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Bluegrass Beacon: Kentucky not built to shut down

We’re reminded during COVID-19 that the beauty of this un-commonwealth isn’t limited to its majestic mountains, picturesque horse farms and flowing rivers.

The threat posed by the coronavirus to our commonwealth’s social and economic fabric is being answered with unselfish acts of kindness on full display against a backdrop of the generosity and big-heartedness which have always defined our people.

While Gov. Beshear has been praised for offering steady leadership to this point of the COVID-19 crisis, it’s ultimately citizens in the private and nonprofit sectors in this state and across our great nation who will provide both the medical solution to the illness and rebound to the economic devastation caused by a weeks-long shutdown of our entire economy.

Brown-Forman Corp., for instance, is putting $1 million of its money where its corporate mouth is in the form of a donation to COVID-19 response funds to help workers in the hospitality industry, which has taken a huge economic hit.

It’s a safe bet that considering such a generous contribution, we won’t hear many Bernie Sanders-like badgering from the leftists who run Louisville on the big, bad corporations.

And where’s Elizabeth Warren and her browbeating of drug companies, which, at the end of the day, will provide the stop for this virus and save untold multitudes of lives, especially those of the most vulnerable among us?

While we consistently acknowledge the wrongness of rent-seeking tactics employed by big pharmaceutical companies, we also at this important moment acknowledge the importance of the risk taken per these firms’ investments in the type of research and development which in the past have resulted in new drugs alleviating history’s most-dreaded diseases.

Given the chance, they will also provide the answer to COVID-19.Warren during her failed presidential campaign pushed for more government involvement in manufacturing drugs.

But if you think it takes a long time now to get pharmaceuticals to market, just let the government take over drug manufacturing – something for which it’s totally ill-equipped – and you’ll discover an entirely new level of delay.

This isn’t to say government doesn’t have a role in this crisis.

It can assist in martialing private-sector resources toward those in need.

Beshear’s Team Kentucky fund, for example, gives individuals a convenient way to make tax-deductible contributions for as little as $5 with no limit on the high end.

The governor’s calmness also has helped lessen the anxiety felt by Kentucky families and businesses.

Some in the financial industry say Beshear’s demeanor – especially when compared to the harder tones of some other governors – is helping them calm clients and prevent panic.

But much more than a composed demeanor is needed.

Kentuckians also need competency from the government they fund with their tax dollars.

They need the commonwealth’s website for helping the unemployed apply for assistance to work better on behalf of nervous Kentuckians not allowed to work through no fault of their own.

Beshear claims the spike in applications caused the system to overload and start to crash at the beginning of the coronavirus shutdown in the state.

However, today’s technology in the hands of competent unemployment-insurance officials should have had little problem servicing applicants – whether 3,000 or 30,000 of them – from the first Beshear shutdown announcement.

Beshear also needs to talk more about an end game.

Kentuckians seemingly tolerant of a government-induced temporary shutdown of their lives and halt to their livelihoods are going to get restless unless they’re convinced that Frankfort really is committed to restarting our economy.

President Trump understands the importance of at least interjecting discussion of an end game among all the prudent steps being taken by leaders like himself and Beshear.“

Our country wasn’t built to shut down,” Trump said.

Neither was our commonwealth.

Jim Waters is president and CEO of the Bluegrass Institute for Public Policy Solutions, Kentucky’s free market think tank.

The Bluegrass Beacon is a weekly syndicated newspaper column posted on the Bluegrass Institute’s website after being published by newspapers statewide.

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