A guest post by Tom Darby from the Ale81Inn
Social distancing is hardly a new phenomenon for me. I’ve been practicing it for years and can heartily extol the benefits derived from such a life. I completely understand that it is not for everyone, especially when it is not a matter of one’s own choice. We have a new truism introduced in the midst of the latest crisis, one akin to the ubiquitous “it is what it is”. We’re all in this together. One should ask, is this in fact true?
There is an awful lot that we still don’t know. There is undeniably a wealth of information made available through nearly every conceivable outlet, yet even the very best of it has to be qualified by the caution “based upon what we know right now”. This term imparts the tacit admission that there is incomplete data. We know this. What we do not know is how incomplete. It would be irresponsible hyperbole to suggest that we are flying blind. It would be humbly honest to say that we are at the very least flying while visually impaired. As a nation we find ourselves as the passengers on a craft that has lost all of it’s instruments and communications with the tower. We are left to trust that the crew is capable of putting us all back on the ground in one piece without the benefit of these vital tools.
Let us remain for a moment longer within this aircraft analogy. Were we discussing an actual passenger plane in these circumstances we might safely assume that the crew embarked on this flight with all of their normal tools intact. This is a mid-flight adjustment, where they must revert to experience and training. One should like to think that, for an example, if the pilot were to encounter an unanticipated turbulence they should be skilled enough not to overcompensate and send the plane into a tailspin. It remains vital to do those things necessary to keep the plane aloft until a safe landing can be charted. Though this may not contribute to the landing, it is no less true and there is no harm in saying so.
It is fair to say that crises are by their very nature situations in which one scarcely has the luxury of doing nothing. These are circumstances tailor made for errors to occur; errors which may only be judged by the degree to which they are manifest. If we are to follow that formula then we must take the example of overcompensating into a tailspin as a cautionary tale. It has already been stated in other terms: let’s not have the cure be worse than the disease. Though it may be perilously premature to say it, I for one suspect that we may have already passed that mark.
It would be foolhardy to presume that a pandemic event of this magnitude should not cause a temporary disruption of commerce, but this? Even World War I continued apace through the last comparable pandemic, the great Spanish Influenza of a century ago. For as bad as this virus has proven to be, the fatalities as they are currently trending will pale in comparison. Advances in medicine and a vastly improved communications network to aid epidemiology can account for fewer fatalities. When weighing the factor of a substantially greater world population and increased international travel one might safely conclude that the two events are at least equals in their severity. We can drill down into the statistics once this is all over to be certain.
While first responders, nurses and doctors employ their medical skills in the public health battle, public policy makers and state authorities are prescribing their own economic medicine. Like that first course of chemo in an aggressive cancer treatment they have in fact poisoned the entire body to combat the illness. In an age when annual budget deficits routinely push against one trillion dollars there seems to be little forethought given to the rapid passage of a “relief package” of two and one half times that. Before one has even begun to digest this there is already talk, serious talk, of still another trillion and one half more. For all of the alarm bells this should sound it is not the worst deficit that we face. It is the deficit of trust in our government, both federal and local; indeed, a well deserved mistrust for nearly all of our public institutions.
When crises of national or statewide level occur they become national and statewide problems for whomsoever happens to be in charge. It should really come as little surprise that those in charge should move with all haste to exercise what are statist solutions to the problem. As the acting authority for what is a state mechanism, be it local or federal, they are by definition statists. To be fair there are some who are acting as statists out of necessity, being caught within the boundaries of the current state and it’s accepted role. The majority of those who inhabit this establishment are statists by choice; it is their creed. It is how they have acquired and maintained their power. These are the people who populate our many state and federal bureaus. By their fruits shall ye know them.
Some may well ask “Is this the SHTF moment?” I for one do not believe that it is. This is a dress rehearsal. How does that old maxim go? Past performance is predictive of future performance? Statists are entirely predictable in their actions, or more properly, their reactions. In a crisis the statist makes three calculations in their response. First, how do I get ahead of this? What actions must be taken to assure I will share no part in the blame? This is known broadly as the CYA factor. This of course includes the obfuscation of any facts which would confirm that the party is indeed entitled to a share, if not all of the blame.
The second calculation is, how might I benefit from this politically? Is it a chance to play hero? Does it give me some leverage to gain something that might otherwise be unattainable? This is known broadly as the never let a good crisis go to waste factor.
The third calculation comes in the form of two options. In the event that there may be severe and lasting repercussions, is there A: someone else who can be blamed, or B: if no immediate blame or remedy is available, can the consequences be delayed? This is known broadly as the kick the can down the road factor.
In even their most benign moments public officials act as they do in order to say that they are actually doing something. Anything. Then further energies are spent convincing a wary populace that they are in fact doing something for them, not to them. To keep things within the confines of experience for our younger audience, let us consider just since the start of the 21st century. First big crisis? Why 911, of course! In response we got? Expansion of the surveillance state, an open ended “authorization of force” that still has us enmeshed in the Middle East, and my own personal favorite, the TSA. Do you feel safer?
Then we had the big crash of 2008. You remember. We have GOT to vote for this bank bailout or the entire economy is going to collapse. How about you? Did you get a bailout? I didn’t either. And just a few short months later there was the Obama stimulus package, also just south of a trillion dollars. The unions got bailed out. And the auto manufacturers. Did you get any of that? I didn’t either.
I do not subscribe to those theories that 911 was a government job. With an existing class of career personnel in military and surveillance, who in all likelihood already craved bigger budgets and expanded authority, 911 served as a bullet proof opportunity. Once this was gained we were wired for perpetual war. Not for that stated purpose of victory. War is big business. There is no better vehicle for laundering dirty money. It doesn’t require a conspiracy for this to occur. Universal solutions, no matter their consequences, are executed for the convenience and the self aggrandizement of the governing class. If you’re paying attention you should note that in each of the examples provided the beneficiaries of favor are in institutions which aid in keeping the authority of the state in place. Not you. Not me. Probably not anyone either of us know.
Now likewise I will not fall prey to the temptation of deeming this whole thing as a “plandemic”. It is because of that very deficit of trust in our authorities that we must even entertain such ideas. It makes for an interesting, and sadly plausible narrative, but again there is no conspiracy required. There is a class of jackals and vultures in waiting for every such event. It is something that was loosed and got out of control. It has from that moment forward been exploited to the maximum benefit of those with other motives. Just like every other crisis, real or imagined.
Covid 19, Wuhan Flu, Corona virus, whatever the hell we are calling this thing this week, is not a national crisis. It is an urban crisis, of a legitimate acute concern in high population centers where a spike in the load of infected could temporarily overwhelm local health facilities. Keyword: Could. I do not deny a cause for concern, nor do I discount the cautionary measures. The concerns and cautions need to be applied specifically where they are most needed, not universally. When these decisions are left in the hands of people whose default logic is the statist solution to any problem, the universal solution is always the one which prevails. You know. Like frisking an 87 year old woman in a wheelchair getting on to her flight for Boca. Are you sure you don’t feel safer?
What we are seeing is no longer about the virus. It is about another sickness that dwells in our midst. I referred earlier to a dress rehearsal. It is a half-dressed rehearsal; not a full blown naked power grab. More of a topless with pasties power grab. Let’s see how far we can take this before the bulls come in and shut us down. Pay careful heed to these public authorities, to the things they have done and said in response to the crisis. There will still be an election in November. You may arrive at the election still not certain about which candidate has your back. If you’ve taken anything from this entire debacle you know for absolute certain which ones do not.
Every panicked, over reaching government ordered shutdown was excused as a means necessary to limit exposure. Put in those terms one can fairly say that this is not a lie. It just fails to disclose that the exposure they are most concerned with is their own. They don’t care about me, or you. Any of you. The government is never your friend, at the end of the day you are alone. It is all on you. They know it. It’s what they are afraid of. Hopefully, now, more of you know it too. Some things are going to have to change, or you can all get used to a lot more of this.