While we’ve been pointing out how government and others are using the Beer Flu Panic to feather their own nests, and the dangerous and unwelcome impacts, there IS another side of the story.
A recent incident with a hated state agency, the South Dakota Department of Revenue (DOR), made us think – what sort of golden opportunities is this disease, and the panic over it, giving us as lovers of liberty? Let’s explore a few. The novel coronavirus, Beer Flu, and the Panic, is pushing us in directions that we should find wonderful, useful and important for the future of liberty.
SDDOR closed their offices for a week, but ensured that we (who have to pay them sales and use taxes) know that we can call their 800-number or go to their website. Someone will be working from home to answer our questions and process our reports and payments.
This certainly could be done by DOZENS of other government agencies. Electronic submission of reports, requests, and applications, coupled with electronic payments, are done more and more. So why can’t their employees can work at home ALL the time? They can meet in central locations for training and direct, face-to-face coordination, and obviously there has to be someplace to keep all the electronic infrastructure to do all this. (Provided it isn’t just contracted out). But eliminate a very high percentage of government offices – AND the costs of building, maintaining, providing utilities, and all the related stuff. Sell government buildings to private owners and (not that I am recommending this as an anarchist) those become tax-paying properties! AND let fewer government employees do more “assisting” taxpayers and citizens.
Even more: Several state legislatures have cut their sessions short and let everyone go home and hopefully to safety. Even local governments have done so. Montezuma County (Colorado) Board of Commissioners cancelled their weekly meetings, even though only five people (the three commissioners, their attorney, and the County Clerk) need to be present in the flesh. But WHY in 2020 do we need to have live, in-person meetings? Even for legislative bodies?
Twenty-five years ago, South Dakota pioneered the RTDN system: Rural Telecommunications Development Network. It was primitive by today’s standards: a dozen studios were set up across the state, with live audio-video links to each other, so that a state board and citizens could meet face to face without having to travel up to 250 miles one-way to Pierre. Now, with wideband internet and commercial services like Skype and Free Conference Call, all the members of the boards can sit in their own offices (and homes) and see everyone else: board, presenters, public commenters, and everything else. We do training like this all the time. Why not do government meetings that way? And the Beer Flu Panic is pushing us this very direction!
Schools. The Beer Flu Panic is the bell toiling the death of the traditional government-run, tax-funded, brick-and-mortar school system. What we see is the supremacy of home-schooling and commercial-schooling, on-line and in person. The HSLDA is already providing assistance and materials to help parents and students give up the old and adapt the new. Much more can be – and WILL be – done to eliminate the dinosaurs of grandiose penal-like institutions and government control. We can free teachers, students and parents from the failed “modern” education system, from pre-school through graduate programs. And cut costs and free “extra-curricular” activities (and all their benefits) from the whims of politics and dictatorial enactments.
Medicine. Tele-medicine and concierge care has been rapidly growing for the last few years. Yes, there is some care and many tests that need to be conducted in person. But much of medicine and medical practice does NOT. And we are learning quickly how to deal with the dangerous situation we have all faced for years. When you are sick and need medical help, you go to a clinic, or an emergency room or doctors office or hospital and sit there with a bunch of other sick people who are probably sick with something else and all seem to be contagious! Now we’ve added urgent care clinics to our system over the past couple of decades: it’s time and past time to go beyond that.
Many basic tests can be done by parents or spouses, or even the ill person: temperature, blood pressure, respiration and heart rates, and more. With the use of smartphones more and more can be done with a few simple USB-connected (or Bluetooth) sensors and apps. Which can also do things like listening to our lungs, looking in our ears, and looking down our throats. Not that we have to depend on untrained, inexperienced people to evaluate that data: it can be transmitted directly to a medical professional. Other basic evaluations can be done by someone who is NOT a fully qualified MD or RN, but is in two-way communications with one. Even for low-priority illness and injury, not just emergencies. Call them “Primary Care Technicians” (PCT) instead of “Emergency Medical Techs” (EMT). Much can be done – even by and for the homeless and others – by use of internet connections at libraries, big-box stores, drug stores and even convenience stores. We can decentralize medical care to an incredible degree, make it MORE responsive, MORE safe, and LESS costly, while making life far easier for medical professionals. And the Beer Flu Panic is pushing us in this very direction.
These are just a few of the areas. We could (and may in the future) discuss the impact on retail business and how brick-and-mortar, LOCAL business can compete with Amazon and the other on-line bandits. Major AND local supermarket chains have already pushed the home-delivery and “pick-up” concept, which is now helping in the Panic and exploding in use. The era of the traveling tinker, salesman, and more, may be returning.
All of these offer great opportunity to encourage and promote liberty, decentralization, independence, and voluntary interaction. And discourage government control, provision, ownership, and operation of goods and services.