In politics there are no absolutes. Suppose we were in the midst of the Black Death. Suppose we were living at a time when if you caught the plague, you would first sneeze, then have a fever, find swelling under your arm and then die within three days. Suppose many in your family were dying in this way. Suppose many of your friends and associates were dying in this way. Suppose on every street in your village, town and city, there were carts coming round with the cry, “Bring out your dead!” and from up and down your street, there were dead bodies being brought out to place on these carts. Suppose there were numberless deaths until in some places everyone had died, and that across the entire continent, something like a third of the population had died within a year. Suppose all that. Then what would you wish the government to do?
In such circumstances you would wish them to do what they are doing right now and then some. You would wish the government to do every single thing they could think of to reduce the chances that you personally might also come down with the plague. There would be no limits that you or anyone else would place on government actions. There would be no levity, no debate about what to call the disease, no disputes about the need for every single resource available to be applied to dealing with the millions of deaths that were undoubtedly occurring. The availability of toilet paper would be the last thing on everyone’s minds. And you would not need any persuasion of any kind to induce people to keep their distance from others.
The reason we are in such a light mood in spite of everything, almost a holiday atmosphere,
is that we all know we are not in the midst of the Black Death. There are comparatively few deaths. Virtually no one knows anyone who has died from the virus, or is even sick because of it. Moreover, where there is fear there are also solid reasons to believe that a cure will be found for this disease and in very short order. And in spite of shortages here or there, not one person is genuinely in fear that they might not find enough to eat. And, we are all grateful that the government does take responsibility for what might eventually happen.
That I believe the government has jumped the gun and over-reacted is only my belief and it’s not the majority view. Most people, virtually everyone, believes that our governments should take whatever steps are necessary. It is only a matter of degree. Just as there are no atheists in foxholes, there are no libertarians in pandemics.