On Friday, April 17th, the MI Senate Republican Leadership released their proposal to open Michigan safely.
First, the good news.
1) After standing by for weeks where they did nothing except enable Governor Whitmer’s abuse of our civil rights when they granted her “Emergency Powers”, the MI Senate Republican Leadership actually put together a proposal of their own.
2) The proposal includes some semblance of a logical, problem-solving framework
3) The proposal includes phased implementation
4) The proposal features quantitative benchmarks for phase transitions
5) The proposal promotes CDC guidelines related to good hygiene and social distancing
6) The proposal addresses future concerns
7) The proposal “is a proposed template that may be refined and improved over time” (ie. It can be changed).
Now, the bad news.
1) The proposal does nothing to curb the egregious trampling of our Constitutional rights. In fact, and I’m sure this is simply an oversight rather than a reflection of their attentiveness to the social compact they swore an oath to support, the word Constitution does not appear in their proposal ONCE. The fact remains that the Emergency Powers statute exercised by Governor Whitmer is subordinate to the provisions of our Constitution. It does NOT supplant these provisions.
2) The proposal promotes a vision of a “new normal” society that enables a progressive political ideology whereby the government not the people dictates their freedoms and rights,
3) The proposal propagates the philosophy that the government determines what is “essential” vs “non-essential” as opposed to individuals
4) The proposal is devoid of any attempt to regulate the policy response to COVID-19 in a manner that is proportional to the risk of death from COVID-19 versus other infectious diseases such as the common flu.
5) The proposal is devoid of any consideration of the fact that there are countries with significant less deaths due to COVID-19 than Michigan (despite having the same or greater population) who have managed to avoid adopting a “new normal” that shuts down business and leisure activity.
6) The proposal appears to promote the arbitrary and capricious edicts of Governor Whitmer not eliminate them. In fact, nothing in the proposal addresses the fact that Planned Parenthood, liquor stores, and pot shops remain open while churches and landscapers are shut down. Nothing in the proposal addresses the fact that government is regulating specific products which are allowed to be sold or not sold within a given business they allow to remain open. Nothing in the proposal addresses the fact that the Governor has prohibited some leisure activities and permitted similar leisure activities (e.g. motorboating bad, canoeing good).
7) The business provisions of the proposal continue arbitrary and capricious restrictions upon business operations. Presumably, if a business fails to comply with these restrictions, their business license would be revoked. This action would be consistent with the “administrative action” threatened by Governor Whitmer in her letter to physicians who prescribed Hydroxychloroquine treatments for COVID-19 patients.
8) The citizen provisions of the proposal dictate restrictions upon the behavior of individual citizens. Presumably, failure to comply with these restrictions would still result in misdemeanor offenses.
9) There was no evidence or basis in science presented for the quantitative conditions for phase transitions stipulated
10) There was no evidence or basis presented for what differentiates a medium risk from a low risk business
11) There was no evidence or basis presented for how the risk of death varies between gatherings of 50 people or 100 people or 250 people. Nor is there any reasoning provided as to why social distancing guidelines could not be practiced in large gatherings.
12) Testing is not even discussed until Phase 3 yet data that would drive the transitions from Phase 1 to Phase 2 to Phase 3 depends upon accurate test data. This begs the question…why is there no emphasis upon widespread and accurate voluntary testing?
13) The proposal includes phase triggers based upon the capacity of our healthcare system yet there are no provisions designed to increase the capacity of our healthcare system. If we are seeking more hospital beds and other medical equipment, we should repeal laws in place that restrict the number of hospital beds in a given region referred to under the policy heading of Certificate of Need. Not only does this assist our healthcare system in handling our current crisis, but it also mitigates the risks of “over taxing the healthcare system” in future crises. Yet, the proposal makes no mention of this common sense means of addressing issues associated with the capacity of our healthcare system.
14) The proposal does nothing to address supply chain issues regarding Personal Protection Equipment, treatments and other critical resources.
15) While the proposal devotes significant content to steps people can take to protect others from spreading COVID-19, it does not address any measures individuals can take to protect themselves. Masks and social distancing mitigate the risk of spreading the disease to others, but there is no attention to prophylactic treatments or regimens for individuals in consultation with physicians. If drugs such as Plaquenil could be taken safely by Vietnam Veterans throughout their tours of duty to prevent malaria, surely it or a similar regimen could be taken as a preventative for COVID-19. If there are cheap effective treatments such as Hydroxychloroquine-based Plaquenil, we mitigate the need for expensive vaccines which may never materialize.
16) The proposal does nothing to address fundamental questions of many citizens such as where can I get tested? Where can I get treatment? Michigan is filled with so-called “test centers” that don’t actually test citizens for COVID-19 unless they are symptomatic. If people are to self-quarantine as encouraged in the MI Senate Leadership proposal, they need to know if they are carrying COVID-19. If people are symptomatic, they need to know where they can go to receive effective treatment without putting other people with other illnesses at increased risk of contracting COVID-19.
17) The proposal promotes “geographic differentiation” as a means of dividing the state into regions able to open and those required to stay closed. This may be an effective near-term political solution for elected officials representing areas with little or no evidence of COVID-19, but it merely empowers a divide and conquer disenfranchisement of our civil liberties. It allows residents of one region to breath a sigh of relief as they resume their “new normal” while others continue to have their freedoms infringed upon. The dangers of this philosophy are exposed in the words of a poem attributed to German Pastor Martin Niemoller in the aftermath of World War II. He observed…
“First they came for the socialists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a socialist.
Then they came for the trade unionists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a trade unionist.
Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Jew.
Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.”
The MI Senate Republican Leadership’s Open Michigan Safely Proposal is promoting not inhibiting Governor Whitmer’s “new normal” doctrine. This doctrine attempts to supplant inalienable rights of individuals with rights and obligations dictated by government. If this doctrine is allowed to remain, the “fundamental transformation of America” sought by socialists like Barack Obama will have been achieved.
The truly sad part about the overall response by Republican leadership in the MI Senate and in the House is that they witnessed Governor Whitmer driving our beloved state under the influence of politics the first time they tossed her the keys to the Emergency Powers Act. Rather than rein her in, they threw her the keys yet again. The Open Michigan Safely Proposal issued by the MI Senate Republican Leadership gives me no confidence that they won’t throw her the keys yet again before May 1st.
As I often say, it is not fair nor is it productive to critique another’s proposal without providing a viable alternative. In this spirit, I would like to offer what I refer to as an Evidence-Driven Solution to COVID-19. I have provided this alternative in the form of a legislative resolution which, unlike the Open Michigan Safely Proposal, could be put up for a vote immediately if there were the political will to do so.
Evidence-Driven Solution to COVID-19
Whereas Governor Whitmer’s response to the COVID-19 has been arbitrary and capricious regarding which businesses are allowed to remain open and which businesses are required to close
Whereas Governor Whitmer’s response to COVID-19 even includes restrictions on what items are available for sale to citizens and which are not within a business with has been allowed to remain open
Whereas more than twice the number of people have died of the flu than from COVID-19 yet the measures taken to address COVID-19 far exceed those taken as precautions against the flu
Whereas Governor Whitmer’s stay at home order was ostensibly justified on the basis of not overwhelming our hospital system due to limits on the number of beds and other medical equipment placed upon them by Michigan’s Certificate of Need law
Whereas the Governor’s directives have already effectively repealed provisions of Michigan’s current Certificate of Need law to remove government-imposed restrictions upon hospital beds and other medical equipment in response to the COVID-19 pandemic
Whereas the government of Sweden has kept their nation of 10.1 million people open for business yet has experienced less COVID-19 fatalities than Michigan with its population of 10 million people
Whereas the government of South Korea has kept their nation of 50 million people open for business yet has experienced significantly less COVID-19 fatalities than Michigan with its population of 10 million people
Whereas the Governor has issued Executive Orders threatening physicians with the removal of their license to practice medicine if they prescribe potentially life-saving treatments featuring Hydroxychloroquine
Whereas our citizens are being denied the ability to be tested for COVID-19 even after driving to designated “testing centers”
Whereas we still do not have statistically significant data regarding the spread of COVID-19. In particular, we do not know how many people have COVID-19 yet are asymptomatic thereby resulting in a potentially inflated infection rate and fatality rate. In addition, there is evidence that there are patients who die with flu-like symptoms whose cause of death is being classified as COVID-19 without any proof that such was the case thereby resulting in a potentially inflated fatality rate.
Resolved that the Governor be directed to release safety guidelines that respect our Constitution and which can be applied equally to all individuals and organizations within the state of Michigan without threat of penal action by government authorities
Resolved that the Governor be directed to respond to COVID-19 in a manner proportional to the measures taken to address other causes of death.
Resolved that the Governor’s safety guidelines include guidelines for the protection of others as well as measures that individuals can adopt to protect themselves
Resolved that the Governor and legislature will work with epidemiological experts to develop and deploy a plan for COVID-19 testing that yields a statistically significant measure of the infection rate and fatality rate for COVID-19 throughout the state of Michigan.
Resolved that the Governor and legislature work together at resolving supply chain issues related to the availability of Personal Protection Equipment (PPE), test kits, promising treatments of symptomatic individuals such as Hydroxychloroquine plus Z-pack and Zinc, and promising prophylactic treatments such as Plaquenil.
Resolved that the Governor and legislature will work together to ensure that PPE, test kits, promising symptomatic treatments, and promising prophylactic treatments are made available to our citizens at little to no cost
Resolved that the Governor and legislature work together to mitigate our dependence on other entities and stockpile critical resources needed to effectively address future epidemics.
Resolved that the Governor and legislature will work to ensure that all testing data is made available to the public in an easily accessible manner and updated regularly
Resolved that the Governor and legislature work together to protect people of Michigan from future risk of overtaxing our healthcare system from future healthcare crises by permanently repealing Michigan’s Certificate of Need law.
Resolved that Michigan re-open its economy without arbitrary distinctions as to which businesses are authorized to open and which businesses must remain shut down.
Resolved that religion, morality and knowledge are essential to good governance and should be encouraged by re-opening of our schools in order to promote the education of our students.
Resolved that communications from the Governor’s office from this point forward will be absent of assertions designed to promote her political agenda and focus rather upon matters of importance to the people of Michigan such as where they can obtain tests, where they can obtain PPE, or where they can get treatment for COVID-19.