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MNB reader Dan Jones wanted to weigh in on a Washington Post column that we referenced last week.

In that Post piece, Steven Pearlstein wrote:

“Even before the pandemic, there were encouraging signs that American capitalism was beginning to shed its single-minded focus with maximizing shareholder value. Companies that offered shoddy products and services began to find themselves at the receiving end of nasty social media campaigns, while those whose business models depend on squeezing employees, despoiling the environment and ignoring their responsibility to the rest of society were finding it increasingly hard to attract the most sought-after talent.”

Dan Jones responds:

This is a non-sequitur.   Any company with “shoddy products and services” or companies that “ [are] despoiling the environment and ignoring their responsibility to the rest of society” are in no way maximizing shareholder value.  The value of an organization is based on its long term value.  Corporations should maximize shareholder value – understanding this value is a marathon not a sprint.

On a different subject, from an MNB reader:

I continue to appreciate MorningNewsBeat and all it offers.  I’m in Michigan. As you know, we’re getting a lot of coverage for those who are protesting stay-at-home-stay-safe orders.  Personally, I’m trying to abide by the guidelines. I’m pretty healthy.  But, I would hate to chance infecting anyone else.  Still, I’m one of the lucky ones.  I am able to continue working—probably busier than I’ve been in years.  How long that will last, I don’t know. 

I do know this civil war cannot go on.  I also agree that we can’t wait for a vaccine.  I would prefer folks would do the simple things until then. I mean, can’t we just try to help keep each other safe while medical experts find a few more mitigation treatments?  Sadly, it doesn’t appear so. 

Therefore, I’m wondering if it’s time to consider something akin to “smoking sections.”  I realize those have been outlawed in many states.  And, for good reason.  But, these times call for some way of finding a middle ground.  This won’t work for every type of business.  But, it could work for those that used to offer such distinct seating.  And, it could work for many retail stores.

For lack of a better term (and since it’s used regularly by protesters) let’s call them “Liberty Sections.”  Or, if not sections then “Liberty Hours.”

As a business owner, if you are willing to follow all medical/scientific guidelines and state mandates, no other steps need be taken. Except that you MUST enforce the guidelines/mandates. No mask, no entry or service. Monitor flow and (politely) ask folks to follow the signs. Etc. I would think owners would want to promote this, just like lots of businesses were proud to do when they stopped offering a smoking section. I realize these businesses may have to charge more.  And, that is fair. 

If you are a business owner who wants to cater to those who don’t want to wear masks, stay six feet apart or otherwise protect themselves or others, you need to do the following. Make your “Liberty Section” as large as you’d like. But, you must also offer safe entry to the “Non-Liberty Sections.”  Or, if you are offering “Liberty Hours”—and that could be any number of consecutive hours—be sure you disinfect before you open for the “Non-Liberty Hours.” You must also protect your employees. You must allow them the option of working in those sections or during those hours. Give them the appropriate PPE and paid sick leave if they contract COVID-19.

In fact, open your whole business as a “Liberty Business” and don’t bother with any of the recommended safeguards. Be sure everyone knows this is your policy, posted clearly on your building, parking lot or otherwise well before the entry.  Most of the businesses I see protesting in Michigan would likely promote this proudly. 

Just throwing this out there as a starting point for discussion. We have to start talking and figuring this out together.

I get your point.

My first reaction is that I would object on philosophical grounds to referring to these as "Liberty Sections."  Because it ignores what I think is important - that with liberty comes responsibility … for our own behavior, but also to take care of our sisters and brothers in liberty.

And that's what wearing masks is about.  Not insuring our own health, but preventing us from spreading the disease to others.

I'm not anti-liberty for being pro-mask.  Far from it.

I believe in that line from the Boston Globe video from a few weeks ago - that addressing the pandemic in ways both serious and nuanced is the height of patriotism, fighting for something bigger than ourselves."

Am I wrong on this?

And from MNB reader Stacy McCoy, regarding the new Jimmy Buffett album, from which we shared a couple of songs last Friday:

Awwww… thank you so much for sharing the new Jimmy tunes! My husband and I will be missing our annual concert this year… we will definitely be listening to some Jimmy in our backyard oasis with some of our chums and a bottle of rum… I just hope we don’t wind up drinking all night!