The political philosophy of the founders was not predicated on overarching government. It was not based on some communitarian concept of shared responsibility and equal distribution of the fruits of our labor.
It was based on personal responsibility, the idea that we will rise or fall based on our own accomplishments and hard work. And the reason why we have been the most successful country in the history of the world is that the freedom and liberty once guaranteed by the Constitution enabled us to work harder and accomplish more.
And fail and die. But the stunning and unprecedented success of the country as a whole was accelerated by that uncertainty. You can call it chaos or disorder or a dozen other words, but it is an unavoidable result of freedom. We have to accept a degree of uncontrolled behavior and unexpected and sometimes dangerous events because we are (or were) a free people, who act in wildly different ways…in their own best interests.
Do you want to decrease crime? That’s easy. Violate our civil rights, gut the Constitution, search and seize at will, create a police state, and poof! Our crime rate will drop. Want to decrease automobile deaths? Just as easy! Put governors on every car, have real-time transmission of driving behavior that goes straight to the cops. Then the recalcitrant driver either gets fined or jailed. No trial.
Extrapolate that to diet and exercise and littering and medical care and the thousands of things we do because we want to, and others be damned, and our society will be calm and ordered and a total and dismal failure.
Destroying the economic security and success of millions of Americans to prevent a marginal increase in the death rate from seasonal disease is functionally identical to creating such a police state.
The warning from the nation’s top public health official was terrifying. “This is going to be our Pearl Harbor moment, our 9/11 moment, only it’s not going to be localized,” U.S. Surgeon General Jerome Adams said on Fox News last Sunday, referring to coming deaths due to the novel coronavirus. “It’s going to be happening all over the country. And I want America to understand that.”
Holy Week, Adams further cautioned, would be the “hardest and saddest week of most Americans’ lives.”
President Trump echoed Adams’ dire prediction. “We are coming up onto a time that’s going to be very horrendous, probably a time like we haven’t seen in this country,” Trump said from the White House on April 4. Instead of celebrating Easter and Passover this week, the president soberly admonished, Americans would instead see “some very bad numbers” about people succumbing to COVID-19.
We are a free people, and one of the trade-offs is that we must accept more uncertainty and chaos in return for that freedom. We cannot allow government to destroy our freedoms to save us from their convenient bogeymen*. This year it is Chinese Flu, next year it will be gun violence, the year after will be GMOs in our cereal, and on and on and on.
It is time to take back some modicum of control over our own lives. When government feels emboldened to tell us not worship as we see fit, not to associate with those whom we desire, not to go where we wish, then it is time to push back.
*We have always been at war with Eastasia. We have always been allies of Eurasia.