Recently someone, knowingly exposed to the Ebola virus, gets on an airplane and travels 2,400 miles. A few days later, it is discovered this person has the disease. Hundreds, if not thousands of people, may have, in some manner, come in close contact with this person. Political leaders, Democrats and Republicans, are rushing to call for travel restrictions, they say, would prevent this kind of potential exposure to the deadly disease.
“It makes absolutely no sense to risk more cases of Ebola in the United States by continuing to allow travel from Ebola-inflicted countries. It’s time for Washington to take action to protect the American people,” said Thom Tillis, N.C. House Speaker and GOP candidate for the U.S. Senate. “A temporary travel ban is a prudent step the President can take to protect the American people, and I believe he should do so immediately,” said Kay Hagan, the Democratic incumbent.
Texas Gov. Rick Perry chimed in: “Air travel is how this disease crosses borders, and it’s certainly how it got here to Texas. Based on recent and ongoing developments, I believe it is the right policy to ban air travel from countries that have been hit hardest by the Ebola outbreak, provided there’s an exception for aid workers to continue their important work fighting this disease.”
But this wasn’t travel from west Africa to the United States. It was someone flying from Dallas, Texas to Cleveland, Ohio. Wonder how Perry or Tillis might feel about a domestic travel ban from Ebola afflicted states like Texas? Well, for North Carolina, this might be an opportunity that Tillis, who is seeking a way to ignite his campaign, might ponder backing.
There are several benefits to this – from economic opportunities for North Carolina to job creation in Texas. Consider this:
Build a wall around Texas: Of course, no one should be going in or out of Texas for a while. Building a wall would do the trick. There’s been pressure to do more to secure the southern border and there would be backing for folks who want that wall built between Texas and Mexico. It would just take a few billion more to fence the rest of Texas in and think of the jobs it would create.
Ban Texas barbecue outside of Texas: There’s no telling just how this virus might spread and, as all North Carolinians know, inferior Texas barbecue could be just the travel partner to all kinds of bad taste. Of course, for this could mean that a substitute, say North Carolina barbecue, a clearly superior epicurean delight. An economic opportunity for North Carolina hog farmers and barbecue joints. Think of the boom in business for Wilbur’s in Goldsboro; B’s in Greenville or any of the great places in Lexington. And then there’d be the residual opportunities for Cheerwine. Think of the smell of hundreds of hickory fires igniting, the sound of thousands of bottles of Cheerwine being popped open.
Move South by Southwest to Raleigh: SXSW (South By Southwest for the uninitiated) is the ultimate in showcasing the latest in music, technology, film and just about anything else that is beyond trendy. The world shouldn’t be deprived of this wonderful event – just move it to Raleigh. Rename it, temporarily of course, SOSE (South by Southeast). Raleigh is perfectly capable of handling the event, with its: 180,000 attendance; 60,500 hotel rooms booked; 2,370 music acts; 1,200 SXSW Interactive panels; 600 trade show exhibits; 247 films screened. It is a huge money-maker – injecting more than $315 million, directly and indirectly, into the Austin-area economy. Raleigh’s certainly capable, just look at the success of the International Bluegrass Music Association festivities last month. This is the same, just on a bit bigger scale. It would be a piece of cake for Raleigh. Maybe even make it a statewide event – stretching from Asheville to Charlotte, the Triad, the Triangle and down to Wilmington. Make it a caravan and use energy-efficient transportation (think biodiesel-fueled buses) to move people from town to town. Folks from Texas could just Skype in and they wouldn’t miss a thing.
Move the National College Football Championship to Charlotte: The Jan. 12 game to crown the national champions of football is set for AT&T Stadium in Arlington. Move it to Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte. The stadium can certainly handle the crowd – it’s home to the NFL’s Panthers. And the city has hosted one of the biggest events in the globe, a national political convention – without a major incident or contagious disease outbreak.
So, could this be the ticket for Thom Tillis, who’s already out front on the Ebola travel-ban front? Imagine, protecting the nation from the spread of a deadly disease and injecting millions into the North Carolina economy at the same time. It might even be enough to fill the looming billion-dollar hole in the state budget.