Scary thought: the effects of canceling freedom to “protect” people will show up someday.
As I dropped off my son yesterday in front of his school and watched him disappear into the interior of the building, mask and all, I reflected on the good fortune my family enjoys in being able to send our school-aged child to an in-person private institution.
Having moved to a new city earlier this year, we felt it was imperative for him to be with other kids at this point in his life. Since the onset of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP, or Wuhan, if you prefer) pandemic in March, his regular public school has been closed. He managed to attend there in person -- like normal -- for about eight weeks before the world collapsed in panic last spring. In that time, he met a number of kids that he called friends. But when the buses stopped rolling and his classes became “virtual,” he was confined to accepting a new reality without much human contact.
Welcome to the world of COVID-19. It’s afflicted a lot of people as well as exposed enormous flaws in human nature. And the country is suffering for a lack of local leadership and common sense.
Now he’s in a good place, and we’re thankful. Many, many children aren’t so lucky. It doesn’t take a genius to figure out that this year’s lockdowns have had a severe and disparate impact on those in the lower income strata. Rich Lowry wrote at National Review, “The pandemic has hammered restaurants, hotels, and places of entertainment, all of which don’t pay high wages and tend to employ women and minorities. It has cut a swath through small business. It has slammed workers who can’t retreat to home offices for Zoom calls.
“In short, it has taken all of the tendencies of our knowledge economy that benefit the better-educated and disadvantage non-college-educated workers and has made them more pronounced, amidst a public-health crisis that has also hit the most vulnerable the hardest...
“What is to be done? Policymakers need to realize that when they promulgate COVID-19 restrictions, they are asking the people with the least economic margin for error to sacrifice the most. Congress needs to pass a new stimulus bill to cushion the blow of a natural disaster that has immiserated many millions of people through no fault of their own. And the incoming Biden administration ideally would realize that fashionable causes such as climate change need to take a back seat to the pursuit of full economic recovery.”
Good luck with that -- getting liberals to concentrate on the obvious stuff. Bumbling Biden’s already announced what he intends to focus on if/when the day arrives for him to have real responsibilities in addition to his daily routine of exiting bed and telling his staff to plan another day with no media events. Patrick J. Buchanan wrote, “The Biden-Harris administration will confront ‘a pandemic, an economic crisis, calls for racial justice and climate change. The team being assembled will meet these challenges on Day One.’”
Sounds like a full plate, doesn’t it? The pandemic component -- or at least the part that can be semi-managed -- has already been taken care of by the outgoing Trump administration and its extraordinary effort to enlist the power of American pharmaceutical companies to develop an effective vaccine that promises to control the spread of the 21st century plague. This isn’t an argument that the whole thing’s been overblown, which it almost certainly has, but for our sake the medical people appear to be on the brink of offering a measure of relief within the foreseeable future.
In the abstract, how does a President Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris plan to combat “racial justice” on day one? Past experience suggests they’ll pursue the nebulous concept through placing restrictions on local police departments in enforcing the law -- or possibly make police officers criminally liable for on-the-job procedural errors. With 2020 having produced a notable spike in violence as the result of many different factors, obsessing on skin color doesn’t seem to be a good way to forge a way forward. But these are Democrats we’re talking about, and if they can’t set preferences for their pet constituencies, they’d forfeit their purpose in life.
Fostering white guilt is what Democrats do best. That, and mandating racial sensitivity training.
“Climate change” is another undefinable subject. In the midst of the pandemic and its vast and verifiable negative effects on ordinary people, how would the American citizenry react to higher energy prices and further loss of jobs because the government seeks to shave fractions of a degree off a purportedly warming planet? Placing carbon restriction shackles on companies may not do anything to help the atmosphere, but it sure will be felt in other ways.
Which brings us back to the government’s COVID-19 restrictions and their destruction of lives. Lowry was correct, the economic malaise is primarily being felt by those in service industries making low wages. Large corporations and “essential businesses” can get by with surface fixes like increasing social distance and mask requirements. But the damage has already been done on smaller businesses that can’t afford to eliminate space and/or reduce their capacities. Everyone knows restaurants already teeter on the edge of solvency with very small profit margins. Every closure makes it that much harder to pay overhead and still keep the doors open.
Commercial real estate must be a mess. What budding entrepreneur would rent space now? And what about all the store proprietors who can’t pay their rent? Does a mall owner evict them for non-payment or grant them more time in hopes they’ll become productive clients again when this is behind us?
The travel industry has been devastated by government mandated restrictions. From personal testimonials I’ve heard, the airlines have recovered somewhat from the early days when no one was flying at all. But tens of thousands of jobs have permanently been lost, revenues must be way down and one wonders whether the industry will ever recover.
What happens to these people? The flight crews, baggage handlers and ticket agents? Political entities toss proposals back and forth but further direct payments don’t seem to be the answer. When the government decisionmakers aren’t even sure if their mandates and restrictions even work, it’s difficult to say whether another round of closures will suppress the easily transmittable virus. Blue state governors arbitrarily set geographic lines between “zones”, supposedly to contain the outbreak. But what’s the difference between one bar or gym being able to operate in a “zone” and those similar entities a mile away must stay closed?
How will the business owners stay afloat? Will the promise of more federal money convince those who’ve already shut their doors for what they thought was a final time stay in business? And how does all of this affect the supply chain? If you can’t say whether you’ll even have a shop or restaurant a couple months down the road, do you still order food and/or merchandise?
While it’s possible to get another job, can kids get their years back too?
It isn’t just the owners and employees of businesses who are impacted. What about their kids? Millions of children have been staying at home staring at computer screens for hours a day for nine months now. Not only are they losing out academically from a lack of person-to-person contact with their teachers, they’re not making friends or advancing their social skills either, sometimes with tragic consequences. Additional time on social media or smart phones isn’t doing anyone any good. This one I know from personal experience.
How many afterschool clubs have been cancelled? How many science projects haven’t been assigned and completed? How many sports teams haven’t been formed? I’ve often told my kids that lessons learned from participation are equally vital to lifelong development as their classroom studies. How can this time ever be made up? How many memories from school dances haven’t been made? Or graduation ceremonies that didn’t take place? How about achievement awards and banquets? It goes on and on and on.
Then there’s discipline. Let’s face it, many of today’s kids get a sense of structure -- and discipline -- from being in school. With no teacher in proximity to monitor the fidgeting, doodling, distractions and truancy, what are the kids really learning? Is every kid an angel who doesn’t need even an occasional nudge to stay on the right path? (Yes, this is a rhetorical question.)
Should the kids who’ve been shut-ins care about the new administration’s focus on “racial justice” and “climate change”? Should their parents be gung-ho for Grampa Joe Biden’s plea for “unity” when they’re worried about where their next paycheck will come from? That’s not even mentioning the kids’ forced sequestration from friends and relatives in different households. If it’s true that the virus spares 99 percent of the people under 70 without serious comorbidities, was it worth it to sacrifice your livelihood and at least a year of your kids’ childhood to adhere to these quirky policies?
Shouldn’t there be a greater push for school choice, vouchers and home schooling (by choice)?
Finally, how much longer is this going to last? Because of the many unknowns from the virus, it can’t be determined whether the vaccine will be effective for months, years or permanently. Does this mean the population will be compelled to return for boosters or something like annual inoculations? Where does it end? And who pays for it? Will the government be on the dole for yearly re-vaccinations for hundreds of millions of people? Maybe a new federal department will be created to administer treatments?
Perhaps never before in history have we witnessed more direct outcomes from government policy than this year. With rulers telling citizens what to do, curbing their behavior, stifling their freedoms and ordering them to do or not to do, there’s no logical finishing point. Add the hard-to-fathom election and the picture only becomes fuzzier. There will come a time, years from now, when we look back and ask, why did we do this to ourselves?
I just hope by that time it isn’t too late to save humanity from the elites.
Communications technology enables the tyrants, but it also frees the people
If there’s anything positive to be garnered from the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s the fact people can stay in touch remotely and, in many cases, still remain productive. No doubt the number of commuting miles logged this year will be historically low.
But the forced separation has also revealed some other things. If America’s elite colleges and universities can conduct classes through computer cameras and zoom schedules, then why would parents feel the need to send their teens thousands of miles away only to have their heads filled with mush about “the root causes of racism” and “how capitalism created climate change” and “socialism’s cure for poverty.”
Or, “How the Soviet Union really got a bad rap.” And, “Karl Marx for dummies.”
Institutions of higher education have been deteriorating for decades but it’s taken an extreme situation like coronavirus lockdowns to fully realize it. If liberals and Democrats insist that well over a trillion dollars in cumulative student loan debt is a “crisis,” then they’d have to concede that one way to reduce or eliminate the burden is to force the schools to change and compete for students and dollars in the real world.
If students are graduating after four or five years of “instruction” without marketable skills, why bother sending them in the first place? The ruling class can always afford to give their youths the “college experience” if they so choose. The rest of the young people just want to make an honest living and lay a foundation for a future.
It makes a degree in gender studies seem that much more trivial, doesn’t it? And Antifa and Black Lives Matter will have to search harder to find disaffected morons to fill their ranks.
If it could be said that we’ve learned a lot about ourselves this year, the forced lessons should lead to changes and improvements in the areas that are still salvageable. Education and the workplace will never be the same after 2020, which makes it all the more challenging for liberals and the ruling class to keep us subverted forever.