Virgil: Will the Covid Bill Bring Relief from the Covid Lockdown? 

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi of Calif., and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer of N.Y., pose after signing the $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief bill during an enrollment ceremony on Capitol Hill, Wednesday, March 10, 2021, in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)
AP Photo/Alex Brandon

Congress has passed, and President Biden will soon sign into law, the $1.9 trillion stimulus package. The legislation includes $170 billion for K-12 schools and colleges to help students return to the classroom; moreover, there’s another $47.8 billion for nationwide “coronavirus testing, contact tracing, and mitigation.”

That’s a lot of new money piled on top of old money—as this is now the sixth Covid relief bill enacted since last March. Moreover, we also have the vaccine. Some 100 million doses have been administered to Americans, with a couple million more being added every day. 

So we’ll be opening soon, right? Right? 

Well, maybe, but maybe not. It will depend on where you live.  

For instance, most schools in America have reopened, at least on a partial basis. And yet a school map of the country shows wide variation between open and closed. Broadly speaking, red states have reopened, while blue states still tend to be closed.  

Most notably, the public schools in the nation’s largest state, California—and one of the bluest, of course—are still substantially closed down. Recently, a top Democrat in San Francisco suggested that voters “beg” the schools to reopen. And just in the wee hours of March 9, the Los Angeles Unified School District reached an agreement with the teachers’ union for a hybrid reopening in April, although the deal must now be ratified by the union membership—and that’s hardly a sure thing. 

Indeed, many blue places seem little interested in reopening. The Washington Post reported recently that the public schools in Alexandria, VA—a district of 15,000 pupils, just across the Potomac River from Washington, DC, in city where Joe Biden got 86 percent of the vote last year—are planning to accommodate those families who will want their children to stay home in the 2021-2022 school year. 

Parents protest demanding that public schools remain open, outside New York’s City Hall on November 19, 2020. (Kena Betancur/AFP via Getty Images)

Of course, this closed mentality applies not just to schools; in some blue states, the shutdown ideology has congealed with kludgy bureaucracy, creating a kind of institutional stubbornness, even stupidity, that’s so egregious that even the MSM has noticed.  

On March 9, for example, the Boston Globe heaped scornful attention to the arbitrary distinctions made by bureaucrats in Massachusetts; the Bay State is allowing restaurants to reopen, but not bars and nightclubs. As one aggrieved owner asked, “Does COVID only come in when there’s no food?” Continuing, she jibed:

If the same rules are applying―where you have to be six feet away, you can only be in there for 90 minutes, you can only have a certain amount of people―what’s the difference between having food and not having food?

And the Globe quoted another angry Bay Stater, relating that the virus is less of a danger than the continuation of the mean-spirited lockdown policy: “Isolation is the enemy … and these lockdowns have caused it.”

Yes, these are important matters, which lead to important questions: What’s allowed to be open now, and what’s not allowed? And why the differences? 

Maybe one day we’ll come to know the answer as to why Amazon, for instance, has been allowed to stay open, still running warehouses and making deliveries, while so many retailers have been shuttered—and many bankrupted. 

In the meantime, all we know for sure is that in the last year, Amazon’s stock price has risen 40 percent. 

The Lockdown vs. the Arena

Over the last year, most Americans have gained a new respect for “essential workers”; that is, those who have ventured out every day, at risk to themselves, to undertake all the physical work—delivering, healing, building, protecting—that makes our civilization possible.  

For perspective on the value of hard work and full-bodied participation, we might think back to Teddy Roosevelt’s famous speech from 1910, in which the by-then former 26th president declared, “The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena . . . the doer of deeds.” Today, of course, it’s both men and women in the work arena, doing deeds.  

And yet some Americans are shrinking from the arena—at least the physical arena, as opposed to the virtual arena.  These shrinking violets seem actually to prefer the lockdown lifestyle. Conservative Greg Pollowitz noticed this phenomenon when he tweeted: “Blue-checks are afraid of life getting back to normal. Really. They are tweeting this to their followers right now.”

Pollowitz then ticked off a long list of blue-checks–that is, tweeters who have achieved a certain level of prominence, according to Twitter’s algorithm—who obviously have enjoyed the shutdown and want it to continue. 

In the same critical vein as Pollowitz, the Wall Street Journal editorial page inveighed against the “lockdown lobby,” noting that “Liberals and their public health friends don’t seem to want the pandemic to end—ever.”

So what’s going on here? Why would some people love a lockdown that has done so much economic and psychic damage to the country?  

Most obviously, lockdowners are either affluent enough not to have to worry about working, and/or are able to carry on their work from home. 

Yet there also seems to be a psychological, as well as financial, element: That is, shy introverts like being shyly introverted.  

To be sure, there have always been quiet and retiring people, and many of them have been our greatest thinkers and artists. 

However, in the last half-century or so, many of these quiet and retiring types have found a new line of work: computers. Yes, computers, computer programming, and other onscreen activities—including journalism—are the perfect kind of work for those who would rather be cloistered, inside and alone.  

And as we all know, computers have also wrought a major socioeconomic transformation. And along the way, the shy introverts—also known as geeks or nerds—have gained enormous power. Today, they can actually control much of the world from their keyboard.  

Yet unfortunately, their technical virtuosity far exceeds their human virtue, and that’s a problem for the rest of us.  

You see, the introverts—their power now turbocharged by computers—have come to wield enormous influence on not only the economy, but also on public policy. In fact, the introverts haven’t just loved the lockdown for themselves; they have wanted it for everyone else, like it or not.  

So that’s what we’re seeing: The revenge of the nerds.  

Interestingly, in that same speech from 1910, Teddy Roosevelt anticipated this conflict between worldly activists and nerdy naysayers. Having praised the man (and now, too, woman) in the arena, TR contrasted the active participants in the arduous, often heroic, struggles of everyday life with mere “critics … those cold and timid souls.”  Indeed, TR socked it to the cold, timid, and critical: “Shame on the man of cultivated taste who permits refinement to develop into fastidiousness that unfits him for doing the rough work of a workaday world.” 

Of course, TR is no longer with us to offer guidance on effective living; he died in 1919. So now, in this century, we must set the stage—open the arena—for human flourishing. Yet as we shall see, the would-be flourishers are forced to confront stiff opposition from the screen-elite sitting atop the commanding heights. 

The Great Reset: What Is to Be Done?

And so we come to the Great Reset, that being the term introduced last September by the World Economic Forum (WEF), a.k.a., Davos. The Great Reset has been much mocked and attacked—Breitbart News has done its share of mocking and attacking—and yet the Great Reset is still prominent on the WEF’s website.

Indeed, WEF has continued to press ahead with its Reset agenda, and in so dong, it has further revealed its true motivations.  

For instance, on February 27, WEF tweeted a video highlighting what it saw as some of the upsides of the Covid pandemic. That’s right, the upsides. Skipping past the 2.6 million deaths and the massive destruction of jobs and human happiness, the WEF video asserted, for instance, that thanks to the virus, noise pollution has been much diminished. 

Did we get that right: noise pollution? Yes, that’s a big concern of the WEF; accordingly, the video cheered that “Earth’s seismic noise has been the lowest in decades due to lockdowns”—and so geologists, enjoying the silence, could now make better seismic measurements.   

The video was obtuse in its disregard for human suffering, and abstruse in its focus on a topic that most people regard as piffling—and so even, after a brief time, the WEF could see its blunder. Within hours, it had pulled the video, although not before Breitbart News caught it. 

Indeed, plenty of people saw it, and the reaction was fierce. Addressing the WEF directly, one tweeter exclaimed, “You’ve proven the conspiracy theorists correct in how mad you are.” And another added:

Yes, @wef, but the damage is done now. Very many of us have seen, very clearly, just how twisted, controlling and downright evil your intentions are, and will resist them any way we can. We may be unable to stop you, but we can be a massive bloody nuisance every step of the way.

In other words, thanks to the video, now have better insight into the mentality behind the Great Reset.  It’s a vision of less economic activity, fewer people—and more WEF dominion.  

And the WEF is hardly alone in this sort of cold thinking. Just on March 3, the Guardian—the United Kingdom’s answer to the New York Times—offered this grim and anti-human headline: “Equivalent of Covid emissions drop needed every two year—study.” The specific issue was the drop in CO2 emissions over the last year as the international economy has contracted in the wake of the virus and the lockdowns; to the Guardian, that’s the feature, not the bug.  

Indeed, if we step back, we can see that there’s a kind of unity—an anti-human unity, to be sure—in the thinking of the lockdowners, the WEF, and the Guardian.  That is, the unified feeling that NIMBYism and environmentalism should come together to oppose the yeasty messiness of human exuberance.  

It’s that wet-blanket spirit that inspired California officials to fill up a skateboard park with sand last year, so that skateboarders couldn’t have healthy fun in the outdoors.  (Did California really think that young people would be healthier sitting at home, breathing on each other?  Or did they simply not care, so long as the kids were out of sight?) 

Yet then, hearteningly, the human spirit manifested itself, as Californians found ingenious ways around the obstacle created by their own rulers.  First, the dirt-bikers showed up to use the sanded-up area, and then the skateboarders simply removed the sand.  

Skateboarders remove sand that was dumped into a skate park to keep them out during stay-at-home restrictions at Venice Beach on May 24, 2020 in Los Angeles, California. (David McNew/Getty Images)

There’s something exhilarating about seeing people take charge of their own lives, not leaving their fate in the hands of some bureaucratic overseer, however well-intentioned—or not.  

Thus we can see: Warm-blooded people would rather be in the arena. That is, they seek to thrive, not by taking orders, but by doing things—with apologies to Frank Sinatra—their way. No doubt such folks will make mistakes, and yet as an expression of their innate humanity, they will always seek to live to the fullness of their potential. That’s a flesh-and-blood reality that those who live by the screen have a hard time understanding, let alone liking. And so the screeners seek to cancel, or delete, what they don’t like.

The Politics of the Arena 

Some politicians, mostly Republicans, have seized upon the human desire to be in the arena, even amidst the pandemic threat. One such is Florida’s Ron DeSantis, who recently recalled his decision-making process during the worst of the crisis: “We said every business has the right to operate; you cannot close anything. Everyone has the right to work. You have to let people earn a living.”  

DeSantis’ enthusiasm for openness was widely criticized, and yet MSM predictions of a Sunshine State Apocalypse have not proven true. Florida’s death rate among seniors is substantially lower than that of such locked-down states as California and New York.

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis speaks during a press conference about the opening of a COVID-19 vaccination site at the Hard Rock Stadium on January 6, 2021, in Miami Gardens, Florida. (Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

By now, most Republicans have gotten on board with DeSantis-type forward thinking.  Indeed, the GOP is preparing to make opening up a national issue in the 2021 elections. For instance, in Virginia, which holds its gubernatorial election this year, Republican hopeful Pete Snyder is asking allies to join him in petitioning—literally, petitioning—the state of Virginia to reopen.  

Moreover, as Breitbart News reported on March 9, a new poll from the National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC), the campaign arm of the House GOP, found that 66 percent of voters wish to see the schools reopen. Here’s how the NRCC framed the emerging dynamic of public opinion: 

Democrats refusing to reopen the schools were found to be toxic. Voters are upset at Democrats who have been ignoring science in saying schools are not safe to reopen, and voters promise  they will be held accountable in the midterm election. 

Lest anybody miss its point, the NRCC hammered it further: 

National teacher unions who bankrolled Democrat campaigns stand in the way of safely re-opening schools and providing our students with the educational and emotional support they need.

So the issue of the open arena vs. the closed prison will be joined: For the 2022 midterm elections, it will be Ron DeSantis, together with like-minded figures at the state and federal level, vs. the lockdowners, including various Democratic politicians and bureaucrats. 

And oh yes, on the side of keeping the arena closed are all those blue-check tweeters, those who would rather stay in their pajamas than face the big bad world. 

In a free country, those who wish to wear their p.j.’s all day should be able to do so, and yet they should not have the power to impose their walled-up wishes on others.  

It is possible to be liberated from oppressive and counterproductive rules. If we stick together and vote, the lockdowners can be unlocked. 

We can Reset the Great Reset—and unleash our own destinies.  

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