The plan to reopen our lives and economy posted earlier this week by a group of liberal governors creates enough unrealistic benchmarks that society will never reopen, which is clearly their plan. Taken in totality, it ignores all the recent evidence debunking the premise of the lockdown, creates a massive, unconstitutional surveillance state, hires enormous numbers of government workers to do useless testing and tracing long after the virus already spread, and permanently makes us vassals to the state.
On Tuesday, the National Governors Association, led by “Lockdown” Larry Hogan of Maryland and Andrew Cuomo of New York, released a 38-page, 10-point “Roadmap to Recovery,” but it’s more of a roadmap to permanent lockdown and a police state.
When you cut through all the political-speak, this is essentially the punchline of the report: “Opening prematurely — or opening without the tools in place to rapidly identify and stop the spread of the virus — could send states back into crisis mode, push health systems past capacity, and force states back into strict social distancing measures. This scenario would repeat the negative economic consequences of pandemic response and reduce public confidence, further deepening a recession and protracting economic recovery.”
The central flaw of the report is that it ignores all the new information we have since March – that this had already spread to tens of millions for several months. As such, it makes no sense to build an entire surveillance state around contact tracing and hiring government workers to do that surveillance. Yes, some Asian countries did this successfully, but they did so early on when it was possible to stop the spread. Now that we know that at least 21.2 percent of New York City residents alone have the antibodies for the virus, the entire approach is unworkable and unnecessary.
Contact tracing on a respiratory virus, this late in the spread, with millions in the New York metro who already had it, is an approach that is unworthy of a first-grade math student. You can only stop a spread when it’s early, confinable, and small. At this point, the only approach must be herd immunity for those not at risk.
What is this really all about? Building a massive police state and then asking the federal printing presses to give them unlimited funding to compensate for the economic harm they cause. The plan calls for “developing other surveillance methodology such as obtaining information on employee absenteeism due to illness from the private sector.” It calls for a 100,000-man force to do tracing and surveillance.
So, the same people who refuse to recognize that we already brought this in from China in December now want to turn America into China.
Two more elements are striking: First, they won’t even entertain the reams of new studies that lockdowns absolutely don’t help. Israeli researchers are now questioning Israel’s approach, and its government is considering reopening restaurants with no distancing to switch to the herd immunity model. Hogan and Cuomo will never answer the question of how we prevent endless waves of this if we do not embrace herd immunity, even though the case fatality rate has now been proven to be a fraction of what is was thought to be when they originally crafted this plan.
Second, there is absolutely no recognition of any limitation whatsoever on legal authority to do what they are doing. It’s as if they are God. The broader message is that they can shut down property rights, pursuit of a living, and individual movement indefinitely without due process. The onus is on you to show that you meet their allowance to open up, not the on them to prove that this is the least restrictive manner to achieve a vital state interest proven by unassailable science.
Cuomo told protesters that if they want to get back to work to “get a job as an essential worker.” Who is he to tell us what is essential? And if working is really a danger (rather than the solution), why would we want to create more “essential” evils?
Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear is requiring all businesses to submit a plan online for how they would abide by the state’s arbitrary criterion to reopen. Do the Declaration of Independence and the Bill of Rights no longer matter?
In the landmark Youngstown case of 1952, the Supreme Court ruled that President Truman couldn’t use war powers to take over steel mills throughout the country for the purpose of domestic policy. In his famous concurrence, the great Justice Robert Jackson, the lead prosecutor at the Nuremberg trial and the dissenter in the Japanese internment case, made it clear that there is no emergency powers exception to the fundamental right to earn a living or to individual liberty – and the Founders did that on purpose.
“They knew what emergencies were, knew the pressures they engender for authoritative action, knew, too, how they afford a ready pretext for usurpation,” wrote Jackson. “We may also suspect that they suspected that emergency powers would tend to kindle emergencies.”
He was right then, and governors like Lockdown Larry are on the wrong side of history today.
Daniel Horowitz is a senior editor of Conservative Review. Follow him on Twitter @RMConservative.