“Curing the ill and stopping COVID-19 is critical. So is liberty.”
It’s a helluva way to run a railroad.
The question now is, are we going to succumb to the Wuhan Coronavirus, or will the U.S. Congress finally do us in?
In the wee hours of yesterday into today, the members of the U.S. Senate and the U.S. House of Representatives agreed to a $2.2 trillion “rescue” plan and passed it out of both bodies – the first of many bills we’re told.
Ostensibly the rescue package was to provide cash infusions into the economy to offset the damage that mandated government actions have caused to both individuals and companies in lost wages, incomes, and shutdowns, as well as money for hospitals and more equipment. Fair enough.
However, everything that originates in Washington, D.C. always looks like what comes out of the south end of a northbound horse.
There seems to be no bottom to the mischief the Congress causes every time they meet and spend someone else’s money. Disasters are evidently no exception.
We mere citizens were not allowed to read the new “rescue” legislation, but word has it that the bill is lit up like a casino in Vegas. Both Republicans and Democrats have loaded the spending package with many specific provisions unrelated to the crisis at hand. There are pet projects and lobbyist-driven carve-outs that go on – and on – for over a thousand pages.
But, while official Washington, and the states and counties, grapple with the mechanics of the Wuhan COVID-19 crisis, the rest of us are watching as the world has turned upside down, and some lessons seem to be solidifying out in the real world, at least anecdotally.
Lesson one, don’t take anything for granted. It’s startling to have some of these conversations in grocery store lines or with new neighbors that you never knew you had, or on Skype or Zoom connections with various groups.
Now that there has been some space to think, I’ve heard a lot of talk about how suddenly people have been caught unawares to exactly how fragile modern life is. One lady, middle-aged, surprised me in a checkout line at a packed grocery store, telling me, out of the blue, that she felt vulnerable and that she realized that the federal and state governments wanted to manage a crisis that they couldn’t predict or control. “I’ve just realized that we’re on our own,” she told me as we observed the chaos around us. “We have to learn how to take care of ourselves like our parents did.” We laughed with each other as we recalled our respective grandmothers wringing the neck of a chicken ‘out in the back,’ plucking it, and serving the bird for dinner! We both admitted that we wouldn’t know how to do I if our lives depended on it.
Another, one of the “new” neighbors I’ve met, told me several days ago that he’d been thinking about the events since February and realized that “We’ve [Americans] taken life for granted. We take our comfort and our health for granted and just bury our noses in work and family. This [the virus] is a major wake up call for everyone. We have to turn back to what matters.”
Yet another new friend, a millennial working for an engineering firm that has already closed, is shocked at how quickly everything changed. Don’t take anything for granted is on his mind as well. “I can’t believe how everything has changed almost overnight. I’m just so grateful for what I do have, though.”
The major media complex comes up a lot, also. There is a burning resentment that crosses party lines that the national media have moved decidedly from journalism to activism and sensationalism. The nation is in the middle of a pandemic, and its citizens have had the death scared out of them by a relentless news media circus that seems to be itchin’ for a calamity, using both well-meaning sources and out-and-out malicious propagandists as it suits them – including the Chinese.
Official health organizations issued some very dire predictions initially, and many, if not all of them, were later adjusted, yet often not revised by the media. (See my two previous COVID articles here and here.) However, there have also been other organizations that do not appear to have any specific expertise, that have been quoted in the media, and have directly impacted public action without critical review. One such organization, COVID ACT Now, had graphs and charts that, at the least, influenced authorities in New York and Dallas for shelter-in-place decrees, among others, that have already proven wildly inaccurate.
Also, there has been a groundswell of concern across the country about the tyrannical tendencies demonstrated by many mayors and governors. Much of the “shelter-in-place” and confinement regulations, closing legal businesses, asking neighbors to report on the activity of other neighbors, and threatening citizens with fines and lockups if they are not following “guidelines” are proving to be of dubious legality or operating far outside of existing emergency guidelines.
Most Americans want to do the “right thing” and are superficially compliant even with stupid edicts during what they perceive as emergencies. They want to take care of others, be a good neighbor, and have proven time and again to be the most giving people on the planet. However, they also have pretty good noses for bureaucratic nonsense. There is also a full-bodied streak of independence that is already bubbling up.
Curing the ill and stopping COVID-19 is critical. So is liberty.
Finally, one other item seems to be coming up frequently in the last weeks. The time has come to unravel America’s dependence on China. Americans have voiced concern for some time that American executives and investment houses have been rifling through virtually every category of American industry, and dismantling and shipping them overseas for decades.
Now, the results are coming around to roost for all to see. Up to 90% of our drugs or the ingredients for our pharmaceuticals are coming from China. From medical face masks and equipment, rare earth minerals, electronics, and countless other essential industries, including critical military applications, America is losing control of its destiny to communist China. Now, the Chinese are making significant headway into the food production and processing, ironically for the breadbasket of the world.
The President mentioned this week that his administration would be looking at American dependence, across a variety of industries, on foreign nations, many of whom deny the U.S. access into their markets using various product technicalities or VAT tax schemes. None too soon.
As terrible and as heartbreaking as this disaster is, lessons are being learned by a new generation of Americans.