The Bigger the Virus, the Louder the Government

Jim Woods

Jim Woods has over 20 years of experience in the markets from working as a stockbroker, financial journalist, and money manager.

“Never allow a crisis to go to waste.”

That’s the newly reprised sentiment from Rahm Emanuel, the former mayor of Chicago and chief of staff to President Obama.

In 2008, Emanuel became well known for this rather sinister exhortation because he used it as a justification to grow big government during the 2008 financial crisis. Yet this past Sunday, Emanuel brazenly said it again during an interview on ABC’s “This Week.”

Now in fairness, Emanuel was referring to the need to start planning for the future, so that, when another global pandemic hits, we will have economic measures in place which will prevent another Great Depression. Yet, the sentiment here permeates through the halls of political power, because crises such as wars, economic upheaval and widespread health emergencies are often springboards for more government intrusion in our lives. And most often, that intrusion doesn’t go away once a crisis is over.

Today, Congress is about to make Emanuel smile because it has concocted a “ginormous” emergency spending bill estimated at some $2 trillion. Though the full text of the bill has yet to be released, indications are that the legislation will provide direct financial checks to many Americans of up to $1,200. The bill also will drastically expand unemployment insurance, offer hundreds of billions in loans to both small and large businesses and extend additional resources to health care providers.

In a statement, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) said, “This is a wartime level of investment into our nation.” He also added, “The men and women of the greatest country on Earth are going to defeat this coronavirus and reclaim our future.”

Now, I agree with the sentiment here from Sen. McConnell when it comes to Americans facing war-like conditions from the coronavirus. I also agree with him on our country’s greatness and our need to defeat our viral enemy and reclaim our future.

What scares me, however, is a future where government has grown into an even more massive leviathan than it already is. The reason why is because just about every government program that’s ever been implemented remains alive and well. In most cases, the leviathan grows and grows and grows, infecting (no pun intended) the freedom of every citizen.

Just look at how big the government was before this crisis. Indeed, we were running massive, trillion-dollar debts to finance the cash-hungry leviathan — and that was before this pending $2 trillion stimulus bill went into effect.

Now, unlike some of my free-market colleagues, I don’t think that there is an easy answer to the economic devastation that’s hit the United States and the rest of the world. When the government essentially shuts down economic activity by proclamation in an effort to contain the spread of the coronavirus (e.g. government “shut-in” orders), it does seem incumbent upon that government to act in order to ameliorate the economic destruction it knows will follow.

That’s what is supposedly going on in Congress right now. While the action that has been taken in Washington is music to Wall Street’s ears (the Dow Jones Industrial Average is up more than 17% since Monday’s close), I suspect that the new “Fortissimo” tune of Big Government will remain long after COVID-19 becomes “Pianissimo.”

For those of us who love freedom, individual rights, property rights and as little government as possible, the negative lingering effects of Big Government’s growth, due to the coronavirus, will be a challenge. That’s why it is more important now than ever before to get our arguments clear, to argue from principles and to work hard against the admittedly tempting notion that government will come to the rescue and save us from any and all adversity.

In the weeks to come, I’ll be peeling back the intellectual layers of this complex and problematic onion skin. Here, I plan to look at the many reasons why government regulations are largely responsible for the shortages of many of the crucial medical supplies that we need in this crisis. I also plan to explore the economic fallout from the massive debt and deficits we’ll face when this situation is over. Finally, I’ll look at the wider issue of the government’s role in protecting individual rights and why those rights always become a casualty during times of acute crises.

So, please stay tuned.

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Why Most Businesses Fail in the First Five Minutes

It often is said that more than half of new businesses fail during the first year, but that’s actually a bit too optimistic. The fact is most businesses fail in the first five minutes.

That’s the premise, and the title, of the new book by two of the nation’s leading business consultants, my friends John Paul Mendocha and Gabe Bautista.

In the new episode of the Way of the Renaissance Man podcast, John Paul and Gabe join me directly from the W Ranch for an intimate dining room conversation about why most businesses are doomed to fail from the start, why it usually takes several years to realize it and why correct positioning is essential for anyone who wants to create a successful enterprise.

Gabe, Jim, Paratrooper the Quarter Horse and John Paul at the W Ranch

More importantly, you’ll find out how and why John Paul and Gabe are both Renaissance Men, and why I am so excited to share their eclectic backgrounds, experience and their years of hard-earned knowledge and wisdom about how to properly position your business, and your life.

If you’ve ever wanted to learn why some businesses succeed while others fail miserably, then this episode is positioned to win just for you.


Make the Coronavirus Kindness Choice, an Audio Essay

In last week’s issue, our lead story was about how you can “Make the Coronavirus Kindness Choice.”

This story was well-received, and I want to thank those who wrote in to tell me they found it valuable.

Given the nature of the topic, as well as its timeliness, I decided to do a special audio essay version of the article for those who enjoy listening to content.

This audio essay is a slightly edited version of the original piece that was published in this column on March 18.

So, if you are someone who enjoys listening to audiobooks, podcasts, etc., I think you’ll like this special audio essay version of “Make the Coronavirus Kindness Choice.”


Tumult Never Stops

“For the righteous the tumult of the world never stops.”

–Samuel Beckett, “Molloy”

The social, economic and market tumult caused by the coronavirus pandemic has been trying for everyone. Yet if you are a righteous person who cares about the world, you have no doubt taken it upon yourself to do what you must to help humanity. That help may be as simple as just staying at home, or it might be as complex as going into a lab and trying to bioengineer a COVID-19 vaccine. Whatever your contribution, please continue to stay righteous — because the tumult of the world never stops.

Wisdom about money, investing and life can be found anywhere. If you have a good quote that you’d like me to share with your fellow readers, send it to me, along with any comments, questions and suggestions you have about my newsletters, seminars or anything else. Click here to ask Jim.

In the name of the best within us,

Jim Woods

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