State of emergency used as a backdoor for tyrannical wishlist as governments push through all sorts of invasive, and expensive policies in the name of “safety”.
March 23, 2020
By: Bobby Casey, Managing Director GWP
This isn’t unprecedented at all. There’s a very clear historical precedent in fact. That should concern everyone.
Governments see “freedom” as a fair-weather idea: when we aren’t slaying dragons and shadow chasing, then yes, you can be free.
But these excuses are getting out of hand, and all of them are leading to reduced freedoms, reduced privacy, and enhanced centralization services and industries.
It appears the various leaders are competing to see who can out-tyrant the other. The catch phrase of the year is, “We need to meet this moment.” Meet it with what?
Glad you asked!
Using Location Data from Smart Phones to Track the Virus
Well that didn’t take long! According to the Seattle Times, this is still in the early stages as people are just assessing what their options are, however:
Analyzing trends in smartphone owners’ whereabouts could prove to be a powerful tool for health authorities looking to track coronavirus, which has infected more than 180,000 people globally. But it’s also an approach that could leave some Americans uncomfortable, depending on how it’s implemented, given the sensitivity when it comes to details about their daily whereabouts.
I don’t deny the utility this could provide in tracking sickness and contagions, but by no means is the possibility of people being infected with a virus probable cause to invade the privacy of every individual.
According to NBC:
Facebook already provides health researchers and nongovernmental organizations in some countries with anonymized data to help disease prevention efforts. Laura McGorman, policy lead for Facebook’s ‘Data for Good’ program, a similar effort could be used ‘to understand and help combat the spread of the virus’.
But others sources warned that providing the government with greater access to anonymized location data could lead to the erosion of individual privacy down the line, especially if the government starts to ask for non-anomymized data.
Representatives from Facebook, Google, Twitter, Apple, Amazon, Microsoft, IBM, and Cisco, all too part in the call with White House and Federal Health Officials. Spokespeople for the companies declined to comment on the discussions.
The conversations are happening, and the wheels are in motion. Under the guise of “doing good” and being “good corporate citizens”, these companies will weigh out the privacy policies of their users and decide whether to violate them or not.
Suspending Habeas Corpus
The US DOJ is seeking to suspend habeas corpus:
“The DOJ has requested Congress allow any chief judge of a district court to pause court proceedings ‘whenever the district court is fully or partially closed by virtue of any natural disaster, civil disobedience, or other emergency situation,’ according to draft language obtained by Politico. This would be applicable to ‘any statutes or rules of procedure otherwise affecting pre-arrest, post-arrest, pre-trial, trial, and post-trial procedures in criminal and juvenile proceedings and all civil processes and proceedings.’ They justify this by saying currently judges can pause judicial proceedings in an emergency but that new legislation would allow them to apply it ‘in a consistent manner.‘”
This means you could be arrested and not brought before a judge until the “emergency” was deemed “over”. That’s not a definitive amount of time, but rather a very arbitrary one. To make matters worse, the DOJ asked Congress to “suspend the statute of limitations on criminal investigations and civil proceedings during the emergency until a year after it ended.”
Imagine living in a time when the government isn’t too busy to arrest and jail you, but they can’t be bothered with your right to due process. This is of course done in the name of “stopping the spread” of the corona virus. But they never explain how this measure accomplishes that. What it most clearly accomplishes is the power grab the DOJ has wanted for some time.
Throwing Good Money After Bad
The Fed is throwing everything including the kitchen sink and the baby in it at this problem. The thing is, with everything coming to a veritable halt, there’s nothing backing the “it’s all going to be okay” sentiment coming out of the Federal Reserve.
It is offering $1 trillion in overnight loans per day through the end of March. This is on top of the $1 trillion in two week loans its offering per week. Oddly enough, we are seeing a rather responsible move on the part of the banks here as they are not borrowing anything near what the Fed is offering. When they do, the money is promptly paid back.
Wall Street analysts say the huge number is intended to calm markets by demonstrating that the Fed’s ability to lend short-term is nearly unlimited.
The Fed is also buying Treasury bonds at a furious pace, and will soon run through the $500 billion in purchases it announced on Sunday. It is also accelerating its purchases of mortgage-backed securities. Most analysts expect they will buy more.
The thing is, their powers and ability to prop up an economy are not at all unlimited. There’s a very clear limit on how much an economy can take before it gives up.
Europe understands that businesses cannot withstand the quarantine and is essentially “writing blank checks”, as CNN puts it. But the question remains, where is the money coming from?
France promised no company, big or small, will be allowed to fail due to this pandemic.
The government will guarantee hundreds of billions worth of loans, delay tax payments and suspend rent and utility bills for smaller firms. And the French state is ready to go further, nationalizing industries if necessary.
Germany is mobilizing at least €500 billion ($550 billion) in loan guarantees and has pledged to provide unlimited liquidity to companies affected by the pandemic.
Spain’s prime minister unveiled a €200 billion ($220 billion) rescue package and said the government would provide all capital necessary to prevent companies from going bankrupt.
UK finance minister Rishi Sunak announced that the government will back an initial £330 billion ($400 billion) in loans for companies. Mortgage providers have agreed to delay payments for three months for people affected by the coronavirus, he said.
All the relief packages in the world are targeted at small, mid-size, and enterprise level businesses. Guess who fell through the cracks in all this? Gig workers. They are too small to qualify as a “small business” and are considered “micro businesses”.
Gig workers are not an insignificant demographic, by the way. They are roughly 57 million adults over the age of 18 who rely on gig work. It is a $1 trillion industry contributing 5% to the US GDP.
While this article rightly calls out the iniquity of government assistance, it wrongly calls for more government assistance. Gig workers don’t pay into the same programs as employers do, so they are ineligible to receive the benefits. If they want those benefits, then they would have to pay in. But why do that when you could take that same money and put it aside for times like these?
Cracking Down on Immigrants
Quarantine and shelter-in-place orders are being used by ICE to pursue undocumented immigrants. They can’t get the warrant to search the homes, but they can stake out and wait for someone to emerge from those homes, arrest them on the grounds of violating an order to “shelter in place” and haul them off to a facility known to be a cesspool of diseases.
I get people have their issues with other people not having their papers. It’s not new. The East Germans had it down to a science, as a matter of fact. Meanwhile, counties across the US are reconsidering their current jail policies, releasing and refusing non-violent offenders to avoid over crowding during this pandemic.
If breaking the law means put them in a box, then why the sudden gerrymandering in policy? It’s underhanded to stop someone for a broken tail light and then arrest them for possession of weed. And it’s equally underhanded to detain someone for leaving their homes during quarantine, only to arrest them for suspicion of being undocumented.
The hypocrisy of telling people to not gather in groups larger than 10 while pulling this with immigrants is palpable.
The government policies being implemented during these times will leave a lot more damage in its wake than this virus ever could. The American tradition is to pack in as many constitutional overrides during an emergency as possible, and never let the sun set on them. If you were upset at the size of government before all this, remember: there are NO take-backs and NO returns. Once all these “emergency polices” find their way in, they are there to stay.