• Last modified 813 days ago (July 9, 2020)


Unmasking deadly ignorance

What we’ve long suspected is unfortunately coming true: County commissioners will indeed be the death of us. It’s always been true figuratively. Now that they’ve expanded their band of merry men and one not-so-merry woman to five, they’ve upped their game and made it literally true, as well.

Commissioners never have been known for taking advice on most topics — except when county employees urge them to dole out big salaries and huge raises for every excuse imaginable. Now they’ve decided to ignore the governor, their own medical consultant, the consensus of scientific knowledge, and basic commonsense so they can kowtow to ultraconservative voters who seem to think it’s their right to breathe death on friends and neighbors by not wearing masks.

Some friends indeed. You’d almost think it was an election year. But, wait. It is — assuming any of us are around by the time voting begins.

We know commissioners aren’t very adept at math, but here’s a simple problem for them. Five is less than fourteen. We had only five COVID cases in the county when stay-at-home orders were in place, and most of them were from before the order came down. Since the order was lifted, we’ve have nine additional cases — three of them in the first five days after commissioners exercised their medical expertise and decided that the long-time physician they hire to advise them was wrong and masks aren’t needed.

It’s not just their order allowing everyone to freely spread disease that’s killing us. Their inability to repair roads a full year after flooding is a threat to our health, as well. Accidents aren’t stacking up anywhere near as fast as COVID diagnoses, but we already had one just this past week that officially was blamed on rutted county roads.

They also slowly but surely are killing the planet by creating every disincentive possible to recycling. They were right to pass along costs of trying to recycle anything and everything to the tree huggers who treat recycling like a second religion. But their picayune decision this week to charge a minimum of $5 to anyone wanting to recycle anything was yet another example of stupidity. Take the first few $5 payments and buy a scale, for goodness sake, so the county can charge as originally intended, by the pound. Or better yet, find a place that accepts “clean” recycling — just aluminum cans or just cardboard, which can be profitably recycled — and limit what the county collects for recycling to those items.

Here’s an idea: Take all those recycling trailers the county bought and no longer uses, label each for a particular type of recyclable, and let people dump their own into the appropriate trailer, which can then be hauled off and sold when it is full. But, no, instead of considering ideas like this or how to better train road crews and track road repairs, commissioners would rather tilt at windmills by arguing over whether some of the roads in the county — those repaired by the Diamond Vista wind farm — are up to standards that other county roads could never meet.

At least the contagion of idiocy that infects the courthouse hasn’t completely spread 2 1/2 blocks north to Marion’s city building. Discontinuing twice-weekly trash pickup was an idea any sensible person should have been behind for several years now. The only problem in the city’s case was how it claimed the move would save labor costs. Excuse us, city council members, but you don’t save money unless you reduce the payroll. Simply moving the same number of employees to other tasks doesn’t save a cent. And if there isn’t a specific expectation for how services will increase as a result, all it did was make life in other cushy government jobs even easier.

So what’s a person to do about all of this? Maybe those who have wanted to repair their own roads were right. The rest of us might start considering organizing drives to skim the virtual cream off the recyclables we put out and let private charities benefit from selling aluminum cans and cardboard. Businesses also can reject the county’s rejection of commonsense and insist, as businesses like Dollar General have, that all patrons must wear masks. We’re doing that ourselves in our office, asking visitors who get within six feet of any of our employees to first put on a mask.

We know it’s a big leap for those dyed-in- the-wool “red” voters to accept that government occasionally does things to protect us. Contrary to what protestors nationwide seem to be demanding, we aren’t about to urge the dismantling of police forces, for example. We need to think of COVID-19 precautions the same way. Government isn’t always evil. The problem is, it can be, especially when those who think all government is evil make it do stupid things like refusing to go along with medical advice to require masks.

— Eric Meyer

Last modified July 9, 2020