- Mark Cuban said that people should listen to epidemiologists about when to return to work: “Ignore anything someone like me might say”
Recently, Bloomberg did a profile article about how billionaires want people to go back to work. This is frustrating for employees at companies who are concerned about their health.
One of the billionaires advocating that employees get back to work sooner than later is Paychex founder and chairman Tom Golisano, according to Bloomberg.
“The damages of keeping the economy closed as it is could be worse than losing a few more people,” said Golisano via Bloomberg. “I have a very large concern that if businesses keep going along the way they’re going then so many of them will have to fold.”
President Donald Trump also has an interest in workers getting back to work as companies in nearly every sector have been reporting their worst quarters due to the pandemic. Trump reportedly has concerns that a weaker economy could hinder his chances of winning re-election. At the same time, public health officials are pushing for social distancing in order to flatten the curve of cases for those who were infected by the COVID-19.
Hospitals across the country have been getting a surge in patients, but safety equipment has been lacking. And due to a lack of federal efforts, the private sector has been stepping in to provide hospitals with ventilators.
Why was the federal government unprepared for the pandemic? In May 2018, Rear Adm. Timothy Ziemer left the White House administration as the global health security team he was leading disbanded due to a reorganization by national security adviser John Bolton. The breakup of that team came at a time when many health experts said that the country was vulnerable to a pandemic or bioterrorism attack. One month before Ziemer’s departure, Tom Bossert — who was pushing for a comprehensive biodefense strategy for handling pandemics — was fired from The White House. These officials were never replaced.
Trump is now hoping to have Americans working again by Sunday, April 12, 2020 (Easter). However, public health officials are warning that this is too soon to recover from a virus that has infected over 400,000 people worldwide. And in the long-run, this could be more disastrous for the economy if the infection continues to spread much longer than it should be.
Former Goldman Sachs executive Lloyd Blankfein also said that extreme measures for flattening the curve was sensible for a certain amount of time, but insisted that “those with a lower risk to the disease” should return to work.
One of the hardest-hit billionaires is Landy’s Inc. Chairman & CEO Tilman Fertitta. Fertitta owns over 600 properties in 36 states and over 15 countries — which includes 60 restaurant brands like Morton’s, Rainforest Cafe, and Bubba Gump Shrimp. And Fertitta also owns the Houston Rockets. Fertitta has a net worth of about $3.2 billion.
UC Berkeley professor Robert Reich told Bloomberg said that it is “morally reprehensible” for wealthier individuals to be downplaying the pandemic. “It is absolutely necessary to shut down the economy so that millions of people don’t die. For the privileged among us to fail to see that and to give the economy precedence over this public health emergency is morally reprehensible,” explained Reich.
Reich said that billionaires have come to expect disproportionate gains as the heads of companies. But he warned that the coronavirus “doesn’t understand class.”
“The more people are infected, the more likely it is that Blankfein and other billionaires will become infected as well,” added Reich via Bloomberg.
Billionaire entrepreneur and Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban agrees with Reich. He wants Americans to listen to epidemiologists rather than the owners of businesses.
“Ignore anything someone like me might say,” wrote Cuban in an email to Bloomberg. “Lives are at stake.”
In Fortune’s “Leadership Next” podcast, Cuban also explained why he is helping health care workers, small businesses, and the government during the pandemic. Cuban said that companies should keep paying employees if they can afford it since it is the right thing to do.
“As an entrepreneur, it’s your responsibility to be up to speed,” Cuban commented via Fortune. “Not just to yourself, not just to your bank account, but to each and every one of your employees and stakeholders. It’s your job, nobody else’s.”
When Cuban was asked why he is paying the hourly employees their regular wages even though Mavericks Arena was closed down. “I’m rich..” Cuban noted. “It’s not going to cost me nearly as much as it would cost the hourly employees to go without.”
Featured Photo Credit: Mark Cuban / ABC’s Shark Tank