By Darren Smith, Weekend Contributor
The restrictions enforced against Washingtonians are approaching absurdity. Somehow Washington State believes that fishing alone in the middle of Banks Lake will lead to worsening the COVID19 outbreak, so it banned recreational fishing. Yet going into a crowded big box store to panic-buy toilet paper and bags of flour is legal and safe.
Is there a threat that we the public are not aware. Is it that Corona Viruses from China can waft into the jet stream and drop like paratroops onto fisherman at Westport? Might it be frightfully possible that we may be swallowed whole by mutant razor clams lurking beneath the sand. What, if we may ask, is this horrorshow?
I suspect it is one of the worst kind of threat…a government agency given too much authority.
The Corona Virus seems increasingly a popular vehicle to lay blame and justify extreme actions lately on behalf of government. Yet whatever the actual threat, the failings of individuals and agencies running the show still remains but its damaging ability is now at egregious levels.
Is this latest seizure of our freedom to live a life of our own choosing just another example of a blunder, a power hungry bureaucrat, or the yearning to “do something” blown out of reasonable proportion? I have to admit I have so little faith in our state’s leadership it is difficult to ascribe some of its actions to benevolence and not to incompetence and foolhardiness.
Washington State for years manages to come up with plenty of case studies for Hanlon’s Razor, that is…
Never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by stupidity.
Unfortunately having witnessed both malice and stupidity at such strong measure in the state’s government, it is rather a philisophical struggle to determine if a given situation is more greatly influenced by either element. Both are equally possible, and may be actually derivitive of one another. Neither is respectable, but often present if not dominant.
On March 23rd, WA Governor Inslee clamped down on Washingtonians, effectively restraining citizens from engaging in activities that involve social interaction, congregating, and performing any activity outside the home that is not otherwise given an exception–such as engaging in buying groceries, travel to essential services employment, or seeking emergency treatment. All are under threat of criminal prosecution if citizens do not comply with his proclamation.
Somehow the state’s department of fish and wildlife missed the fact that fishing involves gathering food and outright banned all fishing and shell fish harvesting–everywhere in the state. The agency claims that it is acting pursuant to the governor’s “Stay Home – Stay Health” mandate. The governor’s proclamation makes no such mention of fishing, but does delegate to the bureaucracy and department heads the ability implement the governor’s directives. That effectively gives the administrative state a wide swath of unilateral authority to restrain the public and then invoke a criminal penalty that was not specifically enacted by the legislature.
Completely absent form the public forum has so far been members of the state legislature who have remained surprisingly silent on expressing any pushback or questioning of some of this type of over-reach, whereas with this governor, among the opposition, there was previously continual rebuke against the governor’s actions for most of what he did or represented.
The actions of the Department of Fish and Wildlife are dubious in my view. If the concern legitimately is keeping a six foot distance between fishermen then why is this not recommended by the department? Instead every lake, stream, ocean and pond in the state is off limits to recreational fishing. That is a great amount of distance and area. Washington has 3.026 miles (4,870 km) of coastline according to the NOAA method. In area it has 4,757 square miles of water. With a population of 7,614,000, about a third of all the human beings living in the state could maintain the recommended six feet of distance from one another and simultaneously fish every foot of Washington’s Coastlines. Apparently mathematics is not the measure of policy. It is the fact that ANY fishing in the state will allegedly spread the virus. Fishing alone in the middle of nowhere, causes death and suffering apparently.
The entire affair is really an insult to us as adults; that we cannot on our own accord use reasonable measures to determine our own health and safety.
I have to ponder what is the ACTUAL reason for these draconian restrictions. Is there truly an ulterior motive? Is this just another measure to restrict fishing under the rubric of a virus in the air? I do not believe we the public will be given this information if this is the case. It is just the same type of political opportunism as bypassing the legislature’s Landlord Tenant Law by Gov. Inslee allowed him to make changes to some judicial processes regarding tenant evictions. The virus provided this opportunity.
Returning to Hanlon’s Razor, could it instead be that the leadership of the Department of Fish and Wildlife truly is this stupid?
Given our experience here with various debacles by government agencies and the incompetence manifest therein it might simply be they are in fact of such profound small mindedness that they are over-reacting just to jump on Gov. Inslee’s bandwagon, seeking to enthrall him with the fact that they are the most forward thinking and resolute department heads in the state. I suspect it involves a high degreee of hubris on behalf of these individuals who overly pride themselves on their ability but fail to use good judgment and common sense. Who knows? But whatever the motivation, the result is the same. The public was dismissed and thrown under the bus once again by an unelected department head that took away basic rights of people recklessly.
One must also not forget the potential for paradoxial effects. The continued over-reach and over-reaction by the administrative state of Washington and its politicians could eventually result in a pushback effect by the public if these agencies do not learn to control their impulses to take away freedom and basic human needs from the public. Every few business days here has brought yet another greater restriction prosecuted against the public and it could result in people losing faith and defying or ignoring future proclamations that might actually be reasonable in scope. Taking extreme measures such as what Fish and Wildlife did is not helping anyone.
By Darren Smith
The views expressed in this posting are the author’s alone and not those of the blog, the host, or other weekend bloggers. As an open forum, weekend bloggers post independently without pre-approval or review. Content and any displays or art are solely their decision and responsibility.