8 April 2020

NOTE FROM NORM: Stay Safe, Be Safe, Work Safe

After the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor America sprang into action.

In doing so it ultimately helped defeat Japanese aggression and topple the Nazi regime that wished to establish a 1,000-year rule over the people of the world.

But, along the way, our nation made decisions that we came to regret.

We placed nearly 120,000 Americans of Japanese descent into internment camps – convinced that many of them were conspiring against America – and far to often simply because of racist views of any American that wasn’t white.

After the terrorist attacks on  America on 9/11 America sprang into action.

In doing so we led a global war on terror and made it clear that America, and the free world, would give no quarter to those who sought to destroy freedom and liberty anywhere on the planet.

But, along the way, our nation made decisions that we came to regret.

A De-Ba’athification program intending to cleanse Iraq of Sadaam Hussein’s influence resulted in a recruitment program for an insurgency that maimed, wounded and killed thousands of American soldiers.

The benefit of hindsight often allows us to be experts when it comes to the assessment of history.

Yet, in the moment of crisis the American people and their leaders take decisive and bold approaches to defeat that which threatens our freedom, our liberty and our very existence.

The “fog of war” often creates moments of confusion, but also leads to implementation of policies and processes that are inspired more by fear than they are by facts.

The pandemic that spread across the globe, has cost far too many lives and has resulted in a virtual shutdown of America’s economy is a war that the American people and its leaders are confronting today.

The rich, the poor, the powerless and the powerful have all found themselves in the battle – as well as victims – in this war.

We have listened to our leaders, wisely, and engaged in social distancing measures that have helped to flatten the curve.

We shuttered those businesses which we believed put far too many Americans in harms way and would facilitate the spread of COVID-19.

Many Governors, including those in my own state, acted aggressively and shut down schools – bars and restaurants – and directed that only the most essential of services should remain open and serving the public.

Those decisions worked.  Are working.  Saving lives.

To those who made those decisions the American people should remain grateful despite the inconvenience to our lives.

But, we are now at a place and time where we can and should re-evaluate the broad scope of those decisions to see whether there is a realistic, practical and safe alternative approach we can be taking in many of the aspects of our national economy.

We should be looking to “Stay Safe.  Be Safe.  Work Safe.”

Most of all, we need to get people back to work who can stay safe and be safe and work safe.

In Minnesota, for example, we are debating whether people can have their docks put in at their lakes by contractors and handymen.

It shouldn’t even be a debate.

The standard to date has been is  the job “essential.” We need a broad definition of essential.

It’s pretty essential in this time of strife and sadness that Minnesota families be able to social distance and quarantine while dropping a line in the water-or by sitting on their dock.

We should allow people who can stay safe and be safe and work safe to do that.

And, with the same vigor as we made decisions to close America down to fight COVID-19 we should be focusing on where we can re-open America so people can stay safe and be safe and work safe.

We should have a taskforce already in place at both a state and national level that is assessing the capacity of various parts of our economy to be able to re-open and determine if it can meet a high standard of safety for those who work there.

And, whether the work that they do, and the services or products they deliver, can be done without increasing the chances of people becoming infected.

It’s a difficult task, to be sure.

But America will need to get back to work.

Not all at once and not all businesses.

Yet, the same level of commonsense that was used to engage in the war against COVID-19 must be employed to get people back to being employed. There are those who think we have gone too far in this fight.  I do not agree.  I believe America has done, and continues to do, what must be done.

However, we have an opportunity, and an obligation, to assess where we are today and determine if we can re-open parts of America sooner rather than later without undermining the work that has been done so far to save American lives.

America works best when Americans work together. And unquestionably,  Americans, Minnesotans need to be able to work.

We must continue to do so and act in responsible and safe ways to save more American lives.

We must also act in ways that will save American jobs and do so by ensuring that we stay safe…be safe…and work safe.