By Andrew J. Manuse
How long does it take to build a new home from scratch and how many people with how many different skills are needed to get the job done? How long does it take for an uncontrollable fire to reduce that house to ashes?
The economic engine that provides food, beverages, clothing, shelter, and every modern convenience to the American people took more than a century to build. Yet, with the stroke of many governors’ pens, the dangerous servant that is government has become a fearful master now poised to destroy our way of life in two short months in the name of safety.
The Coronavirus did not cause this problem, and I would argue, the cure has become worse than the disease. Centralized government power has stripped us of our ability to manage our own affairs, and it by no means can dictate how we should rebuild them. It is time for the governor of this state and several others to step out of the way and let the good people of this land go back to work so their free enterprise and ingenuity can meet the needs of the people who are now suffering.
My life has not been insulated from the costs of Coronavirus as I have people dear to me who have lost their loved ones. I understand the fear that has overpowered so many people’s thought patterns and their anger directed at people like me who are seeking a restoration of balance and reason. The only way I can understand the media, health, and government officials continuing to capitalize on these fears and anger after the virus has proven to be less harmful than projected is that this new power they have over you is too enticing to give up.
While I personally would urge you to use your own sense of caution in managing your exposure to this truthfully dangerous virus, and by all means protect yourself if you believe you are at risk, I would also emphatically plead with you to consider the danger of unbridled power and a centralized plan for dealing with it. Our government was never designed to function this way, and for good reason. Government isn’t as good at identifying the needs of the people around you as you are. Gov. Sununu needs to back off and let you get your livelihood, your purpose, and your passions back on track, and if he does, we will recover.
The governor’s plan to reopen New Hampshire started with a task force that met on Wednesday, April 22. What concerned me most about the seminal meeting is that the governor was present for the first few minutes, dictating how he wanted the committee to function, and then he left the meeting to go on TV and tell you to walk one-way down each aisle of the grocery store. He didn’t have time to listen to the ideas of the politicians and lobbyists he appointed to reopen the state’s economy. At least one of them, Sen. Bob Giuda from Warren, had a good idea: perhaps the task force should have representatives from the manufacturing and technology industries advising the governor instead of lobbyists and licensing boards? “The last thing we need is more regulation,” he said.
The others, by the way, were talking about procedure and how the task force was going to decide how to let you go back to work, little by little—but only after forcing regulations on your companies that will dictate how you will behave and how you will dress, if and when you return to your job. And who knows when that will be; if we let this continue. And if we let this continue, can we recover? I don’t think so, at least not to the way of life you and I are accustomed to. If we let this top-down, we-know-better-than-you approach take hold, we will simply become another nation of mediocrity, where no fresh idea or difficult achievement will be worth the effort to pursue.
The governor announced another 21-day extension to his emergency order on Friday, April 24, and resultantly, the petition I helped start at ReOpenNH.com will need to dig in and ramp up its efforts to change his mind. We’ll be gathering at our Rally to Live Free on noon on Saturday, May 2, and expecting an even bigger crowd than Saturday, April 18. These efforts are going to take courage from you—to look past the fear and anger that you are feeling and find the strength within yourself to uplift your household, your neighbors, and the people you encounter.
As we work on reopening New Hampshire together, not in the governor’s stuffy task-force conference calls, but in our own lives, I want you to ask yourselves: How many friends can you watch lose their jobs or have their hours cut? How many stores and restaurants are you willing to let close, never to reopen? How many long waits to get your rations at the grocery store? How many weeks of waiting for your biopsy to find out if you are in remission? How many weeks of not seeing your parents, children, or grandchildren in person?
Viruses stick around for a long time, and we usually don’t develop effective vaccines to stop them. When we already have promising cures working their way through the government’s red tape, isn’t it time to cut the red tape from our front doors?
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.