Editor's Corner
Reflections
by Jonathan Gramling      
The Brave & the Cowardly
Jonathan Gramling
They have continued their work knowing that people’s lives are hanging in the balance. They are making the difference between life and
death. And we are sending them into this risk situation inadequately prepared with not enough personal protection equipment. It’s like sending
soldiers into battle without flak jackets, leaving it up to chance and where the droplets fall to decide whether they stay healthy or get ill.

And this great country, after a month, can’t seem to get us an adequate supply of N95 masks and other protective gear to wear. This seems
to show two flaws in the global economic system that we have created. During normal times, it’s quite natural to produce goods where they
can be made the cheapest. In the case of our medical equipment, it appears that most of it is made in China. While the economy is
international, in many ways, the COVID-19 pandemic is national — although there should have been a national response.

And so does a country make sure that its domestic need is adequately met before it shares the needed supplies with the rest of the world? Or
should it just let the marketplace take over with the masks going to the higher bidder no matter what the domestic need is, leaving states to
bid against each other regardless of where the most severe need is.

And apparently the U.S. fell asleep at the wheel in letting its own national reserve of N95 masks and ventilators become depleted, not
protecting the U.S. from the extreme impact of a sudden surge in demand for these strategic materials. It’s like letting all of the national oil
reserve get depleted and so the U.S. would be vulnerable to OPEC, Russia and other oil producers — regardless if the U.S. is the number one
oil producing country in the world — and would not control its own destiny. We have not been in control of the health of our nation.

Our national effort has also been hurt by having a narcissistic leader who never grew up in the White House, someone who can’t take
responsibility for anything although he has run the government for over three years and clearly had the ability to meet any of the COVID-19-
related problems we now face if he had any vision of America beyond his own narrow self-interests and obsession with getting reelected.

This is not the time to have a Capitalist as President of the United States who believes that if everyone follows their narrow self-interests and
desires, it will somehow result in the common good. That is clearly not working as Trump has been loath to implement the Defense
Procurement Act to ensure an adequate supply of medical equipment. Instead of working for the betterment of the U.S. people, Trump is
more concerned about the rights of a few companies in deciding whether or not they will produce the goods that we need. Trump keeps
looking for market solutions to a global pandemic that needs a collective response in order to defeat this microscopic foe. They seek to
preserve their hegemony and power even at the expense of American lives.

While in other national crises like World War II, people — my dad included — enlisted to fight the Axis Powers and many went into harm’s
way voluntarily in order to save America, we are now facing a national crisis where some of America’s Governors — along with the
president — will, in essence, be sending every day citizens into harm’s way for the sake of the economy. This isn’t being done to save
America. It’s being done to save the position of the one percent. And I doubt if these governors are going to be working as cashiers and on
assembly lines placing themselves in harm’s way. They will be back in their sanitized offices away from the frontlines in the battle against
COVID-19. Many of them appear to be cowards, directing others to make sacrifices that they themselves are unwilling to make.

And they are such a contrast to people near to my heart, the grassroots folks in the non-profit world.  Over the past month, I have read
about, observed and interviewed many of the folks who are working the frontlines. They are the bridge between vital goods and services and
the most vulnerable people in our community. They are staying engaged making sure that families have enough food, have money to pay for
lodging and other basic needs. They are working to help parents keep their children engaged academically so that they do not fall further
behind. They are making sure that the elderly have a good meal. They are a true reflection of our civilization and our connection with each
other.

These folks are heroes, in my mind. Our community owe them a debt of thanks for they are, in essence, an expression of the humanity of
Madison and Dane County. They are carrying the quality of our lives on their shoulders and are doing an incredible job doing it. Thank you!
Sometimes, one has so much to write about that it’s hard to come up with anything to write about.

When I turn on my TV, most of the national commercials have transitioned to COVID-19 themed messages.
Almost all of them feature medical personnel and rightfully so. We are seeing time and time again that some
very talented and compassionate people enter the medical field because they want to help people, help them
get and feel better.

These medical personnel are giving up a lot putting themselves in harm’s way. They are selfless people on
the frontlines of stemming the tide of COVID-19. And as we saw in the early days in China, some medical
staff are catching the virus and some succumb to it.