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Staying Free and Faithful in a Pandemic

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of Townhall.com.
AP Photo/Luca Bruno

The coronavirus crisis presents challenges to us as a nation and as individuals. There are principles we should keep in mind.

Let's remember how our nation works. We have a Constitution that assigns limited, defined powers to the federal government and leaves the rest to the states and individuals.


Some governors, like J.B. Pritzker of Illinois, don't seem to understand this. At a time when political leaders should be inspiring confidence, Pritzker is attacking President Donald Trump, accusing the federal government of being "completely unprepared." He wants to lay blame for crowds and delays at O'Hare Airport on the president.

President Trump acted with deliberation, doing his job, shutting down flights from China and then Europe. As Americans massed back to their home country, airports were predictably backed up.

The great Maj. Gen. George S. Patton observed, "A good plan violently executed now is better than a perfect plan executed next week." This exactly captures President Trump's behavior as this crisis began to unfold.

O'Hare Airport is owned and operated by the city of Chicago. Clearly, some functions there, such as customs, are federal functions. But overall operation of the airport is local, and rather than jumping on the president and playing blame games at a difficult time, governors such as Pritzker should step up to do their part.

One thing we know is that this virus is most lethal in attacking the elderly. The rate of fatality among those ages 70-79 is 21 times that of people under age 60. The fatality rate among those 80 and above is 39 times that of people under 60.

One reason Italy has been hit hard is it has the oldest population in Europe, with 23% over the age of 65.


In the U.S., there are large age variations among the states.

Among the youngest, Utah has a median age of 30.5, and 10% of its population is over 65. Texas has a median age of 34.5, and 13% of its population is over 65. Among the oldest, Maine has a median age of 44.3, and 21% of its population is over 65. Florida has a median age of 41.8, and 21% of its population is over 65.

How can "one size fits all" work with such dramatically different local realities?

The answer is that we should maximize local responsibility and decision-making.

There are two other critically important things to keep in mind.

One: Life is about surprise, the unpredictable. If there is anything predictable, it is that the unpredictable will always be with us.

It's why socialism and illusions about national planning are so bogus and always result in failure. And why freedom is so critical and important.

Only through freedom is responsibility focused where it needs to be: on individuals. And freedom delivers maximum flexibility and creativity to deal with life's inherent surprises.

Two: Faith is critical. It is faith that keeps us human. It is faith that binds together free, unique individuals into one great whole cloth.

This health crisis is precipitating an economic crisis. With all eyes turning toward Washington, our business leaders must step up and take responsibility.


I've been writing for years about my belief in free economy and the importance of earning a profit.

With almost 50% of our youth now expressing misguided enthusiasm for socialism, it is critical that business leaders behave thoughtfully and humanely in this crisis. The future of our free, capitalist system rides on it.

Clearly, there is a place for government in keeping the economy moving and helping individuals in distress. But business leaders should not just look to government.

In areas such as sick leave, business leaders should pick up the brunt.

They should not forget that the same God that made employers made workers.

Faith will play a key role in helping our nation through this crisis and emerge better for it.

Star Parker is president of the Center for Urban Renewal and Education and author of the new book "Necessary Noise: How Donald Trump Inflames the Culture War and Why This is Good News for America," available now at starparker.com

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