For months, California Gov. Gavin Newsom has moved haphazardly from one shutdown scheme to another as California’s unemployment has remained among the highest in the country. One report in August showed that 2,000 businesses had already closed permanently in the Bay Area alone.
Now, Newsom has invented a new reason to keep California locked down, and the name itself acknowledges it has nothing to do with public health: the “Equity Metric.”
This Orwellian turn might be the most lawless and nonsensical action by any governor in the COVID era. Counties will be kept locked down because areas with marginally higher infection rates have lower voter turnout or fewer bars than the rest of the county. Seriously. (RELATED: The Slow Suicide Of New York City)
As context, let’s recall what Newsom said back on April 1, when a reporter asked him if he planned to use “this crisis” to create a “new progressive era.” In what was sadly not an April Fools’ joke, a smirking Newsom answered:
“Yes, absolutely. We see this as an opportunity to reshape the way we do business and how we govern. The answer is yes.”
Now, after seven months, Newsom is perpetuating his autocratic rule, not based on “flattening the curve” or any public health pretense, but in the name of equity – a progressive buzzword. He’s no longer even hiding that he’s using emergency powers for political purposes.
Restricting the basic liberties of citizens to impose a phony notion of “equity” invented by the government is a move with, shall we say, some very bad precedents in world history.
Newsom’s School Closure Order is a case in point. It will widen California’s disgraceful achievement gaps while offering a gift to the special interests that spent a fortune electing him governor. That’s what equity means in our state.
Here’s what Newsom’s new edict actually entails:
- A county’s dozens of census tracts each get a score based on 25 “socioeconomic” factors in the so-called “Healthy Places Index.” These include a “clean environment,” “alcohol availability” (the more the better), and voter turnout in past elections.
- The lowest scoring fourth of these tracts get cherry-picked from across the county and lumped together.
- The COVID averages for this purely invented group dictate the entire county’s re-opening tier.
Long story short: An entire county can be kept shut down because certain areas are judged to be lacking in “equity,” even if the whole county has relatively few cases of COVID.
Under this scheme, two counties with identical case positivity rates can be subject to vastly different restrictions, based not on how cases are distributed physically – a plausible public health consideration – but on how that distribution lines up with voter turnout, environmental quality, proximity to bars and other alleged socioeconomic factors. (RELATED: One Nation, Under Lockdown, Divided By Pandemic)
The misery of whole counties is prolonged based on minor differences between fabricated subdivisions on a grab bag of altogether irrelevant characteristics.
While our political leaders talk of the utopia they are building, a new Census report shows we have the highest poverty rate in the nation. California also has some of the worst income inequality in the nation. During this pandemic, our captured legislature and governor are working overtime to make special interests richer while diminishing opportunities for everyone else.
Kevin Kiley is a California Legislator representing the 6th Assembly District.
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