An equalizer and an amplifier
BUSINESS MATTERS BEYOND THE BOTTOM LINE - Francis J. Kong (The Philippine Star) - May 2, 2020 - 12:00am

With plenty of time at home and no place to go, apart from playing with my seven-month-old grandson Matteo, writing articles, making lessons, doing FB shoutouts and webinars, I have a little bit more time to read.

Articles regarding COVID-19 and its related contents abound. Opinions from thinkers begin to fill up the web spaces and many writers call COVID-19 an equalizer. During the early days of the lockdown, I think I did too. In my digital spaces, this was what I posted: “The virus does not discriminate. The strong, the rich, the powerful, and the famous; the marginalized, the education-deprived, and the underprivileged – no one carries exemption. Everyone is a potential victim. Contrast this to just a few months ago when humanity boasts of how technology will rule the world. How man will conquer space. There was great admiration for the famous, the powerful, and influential. And all those seem futile at this moment. We put our dependence on God, and in Him, we shall put our trust.” In this sense and spirit, I would have called the virus an equalizer.

But then I came across an article written by Mike Allen and Jim VandeHei from the website Axios. And they said: “COVID-19 virus is not an equalizer. It is an amplifier as it shows the great disparity of the rich and poor, powerful and not, and all would not have been noticeable under the noise of everyday ordinary happenings, including political spins of those who are in authority.”1 

This makes a lot of sense. Especially when you view their opinions and perspective from the western part of the hemisphere.

The author said: “The imbalance transcends demographics:

• Those without health insurance are less likely to get tested or seek treatment, increasing their mortality rate.

• Those with weak governors or mayors, slow to react or stubborn to face reality, will suffer and die from belated social distancing and stay-at-home mandates.

• Those with strong health and immune systems are likelier to survive. It is likely those who develop a strong antibody that defeats the virus will be first back to work and to return to normal life.

• The Darwinian dynamic feels especially acute for business. Millions of companies and jobs will be wiped away, with mainly the strong — or well connected — able to hang on.

• Those companies with strong connections and lobbyists will get bailouts to stay alive. 

• Those smaller businesses with good connections to banks will be first in line for government money to stay afloat. 

• Those with strong balance sheets — and not inflated paper value or hype — will thrive and attract more emergency capital from investors. 

• Those mom and pop shops with good local businesses but thin margins will struggle mightily, and many will go under without substantial aid delivered quickly. The hourly workers who make them possible will suffer, too. 

• Those workers who can easily transition to remote work will be fine. Those in blue-collar jobs that can only be done in person are not only more vulnerable to the virus but also losing their jobs and insurance.

The bottom line: As with so much in American life, the coronavirus draws out the sharp divides between the nation’s haves, and have nots, as who you are, who you know and where you can make the difference in everything, including life and death.”

So when I hear young people say, “Life is so unfair!” I would tell the young person, “Right on buddy! Now learn to understand a little bit more about life.” Somebody says: The world is divided into three categories of people:

1. The Have’s

2. The Have-Not’s

3. The Have-not-paid-for-what-they-Have.

COVID-19 exposes vulnerabilities. It reveals realities that we are kept hidden through the clever disguise of spin, bluff, persona as well as social media. And now realities are exposed. Truths and consequences are and will be revealed. Yes, it is an amplifier and it is also an equalizer. There is just so many life lessons we can all learn from at this time of our lives.

(Connect with Francis Kong in Or listen to “Business Matters” Monday to Friday 8:00 a.m. and 6:30 p.m. over 98.7 DZFE-FM ‘The Master’s Touch’, the classical music station.)

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