“When government tramples on our liberties in the name of safety, we are neither safe nor free.”
(*This story was updated at 6:33 p.m on 8/12/20 with additional comment)
A Republican lawmaker called for Americans to exhibit “personal responsibility” to fight the COVID-19 pandemic while arguing it is the job of private businesses and individuals, not lawmakers and public servants, to implement health policy.
The remarks, by Rep. Jim Cox, R-Berks, came at the end of a three-hour-long hearing on the state’s beleaguered unemployment compensation system.
Cox, chairman of the House Labor and Industry Committee, then spoke for almost ten minutes, arguing that Gov. Tom Wolf’s administration could not be solely focused on public safety as the “driving force behind the decisions we in government are making.”
Government reminders of the best ways to prevent the flu, such as sneezing into your elbows, were “all good and fine,” Cox said.
But, “it’s not the government’s responsibility to pass mandates, to pass orders, to try to keep us safe.”
“The key to America’s success is the acceptance of personal responsibility.” -Rep. Jim Cox
“We simply cannot continue going down this destructive path, trying to keep everyone safe, trying to keep everyone from getting any form of any sickness,” Cox added. “What’s next, we’re going to quarantine children who get the stomach flu? Quarantine someone who gets the common cold?” When does this end?”
The balance between safety and personal rights, Cox added, would be best decided through legislative input. The state House and Senate are currently controlled by Republicans.
In an email, Cox clarified that the government “through the military, police and other institutions serves to protect the safety of our citizens each and every day.”
But safety “cannot and should not be the only value we take into consideration when making policy decisions. When government tramples on our liberties in the name of safety, we are neither safe nor free.”