Culture

Paging George Orwell: Watch LA Mayor Announce Spy Program to Threaten Open Businesses During COVID-19 Scare

Screenshot/KTLA TV

California is bracing for its turn as the nation’s hotspot for the COVID-19 outbreak and the state’s leaders are flexing their statist muscles with all manner of edicts, spy programs, and threats of prosecution.

The state is currently in shut-down mode, with only “essential businesses” open and people ordered to socially distance from other possible germ carriers. Restaurants can serve only take-out orders, grocery stores require people to line up outside until the crowds thin out inside. In the beach communities, “outsiders” are being told to stay out. Hiking trails, parks and even the beaches – the open-air beaches – are closed.  In the City of Laguna Beach, where drones are forbidden for you to use in public, cops are using drones to monitor whether scofflaws have hit the beaches and if people are keeping a socially acceptable distances from others. So ingrained are these admonitions that if you’re seen walking in a group, citizens will think nothing of calling the cops.

Up the freeway in LA County, people there are currently in a state of confusion about what is an essential business and what’s not. The Los Angeles County Sheriff singlehandedly decided this week that he would start shutting down all gun stores because he didn’t trust new gun owners. No, really, that was his reason. Besides getting blowback from Second Amendment supporters, he got word from the county’s counsel that gun stores were never listed as “non-essential,” so the sheriff backed off. For now.

If all this isn’t Orwellian enough for you, the Los Angeles mayor, Eric Garcetti, is now openly threatening businesses open during the COVID-19 scare with what is tantamount to a spy program.

Things are getting downright weird.

In an update on Wednesday evening, the LA Mayor said open businesses will be “facing misdemeanor charge [sic].” Mind you, this is in the same county where the sheriff has been freeing prisoners and urging cops not to arrest anyone on a crime for which the bail is more than $50,000. He’s just let 1,700 people out of jail. You know, for our health and everything.

But now the mayor, whose city cops use the jails, is threatening to be a tough guy on people running businesses who may be confused if they’re essential businesses. Garcetti isn’t saying which businesses he’s talking about, but warned Wednesday, “You know who you are. You need to stop it. This is your chance to step up and to shut it down because if you don’t we will shut you down.

That’s tough talk from a guy dubbed Mayor Yoga Pants by local radio hosts.

But here came Garcetti’s follow up:

If we see continued non compliance [business owners will] end up facing misdemeanor charge [sic] and DWP [Department of Water and Power] will shut off their water and power. [emphasis added]

What may be the worst part of his plan, however, is Garcetti’s stasi-like group of prosecutors who would walk precincts in search of scofflaw businesses. No doubt they’ll be glad to take your complaint.

Garcetti calls this group of business-busters “The Safer at Home Business Ambassadors Program.” Apparently the City of Los Angeles Double-Speak Department is working overtime at City Hall.

Garcetti knows being hard on business is a fine line:

 Believe me when I say nobody wants to be punitive at a time like this. My ideal is 100% self-compliance, and we all hope for the same thing — we want fewer people to get sick and die. … We can achieve those goals but only if we all do our part.

Garcetti isn’t alone in threatening businesses.

In Ohio, Governor Mike DeWine says he’s going after businesses as well, but without a spying program or cutting off water and power.

We understand that people need to keep a socially acceptable and healthy distance, but shutting off water and power on businesses during a health crisis and spying on them seems an odd way to go about sending a message.