A millennial single mom I know happened to be in a supermarket located in a North Shore suburb of Chicago Sunday when Governor J.B. Pritzker announced he had decided to close all of the restaurants and bars in Illinois.
As shoppers began getting news updates on their smartphones, she said there was a dramatic increase in the “intensity” of their shopping. People were moving quickly and scooping large quantities of anything they could get their hands on into their shopping carts. Within minutes, the shelves were nearly bare.
Welcome to scarcity. Welcome to panic. Welcome to everyday socialism.
Before the current panic over the Chinese Virus, Illinois was the most fiscally unstable state in the union. Governor Pritzker presides over a state with a budget deficit of $1.3 billion and a state debt of $64 billion. In addition, the public employee pension fund has a current unfunded liability of $137 billion.
Governor Pritzker’s big-government counterpart in Chicago, Mayor Lori Lightfoot, is presiding over a current budget deficit of $838 million and a city that is $32.5 billion in debt. The Chicago Teachers’ Union has a current unfunded pension obligation of $11 billion.
Both the state of Illinois and the city of Chicago were already struggling under the weight of a bloated and smothering government prior to this health crisis. With the second largest exodus rate of any of the 50 states (6.5 per 1,000 residents in 2018; only Alaska was higher), the people of Illinois were voting with their feet and fleeing (as a former resident of Illinois, I can attest to this trend firsthand).
Perhaps it should come as no surprise, then, that a state so addicted to big government has now eagerly embraced the crisis as an opportunity to enact even more big government measures.
The governor, with Mayor Lightfoot at his side, has clearly decided that the people in Springfield are the only ones capable of directing the daily activities of Illinois residents. The people are fools, the government is wise, and we lowly, common citizens need our choices made for us.
What people in the United States are going to get a glimpse of over the next several weeks, especially the people in Illinois, is what life would look like in a world controlled by Bernie Sanders, Joe Biden, or “The Squad.”
This is government directed life. This is life filled with shortages, frustrating and nonsensical decisions, and privileges extended to preferred “comrades.” We are being visited by the ghost of socialism’s future.
In his press conference Sunday, and earlier in the day while appearing on one of the Sunday morning talk shows, Pritzker said he was upset people hadn’t followed his instructions more closely to stay home.
“The time for persuasion and public appeal is over. The time for action is now. This is not a joke.”
It certainly isn’t.
In Champaign, Illinois, last Friday the mayor invoked an emergency ordinance giving the local government the power to prohibit the sale of firearms, ammunition, and alcohol during the “crisis.”
But he still kept the polls open on Tuesday.
Regardless, for a moment let’s give Pritzker and the mayors of Champaign and Chicago the benefit of the doubt. Let’s concede that the severity of the virus warrants these decisions.
Now let’s imagine what life in America would be like if these types of changes became permanent.
When the government takes control of economic activity, they replace the efficiencies of the free market with a determined market.
Many people don’t stop to realize that nobody plans what is or isn’t on store shelves. There’s no central planner. It happens spontaneously under the direction of the invisible hand of supply and demand.
When Governor Pritzker, or any other politician, replaces the decisions of millions of independently acting citizens with their own preferences (however well intentioned), it’s inevitable that you won’t be able to find what you want, more importantly what you need, on store shelves or anywhere else in the marketplace.
You might be thinking, “Yes Charlie, but these are extraordinary times! Certainly, these are short-term measures due to the current pandemic.”
Perhaps, but never put it past a political opportunist from grabbing power during a crisis. These “short-term” emergency powers are eerily similar to the “long-term” plans of Bernie Sanders and his kind.
Regardless of your personal position, and regardless of how bad this pandemic gets, I’m certain of at least one thing—it will come to an end. It is now that our devotion and commitment to liberty, freedom, personal property, the Bill of Rights and the rule of law will be truly tested.
Let us look to democratic South Korea, which has maintained a free and open society as it’s successfully battled the virus — and not Communist China, which has lied to the world about the severity of the virus, and just recently kicked out U.S. reporters from the New York Times, Wall Street Journal and Washington Post. We have no idea of whether their claims of being past peak pandemic are true or not.
Possibly the only pandemic harder to blunt than the Chinese coronavirus is our nation’s recent infatuation with socialism. While you should take whatever actions necessary to protect you and your family, I urge you to pay attention.
Witness with your own two eyes the consequence of fear, scarcity and central planning.
The ghost of socialism’s future is giving you a glimpse.
Charlie Kirk is the author of The New York Times bestseller The MAGA Doctrine: The Only Ideas That Will Win the Future and host of The Charlie Kirk Show.