Both, I’m afraid. Recently, I’ve found myself wondering if I’m still living in the United States of America?!
I don’t think anyone denies that the coronavirus is a particularly ugly bug. Everyone I know wants to minimize its impact as best we can.
The health crisis caused by the coronavirus should be taken seriously, as should our self-imposed economic crisis. But, for me, what is most concerning is how easily we gave up some of our most basic human liberties and freedoms. Without even blinking (and with many calling for it), we’ve given up the right to assemble, the right to work, the right to be free from government interference in our religious practices, the right to privacy of our medical conditions and records, the right to freely move about within the country, the right to simply BE in public places, and the right to decide how to best protect ourselves and our loved ones.
I’m no historian, but historically speaking, aren’t personal liberties usually sacrificed “for the greater good”? Phrases like, “They don’t know what’s best for them” or “we can’t trust everyone to do what’s right” ought to ring loud warning bells in your ears. Instead, mostly there is a chorus of agreement. Trust the government, trust the health care providers (the ones who agree with you, that is; the others are quacks, of course!).
I could argue the data and whether the coronavirus is a real or manufactured crisis. But let me be perfectly clear, this could be the zombie apocalypse and I would have these same concerns. Recommend that people take a 15-day time out to slow the spread, if possible? Sure! Practice good hygiene? Of course! Stay a safe distance from people? Ok. Shut down schools, sporting events, businesses? Bad idea. Even the Governor of New York recently admitted that isolating children at home with older people wasn’t a good idea and that “lower risk individuals do not need to be quarantined.” https://www.governor.ny.gov/news/video-audio-photos-rush-transcript-amid-ongoing-covid-19-pandemic-governor-cuomo-announces-1
It seems the collective “we” have lost our minds. Power hungry local government is competing to see who “cares more” by coming up with more restrictive laws than the next. Many of the edicts don’t make common sense. Some are unenforceable because they are too vague or unconstitutional. But that doesn’t help the business owner or their employees now. Or the parent who hasn’t been able to see his child because the other parent has unilaterally decided it is “best” to wait until this health crisis is over to exchange the child. Or the many other unanticipated consequences. Many businesses will never re-open their doors. You can’t recapture time with your child.
Americans must be trusted to do what is right for themselves and their families. If you don’t trust others to do what you think is right, you are free to stay at home! Quarantine yourself, wear a mask, wash your hands. Do whatever you think is necessary to protect yourself and your family. That’s what personal freedom and responsibility is about. Those who are at higher risk have the right and responsibility to protect and insulate themselves.
Many people who advocate continued forced shutdown are not faced with the financial repercussions. Or, they are out-of-touch with the large percentage of the population who live from paycheck to paycheck. I would speculate that if our lawmakers were told they were not permitted to do their job next week (and they wouldn’t be paid), they would be singing a different tune!
The danger here is that the logic being used to justify the governmental actions could be used to justify anything. Any rights and liberties can apparently be suspended in the name of the public health and welfare. Lawyers and courts have always recognized the dangers of a “slippery slope”, and, my friends, we are on one here! Rights given up temporarily often become rights taken permanently.
People will not agree on what the wisest course of action in response to the coronavirus situation might’ve been. But what’s done is done. We have “flattened the curve” over the past 10 days and we can no longer justify calling the situation a national emergency. People are aware of the risks and will continue to be vigilant. But more people will still get sick and more people will die from the coronavirus. That is expected. Flattening the curve was never about fewer people getting sick; it was about spreading it out over a longer period so our health care systems wouldn’t be overwhelmed. The virus will run its course by the time any vaccine is developed. Let’s not pile onto an unfortunate situation by voluntarily putting tens of thousands of people into greater economic crisis. More importantly, let’s be aware that we just set a dangerous precedent for our basic human rights and freedoms.