You thought you lived in a democratic republic, didn’t you? Admit it. You thought we have three branches of government with checks and balances to ensure that the voice of the people is heard and the powers of the government are limited. You learned that on Schoolhouse Rock and you can still sing about how a bill becomes a law right now if you wanted to. It’s cute you still believe that, but it’s entirely wrong. It turns out that there is one department that rules us all, and it don’t need no stinkin’ laws.
It’s the health department, jam-packed full of political appointees and unelected bureaucrats who are not accountable for anything they do. They are calling the shots now and you will comply if you know what’s good for you. They are so powerful, they can shutter your business and force you onto unemployment or into prison with the stroke of a pen. Not one person you elected will be consulted, except maybe the governor, but even he or she isn’t paying attention to your local county health department. You will not get due process. There will be no hearings, no warrants, or anything else guaranteed to you in the Constitution. It’s literally void now.
That same health department can weaponize the licensing mechanism in your state to punish you if you don’t obey and put you out of business by just canceling your permit. This solidifies my belief that requiring permits for people to make a living should be done away with immediately. One of my favorite scenes in Parks and Recreation has Ron Swanson handing his “permit” to a parks officer that says, “I can do what I want.” Heaven!
If the Libertarians ever had any good ideas, doing away with most government offices that issue things like permits and licensing is one of them. Imagine what we would save on inspector salaries!
Normally, the health department just does whatever it does and no one notices. It runs vaccination campaigns and puts out public service announcements about handwashing and good hygiene. It probably sponsors “safe sex” talks in schools and hands out pamphlets at carnivals or something. But what no one ever expected the health department to become was an all-powerful Ministry of Health holding all the Infinity Stones that can, with one snap of its fingers, obliterate your life.
How did this happen? Is it legal? Can we stop it? Here are a few snippets of the laws from across the United States that relate to the power of the health department in a pandemic. If these don’t raise the hairs on the back of your neck, I’m betting you’re a moron who longs for socialism.
The governor or the State Board of Health may proclaim a quarantine whenever deemed necessary. The Board of Health shall enforce it and adopt any necessary rules or regulations necessary to do so. -Alabama
An officer or guard carrying out a quarantine may arrest without warrant anyone who attempts to violate quarantine regulations and move them to the designated detention area… -Alabama
County or district health departments have the power and duty to establish and enforce quarantine or isolation when it is necessary for public health. – Arkansas
County, district or regional health departments have the duty to establish and enforce quarantine or isolation and exercise control over property and people within their jurisdiction as is necessary to protect public health. – Colorado
Any town, city, borough or district director of health can issue a quarantine or isolation order if necessary to protect public health.-Connecticut
The state health officer is responsible for declaring public health emergencies, under which an order can be given to quarantine individuals who pose a threat to public health. – Florida
A district health board has identical powers as state officials within a health district…Department of health officials may enter property in order to administer or enforce communicable disease duties. -Idaho
The Department of Public Health has supreme authority over declaring new or modifying existing quarantines. -Illinois
When a public health emergency exists, the department can enforce orders within local jurisdiction and exercise all powers of those local health authorities. -Indiana
The state health officer has exclusive authority to isolate or quarantine to prevent the spread of contagious disease. -Louisianna
When the secretary of health determines that it is medically necessary and reasonable to prevent or reduce the spread of the disease or outbreak believed to have been caused by the exposure to a deadly agent, may order an individual or group of individuals to go to and remain in places of isolation or quarantine until the secretary determines that the individual no longer poses a substantial risk of transmitting the disease or condition to the public. -Maryland
There’s a lot more, but you get the idea. Who are these secretaries of health that have the “supreme authority” over every individual? Did you vote for them? Did they run a campaign and convince you they were the right person for the job? Do we have any idea who these people are or what they think? And don’t you think we should know them intimately? Don’t you think we should get to have a say in who gets these positions that seem to outrank elected officials when there’s an “emergency?”
I do not think there has ever been a more misused phrase than “for the public good.” It has come to symbolize the collective. And there is no greater threat to individual liberty than the desires and wants of the collective. To ensure the “public good” is to destroy the individual and it’s time to erase forever the words “public good” from our vocabularies because we can never answer the question, “Good for whom?” Each individual has his own definition of what is “good,” and what is “good” for him may not be “good” for his neighbor. But who decides who gets their idea of “good” implemented by rule? The Ministry of Health, currently. The concept of “the public good” that has been put into practice during the COVID-19 pandemic is to steal a man’s life and property and force his compliance at the business end of a gun. That it’s the ministers in the vaunted health department holding the gun doesn’t make them any less criminal.
Perhaps it’s time to make a constitutional amendment that all health officials must run for election and appoint the legislature as the overseeing body over the health department so they may be held in check lest they grow drunk with power and relieve themselves all over the Constitution again. Or we could just abolish the health department and salt the earth where it stood. I think I’m leaning toward the latter.
Megan Fox is the author of “Believe Evidence; The Death of Due Process from Salome to #MeToo,” and host of The Fringe podcast. Follow on Twitter @MeganFoxWriter