‘Government, Not COVID-19, Closed Businesses’

May 18, 2020

Editor, The News-Gazette:

May 13th’s paper contains two articles describing the impacts of declining sales, meals, and lodging taxes on government budgets. One article’s careful use of the passive voice artfully avoids assigning responsibility for the business shutdown and slowdown to our government. We must acknowledge that our government, not COVID-19, closed many of our businesses and restricted the operation of others which resulted in a massive increase in unemployment.

We can and should study and debate whether it was appropriate and effective to close small businesses with low customer occupancies while allowing large businesses with large occupant loads to remain open; whether a liquor store is more essential than a bookstore; and whether measures developed for highdensity urban areas are appropriate for low-density rural areas. Only through study can we make better decisions for future events. However, what is not debatable is that our government, on our behalf, closed these businesses and caused unemployment.

It follows that the reductions in sales, meals, and lodging taxes are a direct result of the government’s actions. In response to COVID-19, the state government reduced its own revenue and that of localities. This has driven both a reduction in local expenditures and, at least for the county, increases in real estate, personal property, and meals taxes. These tax increases now fall on businesses closed and people unemployed by the government’s actions.

Even if we conclude that the government’s response was appropriate and correct, only by acknowledging the fact that it was our government’s actions which closed businesses, reduced revenues, and caused unemployment can we, through our government, provide appropriate remedy for those whom the government impacted.

The 80 percent of us still employed did not need a “stimulus check”; our financial situations are unchanged. Businesses closed and people unemployed needed far more assistance than they received.

STEVE HART

Kerrs Creek

The News-Gazette

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