Our #1 objective must be: Drastically reduce the fear and panic among Americans

Fear begets fear, panic begets panic, but only if we allow it to continue to happen.


First let’s make it clear that the coronavirus threat to America must be the nation’s chief concern, its #1 priority that nothing is more important. And part of that priority has to be to get this Trump administration to shift into high gear to address every element of this massive problem. That is just not happening right now.

That said, there is no question but that we also must address another, secondary crisis, in this country, i.e., the hemorrhaging of the stock market, the rapid downward spiral that threatens the financial foundations of our nation. In doing that we must do everything possible to stop the panic-selling that continues unabated.

This financial crisis will be further addressed below so let’s continue speaking about the virus problem. 

A president should be calming the people’s fears, giving them hope, showing them that he is on top of the problem, that they can depend on him to do whatever needs to be done to bring this dire situation under control. They need to trust him, that the safety and security of the American people are to him paramount.

The more we hear about these medical equipment shortages and the failure of this government to deal with them, the more fear that is generated in the minds of Americans, the more panic that is created. Americans do not understand why this problem continues and this is very troubling to them; that, because of these shortages, they may not get necessary treatment if they get infected.

Someone, please tell me what is so very difficult about producing masks and various other items that these doctors and nurses need as they examine and treat virus-infected individuals? This is not manufacturing electronics or robotic machinery or autos. Most of these items are not complicated and should have been available to hospitals in the mega millions weeks ago, but we are still waiting; what in the world is wrong here?

One of the main reasons is that, over the last twenty years or so, China has become the primary manufacturing source for masks and other associated equipment such as respirators. Unfortunately, when the virus hit China in January 2020, that country’s own increased need for these medical needs largely dried up the availability for other countries. 

Then, when the Trump administration should have been reacting strongly to this problem by using all the power and influence it had to get U.S. manufacturers to pick up this manufacturing, it just didn’t do it. As I’ve said before Trump has been “asleep at the wheel.”

By far, the worst thing right now is that this media is covering every minute of Trump’s daily news conferences in which he completely fails to do the most important thing that a president in this situation should be doing. And that is to calm the fears of the people by giving them accurate information that reduces their fears, not misinformation as he is doing.

For example, he is continually asked about the Defense Production Act that gives him the power to put enormous pressure on those companies who are producing the key equipment that hospitals need. When questioned as to why he is not using that power to increase supplies he refuses to answer them. 

My advice to the media; stop carrying his entire conferences each day, do not cover them because they are not productive, Trump is completely out of his league, he is doing far more harm than good by his complete incapability to connect with people and give them hope during this crisis. They can give these briefings appropriate coverage in brief video clips as an alternative.

Another suggestion for the media: identify those companies that make the tests, that produce masks, protective gowns and eye shields, and all the other key supplies and equipment. That will put more pressure on them to increase production.

It’s becoming evident that Trump is getting upset with Doctor Fauci because he insists on speaking the truth and often corrects Trump’s misinformation about what’s happening. If he dares to remove Fauci from these briefings then we need individuals with influence and power to work with cable news and other news outlets to have the doctor and his expert associates hold their own daily briefings. These briefings should replace those of Trump which are of no real value.

I heard Mayor DeBlasio of New York City sadly declare that his city was now the epicenter of the coronavirus crisis and he was begging Trump to tell him when they would be receiving more tests and other medical necessities so they could effectively attack this health threat. He will likely get no answer.

He also cannot understand why Trump has not had the U.S. military enter into this effort and help to reduce the spread of the virus. This pathetic excuse for a leader appears to be in a deep state of mental paralysis which is, in itself, a great threat to this country.

Now let’s talk about another aspect of fear and panic and that is in the financial sector in which the stock market is in a deep downturn. I’m hearing little to nothing coming from the government, the Congress, or economic experts telling the American people to stay calm and ride out the storm and stop the panic-selling of their investments.

I don’t hear the various hosts on cable news shows, CNN, MSNBC, Fox News, or financial programs on CNBC and others ask viewers not to succumb to fear and sell their investments in a state of panic. It’s as if Rome is burning and nobody is fighting to put out the blazing fire. 

While the virus situation is not yet in a complete state of panic, the economic situation is, sending the stock market into a fast downward spiral. And the more the market collapses the more fear is generated, followed by more panic, followed by more selling. So, around and around and around it goes, and where it stops nobody knows. 

Well, maybe we don’t know where it will stop but there is something that we absolutely must do. This coronavirus pandemic, this escalating crisis, is bad enough and we are helpless to do much of anything about it. But the worst thing we can do is to compound its detrimental effect on our country by allowing ourselves to fall into panic selling. 

Of course, now that the Senate has finally passed the $2 trillion stimulus legislation and the House will, no doubt approve it soon, that should help greatly to bring this situation under control. But no one should be fooled into thinking that there won’t be more selling and market downturns. We will, without a doubt, see one or more significant stimulus packages to prop up the fragile market.

Fear begets fear, panic begets panic, but only if we allow it to continue to happen. So let’s just remain calm and stop the panic-selling. And here’s what I’m going to do. I’m doing everything to protect my family and myself from this virus. Secondly, I have no intention of selling our investments.


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Michael Payne is an independent progressive activist. His writings deal with social, economic, political and foreign policy issues; and especially with the great dangers involved with the proliferation of perpetual war, the associated defense industry, and the massive control that Corporate America holds over this government and our election process; all which are leading this nation down the road to eventual financial ruin if the conditions are not reversed. He is a graduate of Northwestern University, Evanston, Illinois and a U.S. Army veteran.