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Gavin Newsom, governor of California.Matt Gush / Shutterstock.com

January 12, 2021 (LifeSiteNews) — An ever-lengthening list of politicians and media personalities who have been fierce advocates of coronavirus restrictions have turned out to have flouted them. Recently the TV journalist Piers Morgan, who has turned publicly shaming minor celebrities for failures to toe the line on the epidemic into an art form, is now accused of popping off to Antigua for a holiday, against the rules. The Scottish member of Parliament Margaret Ferrier, who is facing trial over her bizarre journeys criss-crossing the country while she was waiting for a test result, had earlier demanded the resignation of Dominic Cummings, a government adviser, for doing something similar. It may be difficult to top the shamelessness of Gavin Newsom, governor of California, going to a party at a famous restaurant in breach of rules he had personally imposed on his state. But I think Neil Ferguson manages it: he was the U.K. Government’s scientific adviser, a man more responsible for the “lockdown” policy than anyone else in the country, who broke the rules in order to commit adultery.

At least Ferguson resigned. Although some heads have rolled, many other people are still in their jobs after issuing unconvincing apologies. It is not difficult to understand the anger of ordinary people at the behavior of these elite individuals, but as the restrictions have become ever more severe and of ever greater duration, there’s a real danger that there would not be enough seedy politicians and corrupt journalists left to do all those vital jobs if the COVID rule-breakers were sacked — and wouldn’t that be terrible?

These individuals are often described as hypocrites. The root idea of hypocrisy, as the word is used by Jesus Christ in the gospels, is a show of piety that does not come from the heart.

Woe to you scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites; because you are like to whited sepulchres, which outwardly appear to men beautiful, but within are full of dead men’s bones, and of all filthiness. (Mt. 23:27)

This isn’t quite what is going on with these individuals. Their sin is not exactly to make a show of being good, but to hold other people to rules that they don’t themselves follow.

This could be simply be a matter of weakness of the will. As Shakespeare’s heroine Portia remarks in his play The Merchant of Venice, “[t]he brain may / devise laws for the blood, but a hot temper leaps / o’er a cold decree.” People know what they should do, they are tempted, and they do the wrong thing.

However, that doesn’t seem to be quite what’s happening, either. Consider Ferguson’s explanation of his action. While acknowledging that what he did was contrary to the letter of the rules, he told reporters, “I acted in the belief that I was immune, having tested positive for coronavirus, and completely isolated myself for almost two weeks after developing symptoms.”

In other words, because of his specific circumstances, he thought there was no need for him to follow the rules. The problem is that he did not want to give that room for reasonable judgment to everyone else. It is reserved to him, presumably because he is frightfully clever and important.

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Many small businesses are being forced to close temporarily or even permanently under the strain of a second wave of government-imposed COVID shutdowns.

This is totally and thoroughly wrong...especially when big business, government, and large segments of the professional world are totally insulated from the repercussions of the shutdowns.

Something drastic needs to be done now!

SIGN this urgent petition calling for state legislatures to cut the salaries of governors and mayors who are responsible for closing small businesses by enacting draconian COVID shutdown measures.

The bottom line is that the people imposing shutdown measures need to feel the bite of the restrictions they are imposing on other peoples' livelihoods so that they have a personal incentive to re-open their economies and make accommodation for the survival of small businesses.

Local restaurants, cafes, gyms, clothiers, bookshops, florists, and many more, are being forced to shut their doors, some forever.

Americans who have spent their entire lives building their business - and, taken all of the risk - stand to lose everything.

But, the following are all considered essential and never get shut down: lawyers, lobbyists, politicians, courts, big corporations, and the media...

And, to add insult to injury, some politicians who are imposing these shutdowns, like Democratic Governor Andrew Cuomo, are actually getting huge pay raises starting in the new year. Cuomo's raise is $25,000 next year alone!

This is utterly scandalous! It is time to say enough is enough!

If small business owners are being CRUSHED by government COVID restrictions, the politicians responsible should also feel the BITE of those restrictions!

This is the only way to make the "political class" understand how devastating their shutdowns truly are to small business owners and their employees.

Small businesses are the backbone of our economy, supply millions of jobs to people across the country, and ironically provide the taxes used to fund the programs so loved by most of the governors and mayors.

Because of the nature of small and medium businesses, their owners and workers are on the frontlines of the COVID crisis.

They need to be rewarded for this bravery, not closed down.

Accommodation needs to be made for small businesses so that they can weather this storm and thrive after it has passed. These are businesses we all love using, and we want them to be there long after COVID is just a bad memory.

When this is all over, do we really want every coffee shop to be a Starbucks or Dunkin' Donuts, or every restaurant to be a McDonald's?

The answer is not only "no," but "Heck, no!"

Therefore, governors and mayors need to be personally incentivized to do everything in their power to see that small and medium businesses can survive and thrive - AS QUICKLY AS POSSIBLE.

That's why we're calling on state legislators to cut the salaries of all governors and mayors who are imposing draconian shutdowns where no accommodation is being made for small businesses.

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I think other members of our political elite might say something similar. It is important for them to travel, or go for holidays or have celebrations, because, so they think, they are Important People. What difference can it make if a tiny number of Important People break the rules, as long as everyone else follows them?

I think these elite rule-breakers are like the elites of wartime who pulled strings to exempt their children from conscription and their assets from taxation or being requisitioned for the war effort. Did they want their country to be defeated? Almost certainly not. They just didn’t want to make personal sacrifices to defend it. Other people’s sons could die, other people’s land could be built over by the army, other people’s businesses liquidated.

The Neil Fergusons and Gavin Newsoms of this world are not genuine, self-sacrificing puritans, nor are they hypocritical fake models of uprightness. They are bad in a different way. They are lacking not so much sincerity as solidarity. They want something done about the epidemic, but not by them. They don’t regard themselves as part of the great mass of people who need to follow the rules to “beat the virus.” The rules are for the little people, not for them.

When Buckingham Palace in London was bombed during the Second World War, just as the poor and densely populated area of docks and shipyards in the “East End” of the city had been, the British Royal Family still refused to move out of it to safer accommodation in the countryside. The queen remarked, “I am glad we have been bombed. It makes me feel I can look the East End in the face.” The trouble with our elites today is that they have no wish to look the rest of us in the face.

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Dr Joseph Shaw has a Doctorate in Philosophy from Oxford University, where he also gained a first degree in Politics and Philosophy and a graduate Diploma in Theology. He has published on Ethics and Philosophy of Religion and is the editor of The Case for Liturgical Restoration: Una Voce Position Papers on the Extraordinary Form (Angelico Press). He is the Chairman of the Latin Mass Society of England and Wales and Secretary of Una Voce International. He teaches Philosophy in Oxford University and lives nearby with his wife and nine children.

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