Dear Editor:

Who would have ever thought that in the United States of America, a bastion of freedom in the world, armed agents of the government would enter a church service, charge the minister with a crime for conducting the services, actually stop the worshiping, and make note of the attendees? That armed agents of the government would stop people moving freely about on public roadways to ascertain where they have been, where they are going, and determine if their moving about was a crime? That armed agents of the government would arrest and jail people for being outside of their homes in public places? That armed agents of the government would enter a private business and shut it down because the government decided that business was no longer important or necessary? That armed agents of the government would arrest and jail the proprietor of a business that he or she is operating after the government deemed that business could not open? That the government decides where and when the people may travel, how many people may congregate at one time, and even how close the people may be to one another? That government officials on their own decide what the people may do, where they may shop, even what they buy, and where they may travel? That government officials on their own decide what the punishment is for failure to obey their very own orders?

All of those things have happened in the last six months or are happening now. Of course, these arbitrary suspensions of our rights, guaranteed by the Constitution of the United Sates and the Bill of Rights contained therein, are for "public safety." The internment (incarceration is a better term) at the onset of the United States' involvement in World War II of over 120,000 Japanese Americans, most of whom were United Sates citizens, was for "public safety." The Decree of the Reich President for the Protection of People and State issued by the German government in 1933 suspended the rights of German citizens and brought the Nazis into a tighter control of the German government was for "public safety." The 18"' Amendment to the Constitution of the United States that abolished alcohol manufacturing and sales was for "public safety."

Make no mistake. The COVID-19 virus is dangerous. It is an invisible killer. Apparently, it is easily spread person to person even by people who have the virus but have no symptoms and therefore would have no way of knowing they are contagious. The COVID-19 virus will eventually infect vast numbers of the human race, although the majority will exhibit no symptoms or have mild symptoms and fully recover. In very recent memory, the bird flu, swine flu, SARS, EBOLA, and MARS were all new viruses, like COVID-19, and spread through the human race and were also killers. Each winter, other viruses infect enormous numbers of the human race, and they too are killers. The government's reaction to these viral killer infections is greatly different than its reaction to the COVID-19 viral killer infection. Why?

Make no mistake. It is the government's responsibility to provide a safe and orderly society and to protect its citizens. In fact, that is the purpose of a democratic government. Some would argue it is the sole responsibility and purpose. That is why we have military forces, police, fire departments, and hospitals. Protect the people who cannot protect themselves. Care for people who cannot care for themselves. Provide for the people who cannot provide for themselves. But at what cost? Do the people who can and will protect themselves from this virus need the government's protection from the virus?

Is there a cost of human lives that is acceptable? And beyond that point the loss of life is unacceptable and life saving measures must be implemented? If the government's purpose is to protect its people from this virus, why has it chosen to ignore other dangers to the people? During the oil embargo of the 1970's, a national speed limit of 55 MPH was imposed. When that speed limit was lifted, traffic deaths rose almost 4%. Today, a 55 MPH national speed limit could conceivably save thousands of lives each year. But we are allowed to travel along the highways, reaching our destinations faster, killing people in the process. Are those lives expendable? Apparently! Simply reducing the speed limit on highways would save these lives. Each year the common flu kills 30,000 or more. Are those lives expendable? Apparently!If the draconian measures implemented to combat COVID-19 are valid, then using them to combat the flu would save many, if not most, of those people. One can only deduce that the saving of these tens of thousands of lives each year is too disruptive to American society, so government authorities have not implemented any life saving measures.

However, when it comes to combating COVID-19, apparently another set of standards apply. Shutting down an entire society and economy, throwing people into poverty and destroying industries as well as large and small businesses, is appropriate to save many lives- some that may well ultimately be lost to excessive speed or tl1e flu. Apparently, the suspension of civil rights, the placing of people on what amounts to house arrest constitutes a proper response to COVID-19, the invisible invader and killer. The government's battle against the virus includes financial relief totaling trillions of dollars that the government does not have, so the money is borrowed or financed through the sale of government bonds. The irony cannot be lost that most of the bonds are bought by the Chinese where the virus started.

When the battle against the virus has at least subdued, but hopefully ended, and life has returned to a new normal, this crisis will be written in history books and studied for generations. Political scientists will study the political ramifications and its affect on the yet to be held elections. Legal scholars will debate the arbitrary suspension of constitutional rights as well as government officials' issuance of directives, and the penalties for disobeying. Psychologists and sociologists will expand on how we as a society and individuals reacted to our forced temporary life. Medical professionals, with the power of hindsight, will write about how effective their efforts were and what could have been done differently.

Until the virus danger is clearly in the rear view mirror, all anyone can do is decide while considering the recommendations of health care professionals whether from a government agency or their own health care provider what level of precaution they deem appropriate, follow reluctantly or otherwise whatever mandatory rules are imposed by their government, and hope their decision protects them and their family. No one wants to become one of the government's expendable lives.


Wayne Whitelaw



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