Taking our lives back from COVID-19 is up to us, not the government

By: Rachel Marsden

PARIS — Season One was the gripping saga of a new, mysterious and potentially plague-like virus sweeping across the globe and spooking governments into sending everyone into hiding at home. Then came Season Two: The Variants. But many people have already switched off and tuned out. Good for them. The future belongs to those people.

Here in France, COVID-19 cases and deaths have reached a relatively high cruising altitude. At this point, it’s possible to live almost completely normally despite the ever-changing restrictions imposed by the state. And many have chosen to do exactly that.

Need to make a cross-country trip? There’s a box on the government’s auto-certification form for that. Need to be outside after the 7 p.m. curfew that has been in place for months? Just tick off one of the many reasons listed on your digital or paper authorization, and you’re good to go.

Want to hang out with a few thousand of your friends at the beach this weekend, or on the banks of the Seine River? No problem. Just make sure to strap a mask to your chin in case you have to perform some sanitary theater if a police car rolls by. Want to party with some pals in a private residence all night? No worries. Just be there by 7 p.m. and either stay overnight or tick off “urgent family matter” on your self-certification form when you leave at the end of the evening.

Tired of not being able to use the gym or the swimming pool? There’s a special doctor’s certificate that permits access to these facilities during the pandemic. Granted, you need to have what’s considered by the state to be a long-term chronic illness, but the list of such illnesses is long. Before COVID-19, 37 percent of French citizens over the age of 15 already had at least one. And given that one of the qualifying illnesses is depression, no doubt a whole lot more people now qualify.

At this point, people are living exactly as they want to here in France. The older and vulnerable who are eligible for vaccination have been jabbed. Those who are younger and interested in getting the vaccine but still waiting their turn are making personal risk-benefit decisions in the meantime. If they feel fit and healthy and trust their immune systems, they may decide that the risk of going out and having some fun is worth it when the alternative is psychological distress or depression. Others may consider themselves too vulnerable and make the opposite calculation.

All the French government is doing now by announcing restrictions or the lifting of them is signaling the extent of the state’s ineptitude in that the hospitals it runs are overwhelmed. More government restrictions just mean that if you get sick, the government may fail you because all those taxes you pay for “health care” have been spent on bureaucracy and administration rather than on adequate infrastructure or front-line personnel.

There’s hardly a better argument in favor of government lowering social security taxes: so that people can keep more of their own money in their pockets to purchase treatment in private clinics rather than be forced to rely on a mismanaged government-run system. The government has had to impose draconian restrictions so that it can continue to maintain the illusion of the great French health care system which in reality has long suffered from mismanagement and cutbacks.

The solution when faced with potentially life-threatening government incompetence is to fight to be freed from the state’s fiscal straitjacket in order to increase your personal options, not to simply stop living. If that’s the path that too many choose — one of freedom closely controlled by the government under pandemic pretext — it could be a long haul. Because here come the negative test or digital vaccination “certificates,” granting access to everything from travel to daily living. French President Emmanuel Macron has ensured that they’d be optional. Right. Does that mean you can either opt to stay home all day or else get the certificate?

The only way this ridiculous government overreach is going to end is when each of us decides that it must. And the only way to achieve that is by making the situation impossible to control. Every individual who resists by living life the way it was back in the good old times of 2019 chips away at this creeping fascism. Life isn’t just about avoiding COVID-19. It’s long past time to take it back.