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Opinion: Maybe It's Time to Listen to Grandma's Advice
SUNDAY, MARCH 29, 2020
by: Rich Bieglmeier
As a little boy, I asked my grandmother what seemed like an innocent question to me. I wanted to be like my grandparents. They owned a shoe store on a Normal Rockwellesque main street in small-town Pennsylvania and did well financially. I wanted to do the same.
I asked, "How much money do you make?"
I wanted to know, not to be nosey, but so that I knew how much money I needed to live like them. The answer stunned me, "Mind your own business."
She went on to explain the standard what other people do and make is none of my business but there was a part two. Mind your own business also meant to take care of my own business.
Some 40-years later, maybe more, it's a lesson that stays with me every day of my life. It's a lesson that seems to be lacking for many in the social media world. It also seems to be missing with many government officials and do-gooders in this time of crisis.
I was reminded about this lesson when reading about Santa Anita being suddenly shut down by a Health Department Order. Apparently, a health department official, Wendy Mitchell, brought up the question of whether horse racing is essential in a Thursday meeting. Although it wasn't on the agenda, animal right activists complained about the board allowing live racing during the mandated shutdown.
And whamo, 30-minutes before post-time on Friday, here comes the stoppage order. There is a big "however" in there. Horses are still allowed to train, which makes no sense because everything but racing is OK. So far, none of the 750 people who are onsite have COVID-19. Santa Anita management has implemented strict protocols, which appear to be working. Of course, that could change.
Now here is where I recall my grandmother's advice. Like horse racing or hate it, 1000s upon 1000s of people's livelihoods depend on it across the country and the world. Who the hell are these bureaucrats and activists to tell us what is essential and what isn't?
Maybe selling shoes or horse racing isn't essential to the taxpayer paid government official or some anti-this-or-that activist, but it is absolutely essential to the families that depend on mom and dad's income to eat.
Where I live, the mayor is letting criminals out of jail, not prosecuting non-violent crimes, and allowing people to steal up to a certain dollar amount all while threatening "non-essential" businesses with $10,000 fines if they remain open and arrest for people who won't disperse from packs of 10 or more.
Stealing $500 of merchandise is okay, but playing soccer or basketball, now that's a criminal offense? They are actually encouraging people to call 311 to report on open non-essential stores and groups of 10 or more people. So, 1984 Orwellian.
Maybe I am old-school, but where in the world does that power come from? I don't recall anything that says our rights can be put on hold because of sickness, no matter how dangerous. In fact, Benjamin Franklin famously said, "Those who would give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety."
That doesn't mean we should be reckless, but can't we have some discernment? Which I think is Franklin's point.
If Santa Anita or the shoe store can operate safely, why the heavy-handedness? I go into the local Target and there are 100s of people in there. Why should Target be allowed to sell shoes but not the local business owner who never has 100 people in his/her store at the same time? The local grocer has gamblers lined up at the lottery machine, none of which are practicing "social distancing" yet the track can't run races where social distancing is strictly enforced and no fans are in the stands?
I am a numbers guy. That's what I do for you. It's my business. I analyze the numbers and make informed decisions and projections based on the numbers. It's not perfect, nothing is, but it's based in fact. If my model isn't working, then I must adjust the model to make it work, otherwise, it's useless and nobody will pay for its output.
I've made models for the financial world, horse racing, and sports betting and can tell you with 100% certainty that you can make models say anything you want them to. However, the rubber meets the road when you try to apply them in the real world. So far, the coronavirus projections based on models aren't close to what's actually happening.
Meanwhile, politicians are in our businesses without any discernment, violating all sorts of rights.<
Possibly 6 and 7
8th and 9th Amendment for sure.
Let me be clear, I don't want anybody to get sick, let alone die. My other grandmother passed away a little more than a year ago. She was 91 and I knew her time was limited. Yet, it still hurt, it hurt a lot. The pain of loss sucks. I know that people who have lost family members to corona or for any other reason are hurting. I sincerely hope the passage of time will ease the pain for those dealing with sickness and loss as it has for me.
But leaders MUST mind their business. They are not our better angels. We the people can make good decisions too. Whether it be the horse track operator, the shoe store owner, Target, the local grocer… they are essential to the people who rely on them to take care of their business.
If the empirical evidence shows they are conducting business in a responsible way, then it's time to listen to grandma's advice and for everybody to mind their own business. It works.
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