The late great New York Yankee Yogi Berra had a saying “When you get to the Fork in the road, take it.” We are at that point as we make strides to reopen this economy.
There are some that think we should keep everything closed until there is a vaccine, and everyone can be tested. For those in that camp, a vaccine could be a year or two away. As for testing, does everyone in the US have to get a test? When do we test them? What happens if they come in contact with someone who has not been tested? Do we test them again? Do we require those that are tested to carry some type of identification with their test results? Do we tear up healthcare privacy laws? What about contact tracking? Do we require citizens to be tracked?
These are just a few of the head-scratching questions for those of us charged with protecting our constitutional rights and also our public safety.
Some health experts suggest we can never go back to the way it was. They call for airlines to permanently remove middle seats and for restaurants to only serve at 50% capacity. They also demand that people never again shake heads and always wear masks.
I disagree. Strongly.
The United States is the strongest nation in the world, a strength built on freedom and individual liberties. Our founding fathers knew there would be times like this when our beliefs in free and open society would be tested, and we must resist the temptation to permit fear to goad us into believing that sacrificing civil liberties in favor of a powerful centralized government is somehow going to make us safer.
A very serious virus has affected the entire world. Millions of people have been infected, and too many have died. So-called experts told us to shut down the country to keep our healthcare system from being overrun. It wasn’t. There is no one that believes more than me that every life is important, and yes, we need rules to ensure public safety. However, coronavirus is not even close to the deadliest plague when we examine the actual percentage of the population affected.
Here are some interesting stats on the causes of death in the United States:
- Heart Disease: 650,000 deaths every year. Should the federal government require every American to have a BMI less than 20% or ban fast foods?
- Cancer: 600,000 deaths every year. Should the federal government require sunscreen or ban all forms of smoking?
- Poverty: 200,000 deaths every year. Should the federal government require full income and material capital redistribution on a monthly basis to even things out? Worldwide estimates are 14 million deaths linked to poverty every year. By closing the world’s economies, I’m sure poverty will rise.
You get my point. I want to be healthy, but I also don’t want to live under a communist dictatorship.
Viruses have been around forever, and more will come. We cannot shut down the world every time there is a new strain of flu or coronavirus. Yes, we need to take reasonable precautions. If you as an individual choose to wear masks, close your business, or stay home, then fine. If you’re high risk, you should take extra steps to protect yourself. But the government cannot and should not become the overlord in the name of health.
We should all be concerned about getting back to normal. We should all also be concerned about 10 trillion dollars in new Federal Government debt.
If we don’t get back to normal soon, many businesses will not make it, and I worry about the US economy generally. Even if we got back to 90% of where we were before COVID-19, that means the economy shrinks by 10%, the largest drop in annual GDP since the Great Depression.
The US Stock Market has actually held up fairly well, but the stock market looks at forward earnings. If we don’t get back to normal, earnings will continue to plummet, and even public companies will close, causing millions of permanent job losses and a total collapse of pension funds.
Free markets and energetic commerce driven by individual liberty and private property are what make us the greatest, wealthiest, most creative, and most generous nation in the world. I urge us all to stand together, reject fear, and get America’s small businesses open and moving again.
May God Bless the USA.
State Representative Bob Rommel is a Republican representing District 106, which includes Naples and Marco Island.