Just say no to more government power in this pandemic

Just say no to more government power in this pandemic

There’s a theory put forth by Farhad Manjoo in The New York Times that everyone becomes a socialist in a pandemic. It’s incorrect, but worth exploring further given the response by businesses regarding coronavirus and the overreaction by governments across the nation.

The ‘evidence’ includes the litany of companies now offering sick leave to employees who end up missing work due to coronavirus. Manjoo believes it ironic Uber and Lyft are offering sick leave to drivers who either contract the virus or end up in quarantine due to their opposition to California’s job-killing Assembly Bill 5. The bill requires companies to reclassify independent contractors as employees and offer benefits.

“Overnight, workplaces across the country were transformed into Scandinavian Edens of flexibility,” Manjoo quips at the current changes in business practice. “Can’t make it to the office because your kid has to unexpectedly stay home from school? Last week, it sucked to be you. This week: What are you even doing asking? Go home, be with your kid!”

Let’s throttle back the idea businesses are suddenly embracing mandatory sick leave. Individual businesses are simply adjusting policies in the wake of an extraordinary situation: a new virus rapidly moving across the globe. The alternative is corporations suddenly losing hundreds of workers and, thus, unable to meet the demands of consumers. All this, for those wondering, is not due to government fiat but a market change. It makes sense to offer sick leave or work from home ability to keep the virus from spreading further.

Politicians and government, of course, make everything worse.

Huffington Post noted last week there are Republicans who believe it’s time to enact a temporary measure to make sure hospitals treat coronavirus patients who do not have or are not covered by insurance.

“You can look at it as socialized medicine,” Rep. Ted Yoho (R-Fla.) told HuffPost on Tuesday. “But in the face of an outbreak, a pandemic, what’s your options?”

Yoho, one of the most anti-Obamacare lawmakers in Congress, said it would be a “wise thing” for the government to pay for testing and treatment of the uninsured, while also saying he’s “not OK with socialized medicine.”

“Sometimes you have to do things that you have to do for your country, but as far as socialized medicine, no,” Yoho said. “Does this fall into that? Yeah, I guess you could throw it in there, but hopefully it’s not the long-term.”

Hundreds of local governments are banning assemblies of more than 250. Austin forced South by Southwest to close. Ohio ordered the closure of all bars and restaurants starting at 9p on Sunday (take out and delivery is okay, for now). California’s executive order on coronavirus includes the power for agencies to commandeer “hotels and other places of temporary residence, medical facilities, and other facilities that are suitable for use as temporary residence or medical facilities as necessary for quarantining, isolating, or treating individuals” who may have coronavirus or might be in the incubation period. The city of Dallas made a similar decree. San Antonio ordered coronavirus evacuees at Lackland Air Force Base to not come into the city. Social media wants a national lockdown until the danger passes.

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo wrote in The New York Times it was time for President Donald Trump to use the military to fight coronavirus by leveraging “its expertise, equipment and people power to retrofit and equip existing facilities — like military bases or college dormitories — to serve as temporary medical centers. Then we can designate existing hospital beds for the acutely ill.”

We’re not getting FEMA camps, but we might get coronavirus camps. Lovely (please note sarcasm and any coronavirus camp suggestion should be tossed in a burn pile.)!

Let’s not forget one of the reasons why the U.S. appears completely behind the curve on coronavirus response is a self-inflicted wound…by the CDC and Washington state’s government! Via The New York Times (emphasis mine):

Dr. Helen Y. Chu, an infectious disease expert in Seattle, knew that the United States did not have much time.

In late January, the first confirmed American case of the coronavirus had landed in her area…Dr. Chu had a way to monitor the region. For months, as part of a research project into the flu, she and a team of researchers had been collecting nasal swabs from residents experiencing symptoms throughout the Puget Sound region.

To repurpose the tests for monitoring the coronavirus, they would need the support of state and federal officials. But nearly everywhere Dr. Chu turned, officials repeatedly rejected the idea, interviews and emails show, even as weeks crawled by and outbreaks emerged in countries outside of China, where the infection began…

Federal and state officials said the flu study could not be repurposed because it did not have explicit permission from research subjects; the labs were also not certified for clinical work.

Reason also reported Washington state officials told Chu to stop her tests.

Yes, there’s reason to be concerned about coronavirus. The elderly, people with suppressed immune systems, and others are at risk. Coronavirus appears to be moving quickly through the country, although a vast majority of people will be fine. Wash your hands, stay home if you’re sick, and contact your health provider ahead of time if you think you may be infected.

Let’s not give the government more power to dictate our lives, even during a pandemic. Common sense isn’t a government-forced lockdown of life. It is reducing regulations so companies can get a vaccine out quicker to the general populace and not telling private labs to stop testing if they have found a way to detect the virus.

We don’t need to embrace socialism or a top-heavy approach to fighting a pandemic, temporary or not. ‘Temporary’ tends to become long-term in the hands of the government.

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