You deemed me essential, but really made me irrelevant

Craig Hall

Did you get the blessing? I recall when I did. Napoleon Polis had just shuttered the state — because New York and California did and like all good, lacky liberals who want to be president do, he fell in line — the night before St. Patrick’s Day because he declared himself the only expert in Colorado who can decide what is or isn’t essential.

If you were declared  “non-essential,” how did you feel? I’m sure in many ways irrelevant. Because that’s exactly how you should have felt. Invalidating someone, anyone, in such a manner should be the last thing a public servant does. Yet our governor seems to have made it a daily ritual.

Permit me to share with you the feelings and realities of someone who was declared essential because he works in the right place on the right side of the open/close ledger our Denver Delano declares daily.

I’m declared essential for one reason: I own a newspaper. The relief that came with the declaration lasted as long as the good feelings of greeting a new day when I wake up each morning under the soft martial law of Potentate Polis’ pontifications. All of 2 minutes.

Although I was told I could remain open and conduct business, something in my gut didn’t feel right. First and foremost is the obvious: EVERY person, job and business are essential. Period. Declaring in any way a fellow human being “non-essential” is the tool of tyrants. Millions who lived “non-essential” lives under Mao, Hitler, Stalin, Hussein, Kim or “insert your dictator here” aren’t available to back up my point. They’re dead. They were also labeled dissidents pot stirrers, enemies of the state. Chances are, their death marches began when a friend or neighbor reported them. I’ve already written a column about the essentiality of all humans, so you know which way I’m walking.

Beyond the initial understanding the shutdown couldn’t be any opposite of the Constitution in how tyrannically wrong it was, here’s the reality of how one operates an “essential” business. Despite declaring a business essential, the government has taken away the one thing every business needs: customers. In my case, advertisers. This isn’t a plea for help, it’s simply a fact. If I was a coffee house/bagel shop/candy maker, I’d say in-house clients enjoying the fruits of labor. If I was a cleaning company, I would have said businesses open that need cleaning.

Government doesn’t understand the concept of customer service or attracting customers. It gathers customers at the barrel of a gun, forces them to part with their money and makes them live with whatever goods and services government supplies. There is no complaint department — unless you count complaining to your friends while awaiting trial; sitting in your jail cell; or in today’s world, your house arrest. The government also doesn’t understand the concept of earning money. Although it constantly uses the term “revenues,” we all know it means confiscation. When government needs more money, it simply passes a law to take more of yours or mine, or like now, creates money out of thin air.

People and businesses budget money to do things that better their lives. So in commerce, the market doesn’t consider it any different if someone has coffee with friends or clients, buys an ad to grow one’s business or takes the task of cleaning one’s home or office of one’s responsibilities in having a company willing to clean do it for them. Every one of these actions is a market-based economy and societal good. But here’s the problem. When a person or business no longer generates revenue, they can’t budget and buy these goods and services — certainly not at the rate they did. And who stopped the earning rate in its tracks? Government. A business that’s uncertain if it will be in business in 30 days isn’t going to buy ads. A coffee drinker isn’t going to buy coffee or drink coffee with friends if they need to go to the store to find the necessities of survival. Small business owners will clean their own place instead of paying someone to do it for them.

All of the above and so much more was destroyed in one day by one individual.

Yes, most of those lucky, essential businesses became irrelevant. I have fewer advertisers. But even more, Pontiff Polis closed every place I deliver the paper, which in turn leads to fewer readers and even fewer advertisers and in turn devalues my business. By placing a peculiar Polis’ propriety upon me of declared essentiality, our Denver dictator did more to destroy my business than any competitor or economic disaster.

Like every business owner I know, I’ve spent my time and efforts working on new ways to create value, change my business plan and serve my customers and readers. From those efforts came new clients and some darned creative ways to serve the community.

That is, until Dear Leader dictates new essentialities and devalues my relevance again. For others, it means receiving relevancy back in ratios of ridiculousness. All alliteration aside, with some consonance for good measure, such subjugation sucks.