Wise Officials Don’t Push People Too Far

By | October 10, 2021 | 0 Comments

I was generally a good boy. On the rare occasions I did something bad, I was either smart enough or lucky enough to avoid detection. I worked 25 years for a large bureaucracy. I learned to go around roadblocks rather than attack them frontally. I was careful to avoid criticizing the bureaucrats – who knew when someone might overhear and report me.

When the pandemic broke out, I wore my mask faithfully. But not a cloth mask, a real KN95 mask. I looked for American-made N95 masks, but until recently, none were available – they were needed by health-care workers. So I was satisfied with Chinese-made KN95 masks. I hoped that they were more careful in the mask factory than in the virus lab.

I practiced social distancing when I could, though it should have been called asocial distancing. I did as I was told by my betters, as the Brits say. But when the vaccines became available, I waited. I wanted to be more sure of the side effects, which might not become obvious until more subjects were inoculated.

But I felt like an outlier. TV and newspapers were filled with exhortations to “get the jab,” later turning into threats to get it and insults for those who resisted. The last straw was being refused permission to visit a relative in the hospital. Having antibodies from a Covid infection would be no help. Those antibodies were unacceptable, while antibodies from the vaccine were acceptable, despite the fact that no test could show the slightest differences between them.

So I got the vaccine. There were no side effects but a sore arm and a day of feeling tired. And now, as I was years ago, I am again a good boy, polite and obedient. Polite in that I know not to criticize masks or vaccines, or risk being banned from social media and insulted by “friends.” Obedient in that I did as I was ordered by unelected officials enforcing regulations not passed by any legislature.

But even good boys have limits. And there are millions of people who aren’t remotely good, and never claimed to be. They have limits, too. Their limits are, well, more limited than mine. They have even less tolerance for blowhard bureaucrats and bloviating bullies. They have even less regard for made-up regulations and pronouncements that shift like a flag in the wind. And when they reach their limits, who knows what they might do?

Even I, the good boy, may act out. Just yesterday, I did something punishable by law. I cut the tag off my mattress. Even worse, I am posting the evidence on social media. I am ready to face the consequences of my disobedience, my disrespect for self-anointed gurus, my insistence that I am a citizen of a constitutional republic, not a subject of an absolute monarch.

Wise officials sense where the limits are. They take care not to push people too far. But wisdom and carefulness are in short supply. So tighten your seat belt. The ride may get really bumpy. Torn mattress tags are just a portent of things to come.

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