Liberty and the Corona Virus

Yes, the coronavirus situation is serious. And, yes, steps should/must be taken to control it and also to “flatten the curve.” But we first must understand that we should not put people in charge of our lives and welfare who are not held responsible for bad decisions, including decisions on liberty and economic freedoms. And government officials are not, so there is no balance! The answer is for the government to help to put accurate and timely information out into the marketplace and then treat people as adults – and hold them accountable for the decisions they make. So, for example, if people know they are contagious, they should be held civilly as well as criminally responsible for the assault and battery they inflict if they do not take effective steps to keep themselves from passing on the virus to others. And it also means that people who are older or who otherwise have health problems will have more incentives to “shelter” and protect themselves from contact with the general population. And all of us will have the obligations to be careful, for obvious reasons.

But we all must understand that the standard for people in government, including elected officials, is not to make decisions based upon liberty and economic realities and conditions. Instead, their political incentives are almost completely regarding health: i.e. not to have anyone get sick “on my watch.” So “I am looking out for your health” is basically the only political criterion. If governmental officials overdue their mandated precautions, they still politically look like they were caring and successful. And if people get sick and even die, “at least we did everything we could” is their political defense. So government officials still will not be held to blame. That is the nature of politics. In the meantime, companies will be forced by governmental decree to close down, with many not being able to survive. Many workers will lose their jobs and go broke, and tenants will not be able to pay their rent, which will also adversely affect landlords. And there will be no help in sight. Of course, some companies and some people will receive some money from government, but those results will be random, “cronyized” and insufficient. Furthermore, that is not beginning to take into account the maybe permanent effects upon our liberty if we blindly allow the government to dictate how, when and where we can live our lives. Bottom line: Yes, government does have an important part to play in situations like this. Provide that honest and timely information to us, including information and recommendations about voluntary “social distancing,” home isolation, and household quarantine, so that “We the People” can make intelligent decisions. That would also allow customers, shopkeepers, employees and all of the rest of us to make intelligent economic decisions, which is not happening under today’s governmental edicts. Another is for governments to use their resources to help medically where they can, such as providing military MASH teams and naval hospital ships. But, otherwise, once again we must understand, Government is not our Mother. The only valid and effective response is Liberty! Yes, the results will be imperfect, but they will result in a balance that is conspicuously missing by following today’s governmental edicts.

Quote for the week: “Socialism is a philosophy of failure, the creed of ignorance, and the gospel of envy.” Winston Churchill

Judge James P. Gray (Ret.)
Peace Corps Volunteer in Costa Rica (1966-68), Criminal Defense Attorney with U. S. Navy JAG (1972-75), Federal Prosecutor in Los Angeles (1975-78), Trial Court Judge in Orange County, California (1983-2008), and 2012 Libertarian candidate for Vice President, along with Governor Gary Johnson as the candidate for President.