Past Time for a Haircut

Joel Fox
Editor and Co-Publisher of Fox and Hounds Daily

As history reveals, poor economies make for political trouble. That’s why Gov. Gavin Newsom’s move to Stage 3 of his recovery plan, which means under certain conditions—and in all but 11 counties–hair salons and barbershops will open, is both an economic plus and good politics.

Long, shaggy hair will be sheared and join the haircuts already applied by the pandemic to the businesses and government budgets. But the haircuts to businesses and budgets has a different meaning than the haircuts to which the governor opened yesterday.  Seeking actual haircuts is an important symbol to opening the economy.

Gov. Newsom felt the building pressure to open the state and understood the negative political implications as the state‘s businesses remained tied down. The pressure came not only from Trump backers, as often suggested by the media, but also middle-class workers and small business owners who were facing devastation. Union supporters of the governor were concerned for the loss of jobs and the loss of tax revenue.

Newsom veered from his original guidelines somewhat to allow for opening in an effort to try to heal the economy at the same time as protecting health.

Opening the economy is the key to dealing with the previous aforementioned haircuts to businesses and budgets.

Now, the opening of different commercial enterprises is picking up steam and that is important for California’s economic health, while still requiring standards to protect human health. Some restaurants can open as well as retail shops. All openings have to be conducted with proper conditions designed to limit the spread of the virus.

While health of individuals has been a guiding light in dealing with the pandemic, economic health is also very important in many ways, including easing the stress on workers and the consumer society that creates both public and private prosperity.

Reversing the economic decline is a must for politicians. Unemployment rates of 20-percent and more is not a formula for re-election.

Even during the lifetime of many Californians, economic well-being has disrupted politics a number of times. The dotcom bust derailed Gray Davis’s governorship and his successor, Arnold Schwarzenegger, left office with low approval ratings because of the Great Recession.

On the national level, one doesn’t need to go as far back as Herbert Hoover to find an example of economics forcing political change. The malaise of Jimmy Carter’s presidency opened the door for Ronald Reagan and best remembered of all, perhaps, is the simple but direct slogan from political consultant James Carville, which helped propel Bill Clinton to the presidency: “It’s the economy, stupid.”

A lesson current politicians must take to heart.

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