Billionaires Want People Back At Work, Even If It Kills Them

As President Donald Trump pushes for an end to the nationwide social distancing practices that health professionals say are essential to saving lives during the coronavirus outbreak, incredibly wealthy Americans are eager to get employees back to work ― and some say they’re OK with people dying if that’s what it takes.

A number of the country’s richest businesspeople spoke frankly about the matter for a Bloomberg story published Wednesday. Dick Kovacevich, who ran Wells Fargo until 2007, said he wants healthy people under age 55 to return to work in late April if the outbreak is contained enough.

“We’ll gradually bring those people back and see what happens. Some of them will get sick, some may even die, I don’t know,” he said. “Do you want to suffer more economically or take some risk that you’ll get flu-like symptoms and a flu-like experience? Do you want to take an economic risk or a health risk? You get to choose.”

That’s a false choice, ethicists and economists have pointed out. Keeping businesses closed across the U.S. on the advice of scientists and health professionals will do economic damage. But rushing people back to work ― thereby prolonging the outbreak, straining the hospital system and adding to the death count from the virus ― would also be disastrous for the economy. Moreover, testing still isn’t available enough in the U.S. to determine who doesn’t have COVID-19, the disease caused by the virus, and so determine who could theoretically return to work.

But Tom Golisano, the founder and chairman of the payroll processor Paychex Inc., thinks he can prove that wrong ― dead workers be damned.

“The damages of keeping the economy closed as it is could be worse than losing a few more people,” he told Bloomberg, saying he expected businesses would have to fold. He wants states that haven’t been hit hard by the virus to return to normalcy.

“You’re picking the better of two evils,” he said. “You have to weigh the pros and cons.”

Forbes estimates Golisano’s net worth to be $3 billion.

Conservative pundits are beating the same drum. Radio and TV host Glenn Beck, whose Forbes-estimated net worth in 2014 was $90 million, said this week that people may have to get sick or die for the sake of economic prosperity.

“I would rather have my children stay home and all of us who are over 50 go in and keep this economy going and working,” Beck, 56, said on his show “The Blaze” Tuesday. “Even if we all get sick, I’d rather die than kill the country.”

Billionaire Tilman Fertitta, the magnate of a casino, hotel and restaurant empire, has also told Bloomberg that people need to get back to work soon.

“I think what we are doing with the shutdown is good but in a few weeks people will need to be around people,” he said Tuesday. “Otherwise you are going to go into an economic crisis that is going to take us years to dig ourselves out of.”

Fertitta, whose net worth Forbes estimates to be $4.4 billion, temporarily laid off 40,000 of his employees this week. 

Lloyd Blankfein, the billionaire who ran Goldman Sachs until 2018, took his grievances to Twitter on Sunday.

“Extreme measures to flatten the virus ‘curve’ is sensible-for a time-to stretch out the strain on health infrastructure,” he wrote. “But crushing the economy, jobs and morale is also a health issue-and beyond. Within a very few weeks let those with a lower risk to the disease return to work.”

Trump has signaled that he’d like social distancing efforts to lift as soon as possible, despite public health experts urging him not to rush those plans. 

His focus has been on returning to business as usual by Easter, which falls on April 12. During a Tuesday press conference, Trump said it would be a “beautiful timeline” to have it done by then, because of the day’s religious significance.

But Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, pushed back on that, saying at the same press conference that “you can look at a date, but you’ve got to be very flexible on a literally day-by-day, week-by-week basis.”

Public health experts have indicated social distancing measures may need to go on for months in order to avoid overwhelming the nation’s hospitals with COVID-19 cases.

As of Wednesday, more than 20,000 people have died of the coronavirus worldwide, with more than 900 of those deaths occurring in the U.S.

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Mexicans Take to the Streets in Historic March Against Femicide

Thousands of Mexicans will take to the streets of the capital and other cities on Sunday, International Women’s Day, for a march to protest a spate of killings of women and rising gender-based violence.

Demonstrators on the eve of the march dyed the water red in two major public fountains in Mexico City and Guadalajara to represent the blood of women spilled.

As many as 2,760 female officers will stand guard over the demonstration in Mexico City, local authorities said, and 120 representatives from the Human Rights Commission of Mexico City will monitor the event after threats of physical violence and acid attacks against participants circulated on social media.

Metro stations will remain open in the city to facilitate the movement of protesters, Mayor Claudia Sheinbaum said in a tweet. Participants have been advised to take precautions for their own safety.

The Women’s Day march was plastered on the front covers of national newspapers on Sunday. Observers expect it to be one of the biggest feminist demonstrations in Mexico’s history. It highlights surging public anger over two gruesome murders in February, just the latest in a sharp upswing in gender-based killings, known as “femicides.”

‘Cupid’s Fault’

In one of the recent incidents, Ingrid Escamilla, 25, was killed and skinned, allegedly by her 46-year-old partner. Her mutilated body was discovered on Feb. 9 and horrific photos of her corpse circulated on social media. A newspaper printed one on its front page under the headline, “It Was Cupid’s Fault,” stirring more fury over cavalier attitudes toward femicides.

Several days after Escamilla’s death a seven-year-old girl, identified only as Fatima, was abducted, sexually abused and murdered.

The deaths have sparked criticism of the government of Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador for failing to mitigate the gender-based violence that the United Nations says affects seven in every 10 Mexican women.

Under Lopez Obrador’s watch, more than 1,000 women were murdered in 2019, up from 912 the prior year and 426 in 2015. The spike in gender-based violence is in line with a general increase in Mexico’s homicide rates, which have jumped 93% since 2015. In 2019, an average of about 100 people were killed every day.

Activists have also called for a women’s strike on Monday, and millions of women across the country are expected to stay home from work. Mexico’s federal government and some of the country’s largest companies, including Wal-Mart de Mexico SAB, Walmart’s local subsidiary, have promised no retribution against women who participate in the boycott.

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