Boots & Sabers

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0622, 05 May 20

Open Wisconsin now

My column for the Washington County Daily News is online and in print. Go pick up a copy!

This week, the Wisconsin Supreme Court is hearing arguments about whether or not to end Governor Tony Evers’ dictatorial rule and re-establish the Legislature as a co-equal branch of government. Hopefully the court will side with self-governance and strike down Evers’ unconstitutional power grab. When they do, the governor and Legislature will be left to wrangle over the best plan to reopen the state’s economy. What should the plan be? Get out of the way and let Wisconsinites get to work.

As other states go about opening their economies, they are doing so with a variety of plans. Some are very detailed plans with a strict metrics. Some are looser plans with a schedule of gradual opening. Some, like Governor Evers’ plan, are utterly unworkable and rely on arbitrary decisions made in the governor’s mansion. All of them are based on the incorrect presumption that some politician sitting in a leather chair in a faraway capital is better informed on how to safely open factories, retail stores, processing plants, and offices than the people who own and work in them.

Wisconsin’s experience is the perfect example. Evers closed the state without much of a plan. From the first day, confusion reigned as people tried to comply with the rules, but since the rules were vague and incomplete, Evers resorted to issuing various clarifications every few days. There was never any way that Evers, or his staff of lifer government bureaucrats, were equipped to fully understand the full consequences of the orders they were issuing. They were never going to be able to anticipate and respond to the way their orders rolled through society.

While Evers and his staff may be uniquely and especially bad, no small group of politicians and advisers would be experienced and smart enough to micromanage something on the scale of stopping or restarting an entire state’s economy. The reason Evers failed so badly is the same reason that socialism fails: central planning does not work.

That is why Wisconsin should not go down the failed path of central planning when reopening the economy. Instead, our state and local governments should assume the role of a humble government that uses its granted powers to support the people — not oppress them.

When the coronavirus crisis began, we were facing a very scary unknown danger. The early projections showed that the virus may kill millions, incapacitate many more, and overwhelm our health care system. Based on those projections, our governments responded with draconian measures. With the benefit of hindsight, we can argue about whether that response was warranted, but we have more information as we move forward.

While we are a long way from completely controlling or stopping the spread of coronavirus, we know a lot more about it and its spread. It is not as deadly as we thought. We have plenty of capacity in our health care system. The spread can be greatly mitigated by social distancing, washing hands, covering coughs, sanitizing surfaces, and staying home if you are sick. And the people who are at most risk of serious complications or death are the elderly and those with serious underlying conditions.

We have spent weeks learning about this virus and how to protect against it. We have shifted from dealing with a scary unknown risk to a scary known risk. That is why our government should step back and let the citizens manage the risk for themselves. The people all know how dangerous this virus is now and are perfectly capable of managing the risk just like we do for every other risk that confronts each of us every day.

No business owner wants their customers, employees, or themselves to get sick. No customer wants to put himself or herself at undue risk while shopping. No employee wants to work in unsafe conditions. But it is up to each of these groups of people – employers, employees, and customers – to work out how to interact with each other where everybody is comfortable. Those billions of interactions take nuance and understanding to do correctly. Nuance and understanding are not government’s forte.

While government should step back and let a free, self-governing citizenry open their own economy, we do need our government to do what government does well. We need our government to pool resources to be available to swamp any potential outbreaks. We need our government to provide the latest guidance and recommendations. We need our government to provide legal reform to limit liability for people who might be sued because of the virus.

Other than that, we need our government to get out of the way.


0622, 05 May 2020


  1. Kevin Scheunemann


    Don’t let the awful liberal trolls get you down when they explode on this one.

  2. John Schodron

    Why does “Government of the people, by the people, and for the people” always seem to get forgotten?

  3. Mar

    One thing the citizens of Wisconsin can do is start a recall drive against Herr Evers.
    In Arizona, a recall petetion started on Friday and miraculously, the next Monday, the governor announced that much of the state will be opened.

  4. jjf

    Excellent idea, Mar!  Get out there, engage the public in the square, circulate a few petitions, shake a few hands.

  5. Mar

    I would have no problem, jjf. Not 1 fear.
    I am not wuss like other people I know.

  6. jjf

    Sounds like you just lost all the wuss signatures.

  7. Pat

    There is a petition drive for the recall of Tony Evers sponsored by They need around 331,000 signatures. I’m not sure how many they currently have. I won’t be signing it for the same reason I didn’t sign the Walker recall petition.

  8. Mark Hoefert

    Sounds like the Governor is just starting to up the testing game in Wisconsin.  Wonder why that is taking so long?  Was that the reason for extending the Safe at Home order? According to local paper,  everyone in assisted care/nursing homes and staffs will be tested.  Well, duh, most of the first outbreaks and deaths were in those facilities.  Also announced is that there will be drive up testing for those with symptoms.  I know that testing of symptomatic people was the recommendation of the “experts” but then they changed their mind that we are also in danger of catching it from asymptomatic people.

    In the meantime, WI is ranked about 36 out of 50 states on testing per 1 Million population – 16,000/M compared to USA average 23,208/M.


  9. Mar

    From the Milwaukee County ME’s office:
    Weekend investigations: 13 probable OD’s, 13 COVID, 2 homicides, 2 probable accidental CO poisonings, 2 infants, 1 fatal MVA, and numerous natural deaths and suicides. Autopsies in progress. obvious that Milwaukee County is not being overrun with the Chinese virus.

  10. jjf

    That’s right, Mar – it’s moving out into the countryside.

  11. Mar

    jjf, if you take away Southeast Wi and Brown County, that pretty much is not true.

  12. dad29

    Jiffy’s grip on “facts” is always tenuous, Mar.

  13. Le Roi du Nord


    Tell that to Oconto county

  14. Mar

    According to Channel 6, they have 20 cases, spread out over the County.
    20 cases. Not that many.

  15. Mar

    Umm, Pat, has nothing to do with recalling the governor. You actually have to sign a petition in person, as opposed to doing it online.

  16. jjf

    And words like “moving out” are so hard to understand.

    If your rural county didn’t have any cases a month ago, and now it’s got a dozen, where do you think the numbers will be next month when it spreads through the Regular Folks who work at The Pack by day, and eat and sleep with their families at night?

  17. Mark Hoefert is just a platform for an online version of collecting signatures on petitions that carry no legal authority.  Just like most petitions are not worth the paper they are written on, online versions mostly not worth the computer space they take up.

    One of the popular ones right now is “Make Streaming Services Free To Encourage People to Stay Home During the Quarantine”.  Over 150,000 signatures. I think what is key to the success of that one is it has “Free” in the title.

    Another popular one is “$2000/Month To Every American.”  That is kind of a “free” thing too.

    Mar is right, there is a very specific legal process and format to petition for doing a recall of an elected official.  And some cheesy social justice warrior website does not make the grade.



  18. dad29

    If your rural county didn’t have any cases a month ago, and now it’s got a dozen, where do you think the numbers will be next month when it spreads through the Regular Folks who work at The Pack by day, and eat and sleep with their families at night?

    I dunno.  Maybe like the numbers for Influenza?  Herpes?

  19. jjf

    Keep playing, Dad29!  I’ll be happy with a wild-arsed guess.  Just “up” or “down” would be great.  You think I was wrong to say it was moving out into the rural areas?  Which fact did I get wrong this time?

  20. Mar

    Let’s play your game, jjf.
    If a rural county had 0 cases of the Chinese virus a month ago and now has 12.
    That comes 1 case every two days.
    So, using logic, then there might be a total of 24.
    But then, those original 12 would have been healed, passed away or possibly still hospitalized.
    Thus you still have about 12 cases.

  21. jjf

    You’re a regular trained epidemiologist, aren’t you Mar?

  22. Mar

    As opposed to you, genius?
    Go to the Channel 6 website where they have a daily map and it shows the number of cases of the Chinese virus in each county and my figures are borne out.

  23. Jason

    >You’re a regular trained epidemiologist, aren’t you Mar? 


    Little Johnny likes to attack credentials instead of the actual points raised.. as always.

  24. jjf

    Nope, Jason, but thanks for jumping in.  It’s what you do!

    You  know, Mar was “using logic.”  I questioned his logic.  He’s assuming linearity, right?  Where’d he get that from?

  25. Mar

    Gee, jjf, reading comprehension still bothering you?
    Oh well, a troll is a troll is a troll.
    But here goes again, troll. Channel 6 runs a daily map of the number of cases in each county.
    And rural Central and Northern Wisconsin has had a slow rise in the number of cases and most of those people have healed.
    Contradict that, genius.

  26. Jason

    >You  know, Mar was “using logic.”  I questioned his logic.  He’s assuming linearity, right?  Where’d he get that from?


    >You’re a regular trained epidemiologist, aren’t you Mar?

    This is not questioning his logic.  It’s attacking his credentials and pivoting away from his logic.   Are you a trained epidemiologist?   Maybe you need a bigger bookshelf?



  27. MjM

    DMOTP Jiffy asks: If your rural county didn’t have any cases a month ago, and now it’s got a dozen, where do you think the numbers will be next month

    If you are talking confirmed active cases it could be, given WI apx. 14 day doubling (not the 2.5 days our “experts” claimed)  24 or it could be 0.

    Bayfield co. took three weeks to go from 1 to 2, then 5 days to go from 2 to 3.   They have been at 3 total confirmed cases for 5 weeks with one 78-yr old who died.  Which means they now have 0 active cases.


  28. jjf

    Heck, MjM, then let’s open up Bayfield to the tourists from Milwaukee and Madison and Chicago!

  29. MjM

    DMOTP Jiffy cries: let’s open up Bayfield to the tourists from Milwaukee and Madison and Chicago!


    You do know that casual contact is the least of your worries, dontcha?

  30. jjf

    Casual contact?  Like in the meat processing plant?

  31. jjf

    MjM, yes, if you catch it, there’s a good chance you spread it at home.

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