I like this scene in Michael Clayton. A wealthy client of Michael Clayton’s law firm was involved in a hit and run. The client has fled the scene and is making excuses and starts concocting stories about how maybe the car was stolen, or that it was the jogger’s fault. As usual, the client wants to buy his way out of the problem like everything else in his life and not take responsibility or accountability for his mistake.
Here is Michael Clayton’s response:
“Cops like hit-and-runs. They work ’em hard, they clear ’em fast. Right now there’s a BCI unit picking paint chips off a guard rail. Tomorrow they’re gonna be looking for the owner of a custom painted, hand-rubbed Jaguar XJ12. The guy you hit? If he got a look at the plates, it won’t even take that long. There’s no play here. There’s no angle, there’s no champagne room. I’m not a miracle worker, I’m a janitor. The math on this is simple; the smaller the mess, the easier it is for me to clean up.”
We have become a transactional society:
- Want to skip the long lines at the airport? Just pay extra for a shorter line pre-approved line, or better yet, take a private jet.
- Want better healthcare? Pay for a Cadillac healthcare plan, a private room at the hospital, and a concierge doctor service.
- Want to skip the traffic to JFK out of Manhattan? Take a helicopter!
- Want to get your kids into an ivy league university? Make a donation and get them to the top of the list.
- Want your permits approved for another renovation on your house? Hold a fundraiser for your longer representative.
The world is going to learn about Michael Clayton when it comes to COVID-19. There’s no angle, there’s no champagne room. It is not about an interest rate cut, printing money, boosting the stock market, better messaging, or political ratings.
The math is simple: Stay home, flatten the curve, dig in for the long game, and wait it out. The smaller the mess, the easier it is for all of us to clean up.