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The Elbert Files: COVID’s big-boy pants


“Warren Buffett was a genius.”

Those words came from behind me and were muffled by a face mask. When I turned around I saw the eyes and forehead of my old friend K.C., who had been standing at the corner of 42nd Street and Grand Avenue, adjusting his mask.

“What do you mean ‘Warren Buffett was a genius’?” I said. “The last time I checked, he was still alive.”

“Of course, he’s alive,” K.C. said. “He’ll outlive both of us. I meant the thing he said back in 2008 about the financial crisis. “That was genius.” 

“Buffett said a lot of stuff,” I replied. 

“The thing he said about people swimming in the ocean,” K.C. said. “He said, ‘You can’t tell who is naked until the tide goes out.’”

“Boy, was that true,” I said. “When the financial tide went out, there were a lot of mortgage bankers and other so-called finance experts who were totally exposed. 

“But why are you bringing that up now?” I asked.

“Because the same thing is happening with the COVID pandemic,” K.C. said. “Only this time, instead of bankers and finance guys, it’s politicians who are being exposed. 

“Normally, the stupid stuff that politicians say has a life cycle of a few days or a couple of weeks at most. So much stupid stuff happens so fast today that a comment has to be really dumb for anyone to remember it a month later.

“For example,” he said, “of all the stupid things the Legislature did this year, there are only two that people are going to remember long term.”

“Let me guess,” I said. “One has to be the open-carry gun law they passed. It allows just about anybody to open carry a gun just about anywhere. That’s going to get a lot of people, including police officers, killed. 

“It already has,” K.C. said, “so, of course, people are going to remember it.”

“What’s the other?” I asked.

“It’s what lawmakers are doing to Iowa’s public education system. They’ve taken one of the best systems in the country and they are dumbing it down to the level of Mississippi. 

“They’ve created their own version of political correctness by saying teachers can’t expose students to things that really happened, like racism and prejudice and beatings and lynchings.

“They think that by not mentioning it, they can wipe it out of existence. Boy, are they in for a surprise. 

“But that’s not the worst of it.

worst of it is the way they’re handling the COVID crisis.

“They think they can ignore the pandemic and make it disappear the same way they think they can write history out of existence. 

“Just look at the way this disease has surged every time they thought they had it under control.

“What makes politicians believe they can just wish it away, that they don’t need to make full use of the tools we have, including masking and vaccines? These same tools have been around for more than 100 years.

“Instead, we have leaders who go around saying school boards or even hospitals shouldn’t require employees to wear masks or get vaccinations because it violates individual freedoms. 

“What happened to the civics lesson you and I learned in grade school? The one that says your right to swing your fist ends at my nose.

“Why do state lawmakers think they are smarter or more in tune with local situations than local school boards and city councils?

“Why do they make local officials violate the law just to keep people safe?

“It’s all so stupid, and like Buffett said, the tide of ignorance is going out. 

“It’s time for Iowa’s lawmakers to pull up their big-boy and big-girl pants and start doing things that make sense,” K.C. said as he walked away.

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