Is the COVID “Curve” Worth Losing Our Rights?
Is the COVID “Curve” Worth Losing Our Rights?
Is it worth the loss of rights to slow the spread of COVID-19? America’s reactionary reflex is bearing bitter fruit. We can simultaneously hold concern for those that are at risk from COVID, and the erosion of our rights. Let’s ask ourselves why we’re okay with government overreach, and what’s next
“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”
The Bill of Rights is written as the structure for protecting individual rights, and to redress government overreach. Unfortunately, government’s blatant opposition to individual rights is rapidly becoming far too commonplace. From small towns to major cities, we are seeing extreme overreach in action with the resulting loss of our freedoms. Americans are being penalized for not following inconsistent and seemingly arbitrary regulations.
On April 4, county Public Health Officer Dr. Cameron Kaiser banned public gatherings except while obtaining essential services and ordered residents, including essential workers, to wear face coverings in public. The order, in effect through April 30, was issued, Kaiser said, to “encourage compliance” and that law enforcement agencies had the authority to enforce the orders “as they deem necessary.” ~The Press Enterprise, 4/7/2020
Freedom of Assembly, Speech, to Practice Religion. These rights, and more, are under direct attack. Politicians, elected and appointed, are using this “crisis” as an opportunity to control our civil liberties. And most of us are just fine with it. WHY?! Because we are afraid. Fear of being ostracized by our social group. The Asch Conformity experiments highlight our desire to conform.
- Conformity tends to increase when more people are present. However, there is little change once the group size goes beyond four or five people.
- Conformity also increases when the task becomes more difficult. In the face of uncertainty, people turn to others for information about how to respond.
- Conformity increases when other members of the group are of a higher social status. When people view the others in the group as more powerful, influential, or knowledgeable than themselves, they are more likely to go along with the group.
- Conformity tends to decrease, however, when people are able to respond privately. Research has also shown that conformity decreases if they have support from at least one other individual in a group.”
The last one is particularly insightful. How many times have you talked about the overreach and capricious “rules” for slowing the spread? Do you say it at the market in front of the masked hordes? On social media with public visibility? Or do you withhold the “unpopular opinions” until you are in small groups of trusted friends? According to the above data… we already know the answer. You don’t want to be the “selfish asshole, who wants to kill grandma!” Nobody does, and overreaching politicians rely upon this to enact drastic social changes.
“The Emperor’s New Clothes“, is a book we should read and apply to our lives. Conforming to save lives is a powerful message, but is it the right one? I say “No!”. I am the selfish individualist who isn’t wearing a mask, who allows her kids to play with their good friends. But I’m also that conformist who shields those things from my public social circle. I don’t want to “offend” people or bring criticism from friends. It’s complicated, and after all it will pass and things will go back to normal…right?
Remember reading the “If…” series of books? Where the mouse gets a cookie and then isn’t satisfied until his many increasing demands are met? This describes most politicians. There are examples of outliers who want to limit the power of the political class. But they are rare, dead, or viewed with disdain. We elect politicians, and they appoint even more. Our local, state, and federal governments are stuffed with people who are looking out for their own interests. Namely their pockets, careers, and control over the masses. The current situation highlights a political theory by Robert Higgs, “The Political Economy of Crisis Opportunism“, commonly known as the “Ratchet Effect.” The quotes are from October of 2009. Think about where we are now, and our ever shrinking personal liberty. Please link to the presentation, and read it in its entirety, truly it’s eye-opening across the board of “the government needs to do something…. anything….”
Under modern ideological conditions, a national emergency produces a virtual free-for-all of policies, programs, and plans that expand the government’s power in new directions and strengthen it where it previously existed. The crisis-driven surge of government growth may be analyzed usefully in terms of a multi-phase ratchet effect.
Opportunists, both inside and outside the formal state apparatus, play distinctive roles during each phase of this phenomenon. Indeed, their actions create the ratchet effect. These opportunists pursue their objectives by means of new government personnel, new government policies, new government agencies, new statutes, and new court decisions.
When the crisis ends, some emergency agencies (perhaps renamed or relocated within the bureau- cracy) remain in operation; some emergency laws remain in force; and some court decisions reached during the crisis stand as precedents for future decisions, including decisions to be handed down in normal times. Above all, the populace goes forward with altered political and ideological sensibilities. Efforts to rein in the government’s crisis-driven overreaching must concentrate, first, on affecting the public’s thinking about how the government ought to act during an emergency and, second, on changing the machinery of government so that ill-considered or poorly justified measures cannot be adopted so easily.”
Tucker Carlson brings up a great point in the video. Countries around the world have enacted different responses to combating the virus. China is one extreme, while Sweden has a different approach. American politicians, representing “the land of the free”, chose the repressive Chinese model.
The government will not protect our rights. That’s our job as citizens, to engage and challenge government overreach. The Framers gave us the outline and means…writing that human rights are “endowed by our Creator.”
What’s next? We can already see that the courts will be very busy, once our overlords allow them to reopen. I blogged about 1A and 2A a few weeks ago. I think that we will see some landmark cases arise from this time in America.
In the meantime, I’m taking the Ayn Rand approach.
Selfishness, in her philosophy, means:
- Follow reason, not whims or faith.
- Work hard to achieve a life of purpose and productiveness.
- Earn genuine self-esteem.
- Pursue your own happiness as your highest moral aim.
- Prosper by treating others as individuals, trading value for value.
I’m selfish; someone who cares only for herself (Uh, have you seen my name?) I admit, yes to both of those. But let’s be realistic about the price we are paying for “leveling the curve.” Let us also contemplate that being selfish of our individual rights benefits society as a whole. Because if every American starts behaving in a way that values individual “inalienable rights”… there is a positive ripple effect. “Rights” of one don’t diminish those of others. My right to have free speech doesn’t limit yours. My right to have a firearm doesn’t mandate you have one. Rights are expansive, not restrictive.
Let’s start having real conversations, and doing it in uncomfortable ways. I love my “at risk” friends; I love freedom more.