CultureWatch

Bill Muehlenberg's commentary on issues of the day...

Corona and Statism: Which is Worse?

Mar 30, 2020

We have a health crisis, and a political and economic crisis. Both need to be treated carefully:

Many are asking how long the COVID-19 crisis will last. And many are asking how much further governments will go in attempts to slow its spread. Some are concerned that all the clampdowns on freedom are becoming far too draconian.

So how are we to proceed here? I have already written numerous articles on such matters. Here in outline form is what I have been saying for 2 months now about the coronavirus and government responses:

-There is a place for state intervention in times of crisis.
-Drastic steps may need to be taken to deal with public health crises.
-Some restrictions on individual liberties may need to occur in such times.
BUT…
-At what point does the cure become worse than the disease?
-It is much easier for the state to take power and control than to relinquish it.
-The speed and ease in which entire cities, states and nations are being shut down and locked down should concern all of us.

Details can be found in my 17 previous articles on this crisis: billmuehlenberg.com/category/health-and-medical-issues/coronavirus/

All over the Western world especially we are seeing very severe government crackdowns. All this is said to be necessary to slow the spread of COVID-19. Some of it may well be. But we actually have two massive crises on our hands with this: the virus itself, and the potential to shut down and destroy a nation.

And a nation can be destroyed through shutting down its economy and massively infringing on civil liberties. As I just said, there is a place for some of this to combat a virus. But when does prudent concern slide over into massive government overreach and overkill?

How much freedom can we sacrifice here, and how much can we allow the economy to go down the gurgler, in our efforts to contain COVID-19? As I mentioned in an earlier piece, some 40,000 Americans committed suicide during the Great Depression. Economic crises can take as many lives as health crises can.

Thus both matters are very important, and both have to be dealt with. Government leaders need real wisdom here. Lockdowns can have a place, but how far do we go? Here in Australia the scenario thus far has gone something like this in terms of social distancing and how many folks are allowed to congregate in public:

At first, 500 people max were allowed in public. Then 250. A few days ago it went down to just ten people. Now we are only allowed two people. Tomorrow it may be only one person. Will the government soon declare that no one can go out, and that the state will decide who it delivers food and services to?

Hmm, sound farfetched? Perhaps. But who would have thought just a few weeks ago that only two people in public would be allowed, with penalties for recalcitrants? It is becoming all rather scary out there. And where will it end? Some might say that all this is needed – look at Italy they will say.

Well, let’s look at Italy. Their high contagion and death rates can be put down to various factors:

-Its failed multiculturalism and immigration policies
-Its socialised medicine system
-Its many migrant Chinese workers, especially in northern factories
-Fear of being called racist to focus on this at-risk group of Chinese workers in Italy
-Its elderly population (oldest in Europe, and second oldest in the world)
-the great majority of those who died already had other illnesses

So in many ways Italy has been rather unique. And similar sorts of things can be said about other European countries now seeing a spike in cases, such as Spain and France. On the other hand, some countries such as Sweden which are taking rather less restrictive approaches are not spiking so badly.

So again, it is a matter of finding some sort of balance. Public health and safety is important. But freedom is important as well. How much of it should we be willing to be traded away for potential safety? One is reminded of the words of Benjamin Franklin “Those who would give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety.”

And the draconian and even totalitarian approaches being called for are a real concern indeed. A few more recent examples of this include the following:

-Former Labour prime minister Gordon Brown has said a one world government is needed to combat the virus and the economic fallout. “This is not something that can be dealt with in one country. There has to be a coordinated global response.” www.theguardian.com/politics/2020/mar/26/gordon-brown-calls-for-global-government-to-tackle-coronavirus

-New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio has told the Jewish community that synagogues which continue to hold services in defiance of coronavirus regulations will be permanently shut down. www.jpost.com/Diaspora/NYC-Mayor-to-synagogues-Close-for-coronavirus-or-be-shut-down-permanently-622767

-Some leaders are now admitting that they may have gone too far. For example, New York governor Andrew Cuomo is saying that he is not sure if closing all businesses and keeping everyone home was ‘the best public health strategy’: “If you rethought that or had time to analyze that public health strategy, I don’t know that you would say quarantine everyone. . . . Young people then quarantined with older people was probably not the best public health strategy because the younger people could have been exposing the older people to an infection.” www.foxnews.com/us/cuomo-closing-all-businesses-keeping-everyone-home-not-best-public-health-strategy

Peter Hitchens has been sounding the alarm on excessive government crackdowns. As he wrote last week:

Here I am, asking bluntly – is the closedown of the country the right answer to the coronavirus? I’ll be accused of undermining the NHS and threatening public health and all kinds of other conformist rubbish. But I ask you to join me, because if we have this wrong we have a great deal to lose….

Did you know that the Government and Opposition had originally agreed that there would not even be a vote on these measures? Even Vladimir Putin might hesitate before doing anything so blatant. If there is no serious rebellion against this plan in the Commons, then I think we can commemorate tomorrow, March 23, 2020, as the day Parliament died. Yet, as far as I can see, the population cares more about running out of lavatory paper.

How long before we need passes to go out in the streets, as in any other banana republic? As for the grotesque, bullying powers to be created on Monday, I can only tell you that you will hate them like poison by the time they are imposed on you.

All the crudest weapons of despotism, the curfew, the presumption of guilt and the power of arbitrary arrest, are taking shape in the midst of what used to be a free country. And we, who like to boast of how calm we are in a crisis, seem to despise our ancient hard-bought freedom and actually want to rush into the warm, firm arms of Big Brother. hitchensblog.mailonsunday.co.uk/2020/03/peter-hitchens-is-shutting-down-britain-with-unprecedented-curbs-on-ancient-liberties-really-the-bes.html

Or as Dennis Prager put it recently:

We have no idea how many people carry the COVID-19 coronavirus. Therefore, the rates of either critical illness or death are completely unknown. Perhaps millions of people have the virus and nothing serious develops, in which case we would have rates of death similar to (or even below) the flu virus. On the other hand, perhaps not many people carry the virus, but the rates of illness demanding intensive care and of death are much greater than those of the flu.

We can only be certain that shutting down virtually every part of society will result in a large number of people economically ruined, life savings depleted, decades of work building a restaurant or some other small business destroyed. As if that were not bad enough, the ancillary effects would include increased depression and divorce and other personal tragedies. The effects of closing schools for weeks or months will include family chaos, vast numbers of bored young people, health care providers who will have to stay home and more. Yet young people are the least likely people to become ill from the virus.

He concludes:

Only God knows what economic dislocation the shutting down of American and other Western economies will lead to. I am not predicting a Nazi or communist ascendancy, but economic and political disaster may be as likely, or even more likely, than a health disaster.

But here is a prediction: If the government can order society to cease functioning, from restaurants and other businesses to schools, due to a possible health disaster, it is highly likely that a Democratic president and Congress will similarly declare emergency and assert authoritarian rule in order to prevent what they consider the even greater “existential threat” to human life posed by global warming. The dam has been broken. Maybe it was necessary. But when dams break, flooding follows. www.dailywire.com/news/prager-why-the-remedy-may-be-worse-than-the-disease

For those who are ready to burn me at the stake for sharing these concerns about Statism in action, please read what I first said in this article. Yes, there IS a place for government action. The question is, how much? And how far and for how long? We really need to get the right mix here.

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13 Responses to Corona and Statism: Which is Worse?

  • Yes the whole Better-Dead-than-Red versus Better-Red-than-Dead conversation was obviously big in the Cold War. As a child I was always in the Better-Dead-than-Red camp. Still am. And it’s a slippery slope. As long as there remains a public clamour to become freer and a model of free countries still existing it’s not the end of the world. Some of the countries that defeat the virus will remain free countries and a model for others.

  • How easy it would be if we did what Taiwan did. Temperature monitor everybody who goes into a shop or public place, their business world keeps going and only those who are high temperature are compelled to go to hospital for further tests.

    They keep their economy going and people have their freedom of movement, the only proviso is that they are subject to temp tests to gain admittance to public places.

  • Encouraging, Douglas – thank you! And important words from Bill and Henri too.

  • I am with you Bill: “It is much easier for the state to take power and control than to relinquish it”.

    As with the climate change hoax, these are REAL scientists views on the Covid 19 PANIC:
    https://principia-scientific.org/12-experts-questioning-the-coronavirus-panic/
    https://principia-scientific.org/the-coronavirus-scare-we-now-know-what-it-was-all-about/
    And many more!

    Trillions and trillions of virisus fall from the sky every day:
    https://www.nytimes.com/2018/04/13/science/virosphere-evolution.html

  • Britain is becoming socialist under a Conservative government. Long queues at the shops, crazy social distancing, everyone confined to home except “essential” workers (and ironically there seems to be an awful lot of them). I’ve seen paranoia already in folk who I’d have thought were sensible. Not so. The NHS has been elevated to God status, with mainstream media banging out the sob stories and brainwashing people with the “stay at home, protect the NHS, save lives” mantras being chanted and printed everywhere. The police have gone nuts, punishing people for walking their dogs, but fail to deal with large gatherings of certain immigrant types. If I didn’t know that Jesus has won us the victory, I’d be tearing my hair out.

  • Governments are being panicked and pressured into “prepare-for-the-worst policies”, such as extreme social distancing and lockdowns. While John Ioannidis (Professor in medicine/epidemiology/statistics at Stanford University) says:
    “A population-wide case fatality rate of 0.05 per cent [from covid-19] is lower than seasonal influenza. If that is the true rate, locking down the world with potentially tremendous social and financial consequences may be totally irrational. It’s like an elephant being attacked by a house cat. Frustrated and trying to avoid the cat, the elephant accidentally jumps off a cliff and dies.”

    The respected Cochrane review (2011) on measures to prevent the spread of viruses concluded, “There was limited evidence that social distancing was effective….”. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6993921/

    Why is it that another infectious disease* that causes 1,500 to 3,000 deaths, about 18,000 hospitalisations, and 300,000 GP consultations on average each year in Australia brings on no social distancing regulations, no lock-downs, no business close-downs, no prohibitions on church meetings, and only the occasional temporary school closure?

    * influenza

  • Thanks guys. Two new articles on this: https://www.spectator.co.uk/article/former-supreme-court-justice-this-is-what-a-police-state-is-like-

    And recall the famous case in East Germany of a kid turning in his own parents to the Communist authorities: https://www.spiked-online.com/2020/03/30/the-sickness-of-snitching/

  • Not sure if this is true but must admit was wondering when this would be next.
    https://www.xyz.net.au/lisa-neville-wants-you-to-dob-your-neighbour-in/

  • I suppose Daniel Andrews may be quite happy that Churches are unable to meet at the time. With the likes of Fiona Patten in the Victorian Parliament, one would think keeping brothels open is more important to some of them then keeping Churches open!

  • I have made 2 previous comments on this Kungflu madness. I stand by all I have previously noted. I see the current state of fear and willingness of otherwise sensible people sacrificing their freedoms at the drop ( of a hat whatever that means?) of an irrational overblown drop of virus “potentially fatal” CROWN of pathogenic CoVid 19 related to the SARS type of 2005
    in Asia. The death toll will not even be equal to the regular flu season. No where near it.

    But by making this horrendous mistake of collectively destroying our economics of the Western Civilizations with previously Judeo Christian foundations is like a living nightmare of irrationality. It’s promoted and guided by Leftist fake conservatives and power grabbing politicians journalists media personalities and medical alarmists. The same people who have believed scams and hoaxes for decades and indeed centuries now. The nonsense of Evolution Millions and Billions of years that have never been, Eugenics Social Darwinism Global Warming demonisation of CO2 Climate Change Crisis and all the garbage swallowed by the Extinction Rebellion looney Left.

    Ideas have consequences. Real life consequences. Our destruction is at hand. We have done this to ourselves by collective emotional thinking of doom and gloom. Reasonable measures relying on people fighting diseases and using common sense have been overturned in favour of the government becoming the Dictator of everything now. 6 months of welfare money being doled out! ScoMo has shut down parliament till August without a whimper of protest and we can never ” gather together”…. only as couples!
    Craziness and fear stalk our beautiful Nation of Australia.
    The passing of….. Freedom Faith Family & Friends.

  • These are all valid concerns
    It will be vitally important for believers in freedoms of speech, association and religion to assert these vigorously when the crisis passes. The Spanish flu, the Great Depression and two world wars did not destroy freedom and we must fight for it afresh.

  • What gets me is the calls for the global government they want it to be temporary just for this crisis. Like a government has ever VOLUNTARILY given up power! (‘They’ll just form, solve the problem then disband and we’ll go back to our lives’. Yeah and I have ocean front property in Kansas I can sell you.)

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