To shut down or not? Does the economy have to shut down during this current pandemic? Bill Stierle and Tom address this predicament and share their emotions about the decisions made by the US government regarding the spread of COVID-19. Tackling this issue, Bill and Tom bring us to the concept called ‘acceptable losses’ and how it became a dilemma and resistance to political leaders from shutting things down sooner. Read their conversation as they discuss blinder and flat earth mindsets and how we can restore connection while reducing emotional reactions of things.
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Shutdown Or Not? Reactions To The Economic Impacts Of The Pandemic
Bill, there continues to be lots of things to talk about, lots of emotions that are at extreme states, don’t you think?
I do. The big thing, Tom, to capture is how communication activates. My voice is speaking. My brain is thinking some words to say, my beliefs are influencing it. My point of view is in influencing the words that are coming out of my mouth. It’s all about communication, which we’ve done through these to talk about how truth gets purchased by communication and the emotions that go with that. The reactions of emotions and the overreaction of emotions can make a big difference. For example, to get us started off here, on a Facebook post, the question was, “Is it more damage to do to shut down the economy or is the pandemic more dangerous?” They set up this duality. You’ve heard that question, right?
I have. People are saying, “All of this damage we’re doing to the economy, keeping everybody at home, people unable to work, does that damage the economy worse than maybe I’ve heard people say letting natural selection call out a certain number of our population and it’s going to be survival of the fittest?” which you’ve always been probably saying. That was the beginning of Darwin’s book. It’s not the end.
Collaboration and cooperation or co-evolvement were at the end of Darwin’s book. The thing we need now, the way we’re communicating around, collaborating and cooperating online, is literally out of Darwin’s book. If we’re co-collaborating together, then it’s not survival of the fittest. It’s survival of the community, which is a school of fish. A group of human beings deciding to prevent a pandemic and not step into, “So, what? We’re going to lose this thing.” That brings us to the concept called acceptable losses. As soon as we put that sucker in there, acceptable losses and because when I saw the Facebook posts about the question, they go like, “Acceptable losses is that you’re going into something knowing that you’re going to lose a group of people.” In war, there are acceptable losses but not to the person who gets the loss.
The thing that comes to mind is the D-Day invasion on the beaches of Normandy. Those military leaders had to know those first waves were going to be sacrificed.
The first waves, the groups of people. Let’s get into the war. We’re still breathing. If we’re still breathing, that means we haven’t been shot, so keep going. Let’s get into the war. Let’s get into this thing. Acceptable losses, acceptable casualties, and what is it worth for that? As soon as I shift the acceptable losses and war, and I say acceptable losses in business, now we’ve got some big problems. There are businesses in the past and maybe even in the present, that are putting their workers in harm’s way in order to meet the financial needs of the business. They’re putting the needs of an individual ahead of things and they’re paying that worker something for that. I didn’t say that it was what the value of that was because we all know that there are people on the planet working dangerous jobs for little money. They might die and then they find somebody else to do that thing.
Like the coal miner, maybe.Collaborating is not survival of the fittest but survival of the community. Click To Tweet
I think that might be a good example. That’s an acceptable loss. That’s an acceptable trade of my lifespan to get black lung. Acceptable losses. When a business makes a decision to pollute or not pollute because the fine is smaller than the money that they’re going to make, what if I get fined $300 million? I made $1.7 billion. That fine is that acceptable loss. Notice the ethic and integrity starts to roll. Your product killed X number of people and you paid a $3 million fine. I’m good with that because the profit on our $1.3 million, $1.7 million, $2.5 billion and certain drugs are in that category too. It’s an acceptable loss because the profit that we’re going to get is not going to match the fine that we’re going to get from this experience.
This has been the quandary and the resistance to a lot of our political leaders from shutting things down sooner as an event.
It has been because, what is the right amount of shutdown? The right amount of shutdown needed to take place when the first case showed up on our land, that that level of isolation and that level of testing needed to show up right then and there. The countries that did that, I’m using the South Koreans as a comparison here, their first patient and our first patient were of the same date. The responses were markedly different. On my emotional reaction to that, if I didn’t empathize, I would be furious. Especially if somebody that was a family member got caught up, I would be into the furious, helpless part.
The furious part is you knew and you didn’t act the way another first world country, South Korea, acted with a first-world economy. You didn’t act the way they did. We’re the ones that fought on their behalf in the Korean War. We didn’t do it as well as they did it. The emotional reaction is notice I’m even getting worked up with my own thoughts. Worked up is aggravated, irritated, exasperated because when we don’t have awareness and we work on these limiting beliefs, our blinders come up and that’s exactly what has happened. Some of the messaging that we hear in the media about, “I didn’t know that was happening.” You were telling me a story about that governor.
This happened. The Governor of Georgia, Brian Kemp, has finally ordered that everybody in the state of Georgia is supposed to stay at home. It’s a stay-at-home order. They’ve resisted that and have not ordered that for a long time. He gave a speech where he announced this and he was trying to defend his decision not to do it sooner. He said, “We heard from the Task Force at the White House,” and he was citing one of the doctors he had a conversation with. It wasn’t Dr. Anthony Fauci. It was somebody else, where they said that, “Now we know that people can be transmitting this disease and have no symptoms. We learned this in the last 24 hours.”
It was a jaw-dropping moment because unless you’ve been under a rock and not read any news about the Coronavirus, you know that for at least a month, if not a couple of months, it’s been well-known that people can transmit the disease. People can be carriers of it and they’re showing no symptoms. What Governor Brian Kemp was saying is that in Georgia, if you’re feeling any symptoms, then stay home. If you’re not, you can go out into the world and do your business, whatever it is you’re going to do. They had quite a perspective that I would say biased by economic concerns.
That’s the way to think about it. It’s the horse blinders, the ones that are used for the horse to keep the horse straight on the racetrack. You don’t want the horse looking left and right. You don’t want the horse being anxious, nervous, worried, scared with the horse that’s next to them. You don’t want them to feel that feeling. I want to, “Look here. I’m holding my own blinders up right now.” I want to keep moving forward. Capitalism and the marketplace as a function do create a series of blinders around the decision-makers. It creates blinders around the business owner, it creates blinders around the employees.
“I’ve got a good job. I’m not sure if I want to go right or left or go to another restaurant or get work someplace else. I might as well stay here. It’s not so bad, 3, 5, 7, 10 years ago, I should’ve left this job a longer time ago. Now, they can’t. The blinders, the belief structures, the stability and certainty they get out of that belief. They don’t want to restart. Human beings don’t like change as much as we say we like change. We actually don’t like change. We are interested in getting something done and having it in place. “Good. I don’t have to do that again,” “But the walls are cracking and the paint chips are falling off. You may want to paint the wall again.” “I did that 5, 7 years ago.” It’s like, “You may want to fix that thing.” “You may want to paint that thing.” The blinder mindset is similar to that flat earth mindset or belief structure that we talked about before. It’s that the person that believes that the earth is flat is only looking at their limited perception of things.
Their perspective is flat. They’re on the ground. They can’t lift their brain or want to lift their brain above the earth to have that experience of, “This thing is beautiful. It’s round. It somehow is in the middle of this vast universe. There is nothing like it anywhere even close to us and yet we’re polluting it out. We’re throwing trash where? We’re using chemicals that don’t fall apart. What are we doing to this place?” You can imagine how funny this will be. I came over to your house and once a week I would take my trash bag and take it and dump it all over your lawn and keep walking. Once a week you go like, “What are you doing to my lawn?” Regrettably, a part of the earth is experiencing that. It’s like, “Where’s the trash going? Where are the water bottles showing up? There are more water bottles in the Pacific than there are fishes.”
That’s not a good sentence to say. Belief bias and blinders. The governor clearly had his blinders up regarding the economy and therefore the sentence that he gets to say, “We only learned about this,” has a partial truth to it. To the people that voted for him, they now have extended trust because they voted for him. They believed in his truth or his values of his truth. It tells me that this person is on my side. It’s not the full perspective, the truth. You could see you and I are squirreling in our chairs. People do set up blinders. “I didn’t know that oil was going to spill that way.” That was an acceptable loss that we used the cheaper concrete, an oil spill to all over the whatever.
I wonder how Governor Brian Kemp is going to feel about it when it then takes much longer for the Coronavirus to be eliminated in his state when he ends up being 3, 4 weeks behind New York, let’s say, in their peak cases, peak hospital bed needs, ventilator needs, and all the rest of it. This is not just a matter of opinion.
There’s no perspective. All of us have been on the trumpet and even news media that was on the trumpet. “Everybody, China went through this curve. Italy is going through this curve. We’ve got to do something so that we don’t experience the same curve.” The flat earth mindset is, “I don’t see it here. It can’t get here.” They don’t have the perspective. It’s like trying to run a business from the money that you made last month, your accounting sheet from last month. It’s called a rearview mirror perspective. “We’ve been doing great. Look at last month. Look at the last six months. Look at the last nine months. Look at the last year. Our company is doing great.”
Not now, they’re not. Because the perspective wasn’t there and some people that can see the perspective, they can look ahead and have that larger vision and they were able to shift their perspective and perceptions quickly, they’re are the ones that are safer. Those are the ones that are able to make the stock trade. Those are the persons that know when to get out without information that they’ve borrowed from a Senate committee. It’s important that we get ahold of our belief biases and realize that Governor Brian Kemp, I know you didn’t want to scare your people and you wanted to keep your business people happy, but regrettably, you’ve cost lives and you’ve made it last longer.
Bill, I know we probably weren’t planning to bring this issue up. I’m going to do it anyway because I want to ask you this question. Do you think that building “the wall” on the Mexican border is a bit of a flat earth mindset? The idea that it is going to keep out all of the ills the nation suffers from people coming from other countries. If anything, it amplifies the truth that you can’t shut off our borders to keep a virus out. If you can’t keep a virus out, you can’t keep people out because there are many ways that people come into our country from planes, cruise ships, driving, walking. The wall, it’s not seeing the earth is round, is it?Life is not something you can guarantee. Click To Tweet
It is not seeing the earth is round. People that voted for that mindset are thinking the same thing and their mindset is flat like that belief is flat. They’re not looking at numbers. They’re not looking at costs. They’re not looking at the advantages. They’re most certainly not looking at what the value of somebody coming from another country to get to here. That immigrant, it’s saying this to themselves. One powerful sentence. “My country does not have anything for me, if I go to America and bite the dirt, get paid low wages, at least my children will be able to have a good life.” It is literally one of the most sacrificial things that an immigrant does in their mindset. They come in for wealth or to take a job because they know they have to take the lowest job on the totem pole. They already know they’re picking fruit. They already know they’re being a busboy. They already know, “Here is the lowest spot and my kids are going to be better off for it. My kids are going to learn something. They’re not learning anything where I am.” Do you see what I mean?
It’s a generational perspective of advancement, not a personal one. You’re starting over if you’re going to do that, in many cases starting over.
It’s courageous. The wall is a flat earth mindset. The reason why it appeals to voters and the number of voters that wanted President Donald Trump to talk about and reinforce that idea of the wall is because a part of their beliefs and their flat earth mindset is coming off of the 1950s, 1960s, 1970s affluence that was taking place at those times until the whole thing turned in the ‘80s. That’s what all the reductions start showing up, which is they’re trying to get that body of time back when America was that. The rich were taxed not up to 90%, but 75%. There was a progressive tax and all that money was brought down to feed the middle class, to build out a capitalist system in order to get people to spend, pay taxes, buy and sell things and contribute to the greater good.
All that stuff was what that generation did coming off of 1940s, ‘50s, ‘60s and ‘70s. Those years, more of the earlier ones. The ‘50s was all about, “We have money to buy a house. We have money to have a middle-class job, their schools are being built here. There are communities that are being built here. There’s a place for us to come back to.” Europe was rebuilding. We were building fresh and new with our economy and our thing. It was valuable to bring the wall into the communication. When we look at what is an acceptable loss, and at this point our mitigations and our protection as we ramp up.
It seems the governors and the president at this point now are, I don’t know if this is a label but I would say resigned to the reality, to the truth that we have to go through this process and do the hard thing and that is sacrifice jobs and the economy to save lives. Ultimately, isn’t that what they’ve come to? You see Governor Andrew Cuomo taking the lead on this and saying that, “Life is coming first.”
Other governors are starting to echo that. It’s like, “If we don’t need to lose a life, why would we want to lose a life?” There are many people in the belief structure, saying, “Enough is enough. I don’t want to pay for this 80-year-old to get better with a ventilator because he had his life already.”
It’s funny you should say that. A good friend of mine, and it’s this Coronavirus crisis. I was telling you a little bit before this, that one of the nice things that’s happened is I am much more in touch with my childhood buddies I grew up with from the time we were like 8, 9 years old through high school. We’re getting together for weekly Zoom calls to talk to each other and catch up. It’s like The Brady Bunch on the screen. One of my friends was late to the call by about 30 minutes because he was attending a Zoom funeral for his uncle who was 91 years old and died of the Coronavirus. It’s tragic that he died of the Coronavirus. Certainly, he lived a long life. Ninety-one years old is a great long life, but it’s still terrible that he had to die from this.
You’re right in alignment with the discussion about how do we restore connection and how do we reduce the emotional reaction of things. The emotional reaction is that if you stay by yourself and you’re not reaching out in a house, you’re going to feel lonely about connection. That’s an easy push. Here’s the online community meeting the need for connection and also meeting the need for safety. The online funeral is meeting the need for connection or mourning or celebration of his life at the same time as meeting the need for safety and protection. Safety and protection has moved in front. If I’m going to reduce the emotional reaction to things, I’ve got to use vocabulary that allows me to do that to reduce the emotional reaction.
The strong part of this of how do we speak about the viruses is that there are two major components. We’ll get into this the next time, too, Tom, because this is a bigger thing. The first component has to do with the physical health concerns of us as human beings and our families and our friends, acquaintances, and then the financial concerns. Here’s a set of needs over here on the financial concerns and here’s a set of needs that are activated when we start talking about physical or health concern. If I want to start talking about physical concerns regarding health stuff, the first word that’s got to come out of my mouth is either safety or protection.
How do I do safety and how to do protection? If it’s about financial concerns then it’s about stability. That’s the first word I’ve got to think of and that’s the first part of the conversation that’s got to take place. Now, I’ve got stability versus safety. Do I take stability for the economy by going back to work or do I pick safety for myself and others by staying at home? Notice the choice is a lot easy to make now and that’s where the governor and these folks get jammed. They don’t know what they’re going for. They’re listening to the emotional reaction of a business owner, the emotional reaction of their constituents.
I would argue that it reveals the leaders from those that are not really leaders in our political leadership and our government. Meaning Governor Andrew Cuomo leading, saying, “We’re putting life first.” Him having a perspective and a mission and he is going to lead us through this versus a governor that’s saying, “I’m listening to this constituency and that constituency and I’m not sure. We’re going to see which wheel is the squeakiest and try to thread a difficult needle through this thing.” Now getting to the point where like, “We have no choice. We’re sacrificing jobs and the economy because ultimately, that’s the right thing to do.” To me, that’s not leadership.
It’s reactive leadership. It’s still leadership, but it’s reactive. There’s a crisis. They’re reacting emotionally. They’re reacting from a solid motive. The motive is not clear. The emotions were all over the place. All you’ve got to do is listen to the President talk. He will give you one sentence and three sentences, later he’ll back it off. The reason why he does that is that his emotions hijacking, reinforce a limiting belief. He states it, hijacks the truth from others, and then he walks it back and says, “There’s another truth over here.” It’s like, “You’re exhausting us, buddy. Why don’t you be thoughtful inside yourself and give us the message that we need, not react to you as if you’re discovering something for the first time?” because he says things. It’s like, “Is this the first time he knew that there were over 151 countries in the world?” That is a little bit of the beginner’s mind that many of the people that vote for appreciate. He says what he’s discovering like the way they do things. “I didn’t know that. Now, I know that. I didn’t know this. Now I didn’t know that.” The reactive piece is the thing to get a hold of.
Don’t you think some of the truth is coming through whether you want it to or not or whether you want it to be the truth or not? Now more people have died in the United States than died on 9/11 due to this Coronavirus. The other thing that was an interesting perspective as you’re saying, Bill, to put on this whole thing, is that now, based on where we are in the curve, they’re saying that somewhere between twice to four times as many people in the United States will die from the Coronavirus, as all the soldiers who died in the Vietnam War. Something like 58,000 people died in the Vietnam War. There’s a sobering, scary, honesty moment.
Within ten years of that mark of the close of the Vietnam War, just as many died of suicide after that. It went there and then it’s been beyond that, but it’s more. The reason why I mentioned that is because once the last death from the Corona thing happens, there is the lagging psychological impact of, “Is this cold going to kill me?” The animal body’s overreaction to that.Capitalism and the marketplace as a function do create a series of blinders around the decision-makers. Click To Tweet
I wonder what’s going to happen with people’s financial concerns. You’re talking about the physical and financial concerns. Going forward after this major economic impact where many people lose their jobs temporarily, hopefully, for a period of time. Are we going to see people’s savings rates go up in the future to prepare for another potential economic impact, where they lose their job? Are people’s behaviors going to change because of those concerns?
Let me see if that’s true or not. Will their behaviors change because of that? Tom, can you buy a piece of toilet paper now at the store? The behaviors have already changed. The hoarding of money, the constriction of the economy. We have the all-clear like President George W. Bush. “Go to shopping malls. We have this handled. It’s a war in a foreign country. It shouldn’t impact the economy.” The answer is it did and it does. It’s like, “Don’t look at all this money of yours we’re spending over here on these wars. Go and keep shopping over here.” It’s unsettling because in communication, we look for how do we describe things, perceptions, and perspectives. When somebody’s mindset gets collapsed because they lost a loved one or somebody they knew to the Coronavirus, they’re going like, “I’m not going to travel. I’m not going to another city. I’m not going into that dinner or to a restaurant that looks a little marginal. I’m not trying something new. I’m not buying a new product. I’m not doing that.”
The feeling of scared, fearful, and anxious are going to be in the marketplace. One of the things that we’ll go over next time around is we’ll maybe go into these in greater depth of, how do you speak to the health concerns and the considerations that go with that? How do you speak to the financial concerns both for ourselves and for others? What’s healthier language to use to restore certainty? Not in life because certainty in life is not something you can guarantee, but certainty in language. The certainty that I felt calm that my day was fulfilled or that I was able to purchase something and I’m not going to get bit a couple of months from now because of something.
That would be helpful because we talked often when we were talking more politically that after the next election, there is going to need to be a restoration of sorts in America. Now we have a different restoration that’s going to need to take place, don’t you?
There are two major restorations that need to take place and one of them is coming through the election that’s coming up and the restorative process that needs to take place. No matter who wins, there’s got to be a restorative process that takes place. If President Donald Trump gets reelected, there’s going to be a restorative process that needs to take place. On the other side, if the new presidential candidate, a Democratic comes in, there’s got to be a restorative process that needs to take place there. That’s a little bit about what we’re up to next.
Restoring our economy and restoring our need for safety and protection over the virus, we’re in an extraordinary place, aren’t we, Bill?
We are. This has been a lot of fun. Thank you all for reading. Until next time.
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