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I may as well weigh-in now. I recently got a C-19 vaccine...of my own free will.
 
That said, I could not be more thoroughly opposed to the idea of a "vaccine passport." Such a doc or app, suddenly required for access for all manner of activities, would restrict Americans' everyday liberties. The potential for abuse of such a mechanism boggles the mind.
 
And while we're at it, the idea the federal government would create a tax that must be paid by those who opt not to get a vaccine is another abuse of power.
 
C-19 is a virulent virus. The pandemic should be, and it has been, taken seriously, and thankfully progress is being made. But C-19 is one health issue among many that threatens life. It should not be viewed or used--and it has been--as some ultimate big stick that trumps all other considerations, especially fundamental civil liberties in a free society.
 

© Rex M. Rogers – All Rights Reserved, 2021    

*This blog may be reproduced in whole or in part with a full attribution statement. Contact me or read more commentary on current issues and events at www.rexmrogers.com/, or connect with me at www.linkedin.com/in/rexmrogers.    

From the moment we first heard of the coronavirus, media have provided us with a daily presentation of the nature, threat, global progress, and for some, deadly effect of the pandemic. 

With more than 119 million worldwide and about 30 million in the United States listed as confirmed cases and over 2.6 million deaths worldwide and over 535,000 deaths in the United States, clearly it is a virulent disease.

I

For much of year 2020 we heard the pandemic described as “unprecedented,” but while the coronavirus pandemic may be the greatest physical ailment to attack humanity in our lifetime, pandemics are really not unprecedented. Historically, whether the bubonic plague or the Spanish flu, great illnesses have periodically infected the human race.

II

Media, with many politicians as willing accomplices, has also treated us to a steady drumbeat of fear. In saying this, I’m not belittling people’s genuine anxieties or their legitimate concern for the elderly or other highly vulnerable loved ones. I’m simply saying media knows fear sells, so to speak, and knows it’s a good business plan for their channels to hype the threat. There’s no question this approach has heightened peoples’ mental stress. Extensive coverage of the pandemic on social media also increases people’s stress.

III

Meanwhile, overreaching government in the U.S. and around the world has leveraged the pandemic to increase political power, e.g., tapping into state emergency powers laws to introduce a steady string of “executive orders” that limited freedom, undermined civil liberties, curtailed dissent or silenced reporting all to reinforce “public safety.” 

IV

Politicians, especially executives, want to appear to be in charge. They and their supporters and to some extent the general public want them to “do something.” But what do they do in the face of a pandemic? They begin issuing a series of behavioral orders, ostensibly to “flatten the curve” or “save hospital beds” or “slow the spread” or “save lives”…  In Michigan and California, for example, these orders became increasingly obtrusive and, because politicians are not omniscient, inevitably inconsistent, contradictory, and for some, lacking common sense. Why? Because governors and public health officials play God but can’t pull off the role. 

Then there is the politics of COVID. Governments issued a string of propagandistic statements encouraging behaviors in the name of public health, like “We’re all in this together,” “Stay at home, save lives,” “Stay six feet apart,” “Wear a mask,” “Wash your hands,” “Hands, face, space.” There is nothing wrong with these statements per se. But they can become a problem when they’re promoted with religious zeal as a new unquestioned orthodoxy, about which if you disagree or act differently, you will reap some sort of dire condemnation. In this regard, these statements become big sticks to control the public.

VI

Worse, officials in several states eventually were caught violating their own policies, as if somehow such rules were for the masses and not for them the philosopher-kings. Some visited restaurants (CA Governor Gavin Newsom; RI Governor Gina Raimondo), got their hair done in salons (Speaker Nancy Pelosi), traveled to other homes or events (MI Governor Gretchen Whitmer), held gatherings (White House Coordinator of COVID Response Dr. Deborah Birx), and more. This kind of hypocrisy only undermines public confidence.

VII

Government leaders have acted as if their COVID restrictions—lockdowns, stay at home orders—occurred in a vacuum with no side-effects. Somehow, for example, governors seem to think they could require children to stay home from school to protect them from the virus yet not incur any other downsides. Actually, though, there are an enormous number of confounding variables (those that always exist but are not usually foreseen yet affect the independent and dependent variables in an experiment) and unintended consequences. We’re just now beginning to understand the huge personal, social, economic ripple effects COVID-19 lockdowns have unleashed. Some are calling these restrictions the biggest mistake in human history.


I say “unintended consequences” because I’m not accusing politicians of malicious behavior or purposefully malevolent actions. I’m just noting, again, that politicians are not omniscient, so what they do in their effort to create in essence planned economies do not work.  Planned economies have never worked. Among the unintended consequences of government pandemic lockdowns are increases in:

  • domestic, child abuse.
  • mental health problems.
  • drug and substance addiction.
  • suicides
  • unemployment and underemployment.
  • poverty.
  • hunger.

In addition, children and youth have experiencing a year of lost education. And children are damaged by social isolation.

VIII

Another and I’d say the most serious impact of government response to the pandemic has been the repression of freedom of speech, including curtailing or silencing dissent, and threats to religious liberty, in the name of public safety. While this voracious virus, bad though it is, is short-term, the loss of liberties can be long-term and of much more significant impact upon the future of free societies.  

IX

And it hasn’t just been government politicians willingly using the virus to wield power. It’s been people willing to trade freedom for perceived securityThis is a cultural trend that was well underway before the pandemic hit, but Year 2020 saw this writ large. 

This is something the late Francis A. Schaeffer warned us about in the 1970s: “I believe the majority of the silent majority, young and old will sustain the loss of liberties without raising their voices as long as their own life-styles are not threatened. And since personal peace and affluence are so often the only values that count with the majority, politicians know that to be elected they must promise these things. Politics has largely become not a matter of ideals–increasingly men and women are not stirred by the values of liberty and truth–but of supplying a constituency with a frosting of personal peace and affluence. They know that voices will not be raised as long as people have these things, or at least an illusion of them.” Growing authoritarianism, he said, arises out of desperate people given to self-interest.

X

A related freedom issue is Big Tech’s selective censorship of any content it deemed “misinformation” or “dangerous” vis-à-vis the “prevailing acceptable narrative,” particularly concerning the pandemic. Big Tech has acted in a similar fashion re partisan and ideological politics, so this is also a cultural trend that’s bigger than the pandemic. But with its actions, Big Tech affirmed a kind of monolithic COVID orthodoxy that must not be questioned, thus curtailing the free exchange of ideas. Big Tech has also threatened religious liberty, not with anti-religious statements but in suppressing religious posts or videos a committee working with Facebook’s “Community Standards” (which are not all bad or wrong) decides is somehow unacceptable. 

“The argument is made that First Amendment speech protections only pertain to government action, not private companies. But technology has enabled a concentration of private power not previously imagined. The Communications Decency Act could be amended such that speech on technology platforms receives the same protections as all speech protected by the First Amendment.”

“In no “free” society can mass censorship, by government or the private sector, be considered a positive trait. History teaches us that when censorship occurs, authoritarianism is not far behind.”

Some states are now finally beginning to push back. Let’s hope their efforts are the beginning of a trend to curtail the excesses of the Big Tech monopoly.

I don’t claim to have identified all the negative side-effects that have resulted from COVID politics in 2020-2021, only highlights. There are more that we’ll come to understand with the passing of time. Hopefully, we’ll consider them objectively.

But for now, chaos, confusion, irresponsible and hysterical media, opportunistic politicians, we’ve seen it all. The pandemic has brought out the best, the noble in some of us, and the worst, the ignoble in a lot of us, particularly among the ruling elite and the tech oligarchs of Silcon Valley.

Sometime in the not-too-distant future, COVID-19 will pass as other plagues, afflictions, and pandemics before it have passed. But it remains to be seen if or when the steady increase of government power and consequent loss of individual freedom in the United States will be stopped or reversed. Pray that it will, for the future of this free society depends upon it.

 

© Rex M. Rogers – All Rights Reserved, 2021    

*This blog may be reproduced in whole or in part with a full attribution statement. Contact me or read more commentary on current issues and events at www.rexmrogers.com/, or connect with me at www.linkedin.com/in/rexmrogers.    

1-Why did Al Michaels and Chris Collinsworth have to wear masks on Sun, NBC football coverage while Joe Buck and Troy Aikman, on Mon, Fox did not?

2-Why were 20,000+ fans allowed in the stadium for Alabama vs Georgia in Tuscaloosa Sat night, nearly 25,000 fans Mon for Cowboys and Cardinals in Dallas, about 6,000 for Steelers and Browns in Pittsburgh Sun, while in Buffalo tonight for Bills and Chiefs no fans were permitted in the stands?

3-How do so few, ie., No, fans cheer and boo so loudly?

4-What health logic requires officials and coaches to wear masks but allows 45 players on each team to play or stand on the sidelines without masks?

5-What health logic requires officials and coaches to wear masks but allows 45 players on each team to play or stand on the sidelines without masks?

6-Early on, we were told to trust WHO and CDC, and now we’re still being told by politicians we must continue to trust the scientists while extending lockdowns or other restrictions in some states, like no fans at games, yet WHO now says lockdowns were dangerous to health and CDC tells us this virus has a 95-99% survival rate, and this is for people who actually catch the virus? 

***People’s willingness, even seeming eagerness at times, to embrace or ignore the innumerable contradictions of this coronavirus experience continues to baffle me.

 

© Rex M. Rogers – All Rights Reserved, 2020    

*This blog may be reproduced in whole or in part with a full attribution statement. Contact me or read more commentary on current issues and events at www.rexmrogers.com/, or connect with me at www.linkedin.com/in/rexmrogers.    

If the pandemic mask mandates and lockdowns we’ve endured since March were ever really about science and public health, they are no more.

“Trust the experts or science,” we’re told, but which experts, what science, and why trust them at all if indeed mask mandates and lockdowns don’t accomplish much other virtue signaling or destroying economies?

Multiple, credible medical scientists and even now the WHO say lockdowns are not effective in stopping the spread of the Coronavirus and, on top of this, are creating other collateral damage like greater negative impact upon impoverished people.  

Scientists are saying, “’Coming from both the left and right, and around the world, we have devoted our careers to protecting people,’ said the declaration. ‘Current lockdown policies are producing devastating effects on short and long-term public health.’ They include ‘lower childhood vaccination rates, worsening cardiovascular disease outcomes, fewer cancer screenings and deteriorating mental health—leading to greater excess mortality in years to come.’”

‘Keeping these measures in place until a vaccine is available will cause irreparable damage, with the underprivileged disproportionately harmed.’”

Yet still, state governors like Michigan’s Governor Gretchen Whitmer and California’s Governor Gavin Newsom persist in introducing new draconian measures mandating statewide masks, even outdoors, keeping churches closed, and pushing schools to keep tens of thousands of students at home.

Gov. Whitmer’s 160 plus executive orders were tossed out by the Michigan State Supreme Court, which said her use of emergency powers was unconstitutional. She, of course, merely shifted her argument to other state laws and accused the court of partisanship. 

Gov. Newsome’s latest attempt to play doctor occurred last week when his office tweeted a reminder to those going out to dinner to “keep your mask on in between bites.”

WHO weighed-in, finally, stating, “We in the World Health Organization do not advocate lockdowns as the primary means of control of this virus.” To say this is late to the party is an understatement.

There is no end in sight to governors and mayors acting as health czars, unless the presidential election brings a change.  First, masks, stay at home, and lockdowns were necessary to “flatten the curve.” Then these measures would “save lives.” Then it was “until there is a vaccine.” Then it was no longer just C-19 but “flu season,” meaning any rationale will do. Meanwhile, doctors worldwide are recording more deaths due to lockdowns than to the virus.

The economic impact of the unnecessary lockdowns has been devastating. “About 60 percent of US businesses closed since the beginning of March will never again reopen.” 

Many of the consequences listed here will take years to analyze and document, but we’ve seen glimpses of more immediate unintended consequences already: rampant suicidesurging drug overdoses, increases in domestic violence, economic destruction, and many others.

None of these consequences were intended when lawmakers passed sweeping lockdowns, but that does not make them less real. Nor do pure intentions absolve lawmakers of responsibility.

The famed economist Milton Friedman once observed that perhaps the greatest threat to liberty comes ‘from men of good intentions and good will who wish to reform us.’

In this case, the well-intentioned seek not to reform us but to protect us. But as Friedman noted, ‘concentrated power is not rendered harmless by the good intentions of those who create it.’” 

The problems with mask mandates and pandemic lockdowns now form a long list. Yet political leaders continue to argue vigorously and at times self-righteously that this show—their show—must go on. Why?

  1. Trust the science – but scientists and medical professionals are not in agreement, and many now argue against masks and lockdowns. Yet political leaders and much of mainstream media ignore this.
  2. Mask and lockdowns do not work – they have not actually stopped the spread of the virus, have not appreciably reduced infection or death rates, and do not accomplish what proponents claim with religious fervor.
  3. Mask mandates and lockdowns are arguably not needed for a virus, that is yes deadly for some, still moving through populations with a 95-99% survival rate.
  4. Lockdowns are destroying businesses, peoples’ livelihoods, entire economies, and they are creating other negative social and health side-effects, confounding variables, and unintended consequences like increased suicides and greater mortality due to lack of medical care.
  5. Lockdown restrictions may be more about partisan advantage than public health. 
  6. Lockdowns are in numerous instances unconstitutional and have violated Americans’ civil liberties. 
  7. Lockdowns and the mentality they create are a threat long-term to political liberty.

Masks and lockdowns don’t work, cause other problems, may be leveraged in biased ways, and are a threat to liberty, so I strongly recommend states and localities stop the lockdowns now. 

No more cherry-picking scientific data to reinforce one’s biases. 

No more mask mandates, just people with information using common sense to care for their own health and that of others.

No more closed businesses and fines, just businesses functioning in a free economy.

No more political leaders acting like public health czars to further their careers or party politics.

No more planned economies, just American people acting freely in the best interests of themselves, their families, and communities.

 

© Rex M. Rogers – All Rights Reserved, 2020    

*This blog may be reproduced in whole or in part with a full attribution statement. Contact me or read more commentary on current issues and events at www.rexmrogers.com/, or connect with me at www.linkedin.com/in/rexmrogers.    

Governors have never met an Executive Order they don’t like. Now they’re using the word “indefinitely” on the end of mask mandates, lockdown restrictions, and social distancing requirements.

Mayors, public health officials, and several city councils have done the same. 

34 states now have statewide mask mandates in effect, including Republican strongholds like Alabama, Louisiana, and Texas. Of the holdouts, many are less populated rural ones, although there are notable exceptions. Arizona, Florida, and Georgia have all resisted statewide mandates thus far despite suffering sizable outbreaks, although in AZ and TX the governor has allowed local jurisdictions to issue their own orders, which means many state residents are under a mask mandate anyway. And in Georgia it looks like Brian Kemp is about to drop his lawsuit to prevent cities from issuing mandates, so lots of state residents there should soon be under orders to wear one as well…86 percent of Americans are now wearing masks indoors around other people according to Gallup.”

Michigan’s Governor Gretchen Whitmer adopted a different take on “indefinitely,” expanding her power by declaring racism a “public health crisis,” meaning she is now free to use state emergency powers to engage in whatever limitless meddling she wishes to force state employees and perhaps citizens to do her bidding du jour. 

Tyranny, what some call “corona fascism,” comes in many forms and apparently in the United States today its best suit is “public health.” It goes like this. 

  • Identify a virus, 
  • Scare the public via hysterical media, 
  • Opportunistic politicians then issue draconian executive public health orders qua restrictions, shutting down the economy and increasingly everyday life, 
  • Keep changing the goalposts: flatten the curve, have enough beds in hospitals, avoid a second spike, until we get a vaccine, till everyone is safe, so that state and local officials continue to have a reason, in their view, to issue “orders,’
  • Use chaos created by race riots to advance governmental power and control, not over the rioters but over citizens, 
  • Point to science constantly but then ignore science or any consistency by approving, even encouraging, protests for “racial justice” even while continuing to restrict houses of worship, businesses, and more.
  • Insert the word “Indefinitely” to assure the government executive stays “in charge.”

Sports, fairs, concerts, and other public events have now been cancelled well into 2021. Schools and universities are in a condemned if you do, condemned if you don’t scenario with students caught in the middle. 

Ambiguity not confidence is the watchword for our economy if not ever day life.

Meanwhile, we’ve yet to hear reasonable explanations:

  • why COVID-19 is worse and more threatening than a host of other viruses and illnesses that continue to infect people,
  • why lockdowns and cancellations must continue if indeed wearing masks and social distancing are effective, or vice versa,
  • why unilateral actions re COVID-19 somehow do not create a host of collateral damage, some more serious than the virus threat,
  • what the real endgame looks like, other than “Indefinitely.”

Fear is not a worthy substitute for Freedom.  Lockdowns should cease, schools should reopen, sports seasons should be rescheduled, and people should get on with their lives.

Ronald Reagan said, “Government's first duty is to protect the people, not run their lives.”  I agree, wholeheartedly.  

 

© Rex M. Rogers – All Rights Reserved, 2020    

*This blog may be reproduced in whole or in part with a full attribution statement. Contact me or read more commentary on current issues and events at www.rexmrogers.com/, or connect with me at www.linkedin.com/in/rexmrogers.    

Bill Maher is not my Go-To guy, and I probably disagree with 90% of his views, especially his anti-religious worldview (He says he believes "in a force" but not religious "bureaucracy"), but his commitment to freedom of speech and open discussion is now rare on the Left, as is the point expressed here. In this 2:03 min video he speaks more common sense than I've heard from politicians, Left or Right, in three months. But he gives God no credit for the human immune system.

I still think it's interesting that Maher, Jerry Seinfeld, and Chris Rock all stopped taking public university gigs because in this era of political correctness and self-righteous "silencing" of all with whom one disagrees the university students, faculty, and administrations couldn't handle their (free speech, crude, over-the-edge) jokes...and these guys are capital L Left. No wonder Condi Rice and a few like her also gave up on most university gigs, or I should say universities cancelled or stopped inviting anyone deemed potentially "offensive."

© Rex M. Rogers – All Rights Reserved, 2020    

*This blog may be reproduced in whole or in part with a full attribution statement. Contact me or read more commentary on current issues and events at www.rexmrogers.com/, or connect with me at www.linkedin.com/in/rexmrogers.