The real threat to democracy’s survival is not major disasters like war. It is comparatively minor perils, which in the nature of things occur more frequently. This may seem paradoxical. But reflect for a moment. The more routine the perils from which we demand protection, the more frequently will those demands arise. If we confer despotic powers on government to deal with perils, which are an ordinary feature of human existence, we will end up doing it most or all of the time. It is because the perils against which we now demand protection from the state are so much more numerous than they were that they are likely to lead to a more fundamental and durable change in our attitudes to the state. This is a more serious problem for the future of democracy than war.
It arises because of the growing aversion of western societies to risk. We crave protection from many risks which are inherent in life itself: financial loss, economic insecurity, crime, sexual violence and abuse, sickness, accidental injury. Even the late pandemic, serious as it was, was well within the broad range of mortal diseases with which human beings have always had to live. It is certainly within the broad range of diseases with which we must expect to live with in future.
Did you know that Loudoun County Public Schools District—yes the Loudoun County, ground zero of the parental revolt against Democratic school governance—was 100 percent distance learning this week due to “staffing shortages,” and that Wednesday and Friday were called off just days in advance?
Chicago Public Schools late Thursday announced that next Friday would be a previously unplanned (paid) day off, for “Vaccine Awareness Day.” Following the same script was the San Diego Unified School District, which also informed parents yesterday that next Friday would likely be off, to “pause” for mental health. “The last 20 months of the pandemic have challenged all of us in different ways. We have heard from many parents and students that their mental health has suffered,” Interim Superintendent Lamont Jackson wrote in a letter announcing the proposal. “That is why we have decided to take the extraordinary step of providing every family with additional recovery time next week.”
The “recovery time” seems more geared toward teachers than for the public school families who are dealing with a third school year marred by capricious learning interruptions. Virginia Beach, Virginia, decided late last month that at least seven Wednesdays going forward will be cut by two hours. In Maryland, both Howard County and Baltimore City have also recently cut back on in-person schooling for teacher “wellness” and “relief.”
Many school closures this fall have been attributed to staffing shortages, despite the record amounts of federal money sloshing through local districts. A tight labor market, plus vaccine mandates, have contributed to the K-12 squeeze.
The southwestern Chinese city of Ruili is small, remote and largely unknown internationally. It is also, when it comes to the coronavirus, perhaps the most tightly regulated place on earth.
In the past year, it has been locked down four times, with one shutdown lasting 26 days. Homes in an entire district have been evacuated indefinitely to create a “buffer zone” against cases from elsewhere. Schools have been closed for months, except for a few grades — but only if those students and their teachers do not leave campus.
Many residents, including 59-year-old Liu Bin, have gone months without income, in a city that relies heavily upon tourism and trade with neighboring Myanmar. Mr. Liu, who ran a customs brokerage before cross-border movement essentially stopped, estimated he had lost more than $150,000. He is tested on a near-daily basis. He borrows cigarette money from his son-in-law.
“Why do I have to be oppressed like this? My life is important too,” he said. “I’ve actively followed epidemic control measures. What else do we normal people have to do to meet the standards?”
As the rest of the world shifts to a strategy of living with the coronavirus, China has remained the last country chasing full elimination, for the most part with success. It has recorded fewer than 5,000 virus-related deaths, and in parts of the country without confirmed cases, the outbreak can feel like a hazy memory.
But the residents of Ruili — a lush, subtropical city of about 270,000 people before the pandemic — are facing the extreme and harsh reality of living under a “Zero Covid” policy when even a single case is found.
The school closures will catapult wider race and income inequality into the next generation.
Of the many egregious blunders the lockdowners and Dr. Fauci made during the pandemic, pushing to keep schools closed could be the single worst.