Arbitrary and Capricious

By its nature, government action is a blunt instrument. The federal and state governments’ responses to the coronavirus inevitably select winners and losers. Most will suffer from mandated shutdowns, while a few will be overcompensated. And the states’ shutdown orders have been a maze of paradoxes and inconsistencies.

Michigan’s Governor Gretchen Whitmer has become notorious nationally for her extreme shutdown order, although, to be fair, I am not sure it is much worse than the one issued by my own governor, Tim Walz. The local press has taken notice: “Whitmer’s new stay home order blasted by critics for lack of consistency.”

State residents can’t travel to their Up North cottages, but Illinois residents who own one in Michigan apparently can.

In-store purchases of Michigan Lottery tickets are still permitted, but buying a can of paint or a bag of seeds is off limits.
Beginning Saturday morning, previously permitted travel between two Michigan residences will end, including jumping in the car to visit a friend, or even walking across the street to watch TV with a neighbor.
[Hal] Hughes said he can’t understand how the state has imposed still more restrictions on the movement of people and the sale of nonessential goods, without shutting down in-store lottery sales.

“You can’t go visit your friends. You can’t buy seeds … but you can sneak out and buy lottery tickets,” Hughes said. “I don’t understand it, unless it’s hypocritical greed.”

Hypocritical greed is a phrase that applies, in general, to both state and federal governments.

Though the new order prohibits trips from a Michigan residence to a Michigan cottage, travel between states is still permitted, and by the words of the order, only “individuals currently living within the State of Michigan,” but not residents living in other states, are subject to the order. That would suggest that residents of other states who own cottages Up North can continue to visit, unless banned by a “stay home” order in their own state.

The linked article notes that two protests against Whitmer’s stay-home order are in the offing.

I received an email this morning inviting me to participate in a “Get Minnesota Working Again” protest outside the governor’s mansion in St. Paul. The demonstration is scheduled for next Friday from noon to 3 p.m. I am not sure whether the protest is legal or not, and it might take careful study of our governor’s economy destruction order to figure this out. One would think that if state authorities tried to block the protest or arrest those who participate (as, in some states, people have been ticketed or arrested for attending church services), it would violate the First Amendment’s guarantee of freedom of assembly.

Then again, maybe not. We live in a time in which very few seem to take seriously their rights as Americans.

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