The carnage is incredible.
Congress is shoveling out money indiscriminately by the trillions. Within weeks – if not days – of dumping money by the trainload politicians are demanding large chunks of it be returned because they wrote the rules so loose that institutions of higher learning sitting on billions, corporations with deep pockets and/or the ability to borrow great amounts of money at ease, and even some well-heeled sports teams like the L.A. Lakers were vacuuming up relief money like there was no tomorrow.
Meanwhile we are learning the government bureaucrats only distributed 17 percent of the COVID-19 relief to struggling Main Street concerns.
Gov. Gavin Newsom is using the COVID-19 as a reason for the state to get into the homeless shelter business by pushing to buy dozens upon dozens of hotels up and down California to house the homeless.
Tax revenues are tanking that need to support services for the most vulnerable as well as provide for roads, schools and more not because of a coronavirus per se but how the government responded to it.
That response has been far from based on scientific principles as we are now finding out. Thanks to the Wall Street Journal digging into directives issued by Gov. Cuomo’s administration, that many media talking heads have praised for making sound decisions, ordered nursing homes to take COVID-19 patients or else leading to a massive spike in nursing home deaths in New York.
In San Joaquin County where the model that health officials swore by to flatten the curve either worked extremely effectively or was way off course has COVID-19 hospitalizations on a daily basis running at least one 200th of what was projected. Despite the fact the numbers the county is reporting compared to the justification they used to slam the door on “non-essential” business and activities are far apart, they are moving proportionately so slow compared to reality that they may end killing off hundreds of small businesses.
Unemployment went from 5 percent to 14.7 percent in California within a month based on the protocols put in place to flatten the pandemic. Two weeks ago the governor – after saying it could be months until Phase 3 businesses such as health clubs, stylists, sit-down restaurants and in-store shopping at non-essential businesses could return, hinted that the state’s handiwork could send California’s unemployment rate to an unheard of 24 percent.
Meanwhile the $19 billion state surplus is now turning into a $54.3 billion deficit. This will mean state workers taking at least a 10 percent cut, school funding being cut significantly more than it was during the recession triggered by the mortgage crisis of 2008, and even the sacred cows of Sacramento – environmental programs and new ways to assist the poor as well as the undocumented – taking hits.
The plan is also to borrow more than $10 billion from “special funds.” The list of special state funds includes gas tax, water bonds, park bonds and such. Of course, (wink, wink) it will be paid back just like nearly $1 billion cannibalized from the March 2000 Proposition 13 water bond approved by voters that included funding for flood control work on the San Joaquin River between Vernalis and Mossdale. The state borrowed the money to plug a general fund hole and never repaid it.
The state – on the pretense of keeping us all safe – ordered jails to clear out criminals to reduce their chances of becoming infected with COVID-19. Criminals the state turned loose were preying on more victims within days and some cases within hours or their release. Depending on the county, 10 to 20 percent have committed serious enough offenses in the Age of the Pandemic where not social distancing is a bigger crime than burglary that they are back behind bars.
The California State University system is turning to Phoenix University on steroids switching the fall semester to online learning with no tuition breaks for students who won’t be getting in-person instruction of that “college experience” they are told is well worth the price they are paying to get an education. Instead they will be paying two to six times the amount for online courses than what they would have paid had they opted to get their degree via an online program.
It is legal to play golf and go to the beach but not to hike in state parks.
Government edicts have said it is OK to go into a Safeway providing you social distance by not into a Kohl’s or a church even if you social distance and wear masks.
Mayors like New York’s Bill de Blasio shut down gyms and health clubs calling them non-essential and painting them as a potential COVID-19 killing fields and then he takes a trip a couple times a week to workout at a YMCA proving once and for all that in the world of politicians what is good for the gander is not good for the goose.
This is just a short list of the carnage and contradictions government has provided for us in just 65 days. And from the way they are posturing they act as if they are just warming up.
COVID-19 is real but so is another pandemic — government gone wild.
They have quickly swatted down anyone challenging their actions by putting the pedal to the metal when it comes to painting a draconian picture of what would happen if they were not blindly followed.
The bottom line is this is not civilization’s first rodeo with a pandemic with no vaccine or known cure. As scholars have pointed out in articles printed in places like the New York Times that are as far away from the Internet sites run by conspiracy nuts you can get, pandemics end when the fear subsides.
That’s because we never eradicate viruses, coronavirus or others. We basically come to grips with the risks and socially accept the annual death toll of a particular virus.
If the Centers for Disease Control is to be believed as even those arguing strongly against reopening are slamming the CDC for flu death tolls they say are conjecture, several years ago we lost 60,000 people on an annual basis to the flu in this country. We have now surpassed 85,000 deaths attributed to COVID-19.
The point isn’t whether COVID-19 is deadlier and there is no vaccine yet to reduce your chances of getting it nor is it that is “isn’t much worse than the flu” as some claim. The real point is we have accepted 60,000 annual flu deaths in this country as being OK.
The 1918-19 Spanish flu pandemic had three waves. Depending upon the source you look at the number of American deaths during those two years were all over the map. The best number appears to be about 500,000 deaths.
No one wants to see 500,000 deaths from COVID-19 over two years in this country. And given the population of the United States at 105 million in 1918 or less than a third that it is today we’d have to see 1.5 million American deaths to be on the same level.
The real issue is pandemics have never been one and done. They have always come in waves. It is what we were told before a national emergency was declared.
Instead of playing to fears or manipulating numbers to justify or undermine a government action we really need to get a bit pragmatic.
In short we need to find a way to live with our fears and to determine a reasonable acceptance level before we collapse under the weight of a textbook case of Government Gone Wild 101.
This column is the opinion of Dennis Wyatt, and does not necessarily represent the opinion of The Ceres Courier or Morris Newspaper Corp. of CA.