Plague, Pestilence, and Politics

In all the education about washing hands, in all the contingency plans, in all the comparisons with age-old diseases, there is one missing item about the reaction to the presence of COVID-19. Why is there such a massive reaction?

As with any action by government, we need to understand what the goal is. With that understanding, we can then assess if the solution proposed by the government is limited to the need. The response to COVID-19’s spread is no different.

Governments are made up of people. Those people have the same concerns and responsibilities as people not in the government. They do not want to get sick nor to have the people they care about and care for to become ill. Preventing any individual from becoming ill is not the role of a government, however.

Individuals have the responsibility for caring for themselves. There is a need to stay healthy by eating properly, avoiding environments that can trigger pre-existing conditions, and maintaining balance in one’s life. Each individual decides how to achieve those goals. As Libertarians believe, it is not a government’s right to tell people how they live or to be the cavalry riding in to save them from their choices.

Libertarians also believe that the choices they make should not do harm to others. With COVID-19 that means washing hands, avoiding others when ill, and respecting distance in general. It does not mean you need to stop enjoying the life you choose to live.

Libertarians will disagree on what role(s) governments should have in relation to COVID-19. Polk County Libertarians will have this topic for a Let’s Talk Liberty in a few months. One role could be making sure resources are available for diagnosing, treating, and minimizing the disease.

A recent As It Happens from the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation aired a segment in which there was a comment that one of Canada’s provinces has under 1,800 hospital beds available for treating patients. A worst-case scenario for the spread of COVID-19 suggested patients in that province in need of hospitalization to deal with the disease could be over 32,000.

Governments reacting to the spread of COVID-19 and the global pandemic are not concerned about any individual becoming ill. They are concerned about the resources being available to treat those who are ill, while also maintaining resources for all the other conditions for which people seek medical care. What Libertarians need to ask, in terms of policy, is what the balance is of limiting access to buildings, of cancelling events, and of shutting down free enterprise compared to keeping resources available to care for people’s health?

At this time, Polk County Libertarians are holding their regularly scheduled business meetings and discussion groups. We continue to invite interested people to attend and to learn more about us. We understand if you prefer to avoid gatherings, large or small, and ask you to stay informed and in touch by phone, email, or social media.

Stay well. Stay safe. Stay free.

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