I listen with sympathy to the cries of the many small business owners who are calling for government help in the face of their losses. But, why should they have precedence over me. The coronavirus crisis has also cost me dearly. If these businesses are to get help, so should I. The government should step in and cover my losses.
I had taken my life savings, accrued over the years as a hard-working employee in a hi-tech company, and, taking my bank’s advice, invested in “safe” financial instruments. But, in the last few weeks, I have seen huge losses as company shares and dividends have plummeted. I can hardly bring myself to look at my bank account, hundreds of thousands of shekels have disappeared into thin air.
The complaining shop owners, the unhappy hairdressers, should have known when they opened their businesses that they were taking a risk. They were gambling that they would make money in their chosen fields; opening a business is not a guarantee of success. But for a stroke of luck we might never have heard of Microsoft and Bill Gates. We have not heard of Tom Higgins and many like him, their businesses never got off the paper their plans were written on. Perhaps they should have listened to the last words of Captain Robert Falcon Scott, dying on his way back from the South Pole – “We took risks, we knew we took them; things have come out against us, and therefore we have no cause for complaint.”
We are looking at a crisis that has lasted weeks, not months. Have all these businesses been living hand-to-mouth? Have they no reserves? Perhaps they should spend some more time finding ways to carry on within the framework of the current lock-down. On-line orders for home delivery are commonplace for many supermarkets and smaller shops. A few minutes tapping on my keyboard has brought me all I can eat from my supermarket, a large selection of excellent cheeses from a local speciality shop and my daily medicines from a well-known pharmaceutical chain. I have yet to find the keys to tap that will restore my life savings to their former value.
These business owners, calling for government help, should be careful what they wish for. They should remember what President Ronald Reagan said.
“The nine most terrifying words in the English language are: I’m from the government and I’m here to help.“