Larry O’Connor, On Tuesday, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott lifted his state’s last remaining business restrictions and mask mandates, joining Mississippi, Louisiana, and Michigan by easing many burdens on their states’ economies and educational opportunities for their children.
Over in California, Governor Gavin Newsom, who currently faces an existential threat to his political future with a grassroots-led recall effort, described Abbott’s proclamation as “Absolutely reckless.”
Absolutely reckless. https://t.co/3O5GsbSLpM
— Gavin Newsom (@GavinNewsom) March 2, 2021
“Reckless,” Gov. Newsom? Really?
The Guv was summarily “ratioed,” as the cool kids like to say. And for good reason.
Let’s talk about recklessness for a moment, shall we?
First off, let’s examine what Abbott’s decision really involves. When making his announcement, Abbott said, “Removing statewide mandates does not end personal responsibility or the importance of caring for your family members. Personal vigilance to follow the safe standards is still needed to contain [COVID-19]. It’s just that now state mandates are no longer needed.”
In other words, the people of Texas will be responsible for protecting themselves and their families and, if they choose, their businesses by continuing to take the appropriate precautions they believe best fit their personal needs and dangers.
It’s called liberty and personal responsibility. Frankly, for many Texans, Abbott’s reliance on traditional Texan principles is too little too late.
But for Newsom, Abbott might as well have just injected COVID-19 directly into the veins of his populace.
Imagine if Newsom had spent the last several months trusting his voters and relying on their judgment and respecting their rights and liberties so that they could make informed decisions for themselves rather than have them languish under the draconian and arbitrary proclamations he delivered from his cloistered and protected bunker in Sacramento.
Well, thanks to none other than NPR, we don’t have to imagine such things. They’ve done an exhaustive comparison between Fort California, run by Warden Newsom, and the relatively free Florida under Gov. Ron DeSantis.
Let’s be clear, DeSantis was given the same information, the same data, the same precautions, and the same recommendations at the onset of this pandemic as his counterparts in California and New York. But, his leadership in the face of those recommendations compared to Newsom’s and Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s thoughtless, blind adherence to un-named experts resulted in a stark and remarkable difference.
California had this sustained, horrible surge of infections, the worst in the nation, for many weeks after the second lockdown was ordered. And the fact is, California’s deaths per capita numbers, which, you know, officials have used throughout the pandemic to defend these very tough restrictions, are in many cases either the same or worse than many states that have been far less restrictive.
Florida never went to another lockdown. According to the CDC, the results haven’t been too bad. We’ve had – Florida’s have fewer cases per capita than California. It’s had more deaths per capita than California. Florida ranks 28th nationally versus California, which is 34th.
So, in terms of infections and deaths, there isn’t much of a difference between Newsom’s California and DeSantis’ Florida, and whatever differences they may have, California is in worse shape than the Sunshine State. Newsom’s strangle-hold on businesses, schools, and even personal recreation has had little to no impact and may have even caused more harm than good. DeSantis, opting on the side of freedom and relying on his citizens exercising good habits and personal responsibility, seems to have had a moderately successful result.
But, what about the economy? While Newsom restricted his population without reaping any significant positive health benefits from a state-wide lockdown, Floridians have been experiencing the closest thing to “normal” that any American has been able to enjoy. The results? Again, we turn to NPR:
in Florida, most businesses are open, and they have been for months now. Theme parks actually were allowed to reopen in June. So in terms of the economy, Florida’s not doing too badly compared with the rest of the nation. Unemployment’s below the national average. Consumer spending, judged by sales tax collections, is nearly back. Tourism is, of course, still way down. But there are signs that even that’s ready to rebound.
Meanwhile, in California, how has Newsom’s leadership done? According to CalMatters, it’s a disaster.
The state’s official unemployment rate — the percentage of the labor force not working — edged upward in December to 9% but when those who dropped out of the labor force or were involuntarily working part-time are included, the real rate is more like 15%. Even without that adjustment, 9% is still very high and, according to the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics, the third highest of any state. Only tourism-dependent Nevada and Hawaii are higher, with South Dakota and Nebraska at other end of the scale at 3%.
Overall, California has lost 1.5 million jobs in the last year of pandemic and economic turmoil, leaving a salient question hanging in the air: How long will California’s pandemic-induced recession continue?
So, who’s reckless here, Gov. Newsom?
Schools have been shut down for almost a year, and Newsom has just recently put forth an $8 billion plan to pay-off schools that open for only K-2 instruction by April 1, with the lion’s share of the money going to the same teachers’ unions who have demanded the draconian shutdowns. Meanwhile, those teachers’ unions still have a de facto veto over the re-opening anyway. Newsom has basically relinquished his authority to his political pals at the California Teachers Association.
Businesses have been shuttered, and many will never re-open. Restaurants have been held hostage despite science suggesting outdoor dining is not in any way connected to community spread in California’s largest cities.
Churches have been arbitrarily closed despite several court decisions properly labeling the authoritarian proclamations unconstitutional.
Every job and business which relies on California’s tourism economy has been starved of any revenue as Newsom re-brands the Golden State in his own image: An incompetent joke. Meanwhile, hotels, restaurants, and employees who rely on Disney’s theme park economy have been surging in Orange County, Florida, with the Disney and Universal parks operating since last July. In Orange County, California, there is no joy.
Newsom has no explanation why other states can achieve what he is reluctant to even try. All he can do is send a fruitless, pathetic tweet accusing others of “recklessness” while his citizens suffer with no real end in sight.
California deserves better. It’s no wonder why so many of them are moving to Texas and Florida and Idaho and Arizona and Tennessee and anywhere.
This guy can’t be recalled soon enough.