Right wing pundit Sarah Hoyt has been at the forefront of those arguing that it would be better and safer to accept the risk of more deaths from the Wuhan virus than to allow state governments to behave like police states. So far, I have thought she was wrong and unduly paranoid, but Vermont’s latest action has me agreeing with her response, which was, “I’M SORRY. ARE THE PEOPLE OF VERMONT ALL OUT OF MIDDLE FINGERS?”
From the Burlington Free-Press (Bernie Sanders was once mayor of Burlington. That’s just something to keep in the back of your mind, as this episode suggests the slow but deadly spread of the Totalitarian Left Virus, which may eventually need to be called “the Burlington Virus”):
Large Vermont retailers such as Target, Walmart and Costco are now required to limit the sales of non-essential items in order to mitigate the spread of COVID-19. The directive was announced by the Agency of Commerce and Community Development on Tuesday. The agency hopes it will reduce the overall number of people going into stores to purchase items such as clothing, electronics and toys during the state’s “Stay Home, Stay Safe” executive order.
“Large ‘big box’ retailers generate significant shopping traffic by virtue of their size and the variety of goods offered in a single location,” said Lindsay Kurrle, secretary of the Agency of Commerce and Community Development in a news release. “This volume of shopping traffic significantly increases the risk of further spread of this dangerous virus to Vermonters and the viability of Vermont’s health care system.”
Retailers are being asked to promote online ordering, delivery and curbside pickup to customers….
The order is here.
What this order does, please note, is direct that citizens cannot buy what they feel they need (it is not the government’s job to tell you what items are “essential”—this is a core element of the Second Amendment deniers’ brief as well) even if they are in a store to buy food there. To make this vast—yes, we can finally use the term “draconian”—draconian example of government over-reach at work, Vermont’s little dictators will also have to ban grocery stores and pharmacies from selling “non-essential items,” won’t they? You’re wearing your mask (I use my beautiful 1950s Roy Rogers and Dale Evans authentic nylon neckerchief, which I pull up over my nose and mouth. Yesterday at the grocery store the checkout clerk jumped, laughed, and said she thought it was a hold-up); there’s nobody within ten feet, the streets look like scenes from an old nuclear air raid film, but you mustn’t buy “non-essentials” even if they are right next to the eggs.
See, can’t have that, because it means that you might have actually left the house to buy that eggbeater (Use a fork, Comrade! A fork is good enough!) and only purchased the eggs as a spur of the moment thing, rather than replenishing your egg supply and buying the eggbeater on a whim. NO WHIMS! WHIMS ARE UNNECESSARY! It’s impossible for Vermont to know your true intent, so it’s going to just eliminate your options.
Having options is what liberty is all about.
I am officially alarmed. You should be too.
The order by the state and its “Bananas”-style dictator, Governor Phil Scott bans the in-store sale of this list of items:
“Arts and crafts items.
Carpet and flooring.
Entertainment (books, music, movies).
Home and garden.
Clothes? Clothes are non-essential in Vermont? If my office desk chair breaks, and it’s about to, getting a replacement isn’t essential, according to Herr Scott? Online ordering is taking weeks in many cases, as I have discovered already to my sorrow, but if I worked and lived in the People’s Republic of Vermont, I would be an enemy of the state if I went to Costco, Walmart, or Target, so to foil me, as well as mothers who need new toys or a new video to keep their children from going mad and strangling them in their beds, and citizens who need soap because we’re supposed to wash our hands thousands of time a day, those stores can’t sell those items even though they are open.
Got it. I don’t accept it, but I get it.
I’m with Sarah, and commenters here who have said that they feel like the proverbial frog being slowly boiled to death. Writes Ethics Alarms commenter Mrs. Q, hardly a hysteric, in her reaction to Chris Marschner’s Comment of the Day addressing this issue,
It seems, and I apologize for this sounding dramatic, like we’re seeing technocratic socialism unfold before our eyes in this country. It’s worse elsewhere to be sure, from drone surveillance to China’s insane but pretty much status quo social control. However something isn’t right about how our leaders in this country are handling not only this crisis, but us.
How we balance the needs of safety with liberty is always a challenge with no easy answers. I can’t fully address all aspects of the encroaching and readily accepted authoritarian measures in this comment. I plan to keep monitoring this as much as I can and hopefully pass on more cultivated insights.
But I have to ask:
Does anyone else wonder just what the hell is going on?
Oh, I don’t wonder, because what is going the hell on is what has gone on from the dawn of mankind, and long before Lord Acton observed, in the 19th Century, “Power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.” Small, petty and ambitious men and women, endowed with power they are not qualified to wield by education, experience, depth of intellect or quality of character, look upon an emergency as an opportunity to exercise the limits of their power, rather than to try to accomplish their goals while infringing on the public’s liberty as little as possible, which, as leaders in a democracy, ought to be their goal.
This step by Vermont—let’s leave unexamined for now how the state got this way—is the democracy canary gagging and coughing in a dark mine. The Big Box stores and the public need to push back, hard and quick, before it is too late–in court, in illegal demonstrations of more than whatever arbitrary limit this Governor has come up with by throwing darts.
I would go to jail for this cause.
To once again pull out my favorite Clarence Darrow quote, “In order to have enough liberty, it is necessary to have too much.” This isn’t enough.
Not even in a pandemic.