As Americans returned to the festive Thanksgiving celebrations that many forewent last year for fear of the dreaded virus, a new threat rose across the Atlantic. The newly dubbed omicron variant of COVID19 has aggressively swept through southern Africa and has made beachheads in Asia, Europe, and North America. It will only be a matter of time before we find it in America.
While we are still learning about the omicron variant, we have learned that the short- and long-term consequences of overreacting to a virus are incredibly damaging. The stock market, as a leading economic indicator, has already begun factoring in more destructive public policy responses to omicron. We must do all we can to prevent more reactionary and damaging public policies.
What we know about omicron is developing quickly. It seems to spread much faster than the original virus — similar to the delta variant. It does not appear to be more deadly than the original version of the virus out of China. We do not yet know if the current vaccines will do much good against it, but natural immunity seems to be as strong as ever. We also know that attempts to keep it out of America are futile. It is a highly transmissible virus and will find a way to burn through available hosts.
What we absolutely know for certain is that shutting down our economy, shuttering schools, and abandoning normalcy has been devastating to our society. We are still reeling from disastrous public policy decisions and the willingness of people to subserviate everything to the cause of virus mitigation.
With the thought that we must prevent people from being close to other people to prevent the spread of the virus, we allowed our government to close businesses. This act forced many people out of work and businesses into bankruptcy. We also allowed our government to force people to stay in their homes and in the futile hope that the virus would pass us by.
In hindsight, such actions did very little to stem the spread of the virus. The spread of the virus in states and cities that had draconian lockdowns differs little from those that were more liberal with their policies. The economic statistics and personal toll from the places with more aggressive lockdowns are heart-rending. We must not be ruled by fear and allow our government to force us to lock down again.
In response to the fact that the government forced people out of work and businesses into insolvency, our federal and state governments overreacted with poorly thought-out welfare schemes. This, coupled with the nation’s socialists seizing the opportunity to advance their unpopular agenda under the cover of pandemic relief, has launched a bevy of destructive programs and unleashed the scourge of high inflation that we have not seen in a generation. We must not be ruled by fear and allow our politicians to “fix” the problems they created.
The shutdown of our government schools will harm our children and our society for a generation. The evidence from private schools that remained mostly open versus schools that shut their doors shows that denying children education had little to no impact on stemming the virus. It did, however, have a cataclysmic impact on the children’s education. Recent school report card data in Wisconsin shows a dramatic decline in educational performance even after they lowered the standards. Those are months and years of education that our children will never get back. We must not be ruled by fear and shut down our schools.
For both adults and children, the negative impact of shutdowns and lock-outs on mental health has been horrendous. Suicides, drug addiction, depression, anxiety, and other mental health issues have increased dramatically since our government began overreacting to COVID-19. We must not be ruled by fear and force people into isolation.
In conjunction with the societal deconstructing pro-crime insurgency of antifa and others, our public policy responses to COVID-19 have precipitated an explosion in crime — particularly violent crime. With less employment, more addiction, and defunded police departments, criminals have more freedom to wreak havoc than they have in decades. One could argue that the lengthy court delays in Milwaukee due to closing courts contributed to keeping the alleged Waukesha Christmas Parade killer on the streets well after he should have been imprisoned for previous crimes. We must not be ruled by fear and prevent speedy and judicial enforcement of the law. Finally, last year we allowed our government officials to completely abandon our electoral system for fear of the virus. We spent centuries crafting an electoral framework to allow free and fair elections where laws were made in the light of day by elected officials. We threw all of that in the garbage last November and allowed government officials to make up the rules as they went along. We must not be ruled by fear and abandon self-governance.
COVID-19, of any variant, is something to take seriously. Please take the time to wash your hands, avoid unnecessary contact, stay home if you are sick, get vaccinated if you choose, and take other reasonable steps to keep yourself and your loved ones from getting ill. But we must not be ruled by fear and give up our way of life. The virus is here to stay in one form or another. We must get on with living.
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