Publisher's note: The author of this post is Mitch Kokai for the John Locke Foundation.
Andrew Stuttaford asks
at National Review Online how long we'll be dealing with emergency measures tied to the COVID-19 pandemic.
- Whether Britain's COVID-19 lockdown will be worth what it will cost - a bill involving far more than just money - was and is, for now, unknowable. That it would be used as an excuse by empowered authoritarians to go even further than highly intrusive regulations allowed them to go was, by contrast, all too predictable. When the state is given a mile, its rank and file will generally add a few inches all of their own. Between them, police and local bureaucrats have already distinguished themselves with stunts such as pulling over cars to check if their drivers are on "appropriate" journeys, dyeing a beautiful lake black to discourage visitors, and deeming Easter eggs "non-essential" purchases. ...
- ... [B]eyond these largely petty instances of overreach, there are more profound reasons to worry, as highlighted in a recent interview by Lord Sumption, a retired U.K. Supreme Court Justice. His comments merit listening to - on both sides of the Atlantic. Americans have the Constitution, and thus less cause for concern than the Brits across the pond. Nevertheless, the judges who are supposed to uphold the Constitution are not (to borrow a fashionable adjective) immune from the influences that shift Americans' opinions. Nobody should deny that combating COVID-19 is a brutal challenge, and one that is giving rise to brutal policy dilemmas. But emergencies teach bad habits as well as good, including the setting of precedents that are a menace to individual liberty. ...
- ... Of course, people may reassure themselves with the thought that an extraordinary threat requires extraordinary measures: Once it has passed, everything will return to normal. But to believe that is to believe a great deal, not least that our notions of "normal" won't have changed substantially for the worse.
Carolina Journal Online has recently explored
of COVID-19 emergency measures.