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Voices in my head

March 31, 2020

How much is too much, or how much is not enough, when it comes to a response to the current pandemic? That’s only an easy question to answer if we take a one dimensional view of things. If a single goal, whether that is controlling the spread of the disease or keeping the economy running (or any other single thing) becomes the goal, then decisions are easy to make. Clearly, they must not only favor one over the other, but must do so overwhelmingly. Real life, though, is seldom so simple.

As of three days ago, four states,  Texas, Rhode Island, Massachusetts and Florida, have, as Politico puts it, “ordered 14-day quarantines for some or all travelers arriving from other states.” There is a problem with such orders.

Look, I am a registered nurse. I recognize the importance of limiting exposure to potentially infected people as we attempt to get a handle on this thing. Ask me to stay home and limit my travel as a means of doing that and I will almost certainly agree. In fact, I was already doing so. But that’s not the entirety of the story. Stopping people based on their license plate(s)? Really? Is there some belief that such a thing will survive the inevitable court challenge?

I am a Christian. Even so, I understand that holding services is not a good idea. I support the decision by the congregation of which I am a part to go to online services at this time. But telling churches and synagogues that if they defy orders to not assemble they face the possibility of being permanently closed? Again, really?

Locally, there is a “limited shelter in place” order in effect. Fine. Like I said, I’m inclined to do that, anyway. Reports, however, are beginning to arise that suggest the mayor has said failure to comply could result in not only fines, but ankle monitors and police parked outside the homes of the non-compliant. Really?

Politicians are discovering, once again, that Americans do not always respond well to being ordered to do something.

All of which gets me to the voice in my head. The basic concept of limiting exposure so as to slow the spread of the virus makes sense. It’s the application that’s the problem. Government, by its very nature, backs up laws and emergency orders with the threat(s) of force. Failure to comply seems to bring out the inner authoritarian in a lot of people. Maybe that’s why, when I read or hear comments by various government officials, that much of what I hear sounds like this: “You vill now comply with ze orders und stay in your house. Failure to comply vill result in…consequences.”

As with many things, the devil is in the details.

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One Comment
  1. OldNFO permalink

    And the ‘devil’ usually comes OUT in the details…

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