In the late 1960s, while still a teenager, I first saw this phrase in a Life magazine. It was spray-painted in large red letters on a white wall. (Yes, there once was a magazine comprised mostly of photojournalism).
These two words made quite an impression on me. Remember, those were the times when the social order was rapidly changing. The radical ideas of the “counter-culture” were being expressed in clothing, sexuality, music, drugs, education, and how citizens viewed their relationship to government.
Something tells me that we have again arrived at another pivotal moment.
Recently there was a fascinating court ruling in Texas involving the owner of a hairdressing salon who defied a government order to remain closed. The owner was arrested and placed in jail, in part because she refused to apologize in court for her actions. The apology was mandated by a judge who had lost sight of how to deal with her situation in a fair and balanced manner*.
Perhaps you have come across it. If not, then check out these two links:
So why is this worth writing about, why is it important, and why is it important now?
The immediate overnight reaction by those in power in Texas (State Governor/Attorney General) shows that in a democracy, the balance of power remains in the hands of the citizens, not the government.
All governments are acutely aware of it. No government wants a resistive spark to become a roaring flame of revolt.
So what happened in Texas in the non-descript courtroom of a county judge was that resistive spark. Not only that but with all of the added tension caused by the economic and social disruption of the virus situation, citizens are obviously in no mood to be subjected to ridiculous rulings by an egocentric judiciary.
That is why the next day, the de facto reversal of the court ruling was so swift.
Government leaders in Texas quickly recognized that this injustice could have easily spiraled out of control and become a very large and very nasty problem.
As the rules regarding reopening various business activities continue to be relaxed, state and local governments need to show good judgment and be receptive to dealing with their citizens on a case-by-case basis.
Governments can not use a “one shoe fits all” approach.
“Getting Back to Normal” is now the new “rallying cry.” The only hitch is that “Normal” may mean many different things to many different individuals or groups. I do not envy the task of government, which now must try to be “all things to all people.”
The next few months will no doubt be filled with uncertainty. What works? What doesn’t?
And, of course, the financial markets will continue to try to re-define normal as it applies to them. So far, interest rates remain above zero. This seems normal for now, but will it be in 6 months or a year later? For now, the stock market is shaking off bad news like a dog after a bath. Is this normal? We will see.
Investors are starting to grapple with their financial futures, now that the “shock” of the virus is subsiding. It seems like we are moving toward that stage where, like in the 1960s, we are starting to “Question Authority.”
It is pretty clear that 2020 will go down in history as the year that government and citizens found enough common ground to strike a compromise acceptable to both of them, despite very difficult and uncontrollable circumstances. The virus is a poster child for a “Black Swan” event.
As far as citizens are now concerned, I am reminded of a brief and poignant summary by Voltaire: “It is dangerous to be right when the government is wrong.”
Now is the wrong time in history for government to be wrong…
*This is a most interesting topic because it’s not an easy one to take sides on. We just witnessed this with Tesla and Elon Musk. Tesla is in the midst of suing Alameda County for not allowing Tesla to reopen its factory.
Via Business Insider:
“In the lawsuit, Tesla alleges the shutdown ignores an earlier order from California Gov. Gavin Newsom that permits businesses in “16 crucial infrastructure industries,” including transportation, to continue work. It alleges the decision is both unconstitutional and “inexplicable” and says there is “no rational basis” for the facility’s closure.”
And, despite Alameda County rules, Tesla has reopened the factory – just as the owner of a hairdressing salon did in Texas.
So far, Alameda County has not arrested anyone – instead, they have chosen to remain diplomatic.
We’ll have to see how this plays out, but the point is this: which side does one choose?
Elon is mostly loved by his followers; however, in this case, some of them are calling him a greedy capitalist pig. But is that his intention?
As I have mentioned before, when civilization reaches a peak, the rulers must divide the citizens in order to maintain control. This division helps prevent any sort of an uprising, and has been a strategy by may rulers throughout history.
Most of N. America is already divided. You’re either all for Trump, or all against him – there is no middle ground. The same goes for Canada; all for Trudeau, or all against him. Left vs Right. There’s no more in-between.
Then, all of a sudden, COVID-19 hits the world.
The division grows.
You either think this disease will wipe out millions – or you believe it’s a bad flu. There is no in-between.
So where do I stand?
I am on Elon’s side here. I have been since this virus broke out. Not because I do not care about people getting sick. But because I am a logical person who would rather deal with real math and science versus fear.
And there is a lot of fear right now.
For example, just as reports begin to surface about the CFR rate in New York showing a zero death for those under 18, New York’s Andrew Cuomo – a democrat – immediately strikes fear by stating that three children may have died from COVID-19.
Via New York Times:
“A mysterious syndrome has killed three young children in New York and sickened 73 others, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo said on Saturday, an alarming rise in a phenomenon that was first publicly identified earlier this week.
The syndrome, a toxic-shock-like inflammation that affects the skin, the eyes, blood vessels and the heart, can leave children seriously ill, with some patients requiring mechanical ventilation. Many of the symptoms bear some resemblance to a rare childhood illness called Kawasaki disease, which can lead to inflammation of the blood vessels, especially the coronary arteries.”
Perhaps that’s why, as I mentioned before, doctors may actually be forced to mark COVID-19 deaths on death certificates* without testing for the diseases itself – they need to keep the hospitals open.
(*in a past post, I revealed how US hospitals are being given US$13,000 for every COVID-19 patient, and an additional $39,000 if they go on a ventilator.)
Back to Elon.
Elon is a modern-day genius – there’s no arguing that. He’s better at math than I am. He’s better at science than I am. And you can bet he has done his math and science homework on just how deadly this COVID-19 disease is. Perhaps people forget that the flu killed more than 650,000 people in the 2017 flu season. But life went on. Anyone that believes Elon cares more about making money than humanity clearly does not know the man. The guy wants us to go to mars because he believes it’s the only way for humans and conscious life to continue its existence in the future! Why would someone with that mentality want to put people at risk?
Elon wants to persevere life, not get rid of it!
If he believes COVID-19 isn’t that deadly, he must have done his research.
The reality is this: those with money can easily sit this one out for many years, including Elon. It is those who have little that are the most affected. They could lose their life savings. They could lose their homes. And when they do, the rich can buy it for pennies on the dollar. So, if the “rich” want people to get back to work, it’s likely because they care about people – not the other way around. Just think about how it makes you feel when a celebrity, sitting in his/her sprawling mansion, tells you to stay at home – while you question whether or not you will have a job tomorrow. Like this: https://twitter.com/gretaleejackson/status/1253507484305637376?s=12
I am sure there will be those who disagree. But that is precisely where the world is today.
Seek the truth,