City Problems Need City Solutions
Open Up Counties Again
April 17, 2020 drafted
September 4, 2020 published
President Trump’s 3-phase Opening Up America Again plan would stealthily extend work shutdowns and home lockdowns .
Before each of the three phases would start there would need to be zero “crisis care,” and “robust testing” “including emerging antibody testing” for “at-risk healthcare workers”. There would also need to be 14 days of “downward trajectories” of influenza-like illnesses, of COVID-like symptoms, and either of new COVID cases or of new COVID-positive fractions of total COVID virus tests.
In general, depriving liberty and property rights until extensive data are collected and the results deemed acceptable would be a terrible precedent.
As to specifics, these supposedly-vital data troves aren’t all publicly available.
One readily-available benchmark, at least, is the trajectories of new COVID cases in each state . These data make this requirement look like not only a massive power grab but also a possible massive delay. In all 50 states, new COVID cases have continued rising from the start till now. Total cases only amount to 2/1000 of the population, so initial growth could continue for many weeks, and growth could readily flare up anywhere at any time.
Total cases are a leading indicator, and superficially that makes the use of this indicator sound forward-looking. But total cases correlate poorly with lethality as different populations are infected  and as practice and utilization of already-legal therapies like hydroxychloroquine , ivermectin , and prone positioning  improve. This means that putting lives on hold until total cases decline would be likely to needlessly keep businesses closed—promising gains that are highly uncertain but delivering losses that are dead-certain—for an unknown and potentially very-long time.
There are better options.
Best and Next-Best Options
The best option is to open things up immediately except for people most at risk of dying; and with these people, to observe full precautions.
Interestingly, the 3-phase Opening Up America Again plan, examined closely, has embedded in it this this exact fundamental shift from past recommendations to future recommendations. Controls have so far been placed on everyone to limit how much that people at low risk of dying could spread infections to people at most risk of dying. By phase 3, the recommendations would change to being that people at low risk of dying would no longer continue physical distancing, while people at most risk of dying would continue physical distancing. This shift is strongly advocated by experts outside government like Knut M. Wittkowski, CEO of ASDERA LLC .
The next-best, face-saving option would be to continue to control whole populations following some experts’ guidance, but to control these populations highly locally.
For expert guidance, we need second opinions from people who aren’t employed by government and who don’t depend on government funding. Individuals can benefit greatly from second opinions. A whole nation’s people and whole states’ and cities’ people can benefit a whole lot more. And to increase local variation, which fosters innovation that brings the greatest improvements, it is essential to rely significantly on local experts.
Highly-localized control is past practice, past and current law, and best current practice.
From the founding of the United States of America through 1913, as documented by John Wallis, apart from in wartime, the national governments took less property from the people than the state governments plus the city governments took . All powers not delegated to the national government nor prohibited to the state governments are reserved to the state governments or to the people , and we the people delegate suitable powers directly to the city governments. And it is city metropolitan governments that control the very-few jurisdictions that have the outbreaks that cause by far the most deaths.
National and state governments currently take more property from the people, so they are currently the default mechanisms for transferring such property and for loaning emergency assets. But these central governments are absolutely the wrong loci for control of outbreaks.
Outbreaks occur locally and must be dealt with locally.
Governors Need to Step Back
State legislatures and governors considering whether to implement Trump’s Opening Up America Again proposal, and considering how to tailor this proposal to their people’s needs, need to step back.
If the state-government people are to be good stewards of the property they take from their people and of the property the national-government people take from their people and transfer to the state-government people, the state-government people must suitably transfer that property statewide, but must not impose controls statewide to deal with the problems specific to each metro area.
The controls that are chosen must be worked out in consultation with experts—especially experts not dependent on government—and should be applied sparingly by city and county legislatures and executives to each individual locality that will benefit from government action.
Soft control by national-government people is internal gloabalism. Hard control by state-government people is tyranny for residents outside cities and for residents of those cities and city neighborhoods that aren’t hot spots.
Boundaries don’t come easy in government people, but boundaries and diversities of approach create optimal solutions.
As economic depression looms, good boundaries offer by far the fastest, most-optimal rebound back up.
James Anthony is a chemical engineer in St. Peters, Missouri and author of The Constitution Needs a Good Party: Good Government Comes from Good Boundaries, and rConstitution Papers: Offsetting Powers Secure Our Rights.