Governments have always exploited crises to expand their powers.
It’s always difficult during a crisis for the government to address problems effectively while guarding against potential collateral damage to the freedoms Americans take for granted. That dilemma has become acute with the current coronavirus outbreak and the measures being taken to stem it. No one should doubt that this pandemic is a worrisome problem. Not only is the virus highly contagious, the mortality rate (especially among elderly victims and those with underlying health problems) is substantially higher than with influenza or similar diseases. That gap shows signs of narrowing, but there is little question that coronavirus is a serious health menace.
Nevertheless, the troubling reality is that governments have always exploited crises to expand their powers—often to a dangerous degree. That has certainly been the case throughout American history.
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