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A Viral Dilemma


The word dilemma has 3 meanings, according to Dictionary.comOne is “a situation requiring a choice between equally undesirable alternatives.” This definition is perfect for what is happening today across the fruited plain. Option 1 is to risk further spreading the COVID-19 Virus (coronavirus), and equally distasteful is Option 2, curtailing of individual liberties.

Ronald Reagan famously quipped that the most dangerous words in the English language were, “I’m from the government, and I’m here to help.” Unfortunately, the recent coronavirus scare has elicited a giant wave of government actions, at all levels of governance.

Understanding and accepting that coronavirus is dangerous, we are adamantly opposed to the degree of power usurpation being exercised by some state governors, including those in California (a Democrat) and Ohio (a Republican). There are several others. Ordering arbitrary and blanket closings of schools may be acceptable due to public health risks, but blanket shutdown of restaurants, bars, beaches, and other socially-oriented establishments appears to cross the line.

As Americans, we are guaranteed certain freedoms by our Constitution including the incorporated Bill of Rights. Among those rights are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. These encompass our right to patronize public establishments that we enjoy. Usurping those freedoms cannot be taken lightly, as once governments assume new and dangerous powers, if left unopposed, those governments will utilize their newfound powers again and again. Each exercise of ill-gotten powers will require less justification, all in the name of “keeping us safe,” and doing it “for the children.”

As freedoms are being eroded, while our federal government creates massive “bailout” plans, we should be reminded that governments can print money, but they can’t print wealth. People, individually and in groups, create wealth. When governmental printing presses replace individual efforts, the country suffers irreplaceable long-term losses.

Yet, reasonably expected economic losses for Americans are so large that only government is large enough to provide needed liquidity immediately.

Reagan also warned that “Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction.” Evidence of freedom’s erosion is everywhere; from rising popularity of socialism, to most of the “politically correct” movement. College campuses now have “free speech zones” for those who have differing opinions, as well as “safe speech zones,” where students are not required to hear ideas with which they disagree. Guess which zones are larger? The trend is both impractical and dangerous.

America needs a prescription for our ailment. Suggestions abound, but solutions are highly subjective. Individual freedom vs. pandemic truly poses a dilemma. Government actions being taken today will be judged in history as to their effects on the coronavirus, but also on individual freedom.

Van Wie Financial is fee-only. For a reason.