Editorial: Lots of thanks are appropriate today, but so too will be a bit of anger tomorrow

photo by: Journal-World Photo Illustration

Lawrence Journal-World Editorial

The Journal-World recently reported on a fun and elaborate yard sign that was placed in front of Lawrence Memorial Hospital, thanking the health care workers inside. Such signs in Lawrence could be more common than leaves in the fall or red Solo cups in Oread during Hawk Week.

In other words, there are a lot of people in the community who deserve special thanks. Health care workers are an obvious and well-deserved choice. They are facing not only dangers by exposing themselves to patients with an incurable virus, but they also are facing discomfort on other fronts too. Many are being asked to do jobs they normally don’t do, and some are undoubtedly losing hours and wages as health care facilities across the county are seeing much less business. Yes, they are ramping up for a surge, but right now business is slow as people are rightly looking for any reason to stay away from the doctor’s office or hospital.

First responders, such as police and fire, also deserve thanks. They are still interacting with a lot of people, when it would be much safer for them to be tucked in their homes. It wouldn’t be safer for us, though. Health care and first responders often are top-of-mind professions to thank.

But what about trash truck workers? They make contact with basically every household in the city in their own way, and they are doing so without any hazmat suits or other such gear. And how about the utility employees who must report to work to maintain operations at the city’s water and sewer plants? Both are vital pieces of infrastructure, and the community would have a real problem if all the trained operators fell ill. Many are likely significantly disrupting their lives to make sure that doesn’t happen.

It would be impossible to list everybody who deserves thanks, but surely one more group must be named: grocery store workers. Often grocery store clerks are some of the most entry-level positions in the labor force. Be that as it may, it is hard to think of more critical employees during this pandemic. If grocery stores were unable to reliably stay open and stocked, we would have a food crisis. America is not a land of backyard gardens anymore, and if you thought plucking your eyebrows was uncomfortable, just try plucking your own chicken for dinner.

The frontline workers in the grocery business — pharmacies too — are asked to be in uncomfortable positions, often standing directly across from us as we check out. We all should be mindful of keeping our distance and doing all we can to ensure these important workers remain healthy. They are critical to stopping this pandemic from turning into an even greater hell. On a related note, thank a few truckers too. They are traveling to a lot of places we wouldn’t, and without their efforts the grocers would have nothing to stock.

At some point we also may need to thank Congress and the president for their efforts to limit the economic pain of this pandemic. The $2 trillion relief bill was passed via an overwhelming bipartisan vote. Putting the country ahead of political interests should be expected, but it also can be worth a thank you.

However, we don’t need to offer it right now. After all, if we are tardy in thanking the federal government, that is only fair. It was tardy in preparing for a pandemic. Perhaps today isn’t the day, but soon, Americans will have every right to be damn mad at the federal government’s response to this crisis.

An honest assessment would show problems in pandemic preparation go back further than the Trump administration. But there is also no question that the president’s hunches and gut feelings about this pandemic are fair game for the election season we currently are in. Despite what your hat may say, this certainly is not great.

Thankfully, the Make America Great Again bandwagon has been parked for awhile. For the moment, could we just Make America Livable Again?

America certainly would thank those who could.


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