By Ian Aikens | July 4, 2020
As the annual holiday most associated with the idea of liberty, it would not be an understatement to say that limited government took a massive hit this year. The virus was one thing, but the disastrous effects of the lockdowns will be felt for years to come. Worse still is what appears to be approval from most folks that the lockdowns were the correct course of action for state and local governments to take. While one can’t trust the mainstream media to put anything in perspective, I do believe a poll I read a few months back that 81% of the respondents did NOT want the lockdowns to end and were concerned about opening up too soon.
Incredibly, even here in the Live Free or Die state, it appears that most people have succumbed to the idea that “this time it’s different.” Really? If you check even the CDC records, in the 2017-2018 flu season, there were anywhere from 46,000 to 95,000 deaths in the US. For those with longer memories, you might recall the 1968-1969 Hong Kong flu season when an estimated 100,000 people perished in the US. Benjamin Franklin’s eternal words, “Those who would give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety” come to mind. Should our state motto be changed to read “Live Free AND Die”?
I moved to this state specifically because it had a reputation for being liberty-oriented. What a major disappointment when our governor issued Emergency Order #17 and required all “non-essential” Granite Staters to stay at home. Of course, many people were already cutting back on their social contacts as news of the virus was everywhere, but not everyone was, so the heavy hand of government stepped in to “protect” us. The initial emergency order was only 4 pages long, but Exhibit A describing “essential” jobs was 11 pages long. My own industry was not originally listed as “essential,” but my professional trade association raised Cain, and voilà suddenly we were added to the list and became “essential.” So much for there being any doubt about the arbitrariness of it all.
On the other hand, I have great respect for how the pandemic was handled in South Dakota. The governor’s executive order was only 2 pages long, and there was no lockdown. As the governor stated, it’s the residents of South Dakota who are primarily responsible for their own safety. These days, what a radical thought to proclaim publicly—and as a government official too—that people have to take care of themselves and not expect the government to take care of them. They have the freedom to be treated like adults but also the responsibility to face the consequences of their choices. The governor noted that she was trusting them to act like responsible adults during the pandemic, so there was no need for authoritarian behavior like in other states.
Of course, the government control freaks weren’t keen on letting some folks keep their liberties intact, so when there was an outbreak of the virus at a meat plant in South Dakota, the governor took a lot of heat for not locking down the state. Unlike other governors who caved in to mounting pressure, she once again reiterated her non-authoritarian stance and also pointed out that meat plants were deemed essential by the president, so they would have been open anyway during a lockdown.
So, does liberty really work or are we destined for gloom and doom if our leaders don’t treat us like children? Obviously the original “models” were pathetic in how far they were off base, but let’s look at some actual data a few months into the pandemic. New Hampshire is not very different from South Dakota as it’s mostly rural. With a population of 1.36 million, it’s the 10th least populated state, while South Dakota is the 5th least populated state with a population of around 882,000. As of this week, New Hampshire had 373 corona-related deaths, while South Dakota had 93. Dividing the number of deaths by the total population, the virus death rate is .027% per capita for New Hampshire and .013% for South Dakota. If lockdowns save lives, then why is the rate lower for South Dakota, which had no lockdown? As for unemployment as of 06/19/20, the rate for New Hampshire was 14.5% and 9.4% for South Dakota. So apparently authoritarianism isn’t good for your livelihood—or even your health.
To be completely fair to our governor, one of our state reps told me that when some of them complained to the governor that state troopers were pulling drivers over during the initial phase of the lockdown to check why they were out driving, he vowed to put a stop to that nonsense. From what I’ve read, he kept his word, and there were none of the really outrageous civil liberty violations here like arresting surfers, citing people sitting in their cars watching the sunset, taking down the license numbers of cars in church parking lots during Easter Sunday, and the disgusting “Karens” who turned in their neighbors to local police departments and “good citizen” government hotlines.
As today’s holiday approached, there’s been a mainstream media feeding frenzy about the president visiting South Dakota and Mount Rushmore for a celebration and fireworks. The governor said, “We’ve told people to focus on personal responsibility. Every one of them has the opportunity to make a decision that they’re comfortable with. So, we will be having celebrations of American independence. We told those folks that have concerns that they can stay home. But those who want to come and join us, we’ll be giving out free face masks, if they choose to wear one. But we won’t be social distancing.” Needless to say, those who celebrate the god of government control are fit to be tied. Ignoring CDC guidelines is akin to or perhaps worse than heresy.
If I were a bit more cynical, I would say the governor’s critics are hoping for lots of new infections and, better still, deaths resulting from today’s celebration in South Dakota. But I prefer to focus on being happy that there’s actually an elected official who is actively promoting self-ownership, personal responsibility, and self-reliance. Perhaps the meaning behind today’s holiday hasn’t been lost after all.
Baumann, Beth. (2020, April 18). SD Gov. Noem Drops a Truth Bomb on Critics Demanding She Issue a Stay-at-Home Order. Retrieved from https://townhall.com/tipsheet/bethbaumann/2020/04/18/sd-gov-kristi-noem-claps-back-at-critics-who-wanted-her-to-implement-a-statewide-stayathome-order-n2567167
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 1968 Pandemic (H3N2 virus). Retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov/flu/pandemic-resources/1968-pandemic.html
Cummings, William. (2020, July 1). ‘We won’t be social distancing’ at Mount Rushmore celebration with Trump, says SD Gov. Noem. Retrieved from https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/politics/2020/07/01/kristi-noem-social-distancing-mount-rushmore-trump/5354257002/
Fund, John. (2020, June 7). Kristi Noem: The Governor Who Stayed the Course. Retrieved from https://www.nationalreview.com/2020/06/coronavirus-pandemic-south-dakota-governor-kristi-noem-stayed-the-course/
State of New Hampshire – Governor Chris Sununu. EXHIBIT A to Emergency Order #17. Retrieved from https://htv-prod-media.s3.amazonaws.com/files/emergency-order-17-1585267833.pdf
U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. (2020, June 19). Local Area Unemployment Statistics. Retrieved from https://www.bls.gov/web/laus/laumstrk.htm
Wikipedia. 2017-2018 United States Flu Season. Retrieved from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2017%E2%80%932018_United_States_flu_season