“Never let a good crisis go to waste.” It’s a quote that’s been misattributed to Winston Churchill, and has been circulating around political and business leaders for decades. “You never want a serious crisis to go to waste. I mean, it’s an opportunity to do things that you think you could not do before.” That one’s newer, and correctly identified as by Rahm Emanuel , chief of staff for President Obama. It is even clearer than the misquote; take advantage of a calamity to push your agenda, whether or not that agenda would do anything to fix the problem.
This mentality is on display from both main political parties in the United States today.
First, the Republicans. They are looking at the response to COVID-19 and demanding that “vaccine passports” be made illegal. Their general attitude can be summed up by Florida Governor Ron DeSantis: “It’s completely unacceptable for either the government or the private sector to impose upon you the requirement that you show proof of vaccine to just simply be able to participate in normal society.” It’s the latest iteration of the “personal freedom” mantra that killed tens of thousands of Americans.
Yes, individual freedom is important. That doesn’t mean anarchy, it means that people are allowed to make their own choices and face the consequences, provided those choices do not directly impinge upon the lives and well-being of others. In the case of private companies requiring proof of vaccination to attend events or use services, it is no different than something that’s already been in play for decades and is so common as to have created an industry making signs for it: No shoes, no shirt, no service. Business owners, wanting to be free of the insurance liability for decreased health standards and not wanting to risk the well-being of their staff and customers, require basic clothing to minimize spread of germs throughout their establishment. There’s no government mandate to wear shoes, but if you insist on going barefoot, you’re limiting your options. As long as the issue is kept at the level of private business, the business owner controls the property and is inviting others onto their premises. They retain the nearly absolute right to limit who comes in, and that right is restricted only when they attempt to exclude a protected class.
So, that’s the Republicans trying to push their agenda. Under normal circumstances, it would be the lesser offense, because the Republicans are not generally in power; in practice, that’s not the case because their efforts are affecting public health and are being pushed by some Governors. But the Democrats, under Biden, are being equally disingenuous.
Biden is to be commended for orchestrating the vaccine rollout better than most thought possible, although we have angered some allies by bypassing the free market and demanding that vaccine be first distributed domestically. Foreign affairs aside, vaccinations have been progressing very smoothly, and with those, jobs are returning. Payrolls increased by more than 900,000 in March, with an upward revision from February, after being projected to be about 650,000. Unemployment is at 6.0%. Average hourly earnings dropped by .1% – but that’s after rising an unexpected .03% in February, marking an overall .2% gain. These numbers tell only part of the picture, as they have been groomed over decades to ignore the long-term unemployed and other people who would make the unemployment figures rise, but the fact remains that official employment numbers remain near historic highs.
The Biden administration’s response? Throw taxpayer money at it.
Biden is pushing a $2 trillion “jobs and infrastructure” plan which has, like most immense spending bills, some very good ideas and a lot of terrible ones. There’s the effort to effectively make “right to work” illegal, an effort to bring mass transit to places that neither need nor want it, and a similar costly effort regarding high-speed internet access. There is cash for charging stations throughout the country, to facilitate a shift to electric cars in an effort to “go green”, despite the fact that the energy required to power those cars will still need to be generated via carbon-emitting sources. There are also, as mentioned, some great things – personally, I fully support the notion of replacing old lead pipes at the federal government’s expense, despite it being the responsibility of localities. It is truly a public health issue, and the local governments have had enough time to respond and have demonstrated their failure. But there is no need for a $2 trillion bill when good ideas can and should be promoted seperately.
It’s a conscious decision to bundle them together, an effort to use the good parts as a way to push through the many bad. It’s not necessary, not with the current direction of job growth… if anything, many of the proposals will cause job losses instead of gains as companies direct resources in counterproductive ways. The Democrats, like the Republicans, are taking a crisis and using it to press their agenda, and it’s going to be financially destructive.