Bait and switch

Call it the bait and switch, the fast shuffle, the pigeon drop — just don’t call it the truth when the facts don’t line up.

For example: The CARES Act was pitched as a relief bill for families and small businesses. Some of it seems to be working — $600 federal unemployment bonuses hit accounts this week. But the piece administered through the SBA — that’s the Small business Administration — seems to have run afoul of its intended purpose.

My friends in business and I agree: This stinks. Potbelly Sandwiches and Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse nabbed $30 million of the $350 billion pot intended for small businesses, which by the way ran out of funds yesterday. I’ve been asking around — I found one friend in business who got the PPP. No one I know seems to have gotten the EIDL. Yet the SBA says $8 billion was distributed in North Carolina in this document, in 39,520 loans.

Let’s apply the old calculator here… why, that makes an average loan of about $200,000. What small business couldn’t use that?

I got another one. In Florida, Gov. Rick DeSantis is opening some of the beaches this weekend. Florida has 23,340 confirmed cases of COVID-19 — they added more than 800 today — and 668 people have died. It’s about four times as bad as it is in North Carolina.

Here, of course, our governor is fighting an information war against a group calling itself Reopen NC, which, by the way, is headquartered in Florida.

It’s happening all over the country.

The White House has a plan — inelegantly titled “Opening Up America Again” — that relies heavily on a rate of coronavirus testing that is just not there.

Meanwhile, NC had a big jump yesterday after the amended numbers came in. Let’s take a look.

The numbers

  • Guilford has 171 cases. That’s 11 new ones that, when combined with yesterday’s addition of nine new cases, make a pretty nasty one-two punch.
  • Forsyth sticks with 126; no new cases.
  • North Carolina added 307 new cases yesterday, not the 173 we saw at press time. And we’ve added 308 so far today. As we’ve talked about, this means that we’ve backloaded an escalated death rate that should come due in about a week.
  • I prefer this page, which has a chart saying that at least 964 people have recovered in NC.
  • And here’s a new one from the CDC: demographics of COVID-19 cases in the US. More than half are aged 18-64, but I mean, duh. Check it out for yourself.

A diversion

The pigeon drop was a short con made famous in the 1973 movie The Sting, one of Paul Newman and Robert Redford’s first team-ups. It was so popular it spawned a mediocre sequel and a slew of imitation movies — The Sting itself was cashing in on the success of another period gangster piece, The Godfather, which came out the year before. But the best tribute to the 1970s gangster film was Bugsy Malone, starring a young Scott Baio and an even younger Jodie Foster. It was a gangster film cast entirely with children, who fought with pie-shooting machine guns and chased each other in toy cars. I loved this movie when I was a kid, and I hope it holds up.

Program notes

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