The Las Vegas mayor's COVID-19 plan is basically 'Hunger Games' for businesses

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On Wednesday, the state of Nevada passed the ignominious milestone of 4,000 coronavirus cases to date, with 172 official fatalities so far. Of those cases, and deaths, the overwhelming majority have occurred in Clark County, home to Las Vegas, and by far the largest and most populous county in the state.

Given that fact, you would think that Las Vegas Mayor Carolyn Goodman would be taking her role presiding over the state's pandemic epicenter with a little more seriousness than she displayed during a truly wild taping of CNN's Anderson Cooper 360º with its eponymous host. During the interview, Goodman said she's in favor of reopening businesses in her city, even though she doesn't have an actual plan for how that could be done safely. In essence, she described a coronavirus outlook that resembles a Hunger Games-style fight for survival among businesses wracked with disease.

"I am not a private owner. That's the competition in this country," Goodman said, "the free enterprise to be able to make sure that what you offer the public meets the needs of the public." In other words, capitalism will determine the fate of Las Vegas businesses and residents, because if a particular hotel or restaurant reopens and ends up as a hotbed for disease, people will simply avoid that place. "They better figure it out," Goodman said of businesses that want to reopen.

"You said, 'Let the businesses open. Competition will destroy that business if, in fact, they get the disease there,'" Cooper restated for clarity. Goodman emphatically repeated "yes."

Goodman also echoed an assertion she'd made the previous week that Nevada's coronavirus deaths were a small enough percentage of the state's overall population to justify forcing workers back on the job, regardless of the risk. "When you count 150 [coronavirus deaths] versus 2.3 million [Nevadans], you have to say, 'You have to open up, you have to go back,'" Goodman insisted, prompting Cooper to note that the low fatality rate was a product of the social distancing measures she was opposing.

"How do you know until we have a control group?" Goodman replied. "We offered to be a control group!" She did not clarify who exactly the "we" was that had agreed to serve as guinea pigs to test the true efficacy of social distancing, but she appeared to be referring to Las Vegas residents on the whole. (For the record, yes, social distancing is working.)

Let me be extremely clear here. What Goodman — an independent who cruised to re-election for her third and final term in office almost exactly one year ago — is talking about is letting people die. And then, once the people are dead, she seems to believe that Adam Smith's invisible hand might come in and work everything out all hunky-dory like. Put simply, she's proposing to feed her city's capitalist needs with the blood of its residents, and isn't even pretending that she'd join them.

In other words, what happens in Vegas (unchecked infections), stays in Vegas (people die).