Coronavirus

The Pandemic Is a Lucrative Revenue Opportunity for Incompetent Politicians

If there's one thing at which governments have excelled during this crisis, it's been collecting fines from anybody who steps out of line.

|

The federal government's response to COVID-19 has been a hot mess, and state and city officials haven't done much better. But if there's one thing at which governments have excelled during this crisis, it's been collecting fines from anybody who steps out of line.

Whatever else it is, the great pandemic of 2020 has turned into a revenue-collection opportunity for officials who demonstrate little competence at anything other than squeezing their unfortunate subjects.

In Selah, Washington, Anytime Fitness was fined almost $10,000 by state officials. The owners' crime? In defiance of the governor's decree closing such businesses, they opened their doors to willing customers who wanted to make use of the gym's facilities.

Slidewaters, an outdoor water park, was mugged by Washington for the same amount when it opened its gates without permission.

In Chicago, multiple businesses face similar five-figure fines "for failing to maintain social distancing."

Nashville, Tennessee, issued citations to dozens of businesses for serving those seeking their services. In the face of criticism about selective prosecution, Metro Public Health Director Michael Caldwell snapped that "operating a business in Nashville Davidson County is a privilege, not a right."

Nashville's mayor now insists that city police cite anybody not wearing a face mask in public. The violation carries a $50 penalty—a sum that could add up to big bucks with a little enforcement effort.

But forget a measly fifty bucks—you can squeeze people for even more cash if you hit the unmasked with $100 fines, like Florida's Miami-Dade County has authorized.

Even more lucratively, Rockland County, New York, residents were threatened with fines of $2,000 per day for blowing off contact tracers.

And travelers to the state of New York can be hit with $2,000 fines if they fail to fill out tracking forms documenting their starting points and their destinations. The requirement is especially interesting since "many passengers said they were unaware they were required to fill out the forms," according to the New York Daily News. And even among those forms filled out and submitted, none were checked for correct information before they disappeared into a box.

That last example of incompetently administered mandates carrying heavy penalties is a nice example of the contrast between the lockstep obedience government officials demand of the public and the Keystone Cops-quality performance they themselves deliver around the country. Government officials expect that their indecision, poor judgment, lack of foresight, and deadly failures will be overlooked or forgiven, even as they anticipate a profitable take from putting the screws to anybody who fails to submit to their whims.

Those whims include New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo's order (against the advice of the American Health Care Association) that nursing homes must admit COVID-19 patients. "In the weeks that followed the March 25 order, COVID-19 tore through New York state's nursing facilities, killing more than 6,000 people — about 6% of its more than 100,000 nursing home residents," ProPublica reported in June.

Even as he set up senior citizens as guinea pigs, Cuomo engaged in a high-profile feud with New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio over who got to set pandemic policy for the city's residents.

It was an example emulated in Georgia where Gov. Brian Kemp and Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms also battled over who got to call the shots.

Disagreements over who gets to dictate what have run all the way to the top, with President Donald Trump wrongly claiming he has "total authority" over such decisions, leading to battles with governors who may be no more competent to issue decrees but have somewhat better standing under the law. The president also fights the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention over guidelines for reopening schools in the fall.

Spatting politicians don't agree on how people should avoid spreading the virus, when and how schools should reopen, or the proper balance between social distancing and economic survival, but you can bet they'll cite and fine any mere taxpayer who doesn't obey whichever official comes out on top.

Meanwhile, it might not cost a well-connected political type anything. Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker made it clear that stay-at-home orders applied only to the little people when his family traveled in defiance of his own commands. A similar "we're above all that" attitude prevails in the environs of Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, whose husband sought special treatment as the state emerged from travel restrictions.

If the last few months under contradictory, incompetent, selectively enforced, and sometimes deadly pandemic policy have demonstrated anything, it's that government officials are just floundering in the dark as they inflict policy decisions on the public. But whatever they do decide, we'd all damned well better obey, or else we'll have to cough up hefty fines for noncompliance.

Maybe that's because, when nothing else is clear, milking the public occupies the center of any given politician's happy place. Government officials really don't know how to properly use the power they have. More importantly, they don't know when to not use that vast and dangerous power—but, by God, they know how to fill the coffers by punishing the public for not submitting to the whim of the moment. That's how a pandemic brings a new plague of fines that raise revenue for a government that doesn't have the slightest idea of how to productively use the haul.

NEXT: Feds Send Outside Agitators To Escalate Conflict in Portland

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  1. There are ways to have safe social distancing and business open WITHOUT this sort of arbitrary and capricious rule making. Deciding which specific businesses can and cannot be open is bullshit. I see grocery stores without any social distancing yet they get a pass, while shoe stores not known for the denseness of their crowds still have to remain close.

    1. >>yet they get a pass

      is how you know the whole thing is a lie dude.

      1. Here are 7 at-home jobs that pay at least $100/day. And there’s quite the variety too! Some of these work-at-home jobs are more specialized, others are jobs that anyone can do. They all pay at least $3000/month, but some pay as much as $10,000.

        GO HOME PAGE HERE FOR MORE DETAILS….⇢⇢⇢⇢⇢⇢⇢⇢Money90

    2. Yes. It makes no sense. We are told there is at least moderate risk in a grocery store but we have to eat so that’s okay, but we must avoid even low risk activities if they are not essential. That’s not how life works. And because of increasing supply chain disruption there is no going to the supermarket once a week. I have to go to at least 2 if not 3 stores on different days just to get provisions and I’m in a major city in a relatively nice area.

      Commander Coumo is threatening to shut the city down again because people are defying his orders and having street parties. Every day I’m more grateful for having the foresight to get the hell out of NYC. Not that where I am is utopia, but still. We keep being told that the protests did not lead to any significant increase in cases, but most of the new cases are in younger ppl, many of whom are asymptomatic. But the young being outside together and not social distancing is dangerous when it’s not for a worthy social cause. Apparently the virus can also tell the difference between those protesting social injustice vs protestors of government overreach and denial of basic freedoms.

  2. But if there’s one thing at which governments have excelled during this crisis, it’s been collecting fines from anybody who steps out of line.

    OTOH, those fines are *encrusted* with coronavirus!

    1. I quit working at shoprite and now I make $65-85 per/h. How? I’m working online! My work didn’t exactly make me happy so I decided to take a chance on something new… after 4 years it was so hard to quit my day job but now I couldn’t be happier.

      Here’s what I do………………Home Profit System

  3. Nashville’s mayor now insists that city police cite anybody not wearing a face mask in public.

    Is there an actual law to back that up though? Governors and mayors across the land have issues lots of “orders” and “edicts” but have there been any actual laws passed? Here in Maryland the all the signs on all the doors saying “Wear a mask. It’s the law.” are wrong. It’s not a law, it was an executive order from the governor. If the governor can create law with the stroke of a pen, then it’s not a republic and it’s certainly not democratic.

    1. L’Etat c’est moi

    2. it’s not a republic and it’s certainly not democratic.

      It’s a kleptocracy with a thin veneer of democracy to keep the peasants in line by making them think they have a say in any of this shit.

      1. The problem is few people want to have any say. They are perfectly fine letting others tell them what to do. Conformity has reached max infiltration into society.

    3. Hey! The governor is elected. What more do you want?

    4. Even better why travel to Nashville? If I have to go there, I will wear one of my wild rags, cowboy hat, and open carry my 45 Colts. My wife and I use to go quite often we had season tickets to the Titans games, would go to 3rd & Lindsey and Ryman for music, went to some Predators games, and did some of the big concerts, but finding convenient reasonable parking became a problem. Decided there were places much closer that were more enjoyable music venues and got tired of paying 6 bucks for a beer at the games. The NFL and the Titans just made it such a hassle to get into a game especially, for most, there is no stadium parking. Hard to tailgate with the panhandlers.

  4. It’s not going to look like such a great revenue opportunity when tax receipts are tallied up.

    1. I think the tax receipts are a factor driving the push to not keep these absurd edicts in place so violations can be fined. State and local governments are hemorrhaging money with no end in sight and fines and fees have always been a tried and true government way to immediately raise cash.

  5. Who expected the government to handle anything that was unexpected, in the wheelhouse of a bloated bureaucracy, and where areas of responsibility were never defined? Biden would surely have taken the same advice from the same bureaucrats and done much the same as Trump. Any President would have done so, unless we made a mistake and elected someone with some knowledge of any science.

  6. The Pandemic Is a Lucrative Revenue Opportunity for Incompetent Politicians
    If there’s one thing at which governments have excelled during this crisis, it’s been collecting fines from anybody who steps out of line.

    Never ascribe to incompetence what can be ascribed to malice.

    1. Never assume that incompetence and malice are mutually exclusive.

      When it comes to the government the answer is usually incompetence AND malice.

      1. Agreed. Have you noticed how angry some of the Emperors, cough, I mean governors, seem these days? They are absolutely pissed that the people are not more grateful and praising. Even many of those who are still in favor of the lockdowns are going along begrudgingly. And the pro-lockdown governors tones and attitudes have become more chastising and condescending by the day.

      2. I don’t know, they seem pretty competent when it comes to malice.

  7. nuthin’ shakin’ on Shakedown Street.

    1. It needs a miracle.

  8. Due to COVID, prisoners are released from jail.

    Due to COVID, regular citizens will be sent to jail.

    Seems legit.

    Never forget that any ‘fine’ you happen to get from the government means that you’ll be sent to jail should you fail to pay. That’s what most fines are; a legal bribe to escape the punishment of the poor.

    And remember the most important thing: if Biden gets elected COVID will disappear in a few weeks. He’s magic like that. Mark my words.

  9. Maybe that’s because, when nothing else is clear, milking the public occupies the center of any given politician’s happy place.

    Personally I prefer Happy Gilmore’s happy place.

  10. Is anyone actually abiding by the laws other than agorophobics and sluts?

  11. President would have done so, unless we made a mistake and elected someone with some knowledge of any science.

  12. Anti-social, politically impotent, obsolete, disaffected clingers are among my favorite culture war casualties.

  13. “Nashville’s mayor now insists that city police cite anybody not wearing a face mask in public”, how will they enforce this? You’re not required to carry ID when walking around and if you give them a false name and address how would they prove it? Just memorize the Mayors address and give that when stopped, should be a lot of fun.

    1. lying to a police officer in line of duty can be a felony. Not worth it.

      You can simply tell him you are not required to identify yourself, and you certainly are not required to HAVE ID upon yuor person.

      tel the copper that da guv or mayor does NOT have authority to make law, only enforce the laws the LEGISLATURE enacts. Ask hi WHEN did the legislature enact THIS law? Cite state code number please…..

  14. I have earned $ 18394 last month by W0rking Online from home. I am a full time college student and just doing this Job in my part time for maximum 2 hrs a day using my laptop. This Job is just awesome and regular earning from this easy home Job is much times better than other regular 9 to 5 office Jobs. I suggest you all to join this right now and start earning easily by just follow details on the given WebSite……..
    here……. ⇢⇢⇢⇢⇢⇢⇢⇢ ReadMore.

  15. ●US Dollar Rain Earns upto $550 to $750 per day by google fantastic job oppertunity provide for our community pepoles who,s already using facebook to earn money 85000$ every month and more through facebook and google new project to create money at home withen few hours.Everybody can get this job now and start earning online by just open this link and then go through instructions to get started……….COPY HERE====►►CLICK HERE.

  16. “The Pandemic Is a Lucrative Revenue Opportunity for Incompetent Politicians.”

    The headline should read, “The Pandemic Is a Lucrative Revenue Opportunity for Closet Fascists.”

  17. “…Incompetent Politicians”

    It’s the thousands of incompetent ones which make the two or three competent ones look bad.

  18. Nice article. Thanks!

    I am happy that this article is not like today’s Reason Round Table – one hour of boredom and Peter Suderman not even knowledgeable about the Corona Virus scams going on. What a waste of time the Reason Round Table is. About the dullest Libertarian presentation available. The hour long discussion is agonizingly long and uninspiring.

    My time better spent watching Dr. Ron Paul’s Liberty Report and Dr. Vernon Coleman’s daily videos. At least they are hip!

  19. “…Whatever else it is, the great pandemic of 2020 has turned into a revenue-collection opportunity for officials who demonstrate little competence at anything other than squeezing their unfortunate subjects…”

    Elected and appointed public officials are servants. We are not their subjects. The sooner people re-learn this principle, the better.

  20. I make a big amount online work . How ??? Just u can done also with this site and u can do it Easily 2 step one is open link next is Click on Tech so u can done Easily now u can do it also here….click for jobs its a limited offER.

  21. STAY HOME AND STARTING WORK AT HOME EASILY… MORE AND MORE EARNING DAILY BY JUST FOLLOW THESE STEPS, I am a student and i work daily on this site and earn money..HERE══════►►USA Dollars.com

  22. I don’t know what to say really what you share is so good and helpful to the community, I feel that it makes our community much more developed, thanks. Heres what I do…Heres what I do …. Heres what I do۔۔۔۔۔Read More.

  23. Here are 7 at-home jobs that pay at least $100/day. And there’s quite the variety too! Some of these work-at-home jobs are more specialized, others are jobs that anyone can do. ghu.They all pay at least $3000/month, but some pay as much as $10,000.

    GO HOME PAGE HERE FOR MORE DETAILS….⇢⇢⇢⇢⇢⇢⇢⇢1Usd Life  

  24. And travelers to the state of New York can be hit with $2,000 fines if they fail to fill out tracking forms documenting their starting points and their destinations.

    “Destination: Your Mom’s Bedroom.”

  25. Very efficiently written information. It will be beneficial to anybody who utilizes it, including me. Keep up the good work. For sure i will check out more posts. This site seems to get a good amount of visitors

Please to post comments