I attended the roundtable discussion with the city officials Tuesday with about thirty people and told them that the greatest risk to business right now was government, not the virus. They were dead silent on that one and not one of them smiled when I said it. I told them that I wish they had adopted a more Swedish model by keeping the economy open. That was hard for them to choke down. I continued on and one of the officials interrupted me saying she needed to respond to my comments. She said that it was not the City of Palo Alto who shut everything down, it came from the County and the State. She asked what suggestions I had for the City to support business? I said well you have better connections to the county and the State. I added just don’t shut us down. A thousand dollar handout isn’t going to keep me alive. You need to restore confidence and let people feel like they can go out again. Let the kids go back to school, let people enjoy the open space, let people go out and don’t shut us down.
At another point one of the staff asked me what my business would like like going forward, and I said I don’t know, because I don’t know what the government is going to do. What if there is a resurgence [of the virus]? Are you gonna shut us down again? These people do not understand that the lack of stability does not allow anyone to make any long-term investing decisions.
I think I like what Elon Musk on his earning’s call, … if only he could start a media company too. “This is the time to think about the future, and also to ask, is it right to infringe upon people’s rights as what is happening right now?” Musk said.
“I think the people are going to be very angry about this and are very angry. It’s like somebody should be, if somebody wants to stay in the house that’s great, they should be allowed to stay in the house and they should not be compelled to leave. But to say that they cannot leave their house, and they will be arrested if they do, this is fascist. This is not democratic. This is not freedom. Give people back their goddamn freedom.”
At another point on the call, he said, “So the expansion of the shelter in place or as we call it forcibly imprisoning people in their homes, against all their constitutional rights, is my opinion, and breaking people’s freedoms in ways that are horrible and wrong, and not why people came to America or built this country, excuse me. It’s outrage, it’s an outrage. It will cause loss, great, great harm, but not just to Tesla, but any company. And while people will weather the storm there are many small companies that will not,” he said.
I am not sure the government will listen. I do not think they see themselves as the risk.