Ridiculous rules laughable but no laughing matter
From Grassroot Institute, September 11, 2020
In the past I’ve written that I have no intention of second-guessing state and county policymakers who are struggling to find the best way to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic. The Grassroot Institute of Hawaii works to protect individual liberty, but we also recognize the role of government in protecting public health.
That does not mean, however, that we will shy away from pointing out any, let’s say, logical inconsistencies in the various lockdown measures. You might have seen our cartoons that illustrate such inconsistencies. On Oahu, for example, standing on a surfboard is fine, but standing on the beach is forbidden. You may not fish from the shore, but if you move out a few feet into the water, you supposedly are no longer endangering public health.
Most people by now understand the principles of hygiene, social distancing and minimal contact. But that makes some of the recent orders by Honolulu’s mayor even more nonsensical. You can drive to the park with your family, but once you get out of the car, everyone needs to stay 6 feet apart. People who go hiking must do so alone.
Under the circumstances, Hawaii residents can’t be blamed if they find the rules a bit arbitrary. If there is some method to the madness, our leaders haven’t revealed what it is. It’s also hard to believe that all of these rules and distinctions have an epidemiological basis.
And in fact, some of them don’t. As reported by Honolulu Civil Beat, Mayor Kirk Caldwell admitted that the reason for requiring people to hike alone is not about COVID-19 risk, but instead about making it easier for the Honolulu Police Department.
“When you talk about the same household, and you’re a police officer, how do you know who’s in the same household when you go to enforce?” he said at a news conference. “The reason why we did just one, it’s easy to tell if someone is just walking, running, sitting by themselves. It’s harder when you have a group of people together.”
But even if the new rules are scientifically suspect and good fodder for cartoons, they are no laughing matter. The yo-yo nature of Hawaii’s lockdowns is destroying local businesses. New rules are being put in place with little notice or consideration for the businesses that have spent thousands of dollars trying to comply with the ever-changing restrictions. Deadlines are extended, and extended again, removing all reliability or ability to plan for the future.
These lockdowns not only are wounding our economy in the short run; they are doing permanent damage.
What we need is a definite plan. One that will get our state working again. Unemployment benefits and government business loans can do only so much, and for only so long. We need a clear direction now before the lockdown measures generate a health crisis of their own.
When you think about it, there is a certain absurdity to the fact that our economy is in a severe downward spiral, yet residents need to check the news and the mayor’s orders to see if they’re allowed to go to the beach or to a car wash. At some point, it feels like our leaders are fiddling with these rules and restrictions while our economy burns.
We’ve had enough short-term responses. It’s time to pull together and formulate a long-term plan that will put our state on the road to prosperity.
E hana kakou! (Let's work together!)
Keli'i Akina, Ph.D.