MY PHASE 1: Starting now, passing legislation similar to that of S. Korea, which gave the government authority to collect mobile phone, credit card, and other data from those who test positive to reconstruct their recent whereabouts. That information, stripped of personal identifiers, is shared on social media apps that allow others to determine whether they may have crossed paths with an infected person. This is necessary, since we are so far behind S. Korea in our capabilities to test and trace, and our understanding of how a respiratory virus spreads. Pass such legislation immediately, then institute a 14-day “hard lockdown” of any city or town with any known infected persons I believe would better serve our populace, even starting now, than what we are doing now. In addition, prolong the current rules of closing “non-essential” businesses and group activities, and required wearing of masks of the asymptomatic (protection for others rather than the wearer) for 14 days!
Caveats: Could the US and all the state governments actually agree on and pass legislation similar to that of S. Korea? How long would that take? Would Americans accept such measures? What I am calling a “hard lockdown” means NO travel (other than essential commercial distribution) allowed by any means to or from any city or town with documented cases for 14 days. How could travel be prevented? How can closures and mask wearing be enforced? If after the 14 day hard lockdown, cases start to increase in a specific city or town, will the people accept a new 14 day period, after their brief taste of freedom and raised expectations? Before I answer those questions, I want to give some examples of the dynamic between virtue and freedom.
Takimag.com: In the Athenian democracy, virtue trumped freedom, according to Plato, especially as the democratic mob had put his mentor Socrates to death. Today, in the name of freedom, dour, self-appointed social justice warriors who cannot conjugate a verb correctly have shut down free speech in Western universities. In the name of freedom, Democrats in the U.S. Congress tried to hold up the stimulus bill in order to extort funds for “national minorities and gender pay equities.” In the name of freedom of expression, CNN complained that the presidential task force against the virus lacked diversity. Nancy Pelosi demanded special LGBTQ provisions in Trump’s $2 trillion package, delaying it’s passage. The impeachment farce was a deadly distraction just at the time early action needed to be taken on Covid-19. Joe Biden called Trump a racist three weeks ago for banning flights from China. NBC invited the billionaire hedge funder Bill Ackman to tearfully predict that “Hell is coming,” while having shorted the market the day before and cashing in a cool 2.6 billion greenbacks. (Under normal conditions that would merit jail, but people’s minds are elsewhere.) In fact it’s a depravity of freedom that has large parts of the world’s media praise the communist regime for coming clean in mid-February, rather than late December. And it is a bigger depravity to condemn those who point the finger at the Chinese as racists. And then one has virtue, like the hundreds of thousands of volunteers against the virus, the thousands upon thousands of front-line defenders who risk their lives daily, and of course the Germans giving the rest of Europe ventilators and a chance to survive.
What has democracy been historically but demagoguery, in the main? “To hear these defenders of democracy talk,” wrote Joseph de Maistre in his Study on Sovereignty, “one would think that people deliberate like a committee of wise men, whereas in truth judicial murders, foolhardy undertakings, wild choices, and above all foolish and disastrous wars are eminently the prerogatives of this form of government.” For our Founding Fathers, who intended this country to be a Constitutional Republic, democracy meant mob rule. In truth, we are essentially passionate animals, and therefore often irrational when our comforting expectations are thwarted, or when things don’t go as we wish.
Phase 1 is the hardest part. Could my plan work? Could the US and all the state governments actually agree on and pass legislation similar to that of S. Korea? Realistically, based on what I see taking place, the wrangling we have experienced already, and the adversarial relationships between the parties, the president and the media, I would say “no”. How long would that take? Even if agreement was reached eventually, the lockdown would continue even longer than curently projected. Would Americans accept such measures? Very doubtful. What I am calling a “hard lockdown” means NO travel allowed by any means to or from any city or town with documented cases for 14 days. How could travel be prevented? Imagine police or even National Guard roadblocks, checking license plates, turning back hundreds of drivers, chasing (even shooting?) those who try to get away. How can closures and mask wearing be enforced? Fines (like $1,000 in Laredo, Tx), cutting power to or padlocking scofflaw businesses, arrests (if the courts are even open). If after the 14 day hard lockdown, cases start to increase in a specific city or town, will the people accept a new 14 day period, after their brief taste of freedom and raised expectations? Once again, not likely. Police will already have been fatigued by the first 14 day lockdown. To summarize, I think my plan would be better, if enforceable, but I don’t think enough of our populace has the civic virtue, maturity, trust in authority, and self discipline to obey the directives of a hard lockdown nor, especially, the measures probably required to enforce it. Therefore, we have what we have.
If your contention is correct, why have so many individuals and businesses voluntarily complied with the “social distancing” orders/recommendations for even longer than 14 days? I alluded to that in Part 1. I can’t get a haircut across the street but I can drive anywhere I want. HARD restrictions and requirements–wearing masks and no driving out of your city–are more likely to be pushed against, especially if combined with cellphone and credit card tracking and other “privacy violations”. No populace in the world is more protective of their illusions of privacy and freedom, especially compared to Asian cultures.
MY PHASE 2: See the official “roadmap to reopening.” It makes a lot of assumptions about increasing our ability to test for and track infections, and provide medical care, and has fewer negative economic repercussions than Phase 1.