By Andrew J. Manuse
A young man contacted me last week about how desperately he wants to visit his dying mother in the hospital to care for her during what’s possibly her final days, but the hospital wouldn’t let him in based on the governor’s emergency orders. Neither he nor his mother have Covid-19.
Put yourself in his position for just a moment and picture your loved one alone, suffering, with you unable to connect with her and helpless to do anything about it. What if it was your child on that hospital bed?
A woman with a complicated pregnancy told me she is stuck in the hospital on bedrest away from her other children. Hospital staff received a meal provided by a local restaurant in front of the building on the same day she was told her children couldn’t come by the same outdoor area to just say hello.
We all meet at the grocery store, where we walk by the meat aisles in shock by how little there is to buy, when just a couple months ago we could buy food from all over the world. We squeeze the avocados to make sure we pick the ripe ones and pick through the green beens to avoid the blemishes, blissfully ignorant of the germs. But when it comes to the checkout line, we must stand six feet apart, staring suspiciously at each other.
Have we allowed the fear of a virus to diminish our humanity and disregard the dignity of our loved ones? When people are shamed for not wearing a mask in public or pummeled with death threats for taking their children to a playground, have we gone too far?
Fear has driven some people to say very crass things, such as, “You’re going to go out and kill people for a haircut?” But to one single woman, it’s not just a haircut. She owns a skin-care business and rents out space for a salon to feed her three children at home. Her Paycheck Protection Program loan application and unemployment claim were both denied.
The governor’s unconstitutional emergency orders are dreadfully impacting the lives of our friends, families and neighbors in the name of safety. If we allow this shutdown of the New Hampshire economy to continue, we will be fully stripped of the liberty to care for ourselves and those we love.
Concern about the true human cost of the shutdown is why some friends and I joined together to start the petition at ReopenNH.com urging our governor to end his restrictions immediately. Anything short of a full restoration of liberty will delay our recovery as a people, and that is why we’ve rallied at the State House. It’s also why we are sharing the heartaches of real Granite Staters on our Web site. Folks have suffered an enormous price from these orders.
Are policymakers aware of the music school owner who is trying desperately to hang on to her business, but losing students due to the challenges of remote learning and reduced incomes? People like the salon owner can’t afford lessons for her children anymore. Neither can the restaurant owner who was named 2019 Small Business of the Year. Her business was a popular bar where people gathered and enjoyed a few drinks. There’s no take-out option for this type of community. She and her 13 employees are out of work and her award-winning business may never re-open. What other businesses will fail because these folks and others like them won’t have the money to spend there?
What about the drug addict who was saved from his addiction by attending a local church service? Now that he isn’t surrounded by his support group and experiencing the power of worship with other believers, will he slip back into his old ways? I thought government had no role restricting the freedom of religion.
When people talk about the economy or the free market, this is what they mean. This isn’t about money; money is just a tool. Livelihoods are about lives, and economies are about how those lives interact with each other to make everything work. When one piece of it fails, other parts are affected. Every single person who does something positive with their life is essential for this system to work the way it does—organically.
Government has no place in the economy other than to make recommendations, and not regulations, based on sound and peer-reviewed science, and to make sure no one takes advantage of another. Under the governor’s orders and reopening plan, government is doing exactly the opposite, picking winners and losers and crushing the entire system for the benefit of a few. Large companies are profiting significantly from their “essential” status, while local store owners are going bankrupt.
The stories don’t end here. I’ve also heard about a gentleman now filled with overbearing guilt because he brought Covid-19 home from his shift at a big box store to his father-in-law, who is now dying on a ventilator. A local man lost his dad to Covid-19 in Italy, and he didn’t get to say goodbye in person. Another woman who had moved south lost her father here in New Hampshire. The funeral will have to wait and so will the hugs for Mom.
All of this is tragic! Your losses matter, whether they are from a loved one to Covid-19, your child not getting critical developmental care, or a lifetime of hard work gone up in smoke. Yet, while the risk of infection is significant for some, it isn’t for most, and the governor’s misguided approach doesn’t consider the unintended consequences.
Meanwhile, several elderly people have told me that they would rather risk having their time cut short than live their last days isolated and lonely, apart from their loved ones, while the future of their children and grandchildren is squandered. Shouldn’t they be the ones to make that choice? Shouldn’t we all?
Andrew J. Manuse is chairman of ReOpenNH.com, an organization devoted to getting New Hampshire back to work via a petition drive and coordinated demonstrations against arbitrary government power.