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Showing posts from May, 2020

Oklahoma Mayors Acted Unlawfully With COVID-19 Orders

In response to COVID-19, the mayors of Oklahoma’s three largest cities subjected their citizens to draconian shelter in place orders, restricting their freedom, damaging them financially, and undermining their constitutional rights. The mayoral decrees were more restrictive than those of the Governor, and in significant ways contradicted his policy. To this day, city-mandated social distancing rules remain in place in Oklahoma City, Tulsa, and Norman that are not required by the state’s reopening plan. The mayors claim that where their rules are more restrictive than the state’s, the city rules apply. Was any of this unilateral mayoral activity legally valid? For the reasons examined in my paper published today, An Argument Oklahoma’s Mayors Acted Unlawfully During COVID-19 , the short answer is no. (A summary of the paper can be found here .) A close examination of relevant city ordinances and state laws governing the mayors’ COVID-19 decrees forces the conclusion tha

The Bravery of Those Who Died to Defend Us Highlights Our Cowardice

Memorial Day commemorates those who died in military service to our country. These people died not for a chunk of land, for the natural resources available on that chunk of land, nor for any such simple material possession. They died for an idea, a way of life, as well as for each other. We used to be the Land of the Free, and the Home of the Brave. Now we're the land of the lockdown and the home of the trepidatious.   The bravery of heroes past has been replaced by dirty looks for those who dare to go outside without a mask - even in their own cars – where mask wearing, at best, can only be justified as a sign of solidarity . But solidarity for what? Certainly not freedom. That solidarity happens when people stand shoulder to shoulder against the jackboots who would take someone to jail for what now appears to be the shocking desire to earn a living to feed a family. What follows are three stories of heroism, and four contrasting acts of cowardice. May the deeds of the

Hypocrisy Exposed by Mindless Bureaucracy in COVID-19 Responses and the Quality Adjusted Life Years Methodology

Life or death circumstances can bring out the best in people or the worst in people. They definitely expose the hypocrisy in people. The COVID-19 crisis has done this in spades. And we have an example playing out in Oklahoma right now with a bill that has gone to Governor Stitt for signature. That bill, HB 2587 , would require implementation of safeguards against state health agencies that would use purely economic calculations to justify withholding life-sustaining or quality-of-life-improving care from the old and profoundly disabled. It’s a response to a methodology called Quality Adjusted Life Years in which the cost of medication is compared to supposed benefit for patients. Since older people have fewer years to live, and might not even be apparently productive, this methodology would deny such individuals at least some medications. Quality Adjusted Life Years is the sort of methodology described in the Obamacare Act that gave rise to the claim of some opponents that

Even If Pandemic Models Were Right, Were Covid Lockdowns Wrong?

1889 has been quite critical of pandemic modeling that government officials have relied on for their Covid-19 response. We have also criticized shutdown orders in light of flaws in the models. But let’s assume for a moment that the worst predictions really would have come true if nothing was done. Even in those worst case scenarios, it’s fair to ask if our governments did the right thing. Were involuntary shutdowns justified, or would people have found a way to both limit the contagion and maintain some level of productivity? Was putting healthy citizens under house arrest acceptable even if they were willing to risk infection?   While large groups of people are often compared to herd animals, we are not sheep. We don’t behave like animals. We can, have, and will step up when our communities are in danger. When government and journalists give incomplete or false information, people will act irrationally. Depending on the situation, some will blindly follow the first authori

Education Reforms that Would Do Some Good

Several months ago, 1889 Institute published Education Reforms to Make a Difference in which six fundamental institutional reforms to public education in Oklahoma were suggested. Now we publish More Education Reforms to Make a Difference , which suggests six more reforms. It’s clear that anything other than relatively fundamental institutional reform in public education is only the equivalent of rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic. That ship had some fundamental flaws in its metallurgy, and there were flaws in the incentives of how it was handled. Were these flaws not present, 1,200 people might not have prematurely perished. Were some fundamental changes to Oklahoma’s education system enacted, incentives would fundamentally change, and the system would operate to do a better job of producing well-educated high school graduates.   Only by weakening public education’s iron triangle (elected officials, union/trade associations, and government bureaucrats) will we get anyt

COVID-1984: Have Americans Become Too Complacent in Our Liberties?

Alongside the coronavirus, another pandemic is gripping our country, one that we will feel the consequences of long after we reach herd immunity. I dub this pandemic COVID-1984, and I fear it will rot the roots of the Tree of Liberty. The consequence will be a government emboldened by a passive citizenry. One of the most surprising aspects of our current situation is how willing people have been to report their fellow citizens to authorities for the most minor and meaningless offenses. I used to wonder how people in authoritarian countries like Stalinist Russia and Maoist China went along with those cruel regimes. It turns out a tiny bit of fear is all you need to be a successful dictator. And now it’s all the easier to report your neighbors for reading alone on the beach with tip lines.   Even as governors and judges begin to lift stay at home orders, mayors are extending them. A county judge issued a temporary restraining order against Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker’s stay at