by UnHerd
Thursday, 23
April 2020
Video
15:21

US Entrepreneurs call for easing of lockdown

Freddie Sayers chats to JetBlue founder David Neeleman and Second Home co-founder Rohan Silva
by UnHerd

Freddie Sayers speaks to JetBlue founder David Neeleman and Second Home co-founder Rohan Silva for the view on lockdown from California. With the state four weeks into lockdown and no sign of it lifting, the pair explain how their businesses are coping and much else. Have a watch above and key talking points below…

On their businesses:

Rohan Silver (6:51): “In LA, there are no government support schemes so we’ve had to let a bunch of people go — 8 out of 10 workers.”

David Neeleman (8:31): “We’ve got 13,000 people working in Brazil and 10,000 agreed to go off without pay because they wanted to save the company. We had 20% operating margins last year and then all of a sudden, then revenue almost completely stopped.”

On government strategies:

RS (14:16): “The US government has adopted a lockdown strategy that’s shut down economic activity leading to what the economist Ken Rogoff has called the slaughter of small businesses… This is just a sudden cliff edge and revenue has fallen to zero. No small business can survive this. Where large companies can access lines of credit and other means, small businesses can’t so government has to step in here.

“It’s daft to make small businesses pay loans back to governments with high interest because it’s ethically wrong…and strategically wrong because adding debt to wafer thin margins will at best mean you slow down their growth in the future. More likely it’ll just kill these companies down the line.”

On a potential exit route:

DN (25:50): “I would take an army of contact tracers and turn them into case workers. Firstly, I’d determine how they got infected, their co-morbities and age. Once I’ve identified that group, I would find those types of people, care for them, and make sure they didn’t get infected. Then you can flatten the curve without flattening the economy.”

On the politicisation of the virus:

RS (27:17): “It’s much more politicised here than in the UK. If you’re on the side of opening up, you’re treated as a Trump supporter… I’m more hopeful that the UK will evolve its policy based on data than I am about America, which has become so ideological and divided. It should be about the data and science.”

On Bolsonaro:

DN (31:45): “Bolsonaro has taken the Sweden approach and I think we’re all going to end up taking the Sweden approach…We have to find a co-existent strategy if we can’t eliminate it or suppress because it’s so contagious. Bolsonaro doesn’t want people to starve.”

On being a coronabull or bear:

DN (38:45): “I’m bullish…Thank goodness this isn’t killing small children and 25% of people that it comes into contact with. It is killing people with a high percentage of co-morbities. The economy has shut down because we haven’t figured out who those people are and how to adequately protect them. If we can do that then we’ll rebound really quickly.”

Join the discussion


  • I have met Priti and on one ocassion she helped us with a problem we had with HMRC not doing their job properly.

    It is fair to say she has a short fuse when it comes to public officials who don’t serve the public. I am not surprised she has been accused of bullying. But then again I suspect bullying is the modus operandi of the civil services.

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