In the former Soviet Union, the political elite enjoyed lives of opulence while the masses barely eked out a living. The US has approached a similar arrangement without any of us becoming aware of it…until the Coronavirus. While you and I are trying to pay our bills when we have been forbidden to work, and tens of thousands of small businesses are going under…millions of government employees are happily receiving their full salaries and benefits. We have been told that our jobs are not critical. It would appear that government employees are exempt from this ruling.
This is especially true for Nancy Pelosi, Chuck Schumer, Adam Schiff, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and the other members of Congress whose full salaries, special healthcare arrangements, incredible pension benefits, and regular increases are not affected by shutdown measures. This is true for Gavin Newson, Gretchen Whitmer, Jay Pritzker, Janet Mills, Andrew Cuomo and other governors who are intent on violating our First Amendment rights. It is true for unelected local health officers who are unilaterally responsible for arbitrary stay-at-home rules.
Government functionaries, both elected and unelected, have responded to COVID-19 with totalitarian gestures that suggest contempt for you and me. “The response of some mayors and governors to the Coronavirus pandemic in recent days has made it clear they think they have unlimited and arbitrary power over their fellow citizens,” wrote John Daniel Davidson in The Federalist, “that they can order them to do or not do just about anything under the guise of protecting public health." Peaceful protests have occurred around the nation over what many regard as arbitrary and excessive government regulation. Violent criminals, some of whom may be infected with COVID-19, are being released from prison into the community, but you will be locked up if you don't wear a mask. Our country is in the hands of the Marx Brothers.
The health officer of the California county in which I reside is paid a salary of $375,000 to unilaterally infringe upon my First Amendment rights by telling me that I will be arrested and fined if I leave my house, fail to wear a mask, or attempt to sunbathe at the local beach. What do you think would happen if we cut off his outrageous salary until the lock-down is lifted? While my barber shop has been shut down for two months and I am beginning to look like a cocker spaniel, Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot has insisted that her position gives her the right to visit the beauty parlor. How about cutting off her salary? New York Mayor Bill De Blasio thinks nothing of visiting his favorite gym while my health club has been forced to remain closed. How would Comrade Bill like it if we put his salary on hold?
Observing the relish with which our political overlords are flexing their new muscles, one must ask the question, what is it really all about? “It’s about power,” says Fox News host Tucker Carlson as he warns about the increasingly authoritarian response to the virus. Power-hungry politicians are using the virus to expand their arbitrary powers. Once the precedent has been set, it will be difficult if not impossible to restrain government overreach in the future. "The only reason America is still in shutdown mode is political,” Cheryl K. Chumley wrote in The Washington Post. “Politicians are using this Coronavirus to political advantage." Many pundits have accused the Democratic Party of deliberately encouraging an indefinite extension of the lock-downs. "The Democrat Party,” says talk show host Rush Limbaugh, “is going to do its best to keep this economy shut down, to extend and expand that shutdown—and blow up their own country’s jobs—just to ensure that Trump loses."
On top of it all is the growing awareness that shelter in place orders are misguided and ineffective, emanating mainly from mass hysteria. “The curve has been flattened,” said Tucker Carlson, “but it’s likely not because of the lock-down. The virus just isn’t nearly as deadly as we thought it was.” Carlson and others remind us that the lock-down orders were based on virus projections that proved to be grossly exaggerated. Even the insistence on wearing masks has come under criticism. Lisa M Brosseau, ScD, and Margaret Sietsema, PhD, experts on respiratory protection, issued this statement: "We do not recommend requiring the general public who do not have symptoms of COVID-19-like illness to routinely wear cloth or surgical masks because there is no scientific evidence they are effective in reducing the risk of SARS-CoV-2 transmission."
The courts are beginning to lend a hand in support of our constitutional rights. The Wisconsin Supreme Court struck down Governor Tony Evers’ months long stay-at-home order. “Where in the constitution did the people of Wisconsin confer authority on a single, unelected Cabinet secretary to compel almost six million people to stay at home and close their businesses and face imprisonment if they don’t comply, with no input from the legislature, without the consent of the people?” wrote one of the justices. “Isn’t it the very definition of tyranny for one person to order people to be imprisoned for going to work, among other ordinarily lawful activities?”
The Texas Supreme Court released a hair salon owner who was jailed because she opened in defiance of the lock-down. “Throwing Texans in jail who have had their businesses shut down through no fault of their own is nonsensical," said Governor Greg Abbott, "and I will not allow it to happen.” This hopefully will lead to similar rulings in other states that have arbitrary lock-down rules. Why should they allow a Walmart’s to open but not a nail salon, and so on?
Here is my recommendation: Most government jobs are not critical. Let’s furlough the majority of them and cut off the salaries of the rest, including Congress, state governors, and local health officials, until the lock-downs are lifted. That should lead to some long overdue respect for common sense and our civil rights.