Commentary

The pandemic is not an excuse to expropriate our rights

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The basic problem with even a little bit of socialism is that, in order for socialist policy to work, it must undermine some part of the American people’s inherent, inalienable rights. Quite frankly, I cannot think of an example of socialist policy that doesn’t violate our rights.

The most commonly violated rights are the right to own, control, defend, and dispose of our own property, the freedoms of religion, speech and of the press, the right to keep and bear arms and “the right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects.” Unfortunately, none of our rights are immune from attacks by socialist policies and politicians.

For example, governors across the country (including here in Maine) have used the pandemic as an excuse to deprive people of their property without due process or just compensation. Through “essential” and “non-essential” business designations and other executive orders, chief executives have forced business owners to close up shop, depriving them of the ability to utilize their property and turn a profit — the whole point of owning a business.

“You never want a serious crisis to go to waste,” Rahm Emanuel, former political advisor to President Obama and mayor of Chicago, once said. Following his advice, progressives have used numerous crises to circumvent the Constitution of the United States, as well as many state constitutions. The COVID-19 pandemic is no exception.

Using “follow the science” as their battle cry, socialists in many state houses have used COVID-19 and emergency powers to shut down their economies in a vain attempt to destroy a presidency. With a myopic concentration on the “science” of COVID-19, socialist warriors politicized the virus response and suppressed health and economic science to create a cure that is worse than the problem itself.

The governors and mayors who have opened their economies with prudent precautions have better overall outcomes. Yes, COVID-19 cases have increased, but the total negative effects on society have been largely ameliorated within the states that have opened their businesses, schools, sports, parks, beaches and social contact. 

In addition, the best outcomes have come when these state’s governors and mayors concentrated their COVID-19 resources on those who are most vulnerable, and relied on the willingness of the people to take reasonable precautions to protect themselves and others. Balancing the legitimate needs of all of the sciences that keep our society running is the best way to minimize the effects of the coronavirus on the American people.

It is eminently unfair for the American people to be out of work, homeless and hungry, while the perpetrators of their suffering continue to get paid, can pay their rent and eat well.

Inalienable rights, combined with free-market capitalism’s innovation (rather than socialism’s despotism and stagnation), will solve the COVID-19 problem as quickly as is humanly possible. The use of the pandemic as a fig leaf for expropriating our rights is a typical fulfillment of Emanuel’s famous dictum.

About John MacGregor

John "Jock" MacGregor is a student of history and politics, a pursuit he has enjoyed for most of his 79 years. Jock attended Villanova University’s School of Education; served in the U.S. Marine Corps; and is an entrepreneur with enterprises in restaurants, construction and boatbuilding. Mr. MacGregor was managing editor of an online news site in Hot Springs Arkansas. Currently, Jock comments on the role of government in society. Jock believes in a constitutionally limited government, instituted by the people, to protect their rights to life, liberty and property.

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