Commentary: State COVID-19 policies should not strip the people of their rights
The idea that the only way to save lives is to commit economic suicide is absurd and short-sighted. New Mexico State Government’s reaction to the COVID 19 pandemic need not be an either-or proposition.
New Mexico can save lives and save the economy at the same time.
The fear-based economic shutdown/slowdown is more deadly than the virus. It is ridiculous to expect New Mexicans to sit by and watch their livelihoods destroyed.
We are strong, proud determined New Mexicans who believe in supporting our families and ourselves by working. The State cannot be a party to economic suicide.
The State has demonstrated an extraordinary lack of equal treatment under the law. Governing bodies must treat individuals in the same manner as others in similar conditions and circumstances. Yet, the State has forcibly shut down or continues to gravely limit our family-owned businesses while allowing out-of-state big box stores, that offer the same goods and services, to remain open.
This is a violation of the very bedrock of American law. Our small businesses may not be essential to the governor, but they are essential to the families that rely on them to feed their children and keep roofs over their heads.
To make matters worse, out-of-state businesses are now advertising in New Mexico to offer services which are now banned in New Mexico. Even if New Mexico-owned businesses survive the unequal treatment by their government, they are subjected to new competition from out-of-state and foreign businesses that are taking advantage of the unfair situation. This will likely mean certain economic death.
Stripping the people of their rights makes them subjects, not citizens.
Using limited resources to enforce business closures and business restrictions where there is less risk of exposure then in the big box stores, is a waste of valuable time and money. Harassing our small business owners by slapping them with a hefty fine for trying to feed their family is not where we need to focus our efforts.
We must trust the people of New Mexico to do what is right. A government of the people, by the people, and for the people, must rely on the people.
The solution is simple. There are established science-based safety guidelines. Allow all businesses that can follow the rules to open. They can monitor crowds, practice social distancing, and implement CDC guidelines.
Restarting the economy is the only guaranteed way of truly saving lives.
New Mexico State Senator William Sharer represents District 1.