Everyone Needs a Haircut

By Steven E. Sacks, CPA, CGMA, ABC

So? How is this time any different when you need a haircut? Busy days, full calendars, other priorities. How many times in the past have we gone past our due date for a trim? Pretty often, I would assume.

The haircut of course is just a metaphor for the inconveniences imposed by our Federal Government and its state government counterparts to ensure that we mitigate the risk of spreading the coronavirus. What about getting the oil changed?  Need a new pair of running shoes?  Getting antsy to get back to the gym? What about taking in a movie? Or getting a tattoo?

In a normal time, we would find these activities ordinary. But we live in an extraordinary time where close contact between people surely increases the chance of becoming infected with the coronavirus; or perhaps infecting others if a person is asymptomatic yet still carries the virus.

Not to worry. Just ask Dr. Deborah Birx, the White House Coronavirus Response Coordinator who recently assured the public that Georgia governor Brian Kemp’s approval to open gyms, fitness centers, tattoo parlors, movie theaters and other “essential” services can be done safely, adhering to the strictures of “social distancing.”

Hmmm. I cannot imagine someone cutting my hair standing six feet from me, unless my barber has arm extenders. As for massage parlors, I’d like to see a masseuse provide a deep muscle massage standing from six feet away. Maybe the parlor uses robots. In good times, a gym is a petri dish of potential infections (tell me when you have ever seen a gym’s manager wipe down machines during the time you spend working out; or those gym members cleaning the machines religiously after each use. As for the bathrooms, well, don’t get me started on that!).

The public is starting to get antsy—a symptom of cabin fever—and wants to recover its ability to move about freely outdoors; go to a mall, run in a park, go to the beach (Really, South Carolinians? Do you actually desire to swim in the ocean where the water temperatures currently range from the high fifties to the mid-sixties?)

Notice how certain matters that are not usually in our daily stream of consciousness now suddenly take center stage? Are these really needs, or are they simply wants. You know the expression: You don’t know how important something is until you lose it. I get it. But this pandemic is not about individual wants or needs. Neither is it about finishing a school year. And it most certainly is not about regaining the highs reached in the stock market prior to Black Monday.

The focus must be on the bigger picture. In other words, striking a sensible balance between economic health and human health. Let’s take a deep breath and think creatively about educating students, helping front-line health workers, and assisting with other areas of essential services. Certainly, technology will help. So, will logical federal funding to help the homeowner and apartment dweller, and others who are most susceptible to financial hardship. These are the first priorities. An airline? Not so much, especially with lower fuel prices.

Can’t we just use common sense? Can’t we just lower the stress level and think about how we can help our friends, family and neighbors get through this time? No protests, no hoarding, no public shaming; instead, more support, consideration, courtesy and empathy. America has faced tough times before; however, we used our ingenuity while collectively working together for the greater good (think the second world war).  We have not been attacked by a human enemy; we have been attacked by an “invisible enemy” (one of just many of President Trump’s throwaway lines). Regardless, we still must band together as a single unit.

E pluribus unum. Now more than ever.