As an old saying goes, it’s not the fall that kills you, it’s the sudden stop at the end.
The world’s politicians are innovating on the fly (pun intended) by trying to combine the fall — the COVID-19 epidemic — with the sudden stop, bringing life and commerce to a halt through draconian travel restrictions, business closures, etc.
We don’t yet know what the COVID-19 death toll is going to be. In the US, based on current numbers, it looks like we’re going to see quite a few more deaths than occurred in the 9/11 attacks, more even than from the usual seasonal flu, but not nearly as many as predicted by the “I know the word exponential! I know how to draw a hockey stick on graph paper! Quick, hide under the bed, or COVID-19 WILL GIT YEWWW!” social media crowd.
What we’ve not yet seen is anything remotely justifying the declarations of dictatorship coming from politicians at all levels of government.
Everyone from mayors to governors to the president himself is getting in on the act, claiming authority to shut down businesses the politician doesn’t consider “essential” — and at the federal level to centrally plan and manage those businesses’ operations — to clear the streets of anyone and everyone whose activities the politician hasn’t listed as “approved,” etc.
On the back end, those same politicians are trying to figure out how to cushion the economic blow of their own authoritarian stupidity with bank and corporate bailouts, individual stimulus checks, and other voodoo rituals that threaten to turn a short, mild recession into a Greater Depression.
I do agree that the situation calls for drastic measures, and I have one to offer:
I propose a 90-day total quarantine, effective immediately, on all elected or appointed government officials.
By “total,” I mean they are to be restricted to their homes without telephone or Internet access, and physically restrained if they try to leave, have a communication device smuggled in, or speak to anyone through an open window.
As compensation (and to keep ringers from smuggling out proclamations), the taxpayers should provide for grocery delivery.
Three months without politicians exploiting panic to enhance their own power would reduce both the short-term death toll and the long-term problems of economic recovery.
Alternatively, we could all just start ignoring them and their edicts and get back to living again whether they like it or not.
Thomas L. Knapp (Twitter: @thomaslknapp) is director and senior news analyst at the William Lloyd Garrison Center for Libertarian Advocacy Journalism (thegarrisoncenter.org). He lives and works in north central Florida.