The second part of Jim Geraghty’s Morning Jolt reminds us of the problems that COVID-19 and even a post-peak COVID-19 world present to the less skilled and particularly young people. It is not the COVID-19 is dangerous to them. It is usually not. Locally we are seeing most of the new COVID-19 cases as young people:
Below is a list of establishments and the date in which the infected person or persons visited:
- Legends/Twisted Moose (June 7) [two downtown bars]
- The Library (June 6) [another downtown bar]
- The Crow (June 7) [another downtown bar]
- Brothers (June 6) [another downtown bar]
- Broncos (June 6) [another downtown bar]
- Blue Moon Restaurant in Onalaska (June 6-7) [on the river]
- Pettibone Beach (June 5) [in the river]
Health officials said that these establishments have been listed because of the difficulty of contacting everyone who may have been there on the same days, and in-turn possibly exposed. It does not mean that other establishments or any public place does not also have a risk of spread.
During the weekend, the area confirmed 24 new cases, all of them in their 20s or teens. Since June 8 — two weeks after Memorial Day weekend — roughly 75% of the area’s cases have been in people under 30.
So young people are going to the downtown (we would say student but the colleges are closed) bars and spreading COVID-19 amongst themselves. Like Jim, we are more worried about their human capital rather than their health. Jim talks about lost caddying jobs. From Francis Ouimet to Caddyshack (yes we know the latter is fiction) caddying has been an opportunity for the less wealthy to develop skills and met people. That is, to develop human capital. Here is Jim’s summary and his quote:
Summer jobs are not glamorous and usually don’t pay all that well, but for a lot of people, they’re a key first step on the path of their careers. Former Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz wrote in From the Ground Up, “the value of early work experiences can exceed the amount of a paycheck. Work done well — building a house, helping a customer find the perfect new shoes, earning a promotion by serving cups of coffee — imbues us with a sense of self-worth as well as a sense of purpose. With dignity. And if you’re a lost young person with little proof of your potential, work can provide a window into yourself.”
We would emphasize the skills rather than Howard’s self discovery but we recognize that the two are related. Bad choices like Antifa and gangs become more likely when there is no obvious route to success. COVID-19 is working like a minimum wage. It is preventing people from discovering and developing their skills. And, of course, the penalty will fall more heavily on the less fortunate. Like many of the important questions, this one doesn’t have an obvious answer.