As the Delta variant of COVID-19 wends its way through the populace, our alarmist class feels the standard twitch-reflex of those who wield power, i.e. “DO SOMETHING!” It is spurred on by those in the electorate who allow themselves to be driven by the same twitch-reflex, those who demand that ‘something’ be done, with questions as to the efficacy of that something or its relative propriety vs ‘something else’ or ‘nothing’ back-burnered.

Government has a (very unfortunate) propensity to broad-brush simplicity, at least in its public presentation of those ‘somethings.’ Public education is underperforming? Spend more (other people’s) money! People are living in poverty? Give them (other people’s) money! Some people are abusing recreational drugs? Ban those drugs! Global warming due to increased carbon dioxide emissions is a threat? Cut those emissions!

These generalized ‘somethings,’ simple as they are, often produce a particular remedy that crowds out others (with relative efficacies again back-burnered). This, in turn, serves to polarize the electorate. The ‘somethings’ are usually claimed by one team because partisan politics incentivizes doing so, and this propitiates a knee-jerk gainsaying by the other team (again again, with relative efficacies back-burnered).

Thus, a particular ‘something,’ a particular course of action, becomes a proxy for the endless battle for political ascendance, and the more polarizing the political climate, the more singular the ‘something’ becomes.

This is where we are, today, with the response to the pandemic.

That particular “something” is the wearing of masks. It is the particular ‘something’ that the alarmist class has embraced, to the exclusion of everything else, including common sense and ‘the science.’ Despite a massive decrease in COVID deaths, thanks to the vaccination of the populace and, we may safely presume, some degree of herd immunity achieved after tens of millions of infected, the alarmist class, worried by the emergence of variants, is threatening mask mandates, even for the vaccinated and the ultra-low-risk.

The dissonance and counter-productiveness of this in their parallel desire to encourage everyone to get vaccinated would be gob-smacking were such not so commonplace in public policy. The people who tell us to get vaccinated are very often the ones who hyperbolically denounced “Trump’s vaccine” during his tenure, and created the very suspicions and toxic atmosphere that they are now trying to work around. Telling the vaccinated to mask up also eliminates one of the great incentives toward vaccination. ‘Get a shot, no more masks’ is what the message should be, not ‘even if you get a shot, we’re going to put masks on you if we feel like it.’

Notice, by the way, that they always report relative changes in infection rates now, rather than overall numbers – or overall deaths.

Why might this be?

To mask (pun fully intended) the reality, and to hide the base motivations for their blunt-object approach: the arrogance born of their power, and the punishment of their political foes.

I advocated for the (voluntary) wearing of masks, among other things, during the pandemic’s early months, without regrets. Now, however, with fully half the populace vaccinated (and substantially higher vaccination rates among the high-risk), vaccines widely available, and the infection/death numbers cratering, it’s time for the government to step back, and let us live our lives as we choose. If you want to wear a mask, go for it – you’ll get nary a peep from me. If you own a business and want to require your customers and/or staff wear masks, go for it – your business, your choice. But, if you don’t (and I’m done with them except where I’m asked to by a store owner or forced to by government), we are past the time and circumstances where the government should force you to.

Alas, masks are about power now and no longer about the pandemic. Cynical power, at that. Watch as the powers-that-be use masking to portray their opponents as Neanderthals and granny-killers. Watch as the teachers’ unions leverage a failure to mandate masks as an excuse for their members not to return to the classrooms. Watch as the party in charge cranks up the hysterics against its political opponents while conveniently ignoring the constituencies that are its most loyal rejecting vaccination in substantial numbers. Watch as Fauci continues his fame-lust by pontificating in favor of a factually-unsupportable mandate. Finally, watch them ignore the very real psychological damage being done to this generation of children, who are being taught an excess of fear and being subject to an excess of isolation.

The effects of the government’s response to the pandemic are a trauma upon the body politic that will linger far longer than the harm the virus itself has wreaked.

Peter Venetoklis

About Peter Venetoklis

I am twice-retired, a former rocket engineer and a former small business owner. At the very least, it makes for interesting party conversation. I'm also a life-long libertarian, I engage in an expanse of entertainments, and I squabble for sport.

Nowadays, I spend a good bit of my time arguing politics and editing this website.

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