Government reaction to coronavirus spreads into spending, regulatory grabs

Government reaction to coronavirus spreads into spending, regulatory grabs

Image: United States Air Force veteran George Denis Patrick Carlin during a 1969 lecture. Carlin in 1999 gave a renowned lecture on “Germs and Immune Systems.”

The Golden Hammer Staff Reports

Washington, Austin, and Conroe, March 18 – Michael Quinn Sullivan, Chairman of Empower Texans, the largest grassroots conservative organization in Texas, directly addressed the potential economic impact of the Wuhan coronavirus scare yesterday by calling for government spending cuts to relieve the tax burden on private taxpayers. Sullivan said,

“It is already apparent that the fiscal impact of the coronavirus shut down will be immense – for individuals, businesses, and governments. At every level of government, elected officials and bureaucrats spend every dollar they can get from the taxpayers, and often even more than that. That behavior only makes economic downturns and emergencies even worse for everyone. Legislators, school boards, and city councils must start making cuts to spending now. With the state’s economy and citizens’ everyday life thrown into flux by the coronavirus,government officials must cut non-essential spending indefinitely.”

Sullivan’s approach, however, would call for less government when the reaction of many is to call for more government.

Prior to his death in 2008, United States Air Force veteran George Denis Patrick Carlin explained in a lecture about “Germs and Immune Systems”:

“It’s just one more way of reducing your liberty and reminding you that can…[mess] with you any time they want, as long as you put up with it, which means, of course, any time they want, because that’s what Americans do now. They’re always willing to trade away a little of their freedom in exchange for the feeling, the illusion, of security. What we have now is a neurotic population obsessed with security and safety and crime and drugs and cleanliness and hygiene and germs. There’s another thing. Where did this sudden fear of germs come from in this country? Have you noticed this, the media constantly running stories about all of the latest infections, salmonella, E. coli, hamptovirus, bird flu. Americans panic easily, so everyone is running around scrubbing this and spraying that, repeatedly overcooking their food, and constantly washing their hands. It’s ridiculous and goes to ridiculous lengths.”

Carlin summarized his talk in one sentence, “If you kill all the germs around you and live a completely sterile life, then when germs do come along you’re not going to be prepared.”

Trump administration

President Donald Trump speaks during a meeting with tourism industry executives, who were begging for money, about the coronavirus, in the Cabinet Room of the White House, Tuesday, March 17, 2020, in Washington. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

Alexis de Tocqueville wrote in 1838, ““The American Republic will endure until the day Congress discovers that it can bribe the public with the public’s money.”

U.S. hotel companies are seeking $150 billion in direct aid for their workers for what they say is an unprecedented fall-off in demand because of the new coronavirus.

CEOs of Marriott, Hilton, Hyatt and other chains met Tuesday with President Donald Trump to describe the impact and seek help.

Hilton CEO Christopher Nassetta told the president that Hilton has never closed a hotel that wasn’t slated for remodeling or demolition in its 100-year history. Now, several Hilton hotels in big U.S. cities are closed and worldwide, its hotels are only 10% to 15% occupied. Last year, the average U.S. occupancy rate was 67%.

“I’ve been doing this for 35 years. Never seen anything like it,” Nassetta told Trump.

Marriott said it’s reducing workers’ hours and starting to furlough what could eventually become tens of thousands of workers. Workers will retain their health benefits, the company said.

Chip Rogers, CEO of the American Hotel and Lodging Association, a lobbying group, said the virus has already had more impact on the U.S. hotel industry than the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks and the 2008 recession combined.

Since mid-February, U.S. hotels have lost an estimated $1.5 billion in room revenue, according to the American Hotel and Lodging Association. Those losses are rapidly accelerating, with the industry on pace to lose $1.4 billion per week.

President Donald Trump is asking Congress to unleash a torrent of emergency economic aid — including direct checks to Americans — in an extraordinary effort to shore up households and the economy in the coronavirus crisis.

As part of a proposed economic rescue not seen since the Great Recession in 2008, Trump wants checks sent to the public within two weeks as part of a package that officials said could approach a cost of $1 trillion. Congressional leaders vowed swift action. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin appeared on Capitol Hill to brief Senate Republicans as state and local officials acted more forcefully to restrict gatherings and mobility in the face of growing sickness.

“We want to go big,” Trump said at a White House briefing. “We want to get it done and have a big infusion.”

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell promised the Senate would not adjourn until the package was passed.

“Obviously, we need to act,” McConnell said after meeting White House officials at the Capitol.

Meanwhile, President Trump issued guidelines for all Americans on Monday afternoon.

The new guidelines released yesterday deliver a “nationwide game plan.” The White House has asked American to:

  • Avoid crowds of more than 10 people
  • Wash your hands frequently and thoroughly
  • Work from home if that’s an option for you
  • Disinfect frequently touched surfaces
  • Isolate yourself if you feel sick

Restaurants and movie theaters in Montgomery County

On Tuesday morning, March 17, 2020, Montgomery County Judge Mark Keough ordered restaurants, bars, and clubs in Montgomery County to reduce their occupancy of the entire premise to 50 people or less at any one time with tables spaced a minimum of 10 feet apart. Judge Keough will permit restaurants to continue to provide to-go, takeout, delivery, and catering operations. The County government now requires “strict hand washing and sanitizing operations.”

Movie theaters must limit their occupancy to “25 persons or less per screen at any one time.”

Keough made clear “Lack of compliance could result in shut down and this order could be amended or extended at any time.”

Texas National Guard

Governor Greg Abbott yesterday activated the Texas National Guard to be prepared to assist with response efforts for COVID-19. Healthcare workers and first responders who are members of the Texas National Guard were excluded from this activation so that they can continue serving the people of Texas in their respective fields.

“By activating the Texas National Guard, we are ensuring Texas is prepared as we continue to mitigate the spread of COVID-19,” said Governor Abbott. “I am grateful to the men and women of the National Guard for their dedication to serving their fellow Texans, and want to assure the public that this is a precautionary measure to make sure the Texas National Guard has the capability to serve at a moment’s notice where they are needed most.”

Montgomery County District Attorney Brett Ligon




Montgomery County District Attorney Brett Ligon issued the following statement yesterday afternoon:

Enhanced Punishments :

On Friday, March 13, Governor Greg Abbott declared by proclamation a state of disaster for all counties in Texas as a result of the imminent threat posed by the novel coronavirus (COVID-19).  President Donald Trump likewise declared a national emergency in response to the coronavirus outbreak.

The Texas Legislature has enacted laws specifically aimed at punishing those who take advantage of others during a disaster.

Under the Texas Penal Code, the punishment range for several listed criminal offenses is enhanced to the punishment prescribed for the next higher category of offense if a person commits the offense in an area subject to the declaration of a state of disaster.  District Attorney Brett Ligon is committed to utilizing this provision and prosecuting offenders to the fullest extent of the law.

By way of example, the Montgomery County District Attorney’s Office prosecuted a case of looting following Hurricane Harvey.  In that case, State vs. Caleb Andrew Carmichael, the defendant was charged with Burglary of a Habitation for looting homes in River Plantation.  Mr. Carmichael was sentenced to 5 years prison in the Texas Department of Criminal Justice.   Similar acts during a time when citizens are particularly vulnerable will be met with aggressive action by Law Enforcement and the MCDAO.

Price Gouging:

In addition to enhanced punishments during a state of disaster, any person or business selling goods should be aware that Texas law prohibits “price gouging” and subjects offenders to civil penalties.  Texas consumer protection statutes provide that it is a false, misleading, or deceptive act or practice to take advantage of a disaster declared by the Governor of Texas or the President of the United States by: (1) selling or leasing fuel, food, medicine, lodging, building materials, construction tools, or another necessity at an exorbitant or excessive price; or (2) demanding an exorbitant or excessive price in connection with the sale or lease of fuel, food, medicine, lodging, building materials, construction tools, or another necessity.  If a Montgomery County business is believed to have engaged in unlawful price gouging, District Attorney Ligon encourages citizens to file a consumer complaint with the Office of the Attorney General, as the district attorney’s office lacks the authority to enforce those civil penalties.

 

 

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