The country is playing volleyball with the responsibility for returning businesses to normal during the pandemic. The federal government continues to allow municipal authorities within the confines of the Governors’ auspices to make these decisions. The Democrats and the national press blame Trump for not dictating rules that are clearly the purview of state and local authorities because they like to blame Trump for everything. Yet none of them is really controlling decisions because business operators are largely deferring to lawyers.
It is no secret that every business in America structures its operations with a view toward potential litigation. Businesses can feel confident they are in complete compliance with various laws for employment or safety and still be attacked by vultures.
Toward that end, both the states and federal government issued guidelines for reopening businesses in light of the lockdowns mandated by the closures from March 15th through the end of April. The government had to somehow justify why their employees were not laid off. They had to find something to do so they issued detailed guidelines on reopening. When I received these respective guidelines (somewhat simultaneously), my first reaction even before I started to review them was palpable physical recoil. Lawsuits.
The first guide, 12 pages from the State of California: “COVID-19 Guidance: Real Estate Transaction.” I am sure the other industry guides are like this one, microscopically telling us how we should run our businesses. Their sole focus is that of potential liability exposure to customers, employees, vendors, the government and any unknown third parties who may sue us for unknown reasons.
Let me be clear, there are some good points for businesses in these guides. It is the potential problems they create and why Congress is asserting lawsuit protections are needed.
The entire guide falls apart in the first sentence under Purpose. “This document provides guidance for businesses operating in the real estate industry including sales and rentals” — etc. etc. etc. “Guidance” means advice or counseling. I provide guidance to my clients. However, in this case, it is not “guidance” – it is a diktat. What are they really saying? “If you don’t follow it, we will pound your head; then we will be cheering while 12 attorneys who provide our political allies contributions extract huge fees from you and your insurance company.”
Then they tell you to stay current. Translation: we are going to change these rules at a dizzying rate and if you do not keep up – more lawsuits. Even if you do keep up, you can get sued because you cannot prove the precise date when the event happened and the rules that were in force at the time. And we are still in the first paragraph.
Next, they have a full page defining wearing a facemask. Let me simplify — wear your damn mask whenever you are in public and must be near others. I could have saved them a lot of paper.
Next is the “Workplace Specific Plan.” It states you should have one. Most small businesses would not have a clue where to start. And consultants are either too busy or expensive or working for bigger companies. By the time business owners get done establishing the plan, the rules will change, and they will have run out of carbon paper to make changes.
Training is the next topic. That is a full page and a half. Let me simplify. “Wear your damn mask, make sure the customer wears their damn mask and don’t spit in their mouth or eyes.” Or you can be like the cable company and add a message that says “The safety of our customers and employees is our most important concern during this time of national emergency.” Is that why you haven’t been able to get my internet working for three days? Have you ever heard more horse manure flowing over the phone line? They are the reason we don’t have monopolies – they don’t work. (Think about that, you fools who believe in a single-payer health system.)
This is my favorite section: “Cleaning and Disinfecting Protocols.” Let me simplify: spray enough of that crap that a horde of locusts would turn around in mid-air and cross a continent to get away. Then spray a second time. Make sure the doggies are safe. Forget the cat; you cannot control those little critters anyway.
The last portion of the rules is physical distancing. You do not have to worry about this section because by the time you get this far, you will not want to see or hear another human until the pandemic is over. In fact, they will have to dig you out of a cave like those Japanese soldiers after WWII.
“Is it over yet?’
“Which one? We are on COVID-24.”
“Please, just shoot me now.”
By the time you are done with all these protocols and procedures, you are likely going to want to join the Marxists and Anarchists tearing down any statues still standing and looting (oh, yes, we cannot say that, it is racist). You will be seen running through the streets in a tutu asking for salvation from all forms of government.
And you wanted to live and run your own business in California. I’m moving to Portland.