garbage time just yet. We will overcome and win this battle. We just need the chance to play.

Thanks for reading!

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