Cuenca High Life logo

Ecuador News

Covid-19 is also a threat to our civil liberties

By Jack Kelly

The coronavirus pandemic has caused a large number of casualties—lives, economic ruin and massive unemployment. There’s another looming issue that we’re not talking about.

Frightening disruptions to the normal course of social and business routines are allowing the government to bring down the hammer on people’s lives. Afraid for their own jobs, politicians have historically employed draconian measures on their people under the guise of doing what’s best for them.

The reality is that the political class is self-interested. Our founding fathers never viewed serving in Congress or the government as a full-time career. It was an honor and duty to serve for a short period of time. They’d do their part, then quickly return to their farms, businesses and occupations. Today, being a politician is considered a full-time job—one that is held for decades.

If there is a chance that their decision could harm their careers, they’ll take the self-preservation route. With regards to reopening the economy, if a politician gives clearance to reopen businesses and then people die, they will be vilified and thrown out of office. If they don’t call for a reopening, less people would die (but they may lose their jobs, savings and business), which won’t be seen as bad for their long-term career.

A disturbing trend noticed throughout the outbreak has been the aggressive and heavy-handed way our officials have acted. We’ve been sternly directed to shelter in place with the thinly veiled threat of serious repercussions if we don’t comply. There have been numerous reports of people getting arrested or fined for being outside or walking alone on a beach. A clip went viral of a Philadelphia man being dragged off of a bus for not wearing a mask. Was the violent police response appropriate?

Whether you agree or disagree with the closing of businesses and orders to stay home, you’d have to acknowledge that it’s right out of George Orwell’s classic, 1984. Petty state bureaucrats  telling us to report people who may possibly be breaching social-distancing measures wreaks of an authoritative “Big Brother” controlling our every move.

Once rights are stripped away, it’s hard to get them back. When was the last time you saw a toll booth removed on a highway? We’re still required to take off our shoes before boarding a plane.

It’s not like we haven’t seen this happen in the recent past. After Sept. 11, we sacrificed our liberties for safety. According to a piece in the New York Times, looking back at the terror attacks 10 years later, “The Patriot Act undeniably expanded the government’s surveillance powers and the scope of some criminal laws.”

Out of fear of future terror attacks, we accepted abridged rights, including being eavesdropped on our phone calls by government agencies, the telecommunication companies sharing our information with law enforcement, our bank and investment accounts being scrutinized and being thoroughly searched like criminals before boarding a plane. Many people aren’t aware that we used to walk right up to the plane without two-hour waits, metal detectors and the TSA patting us down.

The government, along with the media allies, have suppressed dissenting opinions. On Twitter, accounts that offer different takes—outside of the norm—are suppressed. Zero Hedge, an irreverent and financially oriented blog, suggested that COVID-19 might have been started by a bioweapons lab in Wuhan, China, which did not conform to our accepted narrative. Rather than allow a different viewpoint, Zero Hedge was permanently banned from Twitter.

We’ve closed our borders, stopped flights in and out of our country and banned certain people from entering America. Texas and Ohio have banned almost all abortions.  How long will these measures be kept in place?

When you watch the daily press briefings of President Donald Trump, you will see a couple dozen reporters sitting a few seats apart from each other. Why is that permissible, yet churches are forced to close during one of the most important Christian holidays?

America is the mecca for people from around the world to emigrate to so that they could freely practice their religions without persecution. In a move that seems more appropriate for a brutal dictatorship, the government and states warned that churches should not keep their services, as too many people will be gathered together.

The Justice Department asked Congress for the chief judges to detain people indefinitely without trial during emergencies. According to Politico, this is only part of a larger strategy to push for new powers in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said that the  federal government is thinking of issuing certificates of immunity from the coronavirus. This may be enacted to better identify people who have been infected with the virus. When questioned, Fauci replied, “You know, that’s possible.”

Two tech giants that already hold most of our private data, Google and Apple, jointly announced an effort to use Bluetooth technology to alert people if they’ve been exposed to the coronavirus. Those who have contracted the virus or have signs of it will be outed. The American Civil Liberties Union brought up serious concerns about tracking users with phone data. The ACLU has called for a need to limit its scope.

How long will it be before we have to have our temperatures taken before we enter an office building? Prior to Sept. 11, you could have walked into any New York City office tower, ask for the person you wanted to meet with, go right to the elevator banks and up to the person’s office. Now, you have to wait in a line, show your driver’s license or passport, get your picture taken and be scrutinized by surly security guards.

Dr. Michael Ryan, executive director of the World Health Organization Emergencies Programme, said surveillance is part of what’s required for life to return to normal in a world without a vaccine. He also took it several steps further by saying, “Now, we need to go and look in families to find those people who may be sick and remove them and isolate them in a safe and dignified manner. Just so you know, we’re coming to your house, seizing your children and ‘isolating’ them in a safe and dignified manner, whatever that means.”

This has a direct bearing on your job and career. Think of how many people may be denied jobs because the Apple and Google tracker shows that you had, have or were in contact with someone who was infected with COVID-19. The human resources department will say that the company is truly sorry that it couldn’t hire you, as it has a responsibility to look after the health and well-being of its employees.

After this crisis ebbs, if you have to go to an airport to fly out and meet a client across the country, enter a building to attend an important meeting, go to a networking event or take out a customer for lunch, will you be required to show an ID card proving that you are healthy enough to enter the premises?

Consider what may happen to those with pre-existing health issues that render them susceptible to COVID-19 and future virus outbreaks. Will they be discriminated against? It will be difficult and expensive for companies to provide safe conditions for this group of people. It would be more convenient to pass on hiring or forcing them to be secluded by solely working from home.

It’s likely that new compliance and regulatory rules will be put into place. Laws will demand companies have a set distance between desks and the amount of people permitted to work in an office at the same time. The number of employees in an elevator or attending a meeting may be strictly monitored. Business matters that require air travel, stays at hotels and dining out at restaurants could be denied or closely regulated in fear of catching or spreading a virus. Companies may be forced to subject their employees to mandatory health checks and wearing masks.

The moves made by politicians and bureaucrats during the pandemic will have severe long-term repercussions for our careers and lives that could prove to be worse than the outbreak itself.

Credit: Forbes

32 thoughts on “Covid-19 is also a threat to our civil liberties

  1. “The moves made by politicians and bureaucrats during the pandemic will have severe long-term repercussions for our careers and lives that could prove to be worse than the outbreak itself.“ Not if you are already dead!

  2. Spot on but what do we do.? Many progressive policies are sold as being for the greater good while in reality they use the “greater good” to remove all personal responsibility and then force you to accept the yoke of “victimization” which is actually about control. When the high risk groups were being identified I wrote a friend saying in our part of the country the black community overall are really, really large people. A very high percentage are freak show large. I wrote that if being “large” with all of the associated health problems made you at high risk then the black community would be decimated. Now their problem is defined as the rest of us being racist. It’s like you watched a train wreck occur from half a mile away while minding your own business and they blame you.

  3. There has never been a “free” society that allowed its members to cause harm to others, either intentionally (criminal law sanctions) or unintentionally (civil law recompense). Most law is based on that. Thou shalt not kill. Thou shall not dent your neighbour’s car unintentionally without restitution.

    But Mr. Kelly does not adhere to this most basic of social concepts, part of the human species since we began to group together. But he is not alone, in some Western nations, “free speech” has become the right to lie and abuse others without consequence. That is very sad because democracy must have dialogue to develop and survive.

    In this instance, Kelly would have you believe that knowingly aiding in the spreading of one of the most deadly, most infectious plagues in humanity’s long history is ok…and preventing people from doing so is a violation of his rights. A single individual with his attitude can and has already caused 100s of 1000s more deaths and suffering with this virus than any mass murderer. So why not argue for the legalization of mass murdering? After all, if we can legalize corrupt financial and political practices and tax evasion, why not that?

    I am disheartened that the CHL publishes such stuff.

    1. You are terribly misinformed. First off, shutting down the world economy will kill so many more people than the virus will, hands down. World hunger will double they say, in just the next few months. The suffering is real. The gap between the rich and poor is getting much larger. Also, this pandemic is not deadly, 2% of the total cases are critical, mainly affecting those who are over 65 and have underlying health conditions. 80% of the population may have the virus and not show symptoms even for two weeks at a time, so if this virus really is highly contagious and as deadly as you say, are your suggesting we quarantine until a vaccine is available in 2021 so the 2% of the population who is vulnerable can get a vaccine? Why does everyone need to do the same thing? It make the most sense that each person and household makes a decision on how much risk they are willing to take. If you are vulnerable and afraid of contracting the virus, you have the personal freedom to stay home. If you aren’t vulnerable and you’re not afraid of getting the virus, why not have the personal freedom to leave your home? Seems like everyone gets what they want in this scenario. And I hope to god CHL doesn’t start censoring the information…

      1. Your entire post is no more than the assertion of your own belief as facts. I’ll listen to anything you have to say as long as you provide a rational basis for your claims. You don’t do that at all.

      2. Your math is flawed, the death rate is higher than that. There is 1.5 million confirmed cases in the states that are infected, 433,000 closed cases 90,000 deaths, if we double the recovered number to account for asymptomatic cases (they will not die from this) and add 5%more to the recovered to account for the lag in reporting (testing people that aren’t sick anymore isn’t going to be the highest priority). That’s 14.4% death rate… if you account for a constantly improving method of treatment that decreases every day. So I think it will average around 10% by the end of the year. At the current rate of 3,000 new cases per day, conservatively. That adds another 550,000 cases by years end. That’s 2,050,000 cases by 2021 at 10% death rate, approximately 205,000 deaths, and we’re not out of this yet unless they create a vaccine… yes this is only an estimate. (Statistics from worldometers)..
        Yes we need to reopen, we bought two months, did we get the infrastructure in place to keep the population safe when we open. That is what the lockdown is for, to buy the time to get things set for a safe reopening.
        I am a lifelong statistician, the data isn’t complete, I’m using the Italian and Spanish rates to fill in some of the rates. Not perfect but the best I can find.

    2. As usual liberals think you should have the right to their opinion and only their opinion. Here is one for you. I would get ready because I get the feeling the train is about to jump the track and when it does you will really be disheartened, maybe literally.

      1. Couldn’t the “other” side argue exactly the same as you are now doing? Your boogeyman is what you call “liberals” and I’m sure as hell not one of them, but I disagree with virtually everything you write and sometimes, when I’m not censored, I’m allowed to say why that is.

    3. I disagree with you, Levitan475. Your question as to why we don’t legalize mass murder is way off base here. I strongly agree with Mr. Kelly’s article and what he’s exposing for us.

      1. Yet you do such a poor job of articulating why you agree with Mr. Kelly and you don’t even attempt to explain why you believe that levitan475 is way off base. Please try to remember that something isn’t so just because you say it is so.

    4. It seems to me that there are a fair number of people that post on this site that claim to be libertarians. I’ve been a libertarian longer than most of these “so-called” libertarians have been alive. Frankly, they do nothing to advance libertarian beliefs with their ideological pursuit of a single, narrow issue, as if that is a proxy for what real libertarians stand for. This opens the door for statists like Jason Faulkner to denounce and dismiss us as anarchists who only want to see chaos prevail.

      I won’t bother you with a list of libertarian thinkers that have informed and forged my own libertarian beliefs, but I will say that nowhere in those pages did I ever see any of the pillars of libertarian thought argue for chaos and anarchy. As is the case in most belief systems, there is a hierarchy of the precepts that form the body of those beliefs. Anybody that suggests that the rights we libertarians claim for personal sovereignty somehow supersede the precept of not subjugating others to our own beliefs is a very misinformed libertarian. Allow me to state that in unambiguous terms as it applies to the current situation with the Covid-19 pandemic.

      I recognize all of the logical arguments for opening the economy as soon as possible and I understand the claim of the pseudo-libertarians that the lockdown is an infringement of their individual liberties. If they were arguing that the state has no right to prevent them from running in public, going to the park or conducting their business as they see fit, under normal circumstances, I’d be carrying their banner for them.

      However, we are not in normal circumstances. If exercising those rights under present circumstances puts any other member of the public in danger of losing their lives or health————- in other words, the lives or health of the public in general————– then their rights to the personal liberties they seek to exercise are trumped by the public’s right to life.

      Put in the simplest terms, if society needs to prevent you from jogging, going to the park or operating your business for a few months, in order to even reduce the possibility of your behavior endangering me or others, then even in libertarian thinking, you need to bear the burden of being deprived of your rights for a while until SCIENCE tells us that it is safe to restore the rights that I would otherwise be vociferously defending.

      1. Truly one of the most upside-down, convoluted, mind-bending distortions of the non-aggression principle that I think I have ever seen.

        Leonard Read is spinning in his grave.

  4. I would really like to know why CHL prints this type of inflammatory uninsightful nonsense.

    1. It’s called freedom of speech, Dana. While I don’t agree with much the writer has written, even if trite, I will cite my belief that even if I disagree with what you have to say, I will defend with my life your right to say it.

      Concomitant with that notion is my belief that the policies of censorship that CHL enforces on an exclusively adult site are puerile and misguided. Nor are they evenly enforced.

    2. Here’s an idea for you, Dana. If you don’t like what CHL is publishing, *don’t read it!*

      Similar approach to avoiding contracting CV-19. If you’re at risk or just afraid of contracting it, don’t go out.

      How’s that for non-inflammatory, insightful wisdom?

  5. I’m convinced liberals walk through life scared to death of their own shadows. The only thing they are interested in is people not rocking their boat, even if that means all of the other boats must sink. Well I would definitely cinch up your life preserver because I think there are rapids coming and people like me absolutely looooooooove rapids.

    1. Pray tell why the right-wingers aren’t scared to death of their shadows too. I have conservative relatives in Texas, who I dearly love (seriously) but they are obsessed with losing their big trucks, boats, fancy BBQ grills and their way of life — which consists of shopping at Costco and Walmart and hogging out on stacks of sausage biscuits at Hardees — will be taken away from them. Aren’t my folks and the liberals you speak of floating to the rapids in the same boat?

      1. If you see the fact that they are fighting for their “life styles” as being scared of their own shadows then so be it. What liberals want to do is decree what the rules of the road are and the rest of us just sit down, shut up and do as we are told. Well not this Texan sister. Let the games begin and the winner take all.

        1. Of course the reactionaries want to decree the rules of the road too. Same coin, different side.

  6. Good article. I have no problem with each state deciding how to proceed (states’ rights), and if the companies and citizens don’t like the regulations being imposed on them, they can move elsewhere.

Comments are closed.