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I assumed this was obvious, but apparently it’s not. All good fiscally conservative Republicans know we can’t do business with dead customers. However, during this pandemic, some supposed conservatives seem to be losing that perspective. And I think I know why. Here are my thoughts.

I’ve prepared budgets with business owners for more than 30 years, and I find most are of two minds about their prospects, as budgets are always about the future.

The vast majority are realists. They focus on making money where they are today and don’t assume a sales increase will balance the budget tomorrow.

They’re not pessimists; they’re fiscally conservative realists. They budget on what they must do to make an acceptable amount now. Then they sell like heck, as they know incremental sales add directly to income.

They plan for the worst, then work to make it the best.

A minority, however, are overly optimistic. They assume sales will increase by 20% next year, as that’s what they demand. Often, they base their financial budget on these best-case scenarios. Then they demand results of everyone, regardless of whether they provide tools to do the job or not.

And, if everything goes right, then that’s adequate, and they take credit for superior leadership skills.

However, if they don’t meet budget, then the owner often becomes surly, blames workers and often fires someone to teach everyone a lesson.

Understand that both groups gamble, as small businesses are more gambles than investments. What’s the difference? In an investment, you can only lose the investment. In a gamble, you can lose the investment, the house, the dog, the spouse and more.

Now, I’ve shared my two gambling scenarios before.

In both, $2 gambled yields $10 million to the winner. Only the odds are different. One has a one in 10 million shot of winning. The other has a winning chance of five out of six.

Many choose “five out of six.” Oops. Unfortunately, that’s Russian roulette. Put a bullet in the chamber, spin it, point it to your head, then pull the trigger.

The other gamble is Powerball.

Now you know the downside risk in gambling.

Now, combine the two. Combine a demanding leader with a high-risk gamble.

Liberty University in Virginia did just that last week when it welcomed students back to campus. Its leadership rationalized that to extend spring break was a greater risk, since students would have a longer time to be exposed to the coronavirus “out there.”

Stinking thinking. Although students will participate in online classes, they will live in close quarters.

If an outbreak occurs, the university’s leaders will look like chumps. If one doesn’t, they will look like champs. But even if they win, the gamble still isn’t a good one. It is judged only by whether they can afford to lose or not. They can’t.

They’re not the only ones with stinking thinking.

Glenn Beck, deposed Fox News talent, said, “I would rather have my children stay home and have all of us who are over 50 go in and keep this economy going and working ... . I’d rather die than kill the country ... .”

Well, that’s one out of every three Americans. Don’t know about everyone over 50, but I call balderdash on Beck’s rationalization.

Then there’s Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, who said grandparents are willing to risk dying so people can keep working amid the pandemic.

While I know grandparents who would surely trade their lives for their grandchildren, there is far less enthusiasm among us to die for the greater economy.

Come on, guys. You are giving Republicans a bad name.

So, good economy or good health?

There’s a simple answer. The United States is a consumer-based economy. Rational Republicans know we can’t do business while the unchecked virus is still killing consumers.

Fix the virus first. Then fix the economy. We need to listen to public health officials, not politicians or pundits.

Tom Crouser is a business consultant

living in Mink Shoals. Reach him at

tom@crouser.com and follow

@TomCrouser on Twitter. Also connect

via Facebook and LinkedIn.