This week, as Los Angeles County announced it would lock down all
outdoor dining, a video went viral. That video featured restaurant
owner Angela Marsden, proprietor of the Pineapple Hill Saloon and
Grill, decrying the lockdown policy while pointing to the erection of production catering set up for a Hollywood shoot just a few feet away.
"Everything I own is being taken away from me, and they set up a movie
company right next to my outdoor patio," Marsden said, adding that she
has spent approximately $80,000 complying with the requirements of LA
County, only to see it shut down her business completely.
There is no scientific policy justifying LA County's outdoor-dining
shutdown. In fact, during a Board of Supervisors meeting, a community
member quizzed LA County Health Officer Dr. Muntu Davis on the evidence
to support such a ban. Muntu provided no such evidence, likely because
there is none.
But those who want to run their businesses in a safe and secure fashion
are being targeted nonetheless by a political class incentivized to
pursue tyranny rather than rational policy. LA Mayor Eric Garcetti —
who told police to stand down as rioters tore through his city during a pandemic — said that his "heart goes out to Ms. Marsden" and then
added, "no one likes these restrictions, but I do support them as our
hospital ICU beds fill to capacity." He explained, "we must stop this
virus before it kills thousands of more Angelenos." He did not explain
why, if outdoor dining was so dangerous, Hollywood is still allowed to
engage in it.
That's no surprise. Throughout the pandemic, one set of rules has
applied to America's most ardent lockdown advocates, and another set of
rules has applied to everyone else. LA County Supervisor Sheila Kuehl
voted to ban outdoor dining...and then went to an outdoor restaurant
later that evening. California Gov. Gavin Newsom is currently locking
down some 33 million citizens but had no problem eating indoors with
members of the California Medical Association at The French Laundry.
Mayor London Breed of San Francisco ate at that same posh restaurant
the next day. Austin Mayor Steve Adler told his constituents "stay home
if you can" in a Facebook video filmed from his vacation timeshare in
Cabo San Lucas, where he'd just headed with seven others after a
wedding in Austin. Mayor Lori Lightfoot of Chicago got her hair cut and
called it an "essential" business activity while promoting lockdown.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo told everybody to stay home for Thanksgiving and then announced he would be getting together with his daughters and his 89-
year-old mother, only to then reverse himself.
The message is obvious: Our intellectual and moral betters in politics
are free to make their own rational calculations on COVID-19 risk. The
rest of us are to be locked in our homes until further notice. When
these political actors suggest that we must act out of an abundance of
caution, they mean that they ought to enjoy abundance while benefitting
from our caution.
You and your family are capable of making the same decisions Cuomo,
Garcetti, Newsom, Lightfoot and Adler do. You should be careful; you
should engage in social distancing, mask up when in close proximity
with others and generally avoid social gatherings involving those with preexisting conditions. But you can do all of these things and still
live in a free society. Our politicians don't believe that, because our politicians have seen how easily so many Americans were willing to
indefinitely suspend their freedoms out of trust in our authorities.
Until the incentive structures change, our freedoms will continue to be throttled by people who have no problem exercising their own.
One need not be a COVID-19 skeptic in order to question whether the enthusiastic authoritarian streak revealed by those politicians can be
curbed. The longer we tolerate it, the more our politicians will
normalize their power grabs.
Joe Biden went from stealing someone’s wife, to stealing speeches, to
stealing money, to stealing an election.