In a move of bureaucratic tyranny, the Michigan Occupational Safety and Health Administration (MIOSHA) is considering imposing permanent COVID restrictions on Michigan businesses, while Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear has imposed a target vaccination requirement before he will open the state.
This time last year, Americans were living under the promise of just “two weeks to flatten the curve.” Those restrictions soon extended into a month and then, for many states, indefinitely. Now, Michiganders are facing the prospect of never going back to normal.
Whitmer through MIOSHA had issued emergency restrictions that expired April 14. Now the agency is considering extending the restrictions permanently. The agency would require businesses to implement daily health screenings, keep a “COVID-19 safety coordinator,” keep records regarding COVID, socially distance, and require employees and customers to wear masks on an ongoing basis. The agency is also considering implementing rules for sporting events such as dismissing fans by sections. This rule raises concerns about whether fans could leave early.
Many of these restrictions reflect mandates Whitmer put in place last year based on unfounded beliefs about COVID transmission. This includes the requirement to “increase facility cleaning and disinfection” and “prohibit workers from using other workers’ phones, desks, offices, or other work tools and equipment,” despite the fact that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has now determined that there is a 1 in 10,000 chance of contracting COVID from touching a contaminated surface.
The Michigan legislature has limited power to rein in the executive branch. The Michigan Supreme Court struck down Whitmer’s orders when she claimed that a 1945 law gave her control of the state’s pandemic response, but she then shifted to a different legal justification. This law allows the director of the state’s health department to impose restrictions and re-implement those that the court struck down.
The Draconian rules have not kept the virus from spreading; in fact, Michigan currently has the highest per capita rate of COVID in the country. Whitmer has since shifted the blame for this to her political opponents, saying, “I have been sued by my legislature, I have lost in a Republican-controlled (Michigan) Supreme Court, and I don’t have all of the exact same tools.”
The Whitmer administration, meanwhile, has drawn criticism for telling Michigan residents not to socialize or travel, but then flouting that guidance for themselves. First, it was reported the Michigan’s health director went on a family vacation in Alabama and then news emerged that Whitmer herself had traveled three times in the last six months, including a trip to Florida to visit her elderly father.
Whatever the reason, these stories are just one more example of the “rules for thee, but not for me” mentality that so many government officials have abided by over the last year. Michigan House Appropriations Committee Chair Thomas Albert said, “I understand the desire to visit an ill relative, and I hope for good health for the governor’s family, but I have heard countless stories of heartbroken Michiganders who wanted to visit sick family members during this pandemic and haven’t been able to do so.”
Farther south in Kentucky, Gov. Andy Beshear announced that the state would not reopen until 2.5 million Kentuckians are vaccinated. For perspective, as of 2018 there were only 4.47 million people living in the state. Critics claim this decree is essentially a mask mandate and that Beshear is holding businesses hostage.
Last week, protestors gathered outside the governor’s mansion in Frankfort. A sign could be seen which read “Free us King Andy.” One protestor named Marty Terry said, “I am here because of government overreach — from them. He thinks he can give us our freedoms. Our freedoms are inalienable. He can’t say, ‘You do this, you get your freedoms back.’ They are our freedoms. He swore an oath to defend the Constitution here and in the United States. He is in total violation of it.”
Terry added, “This has gone on long enough. This is day 394 of 15 days of flattening the curve. It’s enough.”
Andrew Cooperrider, a businessman and organizer of the protest, said, “As long as hospitals aren’t at a point where they are 100 percent full and completely overwhelmed, it should have always been a choice.” Cooperrider claimed that in order to reach the vaccination goal, all but a half million adults would have to be vaccinated, which may not happen for months — if ever.
George Washington said, “Government being, among other purposes, instituted to protect the persons and consciences of men from oppression, it certainly is the duty of rulers, not only to abstain from it themselves, but, according to their stations, to prevent it in others.”
It seems that Gov. Whitmer and her administration and Gov. Beshear may need to become better acquainted with what our first president believed and practiced. Washington was a man who once could have been named king, but he chose not to take the power he was offered. All he wanted to do was to serve his country in its fight for freedom and then go back to his home at Mount Vernon.
In 1783, as the Revolutionary War ended, King George III asked American painter Benjamin West what then-General Washington planned to do. West told him that Washington would return to his farm, to which King George responded, “If he does that, he will be the greatest man in the world.”
Whether Julius Caesar, Oliver Cromwell, or later Napoleon, rulers who have gained power never relinquished that power voluntarily. History had been ruled by men who would kill for power, who ruled as despots with absolute authority, but Washington didn’t want to be a king, even a benevolent one. He simply wanted to be a farmer, and after the war, Washington did indeed return to his farm — until his country called again. This time, he agreed to serve two terms as president before bowing out, wanting America to move forward.
Unfortunately, there aren’t many George Washingtons. When government claims power for itself, it never returns it to the people willingly, which is why fellow founding father Thomas Jefferson said, “The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots & tyrants. It is it’s natural manure.” Governments will always oppress their subjects unless made to stop.
When Americans were told “two weeks to flatten the curve,” each one should have been suspicious, knowing that would never happen. Over a year later and still many executives have not yet returned their stolen powers. Not only that, but they are emboldened, believing they can continue restrictions in perpetuity because they believe they can place liberty on hold in the name of “safety.”
This is a perfect example of the danger of the administrative state. Unelected, faceless bureaucrats enact the whims of a rogue governor with virtually no recourse. Administrative agencies must be reined in and legislatures must limit executive powers.
The inclusion of Jefferson’s quote above is certainly not meant to propose violence. If that is what you take from this article, you are sorely mistaken. Instead, it is meant to warn all of us that unless Americans take a firm stand for their liberty, they will never get it back. So peacefully protest, contact your legislature, your congressmen, and your governor, and by all means, when you go to vote in the future, remember exactly how your current leaders handled the COVID crisis. And no American should again ever be so quick to trade freedom for anyone’s offer of safety, security, convenience, or an easier life.
As Washington also said, “The power under the Constitution will always be in the people. It is entrusted for certain defined purposes, and for a certain limited period, to representatives of their own choosing; and whenever it is executed contrary to their interest, or not agreeable to their wishes, their servants can, and undoubtedly, will be recalled.”