From the pen (keyboard) of former Washington County Sheriff Dale Schmidt.
On March 12th, Governor Evers declared a public health emergency. While his reason for the declaration may have sounded sensible, the orders he issued changed life for Wisconsin’s residents and businesses drastically. As we can see today, the orders were clearly a quick stop-gap response to the virus showing up in Wisconsin. Initially, their reach may be understandable as it provided time for information gathering and intelligent analysis of the problem. However, in America, when you make the decision to shutter businesses and restrict civil liberties to this extent, the next immediate priority must be finding a way to repeal that decision. That does not appear to be a priority for the Governor right now as the apparent strategy is to control the people and let the virus run its course where it can. We played defense enough, now we should be on offense.
This virus, and maybe more in the future, will be present for some time. Our economy, livelihoods and civil rights cannot accept these intrusive government restrictions any longer. We need to figure out how to have what we had before even with the virus present in our population. For this to happen, government needs to immediately transition from control of people, to a resource for the people. At this point, the only way to repeal that declaration is to cede the problem that caused it to the people and let them solve it organically. In other words, unleash the people and business owners to figure out the new normal. The state’s greatest resources, it residents and businesses, have been benched when needed the most.
Governor Evers needs to significantly refine his orders and repeal all parts that restrict individuals and businesses. The orders, updated frequently with recent data, should contain only meaningful “guidance” on best practices with reasons why they are important. The rest should only have to do with utilizing state resources and rules pertaining to government services such as unemployment.
Let’s have faith in our people and businesses. They will voluntarily follow guidance that makes sense. We have already seen exempted businesses make their own adjustments so customers feel safe enough to patronize them, and employees come to work. If the artificial government restraints are lifted, businesses will take whatever measures their customers expect, or there won’t be customers. Medical facilities will figure out what extra measures are needed to begin routine care again. Restaurants, theaters and other entertainment venues can decide if there is a feasible manner to operate that is responsible to customers, yet beneficial to their business. Even school districts can decide through their elected boards on how to proceed, or not, with classes for the next couple years.
Individuals will be mindful of their hygiene and be careful about their contact with at risk people, and at risk people will be more careful about their behaviors. Government’s role is to provide accurate, meaningful, and common sense guidance about our behaviors, not orders.
For the long term, only “voluntary” changes to our behavior will provide the environment necessary for an orderly and productive society. Only the people, by their knowledge, ingenuity, choices, and freedom can give us back, “…the pursuit of Happiness.”