Indignation contagion

By Steve Woodward

Masks are being worn by compliant citizens in our community at an ever increasing rate. Some motorists are even donning masks while driving. In their own vehicles. Without passengers.

masksThe upside to this rather odd habit is that said drivers are masking expressions of indignation, which has become a permanent facial condition for many. Even as the Wuhan Virus continues to disrupt daily life and destroy small businesses, a secondary illness has come to the fore — staggering numbers are foregoing personal freedom and unalienable rights in the name of “safety”. Stay safe. What does it mean? Nobody really knows. But it’s the right thing to say in “uncertain times”, apparently. A media driven narrative strikes again. Those who do not assume safety is a birthright have targets on our backs.

The presumption of safety and the delusion of certainty are woven more deeply into the fabric of the American culture than we knew, as demonstrated by the hysteria and tyranny-to-the-rescue solutions of recent weeks. The United States was not founded on either presumption. In fact, it could not have been founded by men paralyzed by fear. They viewed the world in quite opposite terms. Thomas Jefferson specified a preference for dangerous freedom over peaceful slavery.

A tee shirt enshrining Jefferson’s words can be purchased via Amazon. Sadly, fewer Americans than ever seem inclined to wear one. It now appears certain that the weapons unleashed to battle the Wuhan Virus will remain intact long after virus hysteria has subsided. Democrat governors such as North Carolina’s Roy Cooper will feed on a permanent indignant class that embraces peaceful slavery in the name of safety.

Masks forever. Social distancing as a norm. No handshakes. No hugs. No salad bars. No buffets. Permanent requirements to register body temperatures of airline passengers and sports fans. No high fives, or low fives. No church communion. And these are merely the behavioral issues that some will want to impose, even absent edicts from Democrat lawmakers. Just because they know best.

The comfortably enslaved also will cheer for punishing lawsuits post-Wuhan aimed at everything imaginable, but especially products and companies that might have exposed innocent souls to the “deadly” virus. Also: higher hourly wages for employees of businesses that were bailed out (and falsely presumed to be awash with cash); or, permanent $600-a-week federal unemployment benefits for those who prefer to make a minimum of $15 per hour by staying at home. Which raises another one. Staying at home as a way of life? Just in case. No cozy cafes. No theaters. No street fairs. No cruise ships. No pilates classes. Heck, no classes, period.

A government large enough to give you everything we (think we) need, including absolute safety via rolling quarantines, is large enough to take everything we have, materially and ideologically, especially if we fail to stand up to it.

“The absolute worst part of the COVID-19 pandemic, and possibly its most unrecoverable damage, is the massive power that Americans have given to their federal, state and local governments to regulate our lives in the name of protecting our health,” writes syndicated columnist and George Mason University economics professor Walter E. Williams. “Taking back that power should be the most urgent component of our recovery efforts.”

Aided by hysterical throngs, Democrat governors Cooper, Andrew Cuomo (NY), Gavin Newsom (CA), Ralph Northam (VA) and Gretchen Whitmer (MI), to name some of the worst, are demonstrating they will be hesitant to relinquish the power they’ve claimed in recent weeks. In Michigan, a Republican-led legislature filed suit May 6 against Whitmer, seeking to force an end to orders that have closed down many nonessential businesses and largely confined residents to their homes. Whitmer is a power grabber.

In California, Newsom faces no such legal challenge. Knowing that, he moved the goalposts this week just as restrictions on citizens and the economy were about to ease. He declared nothing will be normal until such time as immunity to and a vaccine against the Wuhan Virus becomes reality. Newsom encouraged counties to override any easing of behavioral restrictions as they see fit. He has ceded martial law to the counties. Now that’s leadership.

Will Cooper be next? Friday, North Carolina enters “Phase One” of his plan to re-open the state’s economy. This will “allow” more retail activity for small businesses, but it keeps restaurants closed for at least two more weeks. Restaurant owners are pleading with Republicans in the North Carolina General Assembly to help, but they have largely been met with silence. Lawmakers simply do not seem to have the will to take on the indignant class, which clearly has drawn people from both parties. They know best.

The reality is that freedom, too, is essential to health and welfare and is far more powerful than government responses to a pandemic. This was driven home by a letter in the Wall Street Journal by a Michigan reader. He quoted patriot John Locke: “This freedom from absolute, arbitrary power, is so necessary to, and closely joined with a man’s preservation, that he cannot part with it.”

World history largely has been defined by human suffering, plague and tyranny. The American experiment proves that this does not have to be. Those who will yield everything to government to achieve “safety” in the 21st century ignore this history. Draw the battle lines. Let’s get on with it.

Pre-socialism

By Steve Woodward

It’s the most wonderful time of the year (to be a member of the ruling government elite). It’s the end of another long year (for the thousands of Americans who live in the shadows, in despair, far removed from anything wonderful).

Here in Moore County we are surrounded by poverty within rural hamlets that are so close and yet so far. So far removed from our daily lives. So frequently ignored. But in Moore, and across North Carolina generally, we take on poverty across political lines through many faith-based and charitable organizations committed to providing services and hope to those in need, those in the grip of addiction, those who are victims of domestic and street violence. This has not been eradicated, not by a long shot, but we soldier on even as human trafficking and drug smuggling courtesy of illegal immigrants strain our defenses.

Common sense and human decency dictate that citizens must engage in a relentless war on poverty. But the hard socialist Left, specifically its leaders, would prefer that we stand down. Look no further than the state most associated with the Democrat party, California. Known for it’s breathtaking beauty and year-round mild weather (interrupted by deadly wildfires and mudslides), California’s major cities are, in fact, cesspools of human suffering. No matter how many hearts are left in San Francisco, lawmakers and leaders are not prone to affection or compassion when faced with acute homelessness

homeless_fig-2_web

I have a personal connection to the futile war on homelessness in Los Angeles. My take is that the war being waged is losing. I say this with regret because a former college roommate is the one waging it, and he has for two decades. The Giving Spirit enlists throngs of successful, healthy L.A.-area women and men to look the homeless in the eye, offer a glimpse of hope and supply them with life-critical sustenance kits. More than 53,000 have received these kits since 1999, during which TGS has deployed more than 18,000 volunteers and raised north of $3.7 million.

Despite a fractional 1% decline overall in  California’s homeless population in 2017-18, one quarter of the nation’s homeless — close to 140,000 people — are found in California, 50,000 in Los Angeles County alone. This year upon receiving TGS’s annual email soliciting a donation, I paused to wonder if, despite loyalty to my ex-college roomie and my admiration for his dedication, writing another check made any sense. The organization is addressing the immediate needs of people without shelter and basic needs fulfillment, but state lawmakers have for years done little to get them off the streets once and for all. I replied to the email something to effect of, “God bless you, but when are you Californians finally going to wise up and free yourselves from Democrat control?”

I meant it. My friend replied, “We don’t get stuck on policy and partisan rancor.” I reconsidered and submitted my donation. But is it not deeply troubling that my friend likely reflects the thinking of many fellow Californians? This is how the thinly veiled threat of socialism creeping into political agendas on the Left make advances.

Despite benefiting from robust tax revenue, California “is far from flourishing,” wrote  Manhattan Institute scholar Steve Malanga in The Wall Street Journal on November 23. The state is “increasingly beset by social and economic problems, from homeless encampments to rubbish-strewn streets to (Pacific Gas & Electric) blackouts.”

Meanwhile, California Democrats take pride in having transformed The Golden State into The Sanctuary State, with politicians earlier this year even considering Medicaid for all undocumented aliens. Brilliant. (Not even Medicaid expansion warrior Gov. Roy Cooper in Raleigh has dared go that far!) Meanwhile, there are plenty of bad policies already in place, wrote Malanga. Decriminalization of property crimes and drug offenses. Shelters that welcome pets. Free needles. All resulting in California becoming “a magnet for unstable street people from around the country, and disorder is growing.”

In June, California’s uber-liberal Governor, Gavin Newsom, approved a staggering $215 billion budget for the state. Money has been flowing for decades to address every need imaginable, but signs of improvement, even progress, are hard to find. This is socialism on full display. It fails every time.