A Memorial weekend declaration of independence

A Memorial weekend declaration of independence

“Our natural, inalienable rights now are considered to be a dispensation from government, and freedom has never been so fragile, so close to slipping from our grasp as this moment.”

That was Ronald Reagan, decades ago. But his evergreen message is particularly apropos in this climate of using the coronavirus pandemic as an excuse to ride roughshod over our basic freedoms.

Our “leaders” in Pennsylvania, with little or no legislative deliberations, have dangled supposed “safety” as they have conscripted our fundamental liberties. Never mind that, as Benjamin Franklin so famously put it, “Those who would give up essential liberty, to purchase a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety.”

Those same “leaders” have arbitrarily picked winners and losers, choosing what businesses might survive – government-deemed “essential” — and what “non-essential” businesses are to be left to rot on government-wilted vines.

However, you can be sure that government will be quite quick to demand tax payments and raise imposts on the “non-essentials” they stamped with this scarlet “N-E.” If they can survive, that is.

Of course, when called out, the government hides behind the same opaqueness in which the nuts and bolts of its decision-making occurred.

At the same time, the self-anointed  new monarchs of government threaten to use the power of “The State” to crush dissenters – those rising numbers who would have the temerity and audacity to re-open their businesses to feed themselves and their families, refusing to allow their government to tighten the yoke of dependence around their necks like a hangman’s noose.

And for this, such patriots of self-sufficiency and independence, those despised “rugged individualists” who seek to be beholden to only their personal industry, have been called “cowardly” by a governor whose constant message has been one of bumfuzzlement and non sequiturs.

Those we solemnly remember this Memorial Day weekend gave their last full measure for the very freedom and liberties that government now has, by fiat, severely truncated and openly traduced. By proxy, our heroes of liberty are mocked in their graves.

Their sacrifices deserve better. We deserve better. Sound public policy demands better and that those under the people’s charge listen – or be prepared to be cast aside as the people re-grasp their natural and inalienable rights.

Independence Day must come early this year. We say it comes today.

More notes on “The State” of things:

Gov. Tom Wolf criticized Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger for allowing a barber friend to give him a haircut and a shave.

Barber shops and hair salons remain closed by government order because of coronavirus. (Hundreds are said to be joining forces to reopen on June 1 and take on “The State.”)  Roethlisberger grew out his hair and beard, vowing not to tidy up until he felt he was once again throwing NFL-caliber passes following arm surgery.

But the barber’s attorney fought back, noting his client’s shop remains closed to the public, he and Roethlisberger are friends and that no money exchanged hands.

How sad that the barber, likely fearing a license-revocation directive from a hissy-fit-throwing governor not knowing all the facts, had to secure the service of an attorney to defend against such state-directed arbitrary and capricious behavior.

But that’s the sad climate in which we now live.

KDKA Radio reports that the City of Pittsburgh is considering a plan that would close full blocks of streets in Shadyside, Lawrenceville, the South Side and the Golden Triangle to allow restaurants to reopen this summer to serve socially distanced customers in those streets.

The idea is to allow the program as the city remains in the “yellow” phase of reopening from the coronavirus pandemic. The better idea would be to allow those restaurants to open in-house dining and take the safety precautions they know will justify their reopening.

As altruistic as such a street-closure program might sound, there must be a major caution attached to it. For around the country, “progressives” have been talking about permanently closing streets or heavily reducing traffic on streets and roads whose use has been reduced and/or restricted during the pandemic.

For “progressives,” there’s nothing quite like using a crisis to engage in social re-engineering. Whether Pittsburgh’s self-described “progressive” mayor Bill Peduto can resist the temptation to follow suit remains doubtful.

Colin McNickle is communications and marketing director at the Allegheny Institute for Public Policy (cmcnickle@alleghenyinstitute.org).