Thoughts from Dale Steenbergen-
Some of you need to avoid this link. Others of you are getting ready to dance in your chairs! Regardless of which group you fall into, the iconic rock song “Welcome to the Jungle” represents this topic perfectly.
Folks, certainly it has been a little bit of a jungle in the last year. COVID-19, riots, political upheaval, off-the-rails elected officials, and lest we forget, a challenging economic climate. The response to COVID-19 restrictions across this country has been intriguing, from complete shutdowns in states like New York and California, paired with almost no rules in states like South Dakota. Most of us are just waiting here in the middle to have someone, really anyone, show us the way out of this mess.
While all of the chaos has raged, there have been a few elected officials around this country who have pushed back on the health rules, claiming that they have been too restrictive and “unconstitutional.” Even our Chamber has pushed back when rules appeared to be enforced arbitrarily or in a reactionary fashion. But let’s not confuse the impact of regulations and enforcement because we need to understand the impact of both clearly.
Arguably, most of the country’s health rules came about primarily due to a book on the topic. The Jungle, written by Upton Sinclair and published in 1905, was a condemnation of the meatpacking industry. Rotted meat, workers standing in rivers of blood, long hours, lack of cleaning, and much more were revealed in this expose.
The climate started changing early in the 20th century with the belief that business had a role in protecting the citizenry and the government had an essential role in the promulgation and institution of these rules. America became a better place because of our belief that we have a responsibility to protect our citizens. After all, who wants to eat at a restaurant with a group of friends and go home with severe food poisoning. The work America has done in this area has generally served us well.
Through crises like polio and threats like tuberculosis, our practices to keep Americans safe have been the world’s envy. Enter Covid-19, stage left. Is it the 24-hour news cycle, the ability to find any crazy position you like on the internet, or just where we are as a people that causes us to view this disease differently?
The current challenge is unlike anything we have ever faced, and I think we need to look at how we approached this event. With that said, some attempts to take decision-making out of medical professionals’ hands and let the legislature decide what is safest for us is like your next brain surgery being handled by someone who isn’t a doctor. Still, they did stay in a Holiday Inn Express last night.
Folks, keep your eyes on your elected officials as we go through this period. We need health protections for our citizens. If change is in order, let’s make sure we elect good people who will use wisdom and knowledge as they appoint health officials. Please don’t put my health, or my family’s health, in the hands of some of these folks who can’t put together a child’s puzzle; nevertheless, understand the implications of science.
Generally, Cheyenne and Laramie County have survived the COVID-19 threat well. Our economy is strong, our schools have stayed open, and our future looks bright. Should some things have been done differently? In my opinion, absolutely. But the next time there is a flood, pandemic, or threat, I want someone with a high IQ and a stellar education to make decisions that protect my family.
If the jungle is where you want to live, so be it; there are plenty of states where you can move that pretty well fit the description right now. As for me, I am more than happy to live in a place where people are still essential and where we can disagree without ruining our neighbors’ fortune or chasing them down the street with a baseball bat and pipe bomb. Goodbye, Jungle. I am happy not to live within your boundaries.