Government Overreach in the Age of Covid-19

by Mitch Nemeth

In times of crisis, governments have a tendency to overcompensate for risk. This tendency may be in the public’s best interest, but it could also serve broader governmental interests. The public and government’s interest are not always one and the same.

After the September 11 attacks, a bipartisan Congress enacted the disastrous USA PATRIOT Act (Uniting and Strengthening America by Providing Appropriate Tools Required to Intercept and Obstruct Terrorism Act) in an alleged attempt to stop terrorism. After the 2008 financial crisis, the progressive Congress implemented Dodd-Frank, which dramatically expanded federal regulatory authority over the financial sector. During today’s novel coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2) pandemic, legislators are contemplating similarly disastrous measures. Some politicians have called for the nationalization of the medical supply chain, while others propose draconian quarantining measures that could result in the expansion of government surveillance.

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