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Opinion: Time to take back our country

OPINION

BY LEN CABRERA

The coronavirus debacle may have started with good intentions–politicians trying to avoid the 2.2 million deaths (incorrectly) predicted by a paper from Imperial College. It’s clear now that the threat was greatly exaggerated and the unprecedented actions taken by the government were unnecessary. Now we’re witnessing how power corrupts, and we see that politicians do not want to surrender their expanded powers. 

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For years, politicians have taken advantage of the psychology of numbers and fear. When dealing with budgets, they know most people do not even comprehend millions, let alone billions or trillions. This has allowed politicians to preemptively bankrupt future generations with massive debt ($22.8 trillion prior to the $2 trillion “stimulus”). With coronavirus, politicians and the media have preyed on people’s inherent fear of death, terrifying them with death statistics with no context. 

The Florida Department of Health COVID-19 Dashboard tracks cases and deaths since March 2nd. As this is written (March 29, 1 p.m. update), Florida has 56 deaths, and the U.S. has 2,201 deaths. While every death is a horrible loss, consider those numbers in relation to Florida’s population (22 million ) and the U.S. population (330 million). If you don’t like looking at millions, then compare those deaths to the closest thing to COVID-19: influenza.

According to the CDC, the U.S. had over 37,000 deaths from pneumonia and influenza each of the last three weeks of available data (ending March 14), totaling over 137,000 deaths in less than a month. The Florida Department of Health shows that each of the 12 weeks of 2020 up through March 21 had over 275 deaths from pneumonia and influenza (over 3,300 total) in Florida alone. Despite those numbers, the CDC classifies Florida as having “minimal” Influenza-Like Illness (ILI) activity for the week ending March 21. 

Of course, politicians will claim their great leadership is why the coronavirus isn’t as deadly has predicted. They may have reduced the infection rate somewhat, but it was never going to be as high as predicted. For example, Sweden has taken very few coronavirus precautions and has experienced 121 deaths, 0.001% of its population of 10 million. Scaling that rate to Florida’s population would be about 260 deaths. That’s more than the 56 we’ve had, but still less than our weekly deaths from pneumonia and influenza–not exactly apocalyptic.

New York has 45% of all COVID-19 cases in the U.S. (59,513 of 131,366). Despite that, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo admitted that the heavy-handed response of closing businesses and keeping everyone home was “was probably not the best public health strategy.”

Clearly, the coronavirus threat is nothing out of the ordinary. Yet, power-hungry politicians are using infection and death numbers to terrify the people into accepting draconian edicts to destroy our way of life. When you put the COVID-19 numbers in context, you realize all the actions being taken by the government are not “for our own good.” It’s a blatant lie to increase government power and trample our rights. 

Sadly, these demagogues are so good that they’ve convinced many people that destroying the country is necessary. Just look at the cynically-named Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act, the CARES Act. As Kimberley Strassel points out, the bill shows “government mostly cares for government.” Over $600 billion of the “stimulus” actually goes to the government–even NASA, the National Archives, the Forest Service, and the National Foundation for the Arts get extra money. You can bet politicians will be pushing to include the new spending in the baseline next year.

Locally, County Commission Chair Robert Hutchinson holds court like a medieval king, making pronouncements on which peasants can keep their businesses open. His definition of “essential business” seems to change on a whim with no formal guidelines. He has blatantly violated the constitutional protections for assembly and free exercise of religion. His new anonymous tip line is akin to the Committees for the Defense of the Revolution

These politicians must be held accountable. EVERY SINGLE INCUMBENT who participated in trampling our rights should be ousted in November (if not sooner). In an ideal world, these politicians would be forced to forfeit all pay and benefits for 2020, and given the damage to the economy, they should also have their pensions taken away. Not all the blame goes to D.C. Our restrictions in Alachua County are courtesy of the dictatorial powers assumed by the county commissioners. Florida law allows recalls for county commissioners. That process should start immediately.

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