Cuchi Cuchi. The Field. The Cantab Lounge. The Bergamont. Great Scott. The Eastern Standard. The Halibut Point Tavern. The Tumble Inn Diner. Bella Luna Milky Way.
These are just some of the businesses that have closed for good in the Greater Boston area during the Covid crisis. There are many more, but I decided to only list the places I’ve personally frequented and had fond memories in. From my hometown of Cambridge, my old neighborhood and after school watering hole in Boston, a Gloucester bar I had a much needed break from the heat in during last summers union canvassing, to a 70 year old diner in my new town of Saugus.
Not just our metro area either. Our favorite Filipino place in Chicago that became a default gathering place for all our college friends, an 80 year old deli where every Chicago mayor chewed the fat, all have closed or could close.
I’ve had disagreements with people opposed to the necessity and severity of the shutdown, but the reality is, it will not be fully safe for workers or patrons until we have a vaccine. Perhaps closer than we think if Britain’s trial is the breakthrough I’m praying for. Many great local places are now reopen for indoor dining, but we won’t be going there. Neither will many people following precautions. Even if we do go back, our favorite places in Boston won’t have the Sox or student crowds to sustain themselves.
So what to do? The President and his enablers in red statehouses decided two months ago to prematurely reopen the economy. They falsely choose the health of the economy over public health. The result has been a second wave far deadlier than the first in many states, to be inevitably followed by a second shutdown after the PPP and unemployment protection has dried up. It turns out you can’t wish the virus away.
Germany did not have this problem. It’s still just as capitalist as we are, if anything, as a net exporter of goods, it might even be a better capitalist than the US. Thanks to a thing called Kurzabeit, Merkel could actually close down the country and stop community spread. While we’re enduring a second wave of cases and deaths, Germany can safely begin to reopen now since it did not prematurely reopen two months ago. It can do so without closing businesses or laying anyone off thanks to this intricate system of time sharing, work sharing, profit sharing, and power sharing between the government, labor, and industry.
Notice that word I repeat. Sharing. It’s something our individualistic culture does not know how to do. Maybe since we still do not have a universal form of another German import: kindergarten. Germany is predicted to be the big economic winner from this crisis, precisely since they choose to invest in their people by choosing to share rather than choosing to hoard. They will reopen with both a stronger economy and more secure public health than the US. A false choice America should not and did not have to make.