Let us all remember that, at the very outset of the reported COVID-19 outbreak, we purportedly had precious little to sacrifice for the “common good.” To be precise, “two weeks to flatten the curve.”
At this point, a year and a half later, we must confess that this projection was either a blatant lie or premised on the farfetched expectation of total participation. At this juncture, it’s self-evident that, while we responded with something approximating total participation, we were destined to never achieve absolute, 100-percent participation in mask-wearing.
Even if we had perfect participation in strict compliance with the ever-changing and uncertain guidance from the so-called experts and approved channels, there would have been no way of proving the public's innocence. What's more, there would have invariably been something imperfect about its execution: whether improper use, inadequate materials, or something else entirely.
Bearing this in mind, those seeking to encourage or mandate participation are chasing an elusive target, one that they are prepared to chase or manipulate indefinitely into the future. All too often, the chase is emboldened by claims about the public safety, that they will be better off for the relinquishment of their freedom, and with it their dignity, privacy and their very control over their own lives.
This chase will invariably continue with new specters, or variants, emerging around every corner, as the sophists, the talking heads and the grandstanders keep the public constantly paranoid, bickering and afraid.
As the journalist H. L. Mencken once quipped, “the whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, most of them imaginary.”
Upon the predictable failure of peer pressure, maximum participation will be pursued by all means available, even force and coercion. After all, by the time peer pressure has failed, enough of the peers will be sufficiently motivated to seek recourse by more serious means and more drastic action. By the time they’ve assumed this course, no doubt in earnest with the best of intentions, scarcely one of them will disavow the threats of force and coercion: prospects wholly anathema to the jewel of the public liberty.
By then, the government and its accessories will have sponsored any and all conceivable initiatives for the achievement of their objectives, which have since become deeply personal for them. Whereas the journey was formerly undertaken with relatable intentions, it develops into a personal and political crusade of epic proportions: undertaken at all costs, the endeavor consists of a solitary objective at the expense of all else, not least of which the liberty that the public has mistakenly taken for granted.
In the course of pursuing their elusive target, government and its accessories will continue to curtail the public liberty as a “worthwhile”, “expedient”, or “calculated sacrifice” for the sake of the “common good”, based on the gospel of “the science” and certified by a panel of “experts” beyond reproach. In this way, we are led like cattle to slaughter as our trusted peers, representatives and so-called experts erect the institutions which stand to indefinitely impose upon the public liberty. After all, as Nobel laureate Milton Friedman aptly cautioned in his 1984 work Tyranny of the Status Quo, "Nothing is so permanent as a temporary government program."
To be fair, there are virtually two reasons that Americans have been so forgiving of their governments and their accessories over the past year and a half: they assumed the best of intentions, and they were swindled into believing that it would take only “two weeks to flatten the curve.”
Despite what the politicians and their accessories might prefer to believe, governments are instituted among men to secure the rights of the people, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed. For this reason, the powers of government are “few and defined,” whereas the rights of the people are “numerous and indefinite.”
This means that the powers of government are strictly enumerated, that all others are assumed by the people; as such, the government cannot, under any circumstances, without the express consent of the people, unilaterally expand its powers or alter the nature of their compact. Indeed, the Declaration of Independence advises “That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it.” Interestingly enough, the Supreme Court of the United States even affirmed that the government is prohibited from undertaking such actions which subvert the rule of law.
In the 1866 case Ex parte Milligan, the Supreme Court ruled that there are simply no allowances for additional powers in the event that they are regarded “temporary” or “exceptional.” The court ruled, “No doctrine, involving more pernicious consequences, was ever invented by the writ of man than that any of its provisions can be suspended during any of the great exigencies of government. Such a doctrine leads directly to anarchy or despotism.”
Government is best limited, and rights and freedoms most indispensable, precisely when that government is prepared to usurp some measure thereof. No doubt, government and its accessories will have compelling reasons for their usurpation, but that is precisely why government is, by design, encumbered by those limits, and that the people of the United States have expressly protected their rights by imposing those safeguards against the forces which beat ceaselessly against their liberty. After all, those rights and protections are valuable only insofar as they are dependable in the face of adversity and “the great exigencies” which might otherwise pry them away.
If they’re considered or made conditional, they aren’t rights at all. If we are free only for the benevolence of our government, we haven’t a “government by the people,” nor one “deriving [its] just powers from the consent of the governed”; on the contrary, we have a soft despotism growing harder and stricter every day.
Ultimately, the beating heart of the free and vigilant man pumps the lifeblood of liberty: he is the spirit of America, in whose absence liberty is sure to vanish in the name of some temporary security. It is his eternal vigilance, and doubtless his ceaseless suspicions toward government, which keeps him and others around him free.
As the philosopher John Stuart Mill once declared, “A man who has nothing for which he is willing to fight, nothing which is more important than his own personal safety, is a miserable creature and has no chance of being free unless made and kept so by the exertions of better men than himself.” After all, the greatest threat to liberty is the aspiration to define its terms, in particular by those who have little respect for it, who certainly wouldn't fight for it as much as they're perfectly willing to wage or condone the fight against it, and who conveniently stand to benefit from its loss. What's more, their indifference to history is all too often matched by their indifference to posterity.
Predictably, the people who seek to curtail the public liberty have little interest in appraising the costs, nor do they do their due diligence to be certain of their justifications; to be fair, they stand to benefit too much to care, while their accessories know little of the risks or, otherwise, fall prey to irreproachable intentions. They’re blinded or, otherwise, sufficiently incentivized to ignore the costs, the risks, and, in many cases, the legality of their actions. Lo and behold, they stand to personally bear none of the costs, nor any of the legal culpability, in the event that they are wrong, and yet these are the people making the decisions that most impact our lives and our future.
As the economist Thomas Sowell once famously said, “It is hard to imagine a more stupid or more dangerous way of making decisions than by putting those decisions in the hands of people who pay no price for being wrong.”
Unfortunately, principle and virtue are often lost to expedience and intemperance. In much the same way that people are more willing to spend than save, there's scarcely any difference in the way that people treat their liberty. It's yet another classic example of the seen versus the unseen, whereby the comforts and expedients of the immediacy conceal the long-term risks and tradeoffs which accompany their short-lived enjoyment.
It's no mere coincidence that, as evidenced by the experience of America and much of the West, moral decadence and intemperance have coincided with the loss of savings and liberty. Indeed, debt has swept across civilization, in America and elsewhere, along with their indifference toward liberty.
In the main, an indebted society becomes increasingly immoral, intemperate and willing to part with their liberty; after all, many among them have little more than their liberty to sell. It's in this way that the public liberty is lost, at the hands of people all too accustomed to spending their way through life. All too often, this means spending other people’s money, or dispensing with their liberty, not even their own.
In most cases, the sacrifice isn’t even immediately apparent to those who’ve had little occasion to appreciate their own liberty by realizing its full potential. On the contrary, they’ve come to envy those who’ve enjoyed their freedom, and they contend that liberty is dangerous if not oppressive, a privilege enjoyed only by a select segment of society.
This comes as no surprise, as liberty demands initiative and actual work to enjoy its fruits. When faced with the opportunity to forego the work and still enjoy some of the fruit, they leap at the opportunity. After all, it comes at a cost they don’t expect to pay.
As they dispense with liberty in favor of guarantees and entitlements, they’ve come to expect others to foot the bill. In this way, they’re just as willing to sacrifice others’ liberty as they’re pleased to spend other people’s money.
On virtually every conceivable occasion, they will invariably sacrifice liberty and independence for any number of rewards, whether some temporary safety or security, the promise of a better life, or some fantastical illusion thereof. In their willingness to part with their savings, just as with their independence and their liberty, they'll find that they've merely suspended reality for some temporary or illusory advantage at a cost that they could ill afford, and one that future generations are sure to pay.
Unfortunately, despite the well-documented accounts of their forbears, the people will have to learn from their own experiences, and their own sorrows, to begin to truly appreciate the value of liberty and independence. It's no surprise that a civilization of people who know the price of everything and yet the value of nothing, who know Liberty as the name of a statue yet nothing more, who readily dispense with freedom for free stuff, can't possibly appreciate what they're giving up for such precious little in return.
As it is written in Proverbs 21:20, "There is treasure to be desired and oil in the dwelling of the wise; but a foolish man spendeth it up." In other words, a fool and his treasure are soon parted. In this case, much the same could be said about a fool and his liberty. Oddly enough, the people who all too often fancy themselves progressive are progressive only in their imagination. They care little about history and are therefore ill-prepared for the future. They're progressive only in the way that they imagine a world entirely unhinged from the one they inhabit.
In this way, they progress beyond the terrestrial world to inhabit their own, where they assume total control to live out their visions. In their excitement, however, they neglect to appreciate that they have inhabited a dream, governed not by nature nor the physical laws of our land, but by the wishful thinking of people who've become too comfortable in their own imaginations. Regrettably, their imaginations, clouded by movie magic and science fiction, distract them from the realities of our world, preventing them from ever waking up.
For this reason, they seek control over a world they hardly recognize, one that they fail to even remotely understand. In this way, their need for control projects their own inadequacy, insecurity and their desperate need to make the world make sense. Make no mistake, this means not that they seek to understand the world as it exists, but that they seek to reform it in keeping with their own visions of what it could be.
From their perspective, premised in theory on "science" and compassion, they cannot conceive of any plausible opposition. In the face of any "hesitation" or disagreement, they assume ignorance or worse. Incredulous to their opponents, they insist on their control in order to force the opposition into their dream.
As absurd as this sounds, they succeed in carrying out their objective only because so many have come to share the same visions or, otherwise, fear shattering them with the truth. In the case of masks and experimental drugs, government and its accessories cannot conceive of justified opposition. As far as they are concerned, there is no sacrifice worth sparing in the course of the "common good". Whatever the cost and whatever the evidence, the means are assumed justified by the ends.
Unfortunately, because the ends are so poorly defined and always on the move, the public stands to lose everything as they acquiesce to the means. After all, as the government and its accessories see it, there's no limit on the sacrifice the public ought to be willing to accept. As they see it, the jewel of liberty is hardly even an afterthought. After all, it's much easier to dispense with liberty than with cold, hard cash; and they contend that they'll be sure to eventually restore that liberty in the future anyway.
Of course, they never get around to restoring the public liberty, just as they never get around to proving the efficacy of their programs. Indeed, wherever they fail, it's for a lack of power or resources; and wherever they've had any success at all, it's further justification for more of the same. In any event, government and its accessories will always crave more power and greater control. Always changing in its objectives as in its forms, history decrees that control always emerges under fresh disguises, preventing the public from easily identifying the pattern.
This is doubtless the case with the hysteria fomented around the use of masks, which have been far more useful in politicizing society and spreading fear than in "slowing the spread" of the virus.
In many ways, masks are just another way for government and its accessories to place another barrier between themselves and their opponents. A further benefit is that they can readily shield themselves, their shame, their motives and their insecurities, from the people whom they resent and seek to bring under their control. In turn, they repress their opponents in the concealment of their personalities, their emotions and the humanizing features which unite us and make it altogether possible for us to relate and sympathize with one another. Indeed, this is yet another form of censorship whereby politicians and their peers aim to suppress the greatest ambassador of freedom: the individual.
After all, as the journalist H. L. Mencken once wrote, "The most dangerous man to any government is the man who is able to think things out for himself, without regard to the prevailing superstitions and taboos." Indeed, the single greatest threat to tyranny is the individual, and he is of the smallest minority on earth. In the erasure of the individual and his features, we are all less human, less connected, and therefore easier to divide and conquer. All the while, the government and its accessories bring progressively more people under their spell, convincing them that they're the compassionate ones.
Of course, this is to say nothing at all about the efficacy of the masks they wish to mandate, which are as diverse in their styles and materials as they are demonstrably incapable of limiting the spread of microscopic particles emitted through aerosols and vapors with every breath.
This also says nothing about the efficacy of the array of experimental drugs available today to some guinea pigs who quickly succumb to peer pressure, and still others who fancy themselves progressive for erring on the side of “science” or compassion. Regrettably, these people have been unwittingly conned into an experiment still in its infancy, lacking in ethics as well as credibility.
Of course, they needn’t say anything at all about efficacy, because the business of politics is the sale of intentions and the seizure of control. Everything else is purely incidental, a clever disguise or a convenient vehicle for their only destination: control.
So long as the public is inundated with peer pressure and mandates in lieu of evidence, and so long as they are deprived of their freedom, discretion and dignity as they pertain to their personal, commercial and medical affairs, the course undertaken by government and its accessories can be assumed dubious and political at best, tyrannical at worst. As the French author Albert Camus once wrote, “The welfare of the people in particular has always been the alibi of tyrants, and it provides the further advantage of giving the servants of tyranny a good conscience.”