Written by Santura Pegram, Contributor
The last several weeks have been a critical time for common citizens, governments and business leaders alike around the globe as the Coronavirus (aka ‘COVID-19’) has taken over our daily lives unlike anything most people have ever experienced before. And, while the rapidly spreading virus continues to infect more territories seemingly by the day, the fact remains this ‘real life Pacman’ has carved a path of destruction across the U.S. and around the world.
According to numerous data reports at the time this story was published (5/08/2020), the U.S. has now topped over 1.3 million confirmed cases of people who have contracted COVID-19 throughout the United States. Of that number, close to 80,000 people of all ages, ethnic backgrounds, and socioeconomic groups have died due to this flu-like pandemic. At one point in New York alone, according to a FOX News report at the end of March 2020, “the Coronavirus had killed one person every 17 minutes.” Those numbers soon quadrupled by the hour before declining. Globally, there are currently almost 4 million confirmed cases of the virus; almost 300,000 people around the world have died. Medical experts predict all of those numbers will rise significantly in the weeks and months ahead.
However, aside from the growing (often conflicting) misinformation that several officials have communicated to the general public via the media, what most citizens are totally oblivious to is the presence of three major factors which not only hinder progress in attempts to deliver assistance where it is often needed most, but which are critical issues of disappointment to contend with in the midst of any such disaster.
Dysfunction and Bureaucracy Run Rampant During Natural Disasters
To begin with, although most people understandably find it unacceptable, what they should not find totally surprising by now is the bureaucratic and seemingly disorganized manner in which many (if not most) government sources at every level are all over newspapers, television networks and social media claiming one plea or another during major catastrophes. A case in point is how after seeing the governor of one of the most powerful states in America on national TV expressing that “there is a lack of PPE (personal protective equipment) items” and that his state is “desperate and urgently needs ventilators…ventilators…ventilators…and PPE,” it is important for the public to know such misinformation simply is NOT true.
Factually speaking, as a resourceful businessman, it’s been my experience that the problem has not been that those items are unavailable or inaccessible. Instead, the problem has been that most of those figures controlling the purse strings (for government emergency management departments and hospitals, nursing homes and/or healthcare organizations) unnecessarily delayed the process by either being slow to commit to contract opportunities presented to them or failed to implement or exercise an emergency stipulation that would(‘ve) enabled them to override and expedite traditional procurement processes instead of bureaucratizing the procurement process. Those are the real issues! Although there are a few cities-states that finally took on more of an aggressive approach by greenlighting the funds to acquire the proper PPE items after the fact.
In the instance of the Northeastern state seeking assistance — beginning moments after the rumors began circulating — my staff and I immediately began attempting to get in touch with their Governor’s office over several days, but no one ever responded. We spoke with government, healthcare and correctional industry leaders from a number of other cities-counties-states who we were able to help. Unfortunately, that was not the case with this particular Northeastern state which still needs it most.
Unbeknownst to their governor’s office and more importantly the frontline healthcare workers, safety forces and residents of their state, a close friend-business colleague of mine (who is a retired senior-level U.S. diplomat and globally respected businesswoman) has direct access to large volume amounts of FDA and European standard-approved healthcare masks and an assortment of other certified PPE items (that also include ventilators) which are in high demand in every country now. This successful businesswoman can assist any level of government, local health departments, hospitals and/or other facilities in any region who have a desire to obtain everything from those masks to disposable medical examination gloves, disposable Splash Coveralls, preventative face shields-goggles, Infrared Thermometer guns, and even reliable COVID-19 Test Kits (which are ISO and GMP-certified products).
Yet, attempts to introduce her and what she can offer this Governor and the citizens of his state fell on deaf ears. Attempts to go another route by reaching out to a few council members in the region in hopes of making contact with the office of the Mayor of their most populated city (who has direct ties to the Governor’s staff) also went unanswered. After two weeks we were eventually encouraged (via email) to register with a bureaucratized state website for vendors interested in providing such services to the state and city governments and that led nowhere. So much for government officials who claim to be so accessible to the general public.
Although neither the Governor of this particular state or Mayor of their most popular city can be faulted for such unprofessionalism, their staff members can be because they are supposed to be the responsible gatekeepers for any/all contact attempts with such officials. And, one never knows where a potential answer to a prayer can come from. However, after witnessing that previous experience, it can now be understood when news sources revealed why there are emergency stockpiles of PPE items sitting untouched in warehouses in Indiana that have gone unused for various trivial reasons.
One thing COVID-19 definitely proved to the American public is that every level of government has failed the American people once again when it involves a natural disaster. City-level governments have expected County-level governments to pay for such PPE items to equip local-regional emergency management teams, safety forces and healthcare professionals. County-level governments have expected State-level governments to cover the cost, and State-levels have attempted to pass it on to the Federal-level all because of gross fiscal mismanagement and a lack of proper emergency procurement protocols at every layer. The same game has been played by executives responsible for hospitals, nursing homes and other healthcare facilities in the private sector who’ve failed to properly equip their healthcare heroes. On top of the fact none of them had a sound plan of action strategy in place for such a catastrophe. As a result, vast numbers of people have and continue to be infected or die unnecessarily.
A Lackadaisical Culture Exists that Prevents Effective Decision-Making:
Another irritating factor the American people must contend with during moments of disasters is how governmental (i.e. public) entities are quick to claim they’re “supportive of transparency and common sense approaches to dealing with community challenges,” but whenever someone from the private sector who is not a member of their good ol’ boys club attempts to gain entry into this territorial land by initiating direct contact with a representative(s), their office or one of their staff members (who all were supposed to be working attentively from home temporarily due to this particular disaster), it’s amazing how phone calls have gone unanswered or were forwarded to automated voicemails that will not accept any more messages, emails have been ignored, and 1-800 numbers to call centers were staffed with ill-equipped employees who refused to (or have been incapable of) providing any relevant assistance or information.
Instead of moving swiftly to take precautionary measures of trying to stem the damage of the wildfire-like Coronavirus, exhibiting a delayed response in their preventative measures and/or taking it too lightly by underestimating its abilities to survive, increasing numbers of people believe numerous government figures and interconnected sources have merely used the COVID-19 situation as yet another form of ‘political fodder’ for their own hidden (political or economic) agenda. Much like their predecessors have done (with the help of local-national authorities like FEMA) each time its involved a hurricane, tornado, flood, tsunami or other disasters like 9/11 which they’ve turned into an opportunity-laden scenario.
Despite what such figures might claim, their commentary is nothing more than wasted rhetoric and politically motivated grandstanding. Little or nothing more than a ‘smoke and mirror‘ approach or response. It has been this lack of responsible governmental assertiveness in decision-making that has continued to play a significant role in limiting most cities-counties-states across the country.
More surprising yet is that although I am not a supporter of the Trump administration and did not support all of the decisions or lack thereof by the Obama administration either, any logical-thinking person can recognize that President Trump has not been, and is not, the lone wolf in the global disaster economic henhouse. Trust and believe that space is also occupied and partially controlled by several Democratic figures as well. The worst part is that instead of abandoning ineffective party allegiances, crossing the aisle and committing oneself to working together to solve national-global problems, most Republicans and Democrats alike today have not/are not accomplishing anything tangible for their constituents and their ‘broken models’ do not work.
Understanding the Game
Lastly, it shouldn’t take someone from the urban community to understand the fundamental skill of being able to “recognize someone’s game.” Growing up in an economically disadvantaged and/or distressed urban or rural community often teaches a person to think on another level, even if you’ve been taught to give each person the benefit of the doubt. Those who hail from suburban America and tout their paper credentials from Ivy League schools know little or nothing about this unique skill set which enables them to be identified rather quickly whenever they attempt to play most individuals from an urban or rural community like a fool, undermine them or apply cheating methods to a situation. Disappointingly, running game on unsuspecting people isn’t limited to interactions in the street, casinos or unscrupulous places, it also takes place in the Halls of Government where legislative, county and/or municipal (which often trickles down to economic-related) decisions are being made.
The Honorable M. Athalie Range, often referred to as the Political Matriarch of the State of Florida, once said…
“politics and government often create an interesting species of people. It’s interesting how most of them are ordinary middle-class wage earners before they enter politics and government, but oddly become overnight millionaires and multimillionaires after they’ve been in office for a brief span of time.”
That belief illustrates how and why governmental decisions that impact the lives of unsuspecting people often coincide with the economic game(s) being utilized by greed-oriented decision-making government officials, politicians, lobbyists and unsavory business figures who collectively help steer business contracts which often require no-bid or go un-bid to sources remotely close to them, and who provide financial contributions to their future campaigns, kick-backs to various programs and related charities affiliated with an elected official or governmental entity. Hence: GAME!
Whether you recognize it or not, remember…”For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.” ~ (Ephesians 6:12)
Sounds like the Creator who roamed the Earth over two thousand years ago was describing conniving personalities who occupy government departments, elected offices, lobbyist firms, corporate America, predatory insurance companies, and yes…some faith-based organizations of today too if you ask me.
Which raises the question how much longer will people continue to be misled like sheep to slaughter by following such figures and gullibly empowering them?
Why not propose term limits, sanctions and stiffer penalties for officials at every level of government, abolish immunity arrangements for prosecutors and judges who abuse their positions, no more Golden Parachute deals for corporate leaders who run companies into the ground and then walk away unscathed with a multimillion-dollar severance package, structure laws against insurance companies doing more harm than good, and implement criminal charges against clergy leaders proven to have misallocated the funds of their congregations?
Santura Pegram is a rising freelance writer and business professional. A former aide-protégé to the “Political Matriarch of the State of Florida” – the Honorable M. Athalie Range – Santura Pegram writes on topics ranging from socially relevant issues to international trade to politics.