My wife and I regularly on Saturday morning go out to breakfast at one of our Enid area restaurants. It’s not a big deal, but something that we look forward to doing. It’s especially something we came to treasure after, for a brief period, such excursions were verboten as politicians attempted to shut life down under the guise of protecting us all.
Eventually, restaurants were allowed to resume operating at full capacity but first had to endure trying to survive at partial capacity due to the seemingly random requirement of 6 feet of separation. Having survived that, our favorite eating establishment was finally operating at full strength.
Of course, it wasn’t just a hardship on ownership, but the workers, not the least of which being servers whose tip revenue was significantly reduced with limited capacity requirements.
One of the servers that regularly waits on us stuck it out and made it through the COVID-induced restrictions and now is back to making full wages and tips. She wore a mask when coronavirus hit and still does when waiting on her customers.
Now, however, she will likely be facing the prospect of reduced income again at the whim of a politician. The timing would never be good, but it may be worse as she is expecting a baby now.
I could not help but wonder if Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt has calculated into his new seemingly randomly imposed restrictions, in a panicked response to an uptick in COVID numbers, the impact on people like the hard-working waitress. Quite disappointingly, he seems to have become imbued with the same intoxicating power too many other elected officials have discovered.
If he wants to make wearing masks on state property compulsory, fine. That could arguably be within his purview. However, the rest of his announced restrictions are a bit absurd. In addition to reinstituting the 6 feet apart commandment for restaurants and bars he has now deemed such establishments will be required to close at 11 p.m., except for curbside and drive-thru services.
The 11 p.m. deal is a head scratcher. Does Stitt have access to some kind of data that says coronavirus lies dormant through 10:59 p.m.?
Stitt said he is not worried about compliance, but in the next breath seemed to threaten to have licenses pulled for businesses that do not comply. That is the favorite tactic of political tyrants to make you compliant: threaten to shut you down and destroy your business.
Of course, it could be worse. We have seen even more draconian measures implemented by power-intoxicated governors in states like California, Washington, Michigan and New York which have taken steps to actually try to limit how many people you have over Thanksgiving, how many people are allowed to worship or even grieve.
Notably those states continue to report increasing cases despite having some of the most stringent masking and social distancing requirements.
These actions go beyond so-called public safety, a specious claim at best. It is about controlling you and little by little, getting people accustomed to their liberties being cut out from under them.
It’s a point Catholic Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano astutely made in an October open letter to President Trump published on the website of Catholic Family News.
While decrying restrictions being placed on one’s ability to exercise one’s faith freely, he made many salient points. However, if you take one thing away from his letter it should be this: “The fundamental rights of citizens and believers are being denied in the name of a health emergency that is revealing itself more and more fully as instrumental to the establishment of an inhuman, faceless tyranny.”
He is not alone.
Recently, Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito, in a speech to The Federalist Society, said: “The pandemic has resulted in previously unimaginable restrictions on individual liberty.”
We continue to suppress constitutional freedom and impact peoples’ ability to earn a living to prevent the spread of a virus with a 99% or better recovery rate for most Americans. In doing so, it has turned too many Americans into willingly subservient subjects. Fear can do that and the political tyrants have made the most of that weapon.
What’s next, breaking down your door because you have too many people celebrating Thanksgiving? Well, not yet.
In response to New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s decree limiting households to 10 or fewer people for Thanksgiving, Saratoga County Sheriff Michael Zurlo stated his office always considered peoples’ homes to be sacrosanct issued a letter stating, in part, they would not be enforcing Cuomo’s decree.
“I can’t see how devoting our resources to counting cars in citizens’ driveways or investigating how much turkey and dressing they’ve purchased is for the public good,” he added.
Thankfully, a common sense barrier between at least some New Yorkers and the dictatorial whims of its governor still exists.
But how much longer will there be if people continue to allow their personal and constitutional liberties be swept away by power-hungry politicians?
Maybe some of these governors should have to work for tips.
Ruthenberg is a multiple award-winning columnist and writer for the Enid News & Eagle. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.