Since late December, the citizens of China have watched in sheer disbelief as the little freedom they had left was eliminated due to the coronavirus outbreak. Millions of people have been locked down in their homes, major cities have turned into ghost towns and those who dare venture out are arrested and thrown in internment camps. When citizens are allowed in the streets, drones equipped with facial recognition hover overhead to make sure they are wearing masks. Citizens are forced to download software on their phones so the state can track them and all of it is being carried out for their own “safety.” The fact is that China has become an Orwellian nightmare and experts are predicting that this police state will stay even if the coronavirus threat does not.
Effectively, the app is required now to do anything in many places. Here's what it looks like trying to get onto the subway in Hangzhou. Overnight the city went from lockdown to relying on the app. If your code is green, you can ride. If you're given yellow or red, you're stuck. pic.twitter.com/rettbnhbWW
— Paul Mozur 孟建国 (@paulmozur) March 2, 2020
It's not clear where the data goes or how the decisions are being made. Likely it ends up in a place like this, a Hangzhou police command center. Perhaps unsurprisingly, because China has empowered its public security forces recently, they have an outsized role in the response. pic.twitter.com/ZqQHIAh1O9
— Paul Mozur 孟建国 (@paulmozur) March 2, 2020
The police state is not only unfolding in China either. On Monday, as coronavirus cases continued to rise in Italy, Italian officials have begun rolling out similar police state measures. If citizens attempt to flee the country to avoid such tyranny, they face jail. Anyone leaving the “containment regions” risks three months in prison, or a fine of up to 206 euros ($234), Luciana Lamorgese said on Monday.
Unfortunately, most top officials are not questioning these measures and, in fact, many are praising them.
Despite such a hellish police state in China in which citizens are routinely spied on and arrested, the World Health Organization praised the Chinese government’s response. Of course, locking people down and disallowing travel and commerce will be effective in the short term. But other experts question whether or not these measures will be effective once children go back to school and workers return to factories.
“I think they did an amazing job of knocking the virus down,” said Michael T. Osterholm, director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota. “But I don’t know if it’s sustainable. What have the Chinese really accomplished? Have they really contained the virus? Or have they just suppressed it?”
What’s more, even the NY Times doubts the numbers coming from China as the government has changed the way they count the cases of coronavirus several times over the past few weeks.
TFTP has spoken with a source in China who says that thousands of people are dying from the lockdown — not because they have the coronavirus — but because they are unable to leave their homes to receive treatment for curable diseases. To stop the spread of the coronavirus, Chinese officials have reportedly condemned thousands of other sick folks to death.
No one here is claiming that we shouldn’t have some level of concern when it comes to coronavirus which as of Monday morning has infected over 111,000 people, killing over 3,800 worldwide. However, all of these police state measures raise an extremely important question that society must start to consider right now. Is the cure worse than the disease?
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention the influenza virus, so far in the 2019-2020 flu season, has infected 32 million Americans, sent 310,000 to the hospital, and killed 18,000. But because this virus is nothing new, the state cannot use fear to implement police state measures over it.
On the contrary, proponents of big government are likely salivating at the reaction to coronavirus around the globe. After all, nothing helps grow the police and surveillance state quite like a crisis — either perceived or real.
As Rahm Emanuel famously stated in 2008, “You never want a serious crisis to go to waste. And what I mean by that is an opportunity to do things that you think you could not do before.”
Former Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Scott Gottlieb — whose ties to big pharma and the police state are glaring — has begun openly advocating for localities to shut down.
“We’re better off doing it upfront and giving assistance to get them to do the right things then do it on the back end after we’ve had a very big epidemic,” he told CBS’ Margaret Brennan on Sunday’s Face the Nation. “States and cities are going to have to act in the interest of the national interests,” and shut down businesses.
“States and cities are going to have to act in the interest of the national interests,” and shut down businesses @ScottGottliebMD tells @margbrennan about #coronavirus. He predicts the federal government will need to provide a significant bailout package to aid economy pic.twitter.com/xkVAoM1Guw
— Face The Nation (@FaceTheNation) March 8, 2020
As cases of coronavirus continue to climb inside the United States, we can rest assured that police state measures will climb as well. Last year, we witnessed a similar case unfold with measles which is likely just a drop in the bucket compared to the reaction to coronavirus. We saw children banned from public spaces, mandatory vaccinations enforced with police action, and a pro-vaccine push in the mainstream media like we’ve never seen before. In May, the pro-mandatory vaccine push reached a new level, as the Washington Post published an article calling for the arrest of those who choose not to vaccinate.
As we reported in August, the measures did little to curb the spread of measles and instead resulted in massive pharmaceutical industry profits. We can expect to see the same profit driven response from the police state. Unless Americans choose logic and rational thought over fear, the coronavirus reactionary measures will be here long after the outbreak subsides — regardless of whether or not they even work.
“All animals experience fear—human beings, perhaps, most of all. Any animal incapable of fear would have been hard pressed to survive,” wrote economic historian Robert Higgs, the author of Crisis and Leviathan (1987), a book-length examination of how bad times drive government to grow in power and scope, as Reason points out. “The people who have the effrontery to rule us, who call themselves our government, understand this basic fact of human nature. They exploit it, and they cultivate it. Whether they compose a warfare state or a welfare state, they depend on it to secure popular submission, compliance with official dictates, and, on some occasions, affirmative cooperation with the state’s enterprises and adventures.”