It's time for thinking big. It's time for being creative. It's time for understanding that the next few days may determine how our nation fares for many years to come.
First, let's frame the dilemma. We are a service economy. We are an economy that thrives on coming together and congregating, particularly among the young.
Sadly this diabolical illness has our number. It knows that the younger people are going to find a way to congregate. It knows that these people can play the role of Typhoid Mary. They will then infect their parents and their grandparents. I keep hearing we don't have enough data about who gets ill and who dies.
That's nonsense. We have perfect information. We know that if you are 70 or older and you have diabetes, high blood pressure or a pre-existing respiratory condition, then you are at extremely high risk to die if you are infected.
But if you are under 40 and you get it, you are likely going to live. In another couple of weeks, because we will be testing aggressively, we are going to get that same ratio going here. It will make us shudder and sicken us. It will make us even more likely to stay inside and listen to the authorities, again, with the exception of the younger people, many of whom just don't get it.
So what can we do?
First, we need to weigh the notion of ring-fencing those at risk from their own families, if possible. It's pretty clear that the younger give it to the older. But we simply aren't talking about it. It's not the younger people we have to worry about, it's the older.
Second, because we are a service economy, we know that much of our workforce is involved in these industries.
Solving this problem is not easy... unless you think big.
What's thinking big here?
The government being willing not to lend, not to let taxes be paid later, not to guarantee this or that, but to give handouts to the working people who are laid off.
Again, being creative: You need to know what a small business makes. You want to know what that small business was making in the last five weeks. You want to know what the employees were making. And you want to pay everyone that amount until we beat this thing.
The Treasury Secretary calls it business interruption insurance. Why not make it total? A total replacement.
What do we care vs. what we will have to pay if every little store closes and only the biggest, richest companies don't. We know this information is available. We can go to the IRS. We can go to Intuit (INTU) . We can get it from Square (SQ) . Together, that money can be paid right to the people who need it.
Next, while the government loses on small business, it needs to make on big business. Instead of bailing out the airlines with loans, the government has to invest in the airlines. They will come back when we beat this scourge, and we will, and the government should profit from their investment.
Same with any public travel and leisure company that wants money to stay alive. Take the government's investment to tide you over.
Finally, join the companies that further small business more than any other. Companies that were profitable that aren't? Do the same thing. Take a stake. Think big.
I love what the private companies are doing. I am so impressed with a company like Facebook (FB) , which is helping small business directly.
We need the government to do the same.
We need to approach this with the speed and effort of the Manhattan Project. We do it, and we will barely skip a beat.
If we don't, this illness will weaken our country, perhaps for years to come.