There is a saying, often attributed to radical author Saul Alinsky, but which can be traced to other sources including Winston Churchill. It is, “Never let a good crisis go to waste.” It is a maxim that often seems to get deployed whenever any tragedy or conflict arises. It is not a concept employed just by politicians. Scammers and grifters are also adept at leveraging a crisis to their benefit.

Everyone, it seems, has heard about the two brothers in Tennessee who, sensing an opportunity, drove hundreds of miles from their home emptying store shelves of hand sanitizer, toilet paper and other essential items. When it became apparent that those items were in extreme scarcity around the nation, they started selling them on Amazon and eBay for multiples of their normal price. The online services, under severe public scrutiny, eventually banned the brothers, along with thousands of other price-gouging opportunists from their platforms. A New York Times article on the two reported they were stuck with 17,700 bottles of hand sanitizer, along with hundreds of other items, and had no way to sell them.

The article, it turns out, was more of a downfall for the two, who are now being investigated by the Tennessee Attorney General’s Office for alleged price gouging. The office issued a cease and desist letter ordering the brothers to stop buying and selling medical goods. The state also confiscated about 1/3rd of their inventory. In the NYT article, one brother made pitifully whiny excuses for their actions, claiming they were only trying to fulfill a critical role by distributing necessary items to people in need. 


The brothers have since donated their remaining inventory and have made statements that they are “truly sorry” for their behavior. They would appreciate it if the death threats would stop. The state has said donating the items does not necessarily get them off the hook. 

But, as deplorable as some people’s behavior can be in a crisis, there are other elements of the human condition that should be celebrated. It seems that unexpected calamities also bring out the absolute best in people. It turns out it is possible to “never let a good crisis go to waste” by displaying kindness and compassion to your fellow man. 

Stories are beginning to abound about things people are doing to help their neighbors and others in need. Go to Google news ( and search with the words “helping neighbor Coronavirus” (no quotes needed). You will see as a result hundreds of stories about people making efforts to help those around them. Some are about people shopping for needed supplies for the elderly. There was one about kids who dressed in their Sunday best and hauled their cello’s to a self-quarantined elderly neighbors porch to deliver an impromptu concert. Others are donating food to help those without.

And then there is this guy, who decided to stand on the streets of San Diego and create a “toilet paper exchange.” His sign simply said, “Share Your Toilet Paper,” and drivers started handing rolls over. Others in need would stop by and receive a few. He took no money for the transaction. He just wanted to try and help.

I would point out that he wasn’t the only one doing good in that story. People handing rolls over were acting on faith that he wouldn’t try to profit from the action like our scumbag brothers from Tennessee. 

Most of the stories about people reaching out to help those in need are contained in local publications, and you won’t find them on the mainstream “national” outlets. But they are there. Every day thousands of Americans are doing what they can under extremely difficult circumstances to ease the burden of those in need. 

This is not unusual. It happens with every misfortune, be it a hurricane, tornado, earthquake or pandemic. Many people of this country will rise up to ease the burden of others. That is something we should always strive to remember and celebrate.

While the evil in this world whines, the goodness of mankind shines. That, my friends, will be the true outcome of the COVID-19 story.

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