Contra Statist #1: So I Guess We're All Terrorists Now

For the first installment of Contra Statist (a play on the outstanding weekly podcast “Contra Krugman” from Tom Woods and Bob Murphy), I’ve decided to take apart an article from Philly Mag (recently posted to our FB page) in which the author accuses those of us who want our livelihoods back of being terrorists. Having participated in two of the Olympia protests, those of us with LP King County are in, let’s call it, general disagreement.

People Protesting Coronavirus Lockdown Orders Are Terrorists
Those prioritizing profit over people in the midst of a global pandemic don't understand this simple truth: "Dead people can't spend money."

Okay, right off the bat: I think we’re aware that dead people can’t spend money. What I’m curious about – what are the fine folks at Philly Mag defining as profit? The vast majority of folks at these protests are working class individuals; if they own businesses, they’re very small businesses teetering on the brink of bankruptcy because of government enforced lockdowns. So, for Earnest Owens (who is still being paid, unlike these protesters), I guess “profit” any amount of money more than nothing as is needed to support one’s family.

One day after Pennsylvania reported its highest daily increase in deaths caused by the coronavirus, a group of disgruntled residents was protesting, demanding that the state end its stay-at-home orders and return the Commonwealth to business as usual.

Ok, so you don’t approve of the timing? I also enjoy how the residents are just lumped with the adjective “disgruntled” – are they born angry? Or has the forced shutdown of their livelihoods and means of earning an income ticked them off?

“Politicians are on a power trip,” the Facebook page says in its description. “Controlling our lives, destroying our businesses, passing laws behind the cover of darkness and forcing us to hand over our freedoms and our livelihood!”

Wow, so crazy that people would be “disgruntled” about that.

These anti-quarantine sentiments are part of a larger national movement seeking to reopen local businesses in the middle of a global pandemic.

Yes, there’s a “national movement” of people who need incomes to live.

But when I look at these lockdown protests and their crowds of predominately white, male and conservative protesters who are also brandishing pro-Trump signs, rifles, colonial flags, and anti-LGBTQ signs, I’m reminded of the toxic bigotry and fear that fueled the deadly Unite the Right Rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, in 2017.

Ah there it is. An odd, though predictable twist; after a byline implying that protesters are a bunch of profit-driven hedge-fund managers obsessed with the Dow, the article pivots to claiming we’re a bunch of Aryan Nation hicks. It took all of three paragraphs to lie about the demographic makeup of the protesters and claim that there’s a racist, sexist, and/or homophobic agenda in place with being able to go back to earning money for our families.

I can’t speak to the Pennsylvania protests (neither can the author, unless he also went to engage in terrorism) but here were some images from the Olympia protest held last month:

Either lots of people are getting highly advanced black market medical procedures, or these protests are quite a bit more diverse than you’re letting on. Maybe because, we haven’t been rallying around preserving racist heritage but, ya know, feeding ourselves.

Although there were no deaths at Monday’s protest in Harrisburg...

Or literally any other of the dozens of protests over the last month where, by the way, we’ve been armed to the teeth.

…the protesters’ spread of health misinformation (and, y’know, likely the virus) — to say nothing of their demands to reopen the Commonwealth even as their neighbors continue to test positive and die — is endangering countless lives.

1. They’re not protesting the existence of the virus, you complete walnut.

2. If spreading disinformation is terrorism, can we start with the WHO? They were the ones insisting to the literal world (it’s in their name) that their was no evidence of human-to-human transmission back in January.

3. “Neighbors continue to test positive and die” – that would somewhat imply that these protesters all live in nursing homes since that seems to be the source for a plurality of deaths occur (including two-thirds in Pennsylvania).

Let’s call it what it is: These lockdown protesters are acting as terrorists.
Domestic terrorism is defined by the FBI as “violent, criminal acts committed by individuals and/or groups to further ideological goals stemming from domestic influences, such as those of a political, religious, social, racial, or environmental nature.” These individuals, by flouting social distancing mandates and potentially exposing others to a deadly virus that spreads in crowds as a way to tout their political views, are threatening the public safety of countless others.

Imagine being the kind of person who thinks “I want to go to work to earn a living for my family” or “I want to save the business that the governor arbitrarily declared non-essential” is a “political view.” It’s simply not – it’s people’s way of life. But when your job can be done from home with your income unaffected (as most white collar elites, including the author can do), you take on a world-view that everyone without those conveniences is a literal terrorist.

Jeff Deist appeared on the Tom Woods Show recently to discuss the bizarre “left/right” (though we libertarians loathe that spectrum) dichotomy with respect to this crisis. There’s nothing inherent that would make traditional conservative Republican voters (which include many older voters in the single most at-risk category) be less risk averse towards returning to work than traditionally Democratic voting blocs (which include members of trade unions that have been decimated the hardest by the Great Suppression). According to Politico, folks in traditional Democratic voting blocs have been hardest hit by the economic onslaught.

But that’s the thing – it’s not left vs. right – it’s the elites vs. the rest of us. We’re not “all in this together.” Construction workers, hair stylists, plumbers, and small business owners have been asked forced - under threat of imprisonment - to sacrifice entire livelihoods. The elites have been sacrificing avocado toast brunches and the occasional jaunt to Europe. These are not comparable sacrifices.

As a quick plug: if you’ve voted Democrat in the past because you understandably can’t stand Republicans - and aren’t wild about being called a terrorist by the media elite – feel free to check out the Libertarian Party’s platform and statement of principles. You might just find a new home.

It’s one thing to disagree on politics; it’s another thing to rebel against the Department of Health’s current mandates, against science, against basic math.

Want some science and basic math?

CBS is reporting that around 75,000 “deaths of despair” are likely to be caused as a result of the extended economic hardships that governments have brought down on us (so, by advocating for these indefinite lockdowns, Owens sounds to me like a terrorist).

20.5 million people lost their jobs in April. Several million more claims have been filed so far in May. Each one of these unemployment cases represents *years* of potentially lost income and savings for people who aren’t getting those years back.

Meanwhile, the recovery rate for people under 50 (i.e. most of the working class) is in the vicinity of 99.5%.

I don’t feel like a terrorist for advocating that these millions of people not have their entire lives destroyed any more than I do for advocating that people not drive horse-drawn carriages rather than cars.

Pennsylvania has more than 34,000 confirmed COVID-19 cases and more than 1,500 deaths. A call to reopen businesses right now is essentially a call for many more people to die. There’s no other way to interpret the facts here: It’s not safe for Pennsylvania to return to normal just yet. Anyone saying otherwise is putting lives at risk.

The average age of the deceased in Pennsylvania is 79 with two-thirds of deaths occurring in nursing homes. 61% had hypertension, 54% had heart disease, 37% had diabetes and 30% had chronic pulmonary disease. The lockdown has been powerless to prevent those deaths, so citing them is actually disproving your point! We know who the most vulnerable are, and we can take steps to protect them without de facto arresting every single other citizen.

Yes, the economy is taking a severe hit, but we can’t lose sight of what is taking a more devastating hit: the health and well-being of families, essential workers, and our most vulnerable. In declaring that “all businesses are essential,” protesters put profits over people.

So now we’re back to being profit-driven monocled monopoly men? You really abandoned the Klan narrative in a hurry. Pick a damn narrative, you hack!

State Representative Jordan Harris said it best when he told his constituents, bluntly, “Dead people can’t spend money.” “I will unapologetically stand up to prevent the tragic loss of life,” Harris said during a coronavirus address before the state House. “We can revive economies, but we can’t revive lost lives.”

Tell that to the 75,000 Americans from that CBS article; for that matter, tell it to the hundreds of thousands of children around the world who are going to die this year due to the residual effects of your economic downturn (not to mention the ~50 million who will fall into extreme poverty). Guess when your only metric is “COVID Deaths in America”, anyone else suffering or dying is collateral damage.

As I witness mentors, colleagues, and the loved ones of friends die each day from this deadly virus, I cannot understand how anyone could be so heartless as to advocate for more people going back to work while COVID-19 continues to take and destroy lives. Only a terrorist would risk others’ lives in revolt against government mandates. Only a terrorist would believe that more death is a rational way of shoring up the economy. Only a terrorist would say “What about the economy?” as neighbors die at staggering rates.

The economy IS PEOPLE’S LIVES. It’s how people pay for homes, pay for food, engage with one another, raise families, and achieve their dreams. Every single person, every single day makes decisions in the context of the monolith “economy” that carry inherent risks. We drive to work, knowing that 30,000 people per year die in auto accidents. We fly places, knowing full well that planes crash sometimes. We dine at restaurants, even though food poisoning exists. We (not so much the elites) take jobs which involve work-place hazards like high voltage electricity or working at heights.

The thing is, just because an economy might be “open” – as in, people can trade freely with one another – it doesn’t mean anyone is FORCED to go outside. You always have the option to stay put. That’s the whole point of freedom – you can do what you want as long as you don’t interfere with the rights of others. And no, going to a restaurant with 20- and 30-something’s is not the same thing as barging into a nursing home and coughing on granny.

Now is not the time to prioritize profits; it’s a time to prioritize people’s lives. Anyone saying otherwise is committing an act of treason.

Treason and terrorism are different things, ace. Better luck next time.