COVID Part 2: I’m From The Government And I’m Here To Help
“The nine most terrifying words in the English Language are ‘I’m from the government and I’m here to help.’” Ronald Regan’s quote has come to symbolize everything that can and usually does go wrong when the government becomes involved. Our nation was founded on the basis of limited government as witnessed by the Bill of Rights which limits the powers of the government instead of granting rights to the individuals as is the current fad of understanding. Whenever the government tries to help, there is inevitably more red tape, cost, abuse and waste. And is often the case, those who need the help the most are the least likely to get it. Look at the ‘help’ the government, mostly at the local and state level, are providing during the current pandemic for examples.
State and local governments around the country have implemented “Shelter-In-Place” or “Stay-At-Home” guidelines. Which of course, given the contagious nature of COVID-19, is sensible. In many cases however, this hasn’t been the end of it. Government imposed closing of all but essential services have put millions out of work around the country. What is and isn’t considered an “essential service” is similar to the definition of a so-called “assault rifle”, it’s purely up to the government official making up the list and subject to change at any time.
Typical essential services have included health care, emergency services, grocery stores, pharmacies, gas stations and the transportation industry. But not without exceptions. Non-emergency surgery is typically not considered essential resulting in the indefinite cancellation of thousands of needed procedures. Liquor stores and marijuana dispensaries may or may not be considered essential, depending on where you are. Likewise, firearms retailers may or may not considered essential, depending on location and if they have law enforcement customers.
Social distancing and wearing masks in public is another highly specific, and contentious set of regulations. Strictly enforced in some situations, they are ignored in others.
While the stated intent of all these regulations are to protect public health and not over burden the health care system, what is occurring goes well beyond that. A few examples:
· Stopping vehicles with out of state license plates entering the state to mandate 14-day quarantines for the occupants (Rhode Island/Florida).
· National Guard members going door to door looking for out of state residents (Rhode Island).
· Putting GPS ankle monitors on those who have tested positive for COVID-19 and their uninfected families to ensure they remain quarantined (Kentucky).
· Banning religious gatherings even if social distancing guidelines are adhered to (Kentucky, New Mexico)
· Closing pubic parks, beaches and other public facilities (California, Vermont, etc.)
· Restricting the goods that can be purchased at essential stores to only government designated essential products, which does not include items such as vegetable seeds and plants (Michigan, Indiana, Vermont)
· Using the State Police to go conduct surveillance of essential and non-essential businesses and order them closed (New Mexico).
But perhaps the most concerning are the ways the social distancing regulations are being enforced.
· A father was arrested and handcuffed in front of his six-year-old daughter for throwing a ball in a park even though the park was not closed, and they were following social distancing guidelines (Colorado).
· 10 officers drag a man off a public transit bus for not wearing a face mask. A second person was removed from the bus for wearing a scarf — in compliance with local health guidelines — instead of a facemask. The transit employee ordering the people off was himself not wearing a facemask (Pennsylvania).
· Ticketing and reporting the occupants of vehicles at ‘religious drive-in services’ to the health department for mandatory quarantines (Kentucky).
Despite the heavy-handed approach from some cities, counties and states, there are of course, exceptions to government mandated regulations.
· The Mayor of Chicago went out for a haircut despite hair salons not being essential services. Her justification? “I’m on national media and I’m out in the public eye.” “I take my personal hygiene very seriously. As I said, I felt like I needed to have a haircut. I’m not able to do that myself, so I got a haircut. You want to talk more about that?”
o This despite her order for all other Chicagoans who must remain indoors except to go out for the essentials. ““You cannot go on long bike rides. Playgrounds are shut down,” the mayor said. “You must abide by the order. Outside is for a brief respite, not for 5Ks.”
· The Mayor of New York’s daily 11-mile drive from Manhattan to walk in a park in Brooklyn is considered essential, despite living next to another park in the city. His justification? It is something he needs to do “to be most effective.” Also falling into this essential need is working out at a local (closed to everyone else) YMCA.
· An Associate Supreme Court Justice working out with her trainer at a (closed) gym twice a week.
· The Sonoma County Director of Emergency Management took his family to a closed (by him) beach “to enjoy an otherwise abandoned, unnamed beach,” Photos of his trip were labeled: “Road tripping up the coast. Beautiful drive and nice views. Family beach time together. Grateful for fresh air and the ocean.”
o A County Supervisor backed his actions by saying: “I want my top people who are responding to this crisis to be of sound mind, body and health. And if that means going to the coast to feel better, I’m all for it.”
One of the foundations of our American way of life is that everyone is treated equally and fairly under the law. Sadly, we have been thrust into a situation where some in our government have decided to take advantage of the situation and exercise almost unlimited power regardless of preexisting laws and Constitutional limitations. And, as with many government regulations, they themselves are exempt.
It shouldn’t take increasingly draconian control measures from oppressively inclined government officials to keep you from passing on or catching COVID-19. The most basic level of personal responsibility, social distancing and sanitation, is enough to stop this, without giving up our rights.
Public health emergency or not, restrictions on religion, assembly, speech and firearms become unconstitutional very quickly. If left unchecked, this is the end of our natural rights and freedom in our country.
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