During the 2008 financial crisis, the former advisor to President Obama, and eventually the Mayor of Chicago, Rahm Emanuel infamously was quoted as having said “never let a crisis go to waste”. This was in reference to newly proposed liberal policies being pushed by the new Obama administration under the guise of helping lift the country out of the housing crisis and subsequent economic collapse which arguably had ushered in Barrack Obama to the White House. With this freudian slip, the nature of the sneaking State was revealed. The creature had exposed itself.
With this statement, Emanuel let out a dirty secret of government, which is there is no better time to seek greater power than during the time of a crisis, be it economic in nature or otherwise. Not surprisingly, this playbook is being followed now during the current pandemic triggered by Covid-19 by those in office, as well as those seeking greater power. Perhaps there is no better, or worse, example of this power grab full court press than the recent statements made by Governor Tom Wolf of Pennsylvania.
During a press conference on April 21st, the governor was asked a question pertaining to previously laid off workers refusing to come back to work because they could make more under the recent changes made to unemployment insurance than they could by going back to work. Before getting to the Governor’s response, I would hope it strikes most people as common sense that there is already something very wrong with this scenario. Unemployment insurance is only intended to help those who can’t find work. Therefore, one would assume that this scenario of a worker refusing work in lieu of remaining on unemployment is a big no no. Well, then the Governor spoke.
In response to the question of whether or not this worker would have his or her benefits stripped for refusing employment to instead sit at home and collect a check, Wolf said “no”. He then launched into his progressive push for a fifteen dollar an hour minimum wage policy by stating that if the employer hopes to win over this worker, he should pay him more. My issue here isn’t necessarily with the particular policy position. Instead, it is with those in power trying to take advantage of a crisis to push their agenda and seek more control. While these policies were put in place via the CARES Act to provide financial support during the crisis, this slip of the tongue suggests a more nefarious motivation.
It is important to note that the Governor’s office quickly launched into crisis mode by trying to “clarify” what Wolf said by pointing out that an employee couldn’t do what Wolf claimed could be done. They put out a statement explaining that one could only refuse work out of concern for contracting the illness or due to limited hours, as if that wouldn’t be a hard case to make right now. Again, the main issue here isn’t the actual structure of the current policy but instead the fact that a sitting governor actually said what Wolf did.
As I stated earlier, Wolf isn’t the only guilty party here. Governor Newsom in California stated in an interview that now was an opportunity to utilize the crisis to push for new progressive policy agenda items, such as increased minimum wage and an overall expanded government involvement in your daily lives. Similar sentiments have been shared by members of the House of Representatives, such as House Majority Whip James Clyburn and even the presumptive Democrat nominee; Joe Biden.
Before I’m misunderstood, my objective her is not to lash out at one particular party or the other. After all, the CARES act was passed through a Republican Senate and signed into law by a Republican President. Instead, my goal is to expose the creeping nature of government as a whole. As the response to 9/11 shows, this inherent nature of government to constantly seek its own expansion is not unique to a particular party. While each party may seek different expansion in different situations, both have the same nature as species of government to seek expansion of power whenever the opportunity presents itself. Government, almost like an organic being, is constantly trying to grow and become stronger. The most insidious part of its nature is that government will seek to expand itself when the one thing that can keep it in check, the people, are at their weakest.
To their credit, Democrats, particularly the more extreme wing of the party, see an open door here. They see that people are scared. Whether rightfully so is a topic for another day. As previous crisis situations have shown, such as 9/11, when people are scared, they’re willing to sacrifice a considerable level of freedom and independence for the promise of safety and security from whatever is frightening them at the particular moment. As the aggressive beast that it is, government is taking advantage of this potential feeding frenzy.
Government doesn’t try to expand during times of safety and prosperity. Rather cowardly, it seeks to exert itself on its prey only during times of crisis, be it from a readily visible enemy in human form such as war or terrorism, or a microscopic pest in the form of a health threat. It is at this time that it slithers in offering the frightened public respite from the monster, and at a seemingly discounted price to boot. All the government asks in exchange for safety and security is a little of your freedom. That pesky little thing bestowed upon man by God himself. However, what is pitched to you as the deal of a lifetime is actually a tragic exchange. The proposed cure is often worse that the illness.
When government is pushing the public to accept its offer, those who question it will be shouted down as stupid and wrong, or even cruel for suggesting that their neighbors be forced to face potential danger in order to maintain outdated freedom. That is happening right now in the form of walks along the beach or calls to reopen your businesses. However, there is no more crucial time to fight back than during these moments.
At this point, I could put on my tricorn hat and start quoting the founding fathers speaking about the importance of valuing liberty over safety and security, but that’s been done, and this article is getting a little long. Instead, I’ll tell you about a bird.
There is a bird. He is a safe, healthy, and well fed bird. He always has an abundance of food, water, and a clean home, for now. However, there is one thing he can’t do; fly. This bird lives his life in a cage. In order to have this seemingly secured life, he had to sacrifice the most fundamental aspect of his nature; the freedom of flight. Sure, if he was free he might not have as much food. Sure, if he was free he might not be as safe. However, is it worth it?
Right now, we are in a crisis. Our lives and livelihoods are in peril. Yet again, government, the ever hungry monster that it is, sees an opportunity to grow more powerful. As the above examples show, from the various governors to potentially the next president, it is yet again promising safety and security in lieu of freedom. The time to fight against this isn’t once you’re caged. Instead, it is when the hand is first extended to you with a poisoned apple. By the time you’re the caged bird, it’s too late. By the way, the caged bird is only fed and cared for while supplies are available. Under an ever-growing State, those supplies, while seemingly abundant at first, quickly dwindle. Google Venezuela as a reference point.
I implore you to push back and question actions proposed by the government during this time of crisis. Note that I’m not calling for outright defiance to any and all proposed measure. Anarchy is also bad. I’m merely suggesting that what might seem like a good trade off now between increased government interference, disguised as safety, and freedom will be a deal you may regret making in the future. You may wake up to find that you’re now the caged bird. Don’t fall prey to the sneaking State.