I had entertained hopes that our normal meeting facility, the banquet room at Spring Creek BBQ in McKinney, would be re-opened for the May meeting on the 13th. Unfortunately, that is not the case. While under the Governor’s Executive Orders of April 27th (GA-18) and May 5th (GA-21), restaurants may re-open their dining rooms to a maximum of 25% occupancy, so long as “parties maintain at least 6 feet distance apart from other parties at all times, including while waiting to be seated” and “no tables of more than 6 people.” Obviously, the implementation of that seating arrangement for our purposes in the banquet room, where individual “parties” are typically no more than couples, would be problematic at best. I had also considered the number of our dear friends and members who are in the higher “at-risk” category. In the end, it wasn’t our call to make. The manager at Spring Creek was very cordial and hopeful that we could resume our meetings soon; but, that would not be in May. In fact, they are hopeful that the restaurant would be “ready” to re-open the dining room at 25% capacity on Friday, May 15th—however, that decision had not been definitively taken yet. “We want to make sure we can do it right, and keep everyone safe.”
For convenience, I had intended to publish a copy of the Governor’s Re-Opening Plan on this page. However, with the May 5th order, the original document has already become obsolete. The revised PDF now directs interested citizens to the website for the latest instructions: https://gov.texas.gov/organization/opentexas.
As a trained economist, this episode is teaching us some valuable lessons. For conservatives, it should reaffirm—not weaken—our beliefs in self-determination and personal responsibility. And, many of us are saddened to see that belief system trodden upon, discarded, and characterized by liberals as “thoughtless,” “ignorant,” “racist,” or “evil.” My network of colleagues in Europe and Asia has been quite active over the past two months. As you might imagine, many of these economists, international relations and defense strategists, and political scientists have been keeping “light” hours as they have been “working from home” or operating in unusual isolation within their offices. This extra bandwidth affords them the time to investigate, write, collaborate, and analyze what is, quite obviously, the single most impactful, global, socioeconomic event since World War II. Some of their opinions I share, some I do not. But, I hold value in reading it all. For me, holding down essential services to my clients and leading a skeleton crew from my office on the 12th floor of Legacy Tower in Plano, it has been a very different experience: a narrower path for certain. Nonetheless, between time at the office, a few hours of shut-eye each night, and moments delivering respite to my wife, who has valiantly carried the load of having three children home attempting to learn remotely, I have been able to interact with my colleagues and write—mostly for the benefit of clients. My chosen moniker for this event has been, “The Great Repression.” Hopefully, conservatives understand the reason behind the rhyme.
A classmate of mine, an Icelander working on contract in Sweden, conveyed to me the simple government instructions Sweden has most clearly communicated to the general population on signs posted everywhere: UNDVIK TRÄNGSEL… “AVOID CONGESTION.” Beautiful in its simplicity, isn’t it? The Swedish government has taken certain steps to curtail mass infection. They have prohibited meetings of greater than 50 people and have required “distance learning” for high school and university students. They themselves acknowledge that their policies with regard to the elderly have been inadequate. Over 85% of all COVID-19 deaths in Sweden have been among people aged 80 or higher—that’s 2,705 deaths among 530,000 people aged 80+. In fact, more than 50% of their total deaths have occurred among the 70,000 Swedes living in nursing homes and assisted living facilities. However, they did not drop the boot of repression on their citizenry or economy. They did not close businesses. They did not close restaurants, bars, night clubs, parks, gyms, or hair salons. They kept their elementary and middle school children in school. They are, essentially, alone in the developed world for making individual choice / personal responsibility the cornerstone of their response.
As of Friday, May 8th, Sweden had recorded 25,265 cases of the coronavirus and 3,175 total deaths. 470 of those deaths were among people below the age of 80. Sweden is a nation of 10.2 million people. Further breakdown of the statistics among deaths of people under 80 were not available; but, the majority of those deaths were attributed to people with pre-existing health conditions and immigrants who typically live more densely, sometimes with 2 or 3 generations together in one flat. It was noted that there is also a far greater incidence or history of smoking among those two groups. Early on, smoking was identified by the South Koreans as a determinant in mortality rates.
For the benefit of anyone with a different political perspective who may have stumbled across our website, neither I nor any member of our organization is unconcerned or ambivalent toward the virus, the lives impacted and lost, or the need for people to protect themselves, their loved ones, and their neighbors.
We would prefer that government not summarily relieve people of their capacity to make prudent decisions about their own lives and livelihoods. We would prefer that officials understand the need to balance all needs in decisions taken toward the survival of civilization. We ask them to remember that to “promote the general welfare” as directed in the preamble of our Constitution, we must protect a functional economy. To reflect upon the last broad deterioration of health in this country, one need look no further back than the Great Depression.
For those of our elected officials who have risked harassment and ridicule to preserve some semblance of reason and balance in the difficult decisions they have faced—and, we are indeed blessed with them here—we thank you. Thank you for having the courage to serve and to reaffirm our conservative beliefs, especially when it has not been popular to do so.
For those elected officials who seem to never miss an opportunity to place their podiums in front of a crisis, to energize their heavy-handed pursuits of power, and to criticize or persecute ordinary citizens seeking to apply individual prudence in the exercise of their freedoms, we wish you a lovely retirement from public service… very soon.
And, for those who use this crisis as a means to ridicule the “failings” of the free enterprise system and to codify the Keynesian need to “rescue” capitalism from soaring unemployment, diminished earnings, and the destruction of business, I would remind you that the economic consequences of this crisis were not caused by the private sector but, rather, by the interference of the government into the affairs of its citizenry.
May God bless you, good luck, and keep making wise decisions for yourself.
—Bill Blake, President of The Lincoln Society