Strange Days Indeed

Nobody told me there’d be days like these
Strange days indeed

John Lennon from Nobody Told Me

The above lyrics are a bit of an understatement lately. Everyone’s anxiety is showing. Stress levels are high.

Personally, I’m not stressed about getting sick; I’m stressed about all of the other craziness surrounding Covid-19. The disease itself currently has a surreal feel to me. It has not touched me personally closer than a friend of a friend’s friend. I am cognizant of the threat because my parents are in their eighties. Dad has had heart problems. Both of my siblings have had lung issues. There are health issues with Becky’s family as well. The threat to them is real… but still surreal…

Apt Blds 100 & 200 at The Paddocks are weathered in

The current top stress for me though is taking care of employees. Construction is considered an essential service and three of our current projects are for businesses that are essential services. Fortunately most of our work is open air at this time, which minimizes the risk. On The Paddocks project, we have multiple buildings under construction. We’re striving to separate the subcontractor crews into different buildings and are providing separate temporary toilet facilities for each building to help with separation. Everyone wants to work, but there is starting to become an issue obtaining materials. Aside from that, the biggest drag on the projects is discussing the virus. That’s probably cut productivity by 10%-15%! Despite being considered essential today, there’s no guarantee that we’ll be considered essential tomorrow. The changes have come fast and the rumors preceding them have varied. Everyone that is still working, is concerned that the next day could be their last.

The other stress right now revolves around what is being imposed by various politicians, government agencies and bureaucracies. (I wonder how many of them understand the thinking behind “Chesterton’s Fence”…) I am averaging one webinar or call per day discussing what has changed since the day before, i.e. what is being done to us. I’ve navigated the SBA morass to try and figure out PPP, both here and for Berger Audiology. I’ve sat in on conference calls with businesses that have been shutdown. I’m buying lunch once a week for employees to try and support local businesses. Some of the stories are heartbreaking and some of those businesses may not survive this.

I’m also very concerned with the three to four trillion dollars in debt that the Federal government assumed with the various virus bills over the last few weeks. It always helps me visualize that when I write it out, so $3,000,000,000,000 That’s a lot of zeros. And that’s on top of a $1,000,000,000,000 deficit already projected for this year. (An interesting/depressing article here.) That debt is real and may well affect me personally in retirement as well as the livelihoods of future generations.

The Constitution of the United States of America

And then there’s the more existential stress. What are we allowing to be done to us out of fear? Businesses are being told to close. Churches can’t hold services… even with social distancing. We’re not allowed to gather in groups greater than 10? The Bill of Rights, Article I, states: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.” Is the loophole here that the State Governors and City Mayors are ordering and enforcing a prohibition on assembly, not Congress? That’s not the way that usually works.

Stress is high all around. We can’t succumb to the fear though. Things CAN be worse…

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