Mayor Steve Adler at an immigration group rally regarding the standards for the upcoming census. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)

Hysteria leads to idiocy, and now the mayor of a Texas city is scrambling.

To say that the overreaction to the Wuhan virus in the press and with politicians has been overblown is to traffic in the obvious. As the media hysterics become louder more and more people are altering their social plans. This has been felt directly in the airlines and cruise line industries already, and there is a growing paranoia felt in local areas as well.

The mayor of Austin Texas has sent out a plea for residents of his town to go on out and physically endorse area merchants, businesses and artists in order to help alleviate some of the economic strain to be felt in the city. The issue? He is attempting to mitigate the economic losses set to be felt, which he imparted on the local economy himself.

Prior to the CPAC conference, one attendee I was with who works in the Austin Texas area explained how they were already feeling the effects of Wuhanpanic in regards to the upcoming South By Southwest Festival (SXSW) , held annually in that city. A number of vendors and sponsors had announced they were pulling out of the festival due to the concerns of the contagion, and they explained that there were mounting concerns for the livelihoods that would become affected.

Those fears became fully realized when on Friday Mayor Steve Adler announced the decision was to cancel the entire festival. SXSW is a ten day event that is a music, movie, and technology expo held throughout the Austin area. It is estimated that up to 250,000 people might have attended this year’s event, with an economic benefit ranging between $350-400 million.

Now that has been entirely shut down. There has been not one case of the Wuhan virus reported in the Austin area.

While a number of callous-minded people online have dismissed the importance of this decision — many have said things along the lines of this being an unneeded event for the privileged — the economic impact will be significant for hundreds in the Austin area. As my source had detailed it the effects of this scare were going to be widespread. Numerous jobs depend on the influx of revenue during SXSW. There are hundreds of jobs connected directly to festival activities. Beyond that many of the local business owners rely on the windfall of festival income to factor into their annual operations.

In the video above one of his aides appearing on camera with Adler states, ‘’We want everyone to know, it’s still safe and a wonderful thing to stand with Austin.’’ They also have announced there would be a fund set up, which residents could contribute to with donations, that would benefit those who are, ‘’hit the hardest by this, and the least likely to be able to come out of it.’’ So they are now asking residents to help bail out those who were directly impacted by the rash decision made by Adler.

What is evident here is that this video is a clear hail Mary in the CYA mode of politics, and it illustrates one of two factors to be in play, neither of which look for Adler. Either he is compelling his gentry to head out and congregate in the midst of a public health crisis, or he has realized the impetuous decision he made and sees the economic disaster he has provoked. Either the case, this appears to be a completely disqualifying maneuver on the part of the mayor.

Now Adler is forced to essentially beg for the citizens of Austin to take action to bail him out. This is a tough call, considering those same citizens are the ones most directly affected by his decision. Those who are likely to feel the economic gut-punch of the festival closing are going to be the least able to aid in the economic rescue effort.

Brad Slager
Covering politics, as well as the business side of Show Business. Expert in fine bourbons, good cigars, competent hockey teams, and horrible movies.

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