The Misery Index: When will the governors give back their emergency power?

It’s a tough act to walk back, but now that they’ve had a taste of the emergency powers granted to them, all these governors and mayors are going to be very reluctant to give it back to the way things are supposed to be. Emergency powers need a time limit, yet none of them can give us one, nor do they want to which at this point is why this “flatten the curve” nonsense keeps getting pushed out into April and May. In the case of Mike DeWine, I don’t think the power has gone to his head as much as he knows that there are going to be serious ramifications coming his way in the wake of this mess in Ohio, where every day businesses are closing forever, people are committing suicide, divorces are happening at an increased rate and the state budget is getting decimated. So his abuse of the power is more out of self-preservation than anything else as he has allowed Amy Acton to dig everyone deeper and deeper into a hole of financial depression by staying closed much longer than was ever deemed necessary for a virus that in the end will turn out to be a pretty standard seasonal thing. They’ve painted themselves into a corner and there’s no way out without tracking through that paint and being accused of many bad things that nobody will forget.

The Covid-19 virus will spike in the coming days, but to date we only have under 20 deaths that are attributed to the virus. Many say that’s too many but if we look at every single life with a misery meter and judge them all the way we have tracked this virus where every person who gets it has their face plastered on television and the department of health steps in to force mass quarantines and further testing of targeted audiences, the numbers are always going to be skewed toward the state’s case for more emergency powers which then allows a governor to behave like a king and sidestep the legislature as long as they can deem the need for an emergency. If every person in Ohio were measured in the same way there would be more than 20 deaths caused by the state shutdown, the fights that wouldn’t have occurred otherwise, the suicides over financial ruin, the misery of weakened immune systems that wouldn’t have otherwise been sick if they had not been forced to hide in their homes and not indulge in the things they enjoy, which then made them sick of other things. Yeah, there is a mess in every state, Ohio is not the only one, and it will be Hell for all state governments for the foreseeable future that they overblew the statistics for Covid-19 to harness the power of emergency powers for their own varied needs. But in the wake of that, they caused a lot more misery and destruction than what the virus would have if they had just trusted the free market to handle the surge in need the way we always have in the past with other viral outbreaks.

What was different with this one is that we allowed ourselves to be dominated by many foreign powers, this time coming at us in the uniform of a scientist building models that overly stated death counts and functioning from all kinds of emotional needs at the World Health Organization. We trusted these people in our government to know better and they screwed up in a massive way and now that we all know it, they are buying time hoping to push off the inevitable. We’ve handled mass virus outbreaks just as bad as Covid-19 in the past, people got sick, they stayed home and when they got better they went back to work. We certainly didn’t try to ruin everyone’s lives over a fear of hospital capacity. And we certainly have not seen where so many places around the United States have used such a minor viral outbreak to acquire so much power for the state and its government in a king-like manner without knowing when they were going to give those powers back. That anxiety is costing even more lives and money by the hour. For instance, there are people who really love baseball season. There are companies who invest lots of money in seasonal tickets and some people get great joy in going to the park on a spring day to eat a hot dog and to watch a baseball game. There are sports teams like the Reds who have spent massive amounts of salary to have a good season for the city they represent, and all that investment and momentum is on hold over the fear of massive deaths that will never come. And those people have no visibility as to when all this might end, and they can plan their lives once again.

One of the themes of this reaction to the viral outbreak shut down plan has been lives matter more than money as if those were separate elements of life. But think of the thousands and thousands of small business restaurant owners who have lost their entire inventory of food because it’s shelf life has expired and they have no idea when they can start to place more orders because they don’t know when they can open. Think of Kings Island and Cedar Point, the big amusement parks in Ohio who have no idea when they can open, hire staff, or even purchase food for their concessions. The government know nothings advocating this shutdown might say, well, those are wealthy companies and they can figure it out. Well, they shouldn’t have to, government should never make itself an impediment to anybody’s success, and if the misery index were to follow each and every person the way they have tracked the Covid-19 virus government would see just how many lives they have ruined with these “safety” actions and that they made everything much, much worse than if they had just stayed out of it.

President Trump and the Senate are certainly guilty too. Taking over General Motors to make health equipment is not acceptable, nor is a 2 trillion-dollar bailout. I get Trump’s strategy and understand the necessity of the moves, but we should never have stuck ourselves into that situation to begin with. Future presidents will abuse their power many times worse because of the precedents set forth by Trump. We have set new standards on encroaching government into everyone’s lives over the overstated concerns of a normal, everyday, virus. For all of us, there are many major decisions that will have to be made as our reaction to this whole event will be scrutinized until the end of time, but at the heart of that is the massive amount of power that was abused during it without any forecast as to when governors, presidents and mayors would give that power back. They’ll show you all these charts showing peak viral infections as if that justifies all that they’ve been doing, but they can’t tell you when they will give that power back to the House and Senate of their states to stop the madness. They are all humans with fallacies, but that is the problem we should all have learned by now from history, we can’t give any one person ever this much power, especially for such an undetermined length of time.

I really think Mike DeWine means well. I think Amy Acton, from her point of view means well. Jon Husted the Lieutenant governor in Ohio I know means well—I’m sure of it. These are not bad people. But through their well-meaning actions they have screwed up just like any CEO might ruin the lives of the people working for their company if they make bad decisions. When people make mistakes, we have to limit the damage and in the wake of this crises, that was entirely a manufactured reality based on bad math and panicky people, many, many more lives have been lost and ruined than this Covid-19 virus will ever take. The amount of cases is not important because the state is seeking to use as much testing as possible to skew the numbers in their favor, but the death toll just isn’t going to be there to justify all the panic. The power grabs from the CDC and WHO cannot continue to use uncertainty to drag out this panic into seasonal awareness that continues to shut down everyone’s lives every couple of months for every little sniffle that we might get. What has been done already far exceeds what might be acceptable, and what is certain at this point is that we can never do it again.

Rich Hoffman

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