NPI's Cascadia Advocate

Offering commentary and analysis from Washington, Oregon, and Idaho, The Cascadia Advocate is the Northwest Progressive Institute's uplifting perspective on world, national, and local politics.

Tuesday, April 21st, 2020

The right wing’s economic livelihood versus public health argument is a false choice

With this week­end’s demon­stra­tions appar­ent­ly hav­ing not result­ing in the desired out­pour­ing of frus­tra­tion, anger and com­mit­ments to open wal­lets for the cam­paigns of Don­ald Trump and his acolytes, sev­er­al rest­less Repub­li­cans have decid­ed to cook up more schemes for thumb­ing their noses at Gov­er­nor Inslee.

Franklin Coun­ty Com­mis­sion­er Clint Didi­er — a failed Repub­li­can can­di­date for statewide and fed­er­al office — put togeth­er a res­o­lu­tion on April 20th to “…end the Stay at Home Emer­gency Procla­ma­tion…” and pro­nounce it uncon­sti­tu­tion­al (some­thing that leg­isla­tive bod­ies iron­i­cal­ly have no author­i­ty to do).

In Gbbons v. Ogden, decid­ed all the way back in good old 1824, the Unit­ed States Supreme Court stat­ed that a giv­en state has the abil­i­ty to reg­u­late inter­state com­merce with­in its juris­dic­tion through its pow­er to quarantine.

Back when Ebo­la was a grave con­cern in 2014, Pro­fes­sor Michael Dorf, a Con­sti­tu­tion­al schol­ar at Cor­nell Uni­ver­si­ty, gave a more exten­sive expla­na­tion of the deci­sion and what’s come to pass since which is worth reading.

(This activ­i­ty of the Franklin Coun­ty Com­mis­sion is con­cur­rent with the announce­ment by Franklin Coun­ty Sher­iff J. D. Ray­mond, also announced today, that he would not only decline to enforce Gov­er­nor Inslee’s stay at home orders, but also any guide­lines ”that infringe on your con­sti­tu­tion­al rights.”)

Didi­er appears more inter­est­ed in ral­ly­ing the troops, fundrais­ing, and get­ting news cov­er­age than he is in actu­al­ly prac­tic­ing civ­il disobedience.

Mean­while, in Cowlitz Coun­ty, offi­cials took the more sen­si­ble approach of lodg­ing a request to Gov­er­nor Inslee that asks him to mod­i­fy his orders to per­mit a greater num­ber of activ­i­ties, par­tic­u­lar­ly hunt­ing and fishing.

What vocal right wing activists and elect­ed offi­cials don’t seem to want to acknowl­edge is that we’re not deal­ing with just any con­ta­gious disease.

This virus (SARS-CoV­‑2) is capa­ble of killing twen­ty to thir­ty times more peo­ple than an aver­age out­break of influen­za. There is no vac­cine available.

And many peo­ple who have the virus have no idea that they have it.

Even it were pos­si­ble, return­ing to the past would not make peo­ple whole. We can’t for­get that before COVID-19, income inequal­i­ty and cli­mate dam­age were prob­lems that were going unsolved. We can­not for­get that our econ­o­my was in no way made more resilient after the Great Reces­sion that began twelve years ago.

We can­not for­get that our soci­ety has suf­fered from struc­tur­al weak­ness­es for decades that have gone unad­dressed, with tremen­dous ramifications.

And final­ly, we should not for­get that women, the black com­mu­ni­ty, and Lat­ninx peo­ple are suf­fer­ing most from the nov­el coronavirus.

No one should fall vic­tim to false canard of econ­o­my ver­sus health.

We must col­lec­tive­ly rec­og­nize that by mak­ing respon­si­ble choic­es, we can save most every­one and can have an econ­o­my to which we can return.

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  1. I real­ize that, like NPI’s exec­u­tive direc­tor said a few days ago, Inslee has the pow­er under RCW 43.06.220 to issue an emer­gency procla­ma­tion, which includes being able to pro­hib­it, “The sale, pur­chase or dis­pens­ing of oth­er com­modi­ties or goods, as he or she rea­son­ably believes should be pro­hib­it­ed to help pre­serve and main­tain life, health, prop­er­ty or the pub­lic peace.” How­ev­er, I don’t see how Gib­bons v. Ogden can be used to jus­ti­fy this law.

    As you say above, in Gib­bons v. Ogden, it was decid­ed, “that a giv­en state has the abil­i­ty to reg­u­late inter­state com­merce with­in its juris­dic­tion through its pow­er to quar­an­tine.” The prob­lem with what Inslee is doing is that he is not the state Leg­is­la­ture. Even though the state Leg­is­la­ture in years past gave the gov­er­nor the author­i­ty to reg­u­late com­merce involv­ing our state, this is not con­sis­tent with the deci­sion in Gib­bons v. Ogden that you have described. As far as I know, Inslee has been mak­ing many deci­sions about what is an essen­tial busi­ness and what is not in a uni­lat­er­al man­ner, mean­ing that the state leg­is­la­ture isn’t involved in the deci­sion mak­ing, as it should be.

    I don’t dis­agree that the gov­er­nor has the pow­er to do what he’s doing right now, but in my mind, the afore­men­tioned law should be either repealed or mod­i­fied. Giv­ing one per­son the pow­er to make such impact­ful deci­sions uni­lat­er­al­ly is dan­ger­ous. Instead, the state leg­is­la­ture should be pass­ing bills to do things like decid­ing what’s an essen­tial busi­ness and what is not, and then the gov­er­nor could either veto such bills or sign them into law.

    # by Kaleb Fisler :: April 22nd, 2020 at 9:44 AM
  2. Health is wealth and in this hard time, we have to take care of our­selves, use hand san­i­tiz­er, and masks properly.

    # by Shanta Narang :: April 22nd, 2020 at 11:45 AM
  3. There will be no strong econ­o­my if there are no strong and healthy peo­ple to pro­mote it. In this way, life and well-being will always be more impor­tant, since a peo­ple with­out health does not pro­duce, has no qual­i­ty of life, has no moti­va­tion, in short, “has no life”!

    I would like to thank you for this impor­tant post, which I want to share with my clients and friends! I will con­tin­ue read­ing your posts.

    # by Romero Wagner :: April 22nd, 2020 at 7:08 PM
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