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U.S. businesses are not villains in the coronavirus economy | READER COMMENTARY

Few people travel on North Broad Street in view of City Hall in Philadelphia, Wednesday, March 25, 2020. Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney is issuing a stay-at-home order to the nation's sixth most-populated city to keep its 1.6 million people from leaving home, due to the coronavirus except to get food, seek medical attention, exercise outdoors, go to a job classified as essential or other errands that involve personal and public safety. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)
Few people travel on North Broad Street in view of City Hall in Philadelphia, Wednesday, March 25, 2020. Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney is issuing a stay-at-home order to the nation's sixth most-populated city to keep its 1.6 million people from leaving home, due to the coronavirus except to get food, seek medical attention, exercise outdoors, go to a job classified as essential or other errands that involve personal and public safety. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke) (Matt Rourke/AP)

I commend, as others have, the great work that The Baltimore Sun has performed with the coverage of the pandemic. It has been so inspiring to observe the countless acts of selflessness, courage and leadership exhibited by both organizations and individuals as we navigate through this pandemic crisis. In the midst of witnessing the power of the human spirit, I was incensed by the commentary written by Robert Reich (“Corporations are exploiting the coronavirus pandemic,” March 24).

Mr. Reich wants the reader to conclude that avaricious U.S. companies are exploiting this pandemic. His discursive rant about Republican Sen. Richard Burr of North Carolina, the airlines, stock buybacks and worker benefits are used as fodder to prove his point.

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There was an opportunity for Mr. Reich to present a more balanced view of how U.S. businesses are helping us all through this health crisis. A few notable examples among thousands are the alcohol companies making hand sanitizer, Ford partnering with 3M to make respirators, Unilever delivering soap, sanitizer, bleach and food for charities, and Nike and the Gap working with their factories to make masks and other equipment.

Mr. Reich’s training is in economics, not in social justice advocacy. He should stick to his knitting. Introductory economics textbooks assert that in a supply-driven crisis like we are experiencing, it is critical that all businesses have the liquidity they need to stay afloat to mitigate job reductions. Federal government administered check writing schemes, although politically popular, didn’t work under Barack Obama or George W. Bush. The most vulnerable, those who are the lower end of the economic spectrum, need their jobs back.

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I would encourage Mr. Reich to embrace the work of Tyler Cohen, an economist who does stick to his knitting. One of his most convincing quotes is “All of the criticisms one might mount against the corporate form — some of which are valid — pale in contrast to two straightforward and indeed essential virtues. First, business makes most of the stuff we enjoy and consume. Second, business is what gives most of us jobs.”

Let’s recognize the fact that U.S. businesses are huge contributors to the betterment of our society and our economy. Why is it the case that certain politicians and academics are looking to exploit and sully corporations during this pandemic?

Neal Bonner, Ellicott City

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