Capitol Hall Report – The fear factor: Fear is not a principle for good policy

The fear factor: Fear is not a principle for good policy.

Franklin D. Roosevelt, elected in 1932 at the peak of the Great Depression, opened his inaugural address with the now legendary statement:

So, first of all, let me assert my firm belief that the only thing we have to fear is…fear itself — nameless, unreasoning, unjustified terror which paralyzes
needed efforts to convert retreat into advance.

Once again, our state and nation must fight the fear of which he spoke that is paralyzing our economy, our government, and our personal lives.

Where would Texas be today if Houston, Austin, Travis, Bowie; the heroes of Gonzales, the Alamo, Goliad and the other battles for independence had based their leadership and policy decisions on fear and maintaining safety for the citizens? We would most likely still be a state of Mexico.
What would America be like if our leaders created and enforced policies, in 1941, based on their fear of the enemies and the short-term safety of the citizens? The answer is that half of our country would be speaking Japanese and the other half would be speaking German.

Unfortunately, today many bureaucrats and politicians are currently mired in the quagmire of fear causing them to make “but, if” decisions that would never be allowed in different circumstances. “But, if I don’t (fill in the fear . . . shut down schools, mandate masks, close bars, shut the Capitol . . .) then people may die—or not re-elect me.”

Out of fear we have surrendered to Antifa and COVID-19. Throughout the country, Antifa and BLM are allowed to disrupt life, destroy businesses, burn government buildings, and even kill people while government officials, in most states, hide in their basements and take no action. When they do take action, that action makes the situation worse, not better.

Our policies implemented out of fear are doing more damage to our economy and people’s health and well-being than is COVID-19. Our solution, because it is based on unsubstantiated fear, is worse than the disease.

Fear can be a valuable asset. It is fear of being burned that prevents you from touching a hot stove. Fear of being hit by a car prevents you from playing in the middle of the freeway. But irrational fear can be used as a tool to manipulate and paralyze individuals. And, when it is used by government for those purposes, it is wrong.

It does not take a conspiracy theorist to wonder why a drug, considered by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to be safer than aspirin, is being denied to doctors who believe it is useful for early intervention for COVID-19. The only studies to find that it had dangerous side effects were ones that prescribed the drug in toxic doses.

If people were aware of early interventions that could provide them some protection against the serious consequences of COVID-19, would it make them less afraid? Sure. Then, why doesn’t the government want you to know about them? The cynic in me says, “follow the money.” A pandemic illness that can be treated with existing, low-cost pharmaceuticals is not nearly as valuable as the one that can require extensive hospitalization and new vaccines.

A generation ago, reading newspapers and watching the evening news was a part of most people’s day. When major news providers began to report their opinions in lieu of the facts, people began to seek their news elsewhere. According to the Pew Research Center, today 62 percent of adults get their news from social media sources.

But now, some of the controlling individuals of major social media and internet platforms are the same people heavily invested in the highly profitable vaccine industry. This is not a commentary on the effectiveness or wisdom of vaccines or an argument in favor of or against them. It is an observation on and a possible explanation of why social media is buying into “protecting” you by removing what they claim is “false information.” You will not be as afraid if there is good news to report.

Just as innovation and the internet changed the way people got their news, new platforms and social media sites are opening up to spread the news. Facebook and Twitter may find themselves going the way of newspapers and the evening news if they continue to attempt to be the arbitrator of truth.

But the Texas Capitol is not closed just because of COVID-19. There is also the additional fear we have from the violent protesting and rioting that is going on across the nation. During the early days of the protests in Austin, the Capitol grounds were closed off to violent and destructive protestors in response to the defacing and destruction of property. It was an appropriate call to close off the grounds to destructive rioters. It is an epic failure if we keep them closed because of fear of a repetition.

The Texas Capitol has never been closed for such an extended period in modern memory. When the Oklahoma bombing put all government buildings at high risk for attack, the Department of Public Safety (DPS) increased security around the building and gave employees and visitors alike the knowledge that they were as safe and secure as possible. When the World Trade Center was destroyed on September 11, 2001, the response was not to hunker down and deny access to the Capitol because there were terrorists. It was to openly and intentionally defy the fear that gives terrorists, rioters, and miscreants the power to alter our daily lives.

Preliminary ideas relating to the re-opening of the Capitol and the expectations for the upcoming session point much more in the direction of succumbing to fear rather than defying it. The number of individuals allowed into the building will be tightly controlled. Constituents will not be allowed into the building to drop into their legislator’s office on a whim. Public tours, school children visiting for their Texas history class, and those just wanting to testify about legislation will be highly restricted. The entire process of introducing, discussing, and passing legislation will be greatly curtailed.

What have we accomplished if we keep the Capitol safe from physical harm, but have shut it down as a hub of state government? That is the very essence of declaring victory and retreating, or as we say here in Texas, “all hat and no cattle.” We might as well raise the white flag of surrender and get on our knees to the anarchists and Antifa.

It would behoove both those who are promoting fear and those who are succumbing to that fear, to well remember the words of Helen Keller:

Avoiding danger is no safer in the long run than outright exposure.
The fearful are caught as often as the bold.

It is time to end the “defense only” strategy and to implement a bold offensive strategy that crushes all anarchists like Antifa and allows the medical professionals to lead the charge against COVID-19.