What happens when government flexes its muscle? We're about to find out.
1 min read

What happens when government flexes its muscle? We're about to find out.

A bright, clear line connects the bureaucracy that won't allow a lemonade stand or granny apartment without permission to the one that arbitrarily decides which businesses are essential, or how many people can worship together.
Valley of Fire, Las Vegas, 2014

I'd be happy if I never heard another reference to "shutting down the economy" or questioning when we can "reopen" it. It's inaccurate language that leads to bad thinking on all sides

The economy hasn't been shut down; it's been politically (and, in many cases, arbitrarily) restricted. The grocer still wants money for food, you probably still want to be paid for your work and the government, at all levels, still wants its cut.

It's less shutdown than a form of economic martial law -- a heavy overlay of rules backed by force. (At this point the libertarians in the back heckle: "It's all backed by force!" But let's stay on point.)

I know: A pedantic point about rhetoric. But rhetoric matters; it's a tool we use to tell ourselves stories -- to decide what is true.

Governments are, by temperament, reward bias, and structural nature, hard-pressed to act with nuance. There are no surgical strikes when incentives favor carpet bombing; no scalpels when the system rewards dragging out the cudgel.

None of this is surprising. A bright, clear line connects the bureaucracy that won't allow a lemonade stand or granny apartment without permission to the one that arbitrarily decides which businesses are essential, or how many people can worship together. Philosophically, it's business as usual.

Whether you think it's all correct, a toehold for tyranny or something in between, this is the biggest display of government power in a generation or more. We'll see afterimages -- etched into our politics and policy like Hiroshima shadows -- for decades.