By Darren Smith, Weekend contributor
I have to wonder if our state government’s lockdown of the population, curtailment of civil liberties, destruction of job opportunities, and denial of basic medical, education, and cultural needs would have been necessary and legally justified had each of us been equipped with our own supply of masks.
At the beginning of the self-declared State of Emergency, Washington Governor Jay Inslee declared, among many other restrictions, that access to basic medical services, such as routine doctor visits, dental procedures, diagnostic services were to be prohibited, ostensibly on the fact that masks should be diverted from these services and conserved to supply hospitals and critical care centers that were lacking in preparedness and woefully out of stock. He further reiterated that because the public will spread corona virus, we were ordered to self-quaranteen, resulting in tens of thousands of job losses, an upset in daily life and the general loss of liberty.
Before the next virus crises hits, I propose we adopt a new symbol of American Freedom and Liberty–The N95 Mask–and shield ourselves from the next outbreak of panic legislation and overreach by executive and administrative power
Washingtonians, can debate whether or not the actions of our state government was reasonable or necessary, but the fact is that what is happening here provides a strong lesson in what life is like when freedom is taken away, and of the great importance of preventing a similar environment. It was not the corona virus that led to this, the upheaval was the result of mandates forced upon us by politicians and agency bureaucrats. Surely COVID-19 was the impetus, but government proclamations were the instrument. And that instrument can be wielded in the future regardless if there is an actual threat or enemy if we do not learn how to restrain government overreach.
We are told that we cannot hunt for food, attend funerals for those who are not of our immediate family, attend church, peacefully assemble, purchase clothing, work in some of our chosen occupations, visit public parks and forests, visit our dentist or doctor for needed but not emergency health care, travel outside our areas of residence, and in other states be outside our homes past 9:00 p.m. If we do so we are subject to arbitrary restrictions under threat of arrest. Presumably this was partially due to shortages of masks and the transmission potential of viruses. Health care workers are permitted to attend to COVID-19 patients, is there any reason we cannot live a lifestyle of our own choosing if we all instead simply adorned ourselves with N95 masks when in the public arena or at work?
I find it difficult to believe that the Courts here would not frown upon the governor and state agencies claiming a legitimate state interest in curtailing liberty as we have seen recently had each of us had the universal ability to wear masks and go about our lives as we did previously. Had hospitals not failed to adequately stock their warehouses with PPE supplies such as masks and other sundries and not relied on the economics of “Just in Time” supply chain strategies the state could not fully justify the mandate for dental offices and basic health care providers to cut services on the rubric of masks being in short supply. How could the state also justify restricting the public’s right to assemble in public, keep their shops open, or engage in their chosen profession when we each have masks that would make transmission of disease negligible? The Courts do not view the power of government to restrain freedom during an emergency as absolute.
Rather than punishing society and coercing us under penalty of arrest through proclamations of emergency, we should instead demand that we be accomodated to protect our liberty by allowing us or giving each household a supply of protective masks and gloves. We might actually save more lives than we are by treating the symptoms of disease at the expense of jobs and freedom. Perhaps we should go from politicians promising a chicken in every pot, to a box of N95 masks in every medicine cabinet. It would actually be much cheaper in the end than wrecking our economy and our livelihoods.
By Darren Smith
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