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On April 4 in San Diego, California police officers issued citations “to 22 people found near the beach... in violation of San Diego County’s stay-at-home order.” Some of these people were picnicking on the beach with their families. Some of them were watching the sunset from their cars, according to the Times of San Diego.
According to the San Diego Police Department “Everyone is required to stay home, except to get food, care for a relative or friend, get necessary health care or go to an essential job... Complacency is the enemy. Take social distancing more seriously to stop coronavirus.”
For committing the crime of acting in a way that was deemed unnecessary and non essential these people were fined $1,000. They were not told to leave, not shooed away. They were fined. During the worst job crisis America has ever faced, police officers thought it was in the best interests of the public to place further financial burden on their citizens. These are the very citizens they claim to serve.
Maybe these people were truly in violation of the current mandate, and maybe it was appropriate for the police to enforce that mandate. But is it irresponsible to watch the sunset with your family in your car? Maybe the picnickers were too close to each other. But the people in the cars?
Sitting in your car seems to be practicing social distancing. What isn’t social distancing is a police officer forcing you to roll down your window so they can hand you a citation. Unless you’re a Jedi I can’t think of too many ways to hand someone a piece of paper while being six feet away from them. In other words, the police officers had to violate social distancing in order to cite the supposed violators of social distancing.
And that’s no minor thing. Many people seem to be under the impression that wearing a mask and gloves helps prevent the spread of coronavirus in some magical way, as if those things were armor manufactured by Gringotts Goblins.
If you’re using a sterilized N95 mask (which are designed to be fitted to your face in order to form a seal, and to be used once before being disposed of or resterilized) and if you sterilize your hands and replace your gloves every time you touch something then yes, that is a very good way to avoid spreading or contracting the virus.
But if the mask is reused or the gloves or not replaced then there’s a chance that handing someone a piece of paper is handing them the virus as well. Think about how many things the officer would have to touch, almost certainly with the same pair of gloves, to hand someone the citation. The best way to prevent the spread is stay away from people, even if that means not handing them a ticket.
But let’s say it was entirely electronic. That no windows were rolled down and no paper was passed. The issue is still far from resolved. The deeper problem is that these officers are creating a new way of life with their negative reinforcement of the safety mandates.
The beach has been deemed completely off limits, even to people in cars. And these safety mandates come with no expiration date. Safety mandates should be based on the criteria of necessary and essential. That is what makes these days so dangerous. The world is being changed and it’s hard to know how permanent those changes will be.
What makes something necessary or essential? Assuredly scientists are both right now. Scientists need electricity to power their labs to fight the virus. What happens when the millions of jobless people fail to pay their electrical bills and the companies who provide us with electricity go out of business? Then where does the electricity come from? Nationalized utilities are not part of the American ethos.
This is how central planning societies like the Soviets created famines, and why in Venezuela dogs are now food. Economies are millions of acts of cooperation, and removing any part may lead to disaster.
Here's a wild hypothetical: What if one of those people in San Diego was a wealthy CEO who had just laid off 10 percent of his employees due to Coronavirus, and what if this particular person struggled with depression and anxiety. What if watching the sunset by the beach was what kept him sane, and what if not being allowed to see it while being fined $1,000 sent him over the edge?
The beautiful beach where he decompressed every day now off limits, maybe he decides to end it all. What then happens to the rest of his employees? And their families? The butterfly effect takes over from there and it’s not hard to see how one bad decision can ricochet indefinitely.
These are dangerous days. But the dangers aren’t just coming from coronavirus. There will be an after this. The world of tomorrow will be shaped, as it always is, by the decisions of today and yesterday.
Only God knows what is truly necessary and essential. Whenever humans, no matter how smart or well connected, presume the divine mantle bad things follow. Government assistance can only go so far. Eventually the bill comes due. And the truly scary question is who will be paying these bills in the future.