Lifestyle

A Plague of Pandemic Restrictions Builds Herd Immunity to Arbitrary Rules 

Expect widespread cynicism toward official dictates to linger after the virus is history.

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Perhaps the only thing worse than being subjected to seemingly arbitrary and intrusive rules imposed to fight a pandemic is when those same rules fail to accomplish their goals. Instead of effective infectious disease control, you get fatigue with commands issued by officials who seem to have no idea what they're doing, as we're seeing during the COVID-19 crisis. Given the resulting pushback against ineffective, nonsensical rules, expect widespread cynicism toward official dictates to linger after the virus is history.

Consider New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, a Democrat who, early in the crisis, ordered his state's nursing homes—over their protests—to take in people who had tested positive for COVID-19. "In the weeks that followed the March 25 order," ProPublica reported, the disease "tore through New York state's nursing facilities, killing more than 6,000 people."

While that fatal error did not lead Cuomo to grapple publicly with his own poor judgment, it did diminish his credibility. He later decreed which drinking establishments were allowed to open based not on health criteria but on their sale of snacks. "Establishments must only serve alcohol to people who are also ordering food," he announced.

Perhaps doubtful about the antiviral powers of munchies, some bar owners complied by making menus featuring things like $1 "Cuomo chips" and penny lollipops. "More than just hors d'oeuvres, chicken wings, you had to have some substantive food," the visibly annoyed governor huffed in response. "The lowest level of substantive food were sandwiches." He was soon reduced to issuing repeated complaints about the multitude of bars engaged in "egregious violations of pandemic-related Executive Orders."

Not that New York was alone. In Texas, where forced business closures and stay-at-home orders hobbled social relations and economic activity without preventing a summer surge of COVID-19 cases, over 800 bars joined together to open in defiance of state rules.

"Recently we have spoken with business owners who tell us they don't intend to follow the orders," A. Bentley Nettles, executive director of the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission, said in a press release. Officialdom was not happy about being ignored, but bar owners lost patience with rules that proved more effective at killing bars than eliminating viruses.

The revolt among establishments serving alcoholic beverages is relatively easy to track, because they're closely monitored. But you see the same rule fatigue among barbershops, car washes, furniture stores, gyms, smoke shops, and even houses of worship. "After California Gov. Gavin Newsom shut down indoor religious services for the majority of the state, some churches chose to defy the order," The Sacramento Bee reported in late July.

Newsom had already blinked once on the issue, softening restrictions after hundreds of churches vowed to reopen at the end of May despite being deemed "nonessential" and thus subject to closure orders. "The current governmental orders are not narrowly tailored here because innumerable secular enterprises and places where people gather are deemed essential, including those that pose even greater risks of COVID-19 than religious assemblies," pastors protested in an open letter.

Inconsistency about whether mask wearing was virtuous or antisocial also bred defiance of mask requirements, turning the pieces of fabric into "a flash point in the virus culture wars," as The New York Times put it. Blame for the controversy can be laid, at least in part, on confusion sown by government officials themselves.

"Seriously people- STOP BUYING MASKS!" U.S. Surgeon General Dr. Jerome Adams tweeted on February 29, in an effort to maximize masks available to health care workers. "They are NOT effective in preventing general public from catching #Coronavirus."

By June, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention had changed its messaging and was urging general use of masks. But that guidance was contradicted by the World Health Organization, which said that "the widespread use of masks everywhere is not supported by high-quality scientific evidence."

Even as calls for voluntary behavior were botched and muddled, mask mandates spread like wildfire, enforced by fines and even police stings in some jurisdictions. Inevitably, mask-wearing rules resulted in refusal and even violence by people bristling at conflicting claims and commands from supposedly responsible authorities.

Beyond the human cost of COVID-19, government credibility is a victim of this pandemic. It's unlikely to recover anytime soon, no matter how the health crisis itself is resolved.

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  3. Doesn’t seem all the lock downs and such helped here in Ohio. Seems the virus is just gonna run it’s course. How about that.

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    2. Georgia didnt have lockdowns. We are fine.

      Schools and businesses are open without state restrictions.

      1. Please stop passing on misinformation. I have a friend working at a charter school in GA and they have been prevented from opening for months- despite the wishes of the parents, students and faculty. Both DeKalb and Atlanta School Districts are shut down. They are not open.

        On top of that, GA’s death rate is now above the national average at 72 per 100k (US, 68).

        I don’t think 72 deaths per 100k is a giant emergency, but when you just tell blatant lies like “schools are open”, and “we are doing great” it just makes you look like a shameless partisan hack. It doesn’t help the cause of liberty- it just makes people skeptical of your opinion more likely do dismiss even thoughtful people.

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        2. You dont even live here guy. Your citations are missing. All Georgia schools are open. All Georgia businesses are open.

          School buses are picking up kids with no masks. There are no state mandates for masks or social distancing or any other Lefty Kungflu nonsense.

          Georgia has 320k confirmed infections and 7674 deaths while infected in 8 months. Out of 10 million+ residents.

          I can sit in restaurants in a booth next to other or at the bar. Businesses and homes are being built. Road construction. Travelers from out of state come here.

          The fact that YOU are a partisan hack and wont visit Georgia business websites and see for yourself, illustrates how full of shit you are.

          1. per JHU sick map.

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          2. https://www.fox5atlanta.com/news/dekalb-superintendent-delays-reopening-addresses-parent-concerns-and-teacher-fears

            That’s Dekalb County 15 hours ago saying they aren’t opening up.

            atlanticpublicschools DOT us (can’t post two links) has a banner right there on the front page saying that they won’t open until Jan 2021.

            You are a fucking liar and you denying reality makes the rest of us who want the country to open up look bad. Jesus, man- it takes 5 seconds to prove you full of shit. Go back in a hole, because you aren’t helping your side.

            1. Thats for in person dumb dumb. All the schools that wanted to opened for online or in person schools.

              Dekalb and Fulton counties are run by Democrats. Them chosing to keep in person schools close is their Lefty choice. Gwinnett County schools are open. Jackson County schools are open. Kids dont wear masks.

              Fox5 is run by Democrats.

              You dont live here dipshit so you dont know anything.

              As I said, review websites for businesses and see they are open for business.

              You unreason lovers cant stand it that Georgia is not in lockdown and has no state restrictions like other states and we are just fine.

              YOU FUCKING HATE IT.

            2. DeKalb County Schools superintendent Cheryl Watson-Harris said she has taken hits from parents on both sides of the debate over when to resume classroom instruction in a COVID-19 pandemic. Watson-Harris, who just took over the district in July, said input from parents must be measured against hard coronavirus data.

              As I said school is open even in Dekalb County. This is one of the few counties (run by Democrats) who have only online school. The state never closed Dekalb schools. Democrats did and they are getting massive shit for it.

              Counties next to Dekalb are open with in classroom instruction.

              Poor overt. You didnt even read your own link.

              1. Such a scared piece of shit overt.

                I love bringing up how open for business Georgia is because it drives you people crazy.

                1. Overt misspoke when he said schools were not open, he meant not open for in person learning. Wasn’t that obvious?

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          3. I am in Georgia right now. The second grade school just reopened a few weeks ago with masks and distancing and masks on the bus. It is closed on Wednesday when they disinfect the whole place. Before that they had only distance learning which she was doing in a pod.

            I think in the new reality families need to take more responsibility for teaching as it was in the past. That is a good thing. For too long we let the schools become a substitute. Teach them to fly.

            It is district level everywhere. So may be different where you are.

            At the Atlanta airport I did see fewer mask wearers than where I come from. The airlines have strict rules at the gate and on the plane. You get bottled water and a plastic bag with snacks. She did offer beer or wine which I was happy to accept. There is distance seating. The plane is spotless and they have installed new air filters.

            Oh LC we gonna be neighbors. Just buying a house here. I love Georgia and our close family is a few miles from the new house.

            The stores are open but in this part anyway you wear mask inside as do employees. Outdoors perhaps not but people keep more distance. Not so different than the North Coast. Kiddos play as usual.

        3. Very sure of ourselves we are…………………..but wrong

    3. https://nypost.com/2020/09/02/numbers-show-lockdowns-didnt-help-contain-covid-19-opening-up-didnt-boost-it/

      They didn’t help at all. None of the government restrictions have been correlated to reduced spread. Only differences on how covid is tested (number of replications).

    4. California had the earliest and the most severe and the most “scientific” lockdowns. California has the most cases.

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  6. In the People’s Republic of NJ, we lost our 1-A right of free exercise of religion, along with our 2-A rights. Phailing Phil Murphy, governor Commissar of NJ managed to kill thousands of elderly nursing home patients through gross incompetence, by mandating nursing homes take covid-19 patients.

    In a just world, Murphy will suffer as we have suffered. His family members will die, and he will be prohibited from holding a funeral. He will not be allowed to pray in Church, as we were not allowed to pray in synagogue. Blow for blow, lash for lash, life for life. This is what Murphy deserves; to be forced to live under his own rules.

    Our livelihoods have been ruined. Our small businesses decimated. Our unemployment rate continues to climb. Phil the phuckhead needs to be unceremoniously dumped from office next year. Can’t wait to vote his sorry ass out of office.

    1. Wel, if you can’t wait, how is the recall effort going?

      1. We do not have the recall option in the People’s Republic. We’re stuck with phucking Phil until next year.

    2. Can’t wait to vote his sorry ass out of office.

      Never going to happen. “But TRUMP!” is going to go over very well here. I mean, this is a state where Tom fucking Malinowski is going to be reelected in a district populated by farmers and upper middle class cubicle jockeys.

      1. You in Hunterdon County?

        1. Nah, I followed my wife to Monmouth: the last safely red district in the state. But I grew up and used to work in that district.

    3. At least you kept your 1a right of supporting Democrat causes.

      1. And you’re still free to protest by mostly peaceful means.

    4. Unfortunately, most of those in NJ who suffered economically due to Gov. Murphy’s lockdowns will vote for Biden and other Democrats.

    5. Instead, he’ll be hailed as a hero of the Covid wars, and his budget will be increased.

      1. Same for killer Cuomo.

  7. There is and will be widespread cynicism, but my concern is that the majority of voters agree with the government dictates. Too many people feel insecure and want the government to tell them what to do. It doesn’t matter if the virus dies out, stays forever, quits killing people, or kills millions. The government is a mommy to the masses.

    1. “[P]eople . . . want the government to tell them what to do.”

      This is largely true, especially in moments of uncertainty. The greater the uncertainty, the greater the desire for government intervention. I attribute this attitude to the absence of civic education. Americans, by and large, do not understand how our system of government functions, what the Constitution says or why, and what the proper role of individual initiative is in the context of our society.

      Millions of Americans live a conveyer belt existence. Most do not own businesses. They show up, they do their thing, they collect a paycheck, and drink themselves stupid on the weekend. They view themselves as slaves, and believe they should be looked after, if only to permit them to continue slaving. And, if their employer is unwilling to do it, there are plenty of laws on the books to coerce compliance.

      After decades of such repetitive behavior throughout the course of a lifetime, is it any wonder that we end up with Americans that view the government as a hero savior?

      1. It’s even simpler than that.

        Government teaches them that government is the answer to everything.

      2. What you got against drinking oneself stupid on the weekend?

        Oh, right, it should be every night.

      3. Conveyor belt.

        Only when people see it that way.

        Read a book years ago Die Broke written by Stephan Pollan and others which has formed my outlook on work ever since. One of the lessons is that everyone is their own little .com. If you have a contract or agreement with an employer then you have one client. It may very well suit your needs and desires. You are free to leave or find a better opportunity if you wish. The company is free to let you go.

        I have worked in many different arrangements over the years. Right now what I have is what I want.

        As Harry Browne put it. Nobody owes you anything. Once you get that you are free.

        As I see it the problem people have is when they think there is something they deserve. Something employers, other people, government or society owes them. That leads to bitterness and resentment.

    2. Tuccille didn’t even mention schools. Anecdotal, but among the one demographic that seems to love the mommy state the most, actual mothers, every single mother of school age children I know is unhappy with their local school board.

      1. TWK….They are right to be. I have a number of ‘Working Moms’ that report to me. The stories they tell about how much public schools really suck now are legion. One pulled her kids out of the school system, and sent them to Catholic school (all in-person).

        We have to open up schools to open up our economy.

        1. The complete lack of anything resembling certainty doesn’t help for sure. “We’re going to open. No, wait, we’re not. Ok, we are. Ha ha, fooled you!”

          You can’t plan anything around arbitrary and random decisions with the force of law.

    3. And I fear you are right Ant Eater; seems the “right” and “moral” stance is to “listen to the science” and have faith in the establishment to tell them what to do. Everyone just has to get with the program and not be a spoilsport.

      And they all vote pretty much the same.

    4. Senior citizens and women are more likely to support lockdowns by Democrat governors (because they’ve been more scared by the Covid panic propaganda by the anti Trump news media).

    5. The government is a mommy to the masses.

      it is a mommy to the vast majority of mommies; frightened females have driven this hysterical tyranny…

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  10. I have been seeing cynicism but also at least an equal measure of anger at such cynicism. Those people feel better if the government is seen to be doing something, even if that something is ineffective and dictatorial, or even outright stupid.

    1. The anger at the cynicism is totally 100% from those who are economically unaffected. Karen is getting paid.

      1. This.

        She’s happy about it, because it means her and her hubby can cuddle on the couch while they do the bare minimum yet keep getting paid.

        I’m convinced that white suburban women are the biggest threat to liberty these days.

        1. KKK = Karens, Kathys , and Kristens

  11. The problem is that too many are not affected enough by the restrictions. Government workers all get full pay whether they are actually working or not. Many can work from home.

    Unemployment is a mixed bag but if you are getting it you’re also still getting paid. Retirees, still getting paid etc. etc.

    So those remaining small independent business owners are the ones getting hit. Maybe 25% of the population at best.

    1. Small independent business owners are trading risk for potential benefits, however they may define that for themselves and it is not all about money.

      An investor does the same thing.

      I have seen those things rise or fall. We all have. Free markets and free economy including movement of goods, services and people are by far the best approach. Government intervention never works.

  12. Beyond the human cost of COVID-19, government credibility is a victim of this pandemic. It’s unlikely to recover anytime soon, no matter how the health crisis itself is resolved.

    Nobody gives a shit about government credibility. As long as you do what the government tells you to do, no matter how much it flips and flops and issues contradictory and senseless orders, it relieves you of the responsibility of thinking for yourself. The deep, dark secret of the Nanny State is that a bunch of people are quite willing to accept Mommy and Daddy being in charge of their lives as long as it means they’re not responsible for themselves. Once upon a time, these people would have shrugged off responsibility on the Fates or God’s Will, since they no longer worship God or Fate they’ve turned to worshiping Science!™ and the high priests of Government Almighty who bring The Word down from the mountain.

    1. I looked for the history of “Emergency Powers” in PA and it appears the first law was in the 1940’s superseded by a 1970’s law that was vague and very broad.

      From 1790 until 1940 we somehow survived many epidemics including the Spanish Flu without our daddy Governor assuming a dictator role.

      Back in 2018 with the Spanish Flu you didn’t have a choice. Go to work or don’t eat. People chose eating

    2. It’s the secular version of “Inshallah!”

  13. Why do you think I’ve been hiding in the basement for months? -Joe Biden

    1. “I wear two masks. Better safe than elected”.
      -Joe Biden

  14. The anti-social misfits and disaffected malcontents have always been among us.

    And, in America, they are always losers. They get to whimper and rant as much as they like, but they will comply.

    Carry on, clingers . . . but, as always, just so far and so long as better Americans permit.

    1. but, as always, just so far and so long as better Americans permit.

      Yes, your betters do permit you to spew you drivel on this site.

      Carry on clinging, Kirkland. It seems that’s all you’ve got.

    2. I think we found Keith Olbermann’s account.

    3. Does anti social include dying ones hair green and setting buildings on fire?

    4. Who are these clingers who talk about and what do they cling to?

      1. Morons that cling to the Constitution.

    5. Your goose stepping is getting awfully loud

      1. At least he’s toned down the rapeyness.

    6. America was founded by disaffected malcontents. I suspect the good Reverend would have been hopping the first ship out of New York with the other Tories.

  15. These lockdowns, much the same as Antifa arson, and looting, are aimed at small-to-medium-sized private entrepreneurial businesses, which are the ones that need peaceful, orderly streets in order to thrive. The neo-progressive, anti-police factions – represented by authoritarian governors and mayors (who, ironically, sic the police on mask and lockdown violators) and backed by their informal terror wing WhiteAntifa – view the owners of these businesses as fascists for supporting police presence (payed for by their own taxes and collected by the government), and therefore deserve shutdown and ruin.

    1. These lockdowns, much the same as Antifa arson, and looting, are aimed at small-to-medium-sized private entrepreneurial businesses, which are the ones that need peaceful, orderly streets in order to thrive.

      COVID aligns well with the interests of big corporations and Wall St

      – small businesses must close or raise capital
      – the fed prints money that Wall St and corporations can use to snap up the assets of failed small businesses

      It also lines up well with the interests of Chinese:

      – COVID increases acceptance of authoritarian restrictions and tracing
      – China can use its trade surplus and foreign assets to snap up businesses cheaply

    2. The COVID lockdowns (which were not enforced on the mostly peaceful protests/open bonfires/100% off retail sales) were a thinly veiled attack on small business owners, who skew reliably Republican. Big businesses have the cash reserves or the ability to float more stock or debt to make it through a crisis, and can be reliably shamed into woke policies on Twitter.

  16. People think the presidential election will be the most important thing. It is not. Not even close. The routine change in politician in chief does not matter.

    What does matter, what is going to change the course of history, is this pandemic and the government’s response to it.

    We’re already seeing conspiracy theories taking hold that it’s all a hoax, that it’s just the flu. It fits some people’s narrative so they go with it despite its ridiculousness. The other side is just as nutty. To them the virus is the plague. I have a friend who literally did not leave his apartment for the first three months, and expressed his desire that this state of affairs should never end. He did get out, and now routinely complains about joggers he sees not wearing masks.

    So I see the bubble culture continuing. One side will assert that arbitrary rule by governors and local officials is necessary. The other side will assert that only a single populist leader can ever save them from the depredations of the governors, and he must have absolute and arbitrary rule. Either way the rule of law is dead, never to be resurrected.

    1. So I see the bubble culture continuing.

      There are two sides because we have two parties. We have two parties because of the way our electoral system is designed. So this isn’t “bubble culture”, it’s the way it’s supposed to work.

      One side will assert that arbitrary rule by governors and local officials is necessary.

      Correct: that would be the Democrats. But they are going further: they want the same arbitrary and draconian rule at the federal level.

      The other side will assert that only a single populist leader can ever save them from the depredations of the governors,

      Good so far.

      and he must have absolute and arbitrary rule.

      Really? Where does “the other side” insist on that? Where has Trump imposed “absolute and arbitrary rule”? I see a president who has started no wars, respected executive limits much more than his predecessors, complied even with absurd legal rulings, cut regulations, and appointed law abiding (rather than activist) judges. All the chest beating comes about his supposed authoritarianism comes from two groups: journalists who are called out by him, and unelected bureaucrats who hate that he taking away their power.

      Either way the rule of law is dead, never to be resurrected.

      People like you are killing the rule of law, subsidiarity, and liberty by misrepresenting both sides in the federal elections as authoritarians. I can only guess whether that’s an attempt at propaganda or whether you really are that ignorant.

  17. A Plague of Pandemic Restrictions Builds Herd Immunity to Arbitrary Rules. Expect widespread cynicism toward official dictates to linger after the virus is history.

    Widespread cynicism about official dictates is a common trait of socialist states. Unfortunately, it does nothing to advance the cause of liberty.

    And it will become increasingly unwise to show such opposition to official policy publicly. Social media make enforcement of socialist norms much easier than the old STASI.

  18. In California, Gov. Karen Tiresome finally said that fans could attend pro sporting events in the a few counties with the lowest infection rates, including San Francisco and Santa Clara county (where the 49ers play), but not LA.

    Santa Clara County health nazis said “are you crazy man? we aren’t allowing 14,000 fans in a 70,000 seat stadium, like countless other pro and college teams are doing across the country! That’s a super-spreader event waiting to happen! Sure, people are sitting outside and socially distancing, but they have to use the same restrooms!”

    The 49ers should go play their home games in San Francisco, if they can find a suitable stadium.

    1. College football is up and running.

    2. “Sure, people are sitting outside and socially distancing, but they have to use the same restrooms!”

      Restrooms? Why can’t they just crap on the sidewalk? It’s not like anybody will notice.

  19. Even after all this, it seems like plenty of people are clamouring for the government to clamp down even more. I don’t trust 50% of the population to not want more shut downs

  20. Sweden didn’t shut down businesses (and was widely condemned by lockdown advocates in governments and left wing news media), and yet Sweden’s daily Covid death rate has been lower than the US rate since June 26.

    Since August 1, Sweden’s daily Covid death rate has been below 0.33 per million (i.e. 3 deaths per day in Sweden) and has averaged about 0.22 per million (i.e. 2 deaths per day in Sweden).

    I sharp contrast, since May 26, the US daily Covid death rate has ranged from 2.08 to 3.47 per million, and is now 2.23 per million (i.e. 735 deaths per day in the US).
    https://ourworldindata.org/coronavirus-data-explorer?zoomToSelection=true&time=2020-03-01..latest&country=USA~SWE&region=World&deathsMetric=true&interval=smoothed&perCapita=true&smoothing=7&pickerMetric=gdp_per_capita&pickerSort=desc

    But instead of revealing how Sweden’s response has been (to date) far more successful in reducing Covid deaths (and new cases) than the US and many other countries that had lockdowns, the anti Trump news media has written lots of articles highlighting the recent increase in new cases throughout Europe (most of which locked down similar to Democrat states in the US).

    1. Since August 1, Sweden’s daily Covid death rate has been about 10 times greater than the US rate, but no news stories.

  21. yeah, the government overstepped and fumbled this whole mess terribly. a part of me is glad to see people have a growing distrust of government…. but part of me is saddened by how the need to go to extremes has driven people to embrace absurdly stupid arguments. the problem with hyperpartisanship is that everybody on all sides sounds like an idiot.

    1. It’s only polarizing people.

      Those who had a cinch of cynicism about gov action are now fully cynical. However, those who had even basic trust in gov now trust them emphatically.

  22. “Perhaps the only thing worse than being subjected to seemingly arbitrary and intrusive rules imposed to fight a pandemic is when those same rules fail to accomplish their goals.”

    You could pretty much substitute the actions of governments pursuing about any goal.

  23. expect widespread cynicism toward official dictates to linger after the virus is history.

    Great news!!!

    If it were only true. Many cowards will salute the government even more readily; only the brave will push back.

  24. Very interresting post, thank you for share.

  25. I’m not satisfied with “cynicism toward official dictates [tending] to linger”. Such cynicism needs to GROW. Defiance is key to removing or nullifying bad law.

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