In the early years of World War II, German submarines decimated American shipping along the East Coast and the Gulf of Mexico. In less than seven months, almost one-quarter of America’s tanker fleet and over 200 ships went to the bottom. Over 5,000 seamen and passengers, more than double the number at Pearl Harbor, died. Many Americans unwittingly aided carnage by refusing to make lifestyle changes. Silhouetted against a background of streetlights, billboards, and automobile headlights, it was a shooting gallery. Manhattan skyscrapers kept their lights on fully illuminating New York Harbor.


Similarly, we are at war today, but with a virus, COVID-19. If we operate business as usual, people will die. The argument in early 1942, like today, was restrictions would negatively affect business, and while true, the alternative turned out much worse than anyone expected.


We should commend county leaders for making a difficult decision. If we hit the reset button on tourism for two to four weeks, maybe, with some luck, we can save the summer season along with, and more importantly, lives. While I am not directly involved, many of my clients and friends depend on visitors to Florida, and I understand the multiplier effect of money in an economy. I love living here.


South Walton is the coolest place I’ve called home. It pains me to see lives disrupted. In four generations of our family, over half are at risk, a combination of old age, asthma, and autoimmune diseases. Tell me again how the economic impact is more significant than the virus. I’m listening. Pick your poison; there are no good choices.


When I was a kid, mama told me more than once, “Georgia is backward, but thank God for Alabama.”


Rather prescient, my mama was. In response to COVID-19, Alabama’s governor chose public safety; Florida’s governor, as of deadline, waffled. It’s always tough losing to Alabama or Auburn in football, but it’s never good when Alabama whips you in the common sense game. In World War II, eventually, as shipping losses mounted, a blackout of coastal areas was enforced, and ships sailed with fewer losses.


We won that war, but it was a close-run thing; this one has just begun. If the war footing analogy is inappropriate, then we are facing a test with a Pass or Fail grade.


Coronavirus Relief


As of deadline, the relief package signed into law provides free COVID-19 testing along with limited paid family and sick leave. Still under consideration are various proposals for direct payments and business bailouts for affected businesses. First, the airline industry shouldn’t get squat; they spent a decade of cash-flow buying back stock. Second, relief shouldn’t be reduced for people with low earned income. A current idea being floated scales back direct payments to those receiving “earned income credit,” a conservative idea designed to encourage low earners off welfare. I can’t make this stuff up.


You can’t always get what you want, but Buz Livingston, CFP, can help you figure out what you need. For specific advice, visit livingstonfinancial.net or drop by 2050 West County Highway 30A, M1 Suite 230.