(If you missed it, you can read Part 1 here)
Counter Measures to COVID-19 Are Worse Than the Virus Itself
One of the most common attacks we’ve heard on those who support reopening our economy and salvaging our liberties is that we care more about the economy than human life. But the truth is that the two are invariably intertwined.
The more damage we do to our society and economy, the higher the death toll will rise. In fact, there will almost certainly be more loss of life from the reaction to coronavirus than the disease itself. Reuters summarized a few of them beautifully:
Trapped at home with their abusers, some domestic violence victims are already experiencing more frequent and extreme violence, said Katie Ray-Jones, the chief executive officer of the National Domestic Violence Hotline.
Domestic violence programs across the country have cited increases in calls for help, news accounts reported – from Cincinnati to Nashville, Portland, Salt Lake City and statewide in Virginia and Arizona. The YWCA of Northern New Jersey, in another example, told Reuters its domestic violence calls have risen up to 24%.
“There are special populations that are going to have impacts that go way beyond COVID-19,” said Ray-Jones, citing domestic violence victims as one.
Students, parents, and teachers all face challenges adjusting to remote learning, as schools nationwide have been closed and online learning has begun.
Some experts are concerned that students at home, especially those living in unstable environments or poverty, will miss more assignments. High school students who miss at least three days a month are seven times more likely to drop out before graduating and, as a result, live nine years less than their peers, according to a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation report.
Among the most vulnerable: the more than 6 million special education students across the United States. Without rigorous schooling and therapy, these students face a lifetime of challenges.
Special needs students “benefit the most from highly structured and customized special education,” said Sharon Vaughn, executive director of the The Meadows Center for Preventing Educational Risk at the University of Texas. “This means that they are the group that are most likely to be significantly impacted by not attending school both in the short and long term.”
In New Jersey, Matawan’s Megan Gutierrez has been overwhelmed with teaching and therapy duties for her two nonverbal autistic sons, eight and 10. She’s worried the boys, who normally work with a team of therapists and teachers, will regress. “For me, keeping those communications skills is huge, because if they don’t, that can lead to behavioral issues where they get frustrated because they can’t communicate,” Gutierrez said.
In Europe and the United States, suicide rates rise about 1% for every one percentage point increase in unemployment, according to research published by lead author Aaron Reeves from Oxford University. During the last recession, when the unemployment in the United States peaked at 10%, the suicide rate jumped, resulting in 4,750 more deaths. If the unemployment rate increases to 20%, the toll could well rise.
“Sadly, I think there is a good chance we could see twice as many suicides over the next 24 months than we saw during the early part of the last recession,” Reeves told Reuters. That would be about 20,000 additional dead by suicide in the United States and Europe.
Less than three weeks after extreme suppression measures began in the United States, unemployment claims rose by nearly 10 million. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin warned the rate could reach 20% and Federal Reserve economists predicted as high as 32%. Europe faces similarly dire forecasts.
Some researchers caution that suicide rates might not spike so high. The conventional wisdom is that more people will kill themselves amid skyrocketing unemployment, but communities could rally around a national effort to defeat COVID-19 and the rates may not rise, said Anne Case, who researches health economics at Princeton University. “Suicide is hard to predict even in the absence of a crisis of Biblical proportions,” Case said.
This week, the Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, Colorado, relaxed its strict social isolation policies after the apparent suicides of two cadet seniors in late March, The Gazette, a Colorado Springs newspaper, reported. While juniors, sophomores and freshmen had been sent home, the college seniors were kept isolated in dorms, and some had complained of a prison-like setting. Now, the seniors will be able to leave campus for drive-thru food and congregate in small groups per state guidelines.
Public Health Crippled
Local health departments run programs that treat chronic diseases such as diabetes. They also help prevent childhood lead poisoning and stem the spread of the flu, tuberculosis and rabies. A severe loss of property and sales tax revenue following a wave of business failures will likely cripple these health departments, said Adriane Casalotti, chief of government affairs with the National Association of County and City Health Officials, a nonprofit focused on public health.
After the 2008 recession, local health departments in the U.S. lost 23,000 positions as more than half experienced budget cuts. While it’s become popular to warn against placing economic concerns over health, Casalotti said that, on the front lines of public health, the two are inexorably linked. “What are you going to do when you have no tax base to pull from?” she asked.
Carol Moehrle, director of a public health department that serves five counties in northern Idaho, said her office lost about 40 of its 90 employees amid the last recession. The department had to cut a family planning program that provided birth control to women below the poverty line and a program that tested for and treated sexually transmitted diseases. She worries a depression will cause more harm.
“I honestly don’t think we could be much leaner and still be viable, which is a scary thing to think about,” Moehrle said.
Rises in unemployment during large recessions can set in motion a domino effect of reduced income, additional stress and unhealthy lifestyles. Those setbacks in income and health often mean people die earlier, said Till von Wachter, a University of California Los Angeles professor who researches the impact of job loss. Von Wachter said his research of past surges in unemployment suggests displaced workers could lose, on average, a year and a half of lifespan. If the jobless rate rises to 20%, this could translate into 48 million years of lost human life.
Von Wachter cites measures he believes could mitigate the effects of unemployment. The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act approved by the White House last week includes emergency loans to businesses and a short-time compensation program that could encourage employers to keep employees on the payroll.
Young People Suffer
Young adults entering the job market during the coronavirus suppression may pay an especially high price over the long term. First-time job hunters seeking work during periods of high unemployment live shorter and unhealthier lives, research shows. An extended freeze of the economy could shorten the lifespan of 6.4 million Americans entering the job market by an average of about two years, said Hannes Schwandt, a health economics researcher at Northwestern University, who conducted the study with von Wachter. This would be 12.8 million years of life lost.
Thousands of college graduates will enter a job market at a time global business is frozen. Jason Gustave, a senior at William Paterson University in New Jersey who will be the first in his family to graduate from college, had a job in physical therapy lined up. Now his licensure exam is postponed and the earliest he could start work is September.
“It all depends on where the economy goes,” he said. “Is there a position still available?”
Even the U.N., which has vigorously supported the draconian suspension of industry, society, and freedom, says that “hundreds of thousands of children could die this year due to the global economic downturn sparked by the coronavirus pandemic and tens of millions more could fall into extreme poverty as a result of the crisis”
Every day that our country remains closed, more people around the world will die. And that fatal decision has been made by a few public servants who would fancy themselves omnipotent overlords.
Public Servants Do Not Have the Authority to Suspend Our Rights
On Easter Sunday, police guarded the parking lots of churches to ensure that Americans could not worship. Even drive-in services designed to adhere to social distancing practices were patrolled by police. The National Review has been covering the religious persecution for some time now:
Consider members of the King James Bible Baptist Church of Greenville, Miss. Last Wednesday night the church held a drive-in service using a low-frequency radio-station signal. Everyone in the parking lot kept their windows up. Attendees were quickly surrounded by police cars ordering them to leave. About two minutes into the video you can hear a police officer yelling “Your rights are suspended!”
At least one other local church was also targeted. Lee Gordon of Greenville’s Temple Baptist Church told WREG-TV that “the police started coming up and we said, ‘We think we’re within our rights.’ So, they started issuing tickets, $500 tickets… I don’t know, it may have been 20 to 30 tickets. Everybody got one. It wasn’t per car. Me and my wife were in a car together and both of us got tickets.”
In some places, the police are actually directly entering churches. Last Sunday, a police officer in Chincoteague, Va., entered the Lighthouse Fellowship and was upset they were holding a church service for 16 people spaced far apart in a sanctuary that seats 293. He ordered that, per Governor Ralph Northam’s order, no more than ten people could participate in the service. After it was finished, two police officers entered the service, gave the pastor a criminal summons, and told him that if he dared to conduct an Easter service, everyone attending would be given one.
And there have been other bizarre encounters with the new police state. On April 2nd, a paddleboarder was arrested for failing to obey the California stay-at-home order (despite being completely isolated and out in the ocean). He was booked at a sheriff’s station in Calabasas and released on a promise to appear in court, sheriff’s officials said. The man faces a fine of $1,000 or six months in jail, or both, if convicted of violating the state order.
On April 3rd, a woman in Pennsylvania was stopped and cited for violating the governor’s stay-at-home mandate. She was driving alone in her car in her neighborhood as a way to get some fresh air while still practicing social distancing. Her citation states that she “failed to abide by the order of the governor and secretary of health issued to control the spread of a communicable disease, requiring the closure of all non-life-sustaining businesses… To wit, the defendant states that she was ‘going for a drive’ after this violation was in effect.”
On April 7th, a former Colorado State Patrol officer was surrounded by police and put into handcuffs in front of his six-year-old daughter. His crime? Playing catch with his young daughter in a grassy area near his home. “We’re just having a good time, not near anybody else. The next closest person is at least 15 feet away from me and my daughter at this point,” Mooney told ABC News.
In Philadelphia, a man was dragged off of a public bus for not wearing a face mask in accordance with new rules. Shocking video shows the police wrestling with the man, whose only crime was attempting to go to work. The Southeastern Philadelphia Transportation Authority, after the video went viral, changed their tone, saying that they would no longer enforce the rule. Ironically, video shows a Philadelphia transit worker demanding that riders without masks “get off the bus,” even though the transit worker himself was not wearing one.
For many of those in authority, there has been a “do as I say, not as I do” attitude. Many of our leaders have publicly failed to practice the very rules that they’ve implemented. But all of this is fueled by one thing: fear. People around the world are scared. They’re constantly bombarded with news reports and emergency alerts showing the death toll like some kind of fundraising counter. With so many out of work and life seemingly at a standstill, they’re ready to do anything to get back to normal.
But our rights are endowed by our Creator and enshrined in the Constitution. These men and women are public servants who do NOT have the authority to strip away our liberty or cripple our economy.
The Constitution of the United States is a law for rulers and people, equally in war and in peace, and covers with the shield of its protection all classes of men, at all times and under all circumstances.” – Ex parte Milligan, U.S. Supreme Court (1866)
Today this “coronavirus-panic” gives government fuel and cover for its assaults on freedom and poses a question the government does not want to answer: If liberty can be taken away in times of crisis, then is it really liberty; or is it just a license, via a temporary government permission slip, subject to the whims of politicians in power?
The government has no authority to dictate how many people choose to congregate for any peaceful purpose.
Our First Amendment states:
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble.
Telling people to not attend church is a violation of the constitutional clause, “prohibiting the free exercise thereof.”
Telling people they cannot gather in groups of more than 20 or 30 (or whatever arbitrary number) is a clear violation of the constitutional clause, “no law . . . prohibiting . . . the right of the people peaceably to assemble.”
The coronavirus or any other “emergency” does not cancel or negate the Constitution and Bill of Rights. These unconstitutional acts have had, and will continue to have, devastating effects on the socio-economic and physical health of U.S. citizens as well as people across the globe.
A 2015 study found that men experience up to an 85% increased risk of mortality following losing their jobs, and a 2020 Lancet study on the “psychobiological effects of quarantine” found that “most of the adverse effects come from the imposition of a restriction of liberty.” The study noted: “Separation from loved ones, the loss of freedom, uncertainty over disease status, and boredom can, on occasion, create dramatic effects. Suicide has been reported, substantial anger generated, and lawsuits brought following the imposition of quarantine in previous outbreaks.”
As a constitutional republic, elected officials have an obligation to uphold the civil liberties and constitutional rights of its citizens, as well as the public’s health. These can not be sacrificed or exchanged for one another.
On 22 March 2020, the Department of Justice (DOJ) secretly petitioned Congress for the ability to ask chief judges to detain people indefinitely without trial during emergencies. A concerning new report published in Rolling Stone entitled, “DOJ Wants to Suspend Certain Constitutional Rights During Coronavirus Emergency,” reveals that the DOJ, under the auspices of “protecting the public health from the threat of COVID-19,” is attempting to suspend some of the most basic protections upon which the United States Constitution and our civil rights are founded.
A recent Politico article entitled “DOJ Seeks New Emergency Powers Amid Coronavirus Pandemic,” states that this request raised eyebrows because of its potential implications for “habeas corpus” (the constitutional right to appear before a judge after arrest and seek release).
“Not only would it be a violation of that, but it says ‘affecting pre-arrest,’” said Norman L. Reimer, executive director of the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers. “So that means you could be arrested and never brought before a judge until they decide that the emergency or the civil disobedience is over. I find it absolutely terrifying. Especially in a time of emergency, we should be very careful about granting new powers to the government.”
You are free no matter what the government tells you. And you don’t have to make a single concession to retain that freedom. But believe me when I tell you: they are going to try.
Complacency Permanently Undermines Liberty
The powers that be – billionaires, the tech and pharmaceutical industries, and governments around the world – have used fear as a means to seize the very freedoms that define our society. Many of us are at the mercy of these authorities. Businesses are failing, citizens are hurtling towards financial ruin, and the rights enshrined in the constitution have been stripped.
Practicing safe habits as a virus spreads is important. Supporting your immune system, practicing proper hygiene, and taking care of those most vulnerable among us is of paramount importance. But the oppressive measures taken against us will cause far more damage than this virus ever could.
Yes, there are ways to boost your immune system. Yes, you should absolutely practice proper hygiene and responsible social distancing to protect those most vulnerable to disease. And yes, this is a very real disease that will claim some lives.
But the government has quietly stripped us of our freedoms, and they will start demanding concessions before they return them. Increased taxes. Bailouts for mega-corporations. New vaccine requirements. Medical tracking and registration. Communist-era social surveillance. If we comply with their demands in exchange for our liberty, we are acknowledging that our liberty is subject to the whims of a few self-important government officials and the corrupt corporations that support them.
The inevitable conclusion to this chapter of our history will be a bargain: comply with government orders and they will return to you your freedom. But conditional freedom is no freedom at all. And it’s time we sent that message loud and clear.
Our governments have crossed a line that they cannot uncross. They have taken freedom hostage. And soon, they will offer vaccines and other concessions as the terms for its release. It is of paramount importance that we do not accept their terms.
Read Part 1 here.