The glorious messiness of life, with its thousands of variables always in motion, confounds those who seek to control others. We can see it in President Joe Biden’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as his failing battles against inflation, supply chain bottlenecks and soaring gas prices, among many other issues the administration has made worse.
As a candidate and through his inaugural address, the president promised no COVID mandates, and plenty of moderation and bipartisanship. But after he arrived at the Oval Office that afternoon and started issuing executive orders, all of his promises were swept away like confetti on New Year’s Day.
This is an Opinion
Now his aggressive embrace of COVID mandates — including the illegal OSHA emergency order that a federal appeals court has blocked, for now, as potentially unconstitutional — will compound his other errors. First, by further dividing Americans he pledged to bring together.
His mandates also make it harder to get COVID under control. Americans are a freedom-loving people, and many instinctively recoil from government overreach. And when unchecked, as we have seen, overreach expands. Here’s U.S. Centers for Disease Control & Prevention Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky on Oct. 29: "Masks can help prevent the spread of COVID-19 by reducing your chance of infection by more than 80%, whether it's an infection from the flu, the coronavirus or even just the common cold. In combination with other steps like getting your vaccination, hand washing, and keeping physical distance, wearing your mask is an important step you can take to keep us all healthy." The flu? The common cold? Wow, that didn’t take long, did it?
While I have been vaccinated against COVID and encourage others to do so, this is a choice best left to American adults to make on their own. About 59% of Arkansans are now at least partially vaccinated, and the number is rising, all without the Biden mandates. Still, with more than 8,500 Arkansans already lost to COVID, the importance of managing risk and protecting those most vulnerable to the virus remain priorities.
The Biden mandates also make other problems facing our nation worse, particularly with respect to our economy. Inflation is at rates not seen in 30 years, particularly for food and energy. Millions of job openings remain unfilled, the Port of Long Beach has thousands of containers backed up throughout the port and on container ships lined up in the Pacific, truck drivers are in short supply, and store shelves continue to show gaps.
The Biden vaccine mandate dropped on top of all that, by driving more employees from the workforce, will exacerbate our labor shortage. Already, mandates in some states are thinning the ranks of police, firefighters and heath care workers. Adding corporate truck drivers to those who are being forced to choose between their jobs and their desire not to get this vaccine at this time will have ripple effects throughout our economy. As supply chains woes persist, less supply of products means even higher prices and inflation, a silent tax increase that strips buying power from your paychecks and savings, slamming both workers and retirees.
As counterproductive as these mandates are, an across-the-board mandate that hits trucking companies borders on ridiculous. Truck drivers spend much of their time alone in the cab, driving for hours, under a load, en route to their destination. Their interaction with others is limited.
Even an exemption from the mandate for them, people we need working to get our economy back to full steam, would not solve the problem. It would simply invite other industries whose workers are critically important to seek their own exemption. Therein lies the fallacy of such a mandate: Requiring everyone to fit into one box seldom works.
Americans also understand that with government mandates, the slippery slope isn’t some far-off concern; it hits the day after tomorrow. That is why so many Arkansans are drawing the line with these Biden mandates.
Today it is to “help” workers at large companies. Very soon, it is likely to be young children, ages 5-11, with federal government pressure to force COVID vaccines on them. How to balance the costs and benefits of COVID vaccination — particularly for healthy, young children at very low risk from COVID — is one that should be for parents to decide, not a president sitting in Washington, D.C.
Americans have been battered by COVID-19 and the government responses to it. The president’s big government ideology is making things worse. Let’s hope the American people can withstand the brutal winter that is headed our way.