Corona, Liberty, & Little Tyrants

“Those who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety.”

Benjamin Franklin

I’m writing this article from one of the first U.S. cities to order public lockdowns, San Francisco. This local government isn’t really known for doing anything right, but even fools get things right on occasion. Luckily, we have bright people running local tech businesses who thought it best to play it safe and ordered their workers to work from home. The city of San Francisco then followed suit.

Now, we find ourselves in a city whose makeup will be changed after this event winds down. The major concern that I have relates to the unintended consequences of shutting down economies out of an abundance of safety all while I have internal conflicts with these mandates for the sake of liberty.

Personally, I don’t think the government has the constitutional authority to force businesses to shut down over something like this unknown and novel event. There are governments across this nation depriving business owners and private citizens the right of pursuit of happiness(free enterprise), the First Amendment by punishing citizens for worshiping their religion, violating the Second Amendment by discriminating against gun shops from operating during a time of crisis when protection is vital, violating the Fifth Amendment by depriving those of liberty with house arrest and property without due process without market rate compensation, the Eighth Amendment by issuing excessive fines for not wearing masks or sitting in a parking lot outside of a church, and scores of other violations of liberty. And for what? Safety? Is it safe to release criminals from jails but then threaten to arrest people going to parks or beaches and take them to jail for getting fresh air?

None of this makes rational sense.

The reality is that people are justifiably scared. There is an unseeable threat lingering among the population and making people ill, but that doesn’t justify creating other threats by overreacting with heavy-handed government mandates or regulations.

Elon Musk, Twitter

Entire industries have been shut down arbitrarily through edicts. Even Elon Musk isn’t immune from this. The local county officials have resisted efforts to allow him to reöpen the only U.S.-based Tesla assembly plant in Fremont, California. There are around 10,000 people who work at that factory who are not able to go to work and it’s putting an entire manufacturing company at risk.

People need to work and the notion that we can have on-going lockdowns is simply untenable. The lockdowns may have been well-intended, but they ultimately will cause more harm than good in the long term. We have gone along with them in the early days because it was reasonable to try and avoid overrunning our healthcare system and causing a breakdown in services. Through this preventative measure, we have slowed the rate of infections to a controllable rate where we aren’t facing hospitals going over their capacity.

However, we have continued to see the voices of little tyrants calling for more government restrictions and asking for the bankrupting of Americans on a whim. Take for example, California Governor Gavin Newsom. The rates of infection have been lower here than what were expected, yet he’s upset with the fact that people are going out to parks and beaches after two months of lockdowns. Who is he to put citizens on house arrest without committing a crime? No one. He still insisted on singling-out Orange County and Newport Beach for individuals going out and behaving responsibly, for the most part, by keeping their distance from others even though they were at the beach, away from their hamster cage at home.

Sheriff Don Barnes, Twitter

Fortunately, patriots in Orange County resisted the shutdown and staged a protest in Orange County along the beach and Orange County Sheriff Don Barnes publicly stated that he wouldn’t use his deputies to enforce Governor Newsom’s threat because he hasn’t seen those patrons as presenting a threat and that he takes his sworn responsibility of ensuring the liberties of his fellow citizens seriously. This public statement was heartening to see in a time where we are seeing many being forced to stay at home under defacto house arrest.

It’s time that we hold our mayors and governors accountable. These local entities have a much greater impact on our daily lives than larger government entities, but they are all still required to follow the U.S. Constitution. If they are insisting on lockdowns then what’s needed are metrics to base the decisions on. With metrics, a baseline is established for what has been documented and goals can be set for future rollback.

Government can’t force citizens into bankruptcy by depriving them the liberty to earn income or operate their businesses, especially upon purely arbitrary reasoning or gut feelings. That’s now how liberty works. We need to start releasing workers back to their jobs while wearing masks. Business owners and employees can make these choices for themselves and don’t need government to dictate to them how to behave. The majority of this social distancing is voluntary behavior. So, stop forcing closures which threaten people with increased financial and health risks.

I suppose a silver lining in all of this is that maybe our citizenry will reëxamine the civil liberties that they’re entitled to and defend them more actively. We aren’t serfs to tyrants. We are pervicacious Americans and this aggression won’t stand.

Published by

Lee Bishop

I'm an Arkansas native who found my way to San Francisco through school in search of a change of business opportunities in tech/finance after a stint living in the Ouachita Mountains as a scruffy mountain man trying to "find myself." My background is one of eclectic style of working many different jobs roles spanning from Maximum Security Prisons>TV Satellite Communications>Filmmaking>Duck Call Making>Corporate Consulting. I specialize in product development and creative development. My personal attention is also focused on Civil Liberties and Human Rights.

2 thoughts on “Corona, Liberty, & Little Tyrants

  1. I can’t agree with you on this.
    Jefferson’s quote, for example, is both completely true (he said it) and fully untrue (he willingly forwent freedoms *in exactly this context*). Epidemics and enforced quarantines pre-date the formation of the United States. One epidemic specifically delayed and then hindered a meeting of the Constitutional Congress. Jefferson sent his family away from another, both for their health and to comply with regulations. And he proposed restricted land rights on city lands to separate residences from agricultural lands in a specific attempt to minimize the rise of epidemics.

    The rights of the federal and state governments to enforce quarantine regulations (and vaccinations!) were accepted by SCOTUS in the early 1800s, and again in the early 1900s, and were used in the 1918 ‘flu, against Polio, and against HIV and against Ebola (enforced confinement!). The long-accepted practice here is to balance a powerful public good against temporary infringements of private rights.

    Imagine if we had a competent government, and if that government had acted like Taiwan. Taiwan has an active pandemic preparation unit (following the SARS scare). The island nation knew at about the same time as the USA (late November / early December 2019) that COVID was coming toward them, and – because of fluid travel between Taiwan and the mainland – had little time to prepare. By January: every person in Taiwan had access to plentiful masks (free or nearly so), doled out at vending machines, using their ID number and a mobile phone app. Mask-wearing, already customary, became mandatory. Once a few cases arrived in Taiwan, they went manic on contact tracing – finding people who MIGHT be infected. They ramped up temperature measurements and testing. And enforced them. The consequences? On the one hand: 6 deaths in a population of 23 million – to scale with the USA that’d be fewer than 100 deaths total in the USA, and limited damage to the economy. On the other: contact tracing and use of ID numbers to get medical supplies. (Another key difference: the Taiwanese government is not immune to corruption, but their competence is exceptional. The head of state has a PhD – from London School of Economics … and the idea of censoring what the health minister had to say would be considered a government-ending absurdity. In this sense, they have more 1st-Amendment-type freedom of speech on this issue than we do.)

    Finally, and sadly; the unmasked man screaming at the stolid police in Michigan is a moment-making image. He is not your average freedom-of-speech Michigander. He’s a neo-Nazi from Los Angeles in a group that is, ahem, funded from abroad.

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    1. I agree that the government has some powers to help limit an outbreak if it’s occurring in a specific area to try and prevent the spread to the rest of the union. That, to me, would pertain to having an outbreak appear in a city or town and it’s recognized as a public danger where military is needed to mobilize to shut down transit systems to prevent spread.

      However, this is something that has already spread across the nation and isn’t something where martial law can take effect to protect the populace. This is a nation of 340+ million people and it’s not justifiable, at this point, to put law abiding citizens on house arrest and bankrupt their businesses just because regional politicians don’t have a plan and don’t want to be blamed for outbreaks.

      This lockdown will result in financial ruin, loss of housing, loss of businesses, poverty, lowered quality of health, increased depression, and premature deaths if it continues under the force of local leaders.

      Just because someone “can” do things doesn’t mean they need to do them.

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