Brian Allen: Governor PTSD joins Governor Fear, Governor Oops, Governor Unemployment

Editor’s note: This commentary is by Brian Allen, of Arlington. He is an art historian and the art critic for National Review.

Rushing to spend $1.25 billion in federal Covid-19 cash, Gov. Phil Scott reserved $5 million for mental health treatment. At least he realizes his governance in the coronavirus crisis has pushed thousands of Vermonters over the cliff emotionally as well as financially.

He’s caused uncertainty and pain through a reckless, unnecessary lockdown. Now we’re all having PTSD.

Humanity’s dealt with epidemics for thousands of years. Never, and I emphasize “never,” have leaders forced a healthy population into quarantine. It’s the sick and vulnerable who need to isolate.

If something’s never been done, it’s almost always for a good reason. It’s never been done because it’s a bad idea.

Gov. Phil Scott official Facebook page

Republican Gov. Phil Scott

Governor Scott and his team failed on many fronts but three are epic. They point to cluelessness, incompetence and negligence.

He assembled a group of advisors with narrow, inappropriate expertise. Drs. Vespignani and Shaman specialize in mathematical modeling of health outcomes. Governor Scott relied on their models, which painted a speculative, inordinately grave picture of what Vermont’s Covid-19 prospects were.

Already in March, scientists and doctors at Stanford, Oxford, Rockefeller University and many other places were vigorously and correctly disputing doom-and-gloom models. Governor Scott does not appear to have considered these viewpoints.

When you’re depriving people of economic and personal freedom, threatening livelihoods, you need to get second, third and fourth opinions.

The choice isn’t between science and ignorance, or even between good and bad science. It’s between using cogitation — computer models — and using good judgment, practical experience, and real time data, with modeling a small part of the equation. Governor Scott and his team are still using math and technology rather than good medicine.

This is a bad academic trend affecting hard science, economics, political science and many other fields. Computers have replaced common sense, and statistics have replaced experience and thinking.

This is cluelessness. These people need to go. The fear peddling has to stop.

Governor Scott does not appear to have done any cost benefit analysis. What are the consequences of crashing the economy? Governor Scott said he was shocked by the numbers of people losing their jobs. Didn’t he think about that?

How many Vermonters will die because cancer and heart health screenings were suddenly unavailable for over two months? How many will die too soon because cancer patients feared getting their treatments? Emergency room visits are down because people are afraid to go to the hospital. The cost? A hundred lives? Five hundred?

Practicing doctors see these future nightmares developing. They cried for empty hospitals to be opened up. Governor Scott was unresponsive and not even curious.

How many Vermonters will fall into the trap of opioid, drug, spousal or child abuse because of the instability and worry Governor Scott’s policies delivered? How many innocent people will suffer, and how many struggling people will lose ground? Above his pay grade.

How many elderly Vermonters, isolated under lockdown and frightened, will deteriorate health-wise from loneliness? “Never thought about that one!”

How many of those “furloughs” will turn into permanent layoffs? Governor Scott never seems to have thought about that, either.

Governor Scott has trashed the hospitality industry. Will anyone want to plan a Vermont vacation or special event? He’s created a climate of unpredictability. That’s terrible for all business.

Our leaders didn’t keep a cool head. Governor Scott panicked. He swallowed all the left wing bromides.

This is incompetence. You need to ask “what’s the cost” as well as “what’s the benefit?”

Did the lockdown save lives? A consensus now is developing all over the world that it didn’t. States that responded to Covid-19 in a less heavy-handed manner than Vermont have the same or better health outcomes.

Vermont’s schools have never closed for months on end because of a health emergency, or any kind of emergency, since public schooling started here in 1777. If something hasn’t been done for nearly 250 years, it’s usually because it’s a bad idea.

We’ve known for many weeks that Covid-19 affects the elderly and people with serious health problems and not kids, who rarely even show symptoms. We also know they’re likely the least contagious population.

“I’m sure they’ll be creative,” Governor Scott blithely said of teachers and parents when he upended everyone’s life by closing the schools.

Did Governor Scott ever consider how many Vermont parents are suited to homeschool kids or to supervise kids learning online? No.

How about those parents working from home? Can they be expected to monitor their kids’ learning and do the work they need to do to pay the bills? I know, there are still jobs Governor Scott’s lockdown hasn’t managed to kill!

How many kids have computer access issues? How many shuttle between parents’ or grandparents’ homes? How many homes have only one computer, or no computer?

When it comes to kids, is “more screen time” a good answer to any problem?

What about special needs kids? How disruptive will their learning be? How much academic backsliding will they, or any other child, face?

What’s the truancy rate? I know lots of teachers, and they’re telling me a good day is two-thirds attendance. Did it occur to Governor Scott that truancy might be a problem? Doesn’t seem so.

Teachers want to teach. They’ve been put in a terrible situation. Kids want and need to learn. Parents want well-educated children. They pay taxes for good schools. “I’m sure they’ll be creative” is another way of saying “let them eat cake.”

All of this adds up to negligence. For a K-6 child, missing three months of school is life changing. Forming good learning habits is disrupted. For second- and third-graders, reading progress will be undermined.

In the fall, a sixth-grader will have been away from math for almost six months. That child is in danger of sliding back to a fifth- or fourth-grade level. These kids will be playing catch up for years. Is that good policy?

This is playing with our children’s future and the future of Vermont’s economy, if we think a well educated workforce is important.

And what about the budget cuts for education and health programs needed to cut the big budget deficit? Governor Scott’s rich friends are all set. They don’t use a lot of state services. It’s the poor and working class people in Vermont who’ll suffer.

Vermont has a health emergency but it isn’t Covid-19. The state’s infection and death rate are minuscule. This has always been the case. We knew two months ago Covid-19 was largely a nursing home and New York metropolitan area crisis.

No, Vermont doesn’t have a Covid-19 epidemic. Instead, bad policy and leadership-by-fear have left us with a PTSD epidemic.

Image courtesy of Gov. Phil Scott official Facebook page

15 thoughts on “Brian Allen: Governor PTSD joins Governor Fear, Governor Oops, Governor Unemployment

  1. Captaining the Ship of Fools !

    Governor Scott and the liberal Vermont Legislature have navigated the Vermont “Ship of State” directly onto the rocky shoals of economic and social ruin in their misguided effort to avoid the coronavirus threat ! It will take years to “refloat” the boat and get Vermont underway again.
    Vermont’s economy, based on recreation, tourist, retirement, healthcare and higher education, has been damaged to an unfathomable degree – not only the immediate revenue losses, but long-term changes in the market forces they depend on will doom many to failure and bankruptcy. The state lacks the resources to repair the damage it has caused and a few billion dollars for the Federal government will not restore these market segments to financial vitality.

    The health of thousands, if not tens of thousands, of Vermonters has been placed a risk or lost – hospital beds and operating suites have been empty for weeks and the lost revenue has Vermont’s hospitals on the brink of bankruptcy. People have become scared to go to the doctor’s office or hospital emergency room out of fear of contracting C-19, forgoing diagnosis and treatment for innumerable concerns from heart conditions and cancer treatment to simple wounds and illnesses – leading to more serious complications from their inattention.

    Education has been torpedoed by the closure of our public and private schools – our children’s learning has been permanently altered and the school districts that teach them have been financially devastated (the State AOE has informed that it is, somehow. more expensive to maintain a closed school than to operate an open one ?) and the predicted 12 -15% property tax increases and reduced education programs being discussed will only further damage our state’s education future. Interestingly, putting Vermont’s education in the hands of parents, temporarily, has presented many of them with the rude reality that the subject matter the schools are providing is inadequately preparing their children for a worthwhile and productive future and many will seek to find better alternatives by seeking to “tuition out” their children to better schools or take up home schooling them. Given the damage the “lockdown” has caused for public education in Vermont, it is astonishing that the Governor and the Legislature have not pledged to dedicate a major portion of the Federal C-19 relief funds to make the school districts and the taxpayers whole !

    The damages caused by the “lockdown” are so deep and widespread that it is difficult to see how government officials can chart a course to restored prosperity and social order – however a good first step would be to end the shutdown (and ridiculous government imposed rules and regulations for reopening) and allow businesses and the citizenry to decide their best opportunities to return “normalcy” since it is obvious the state officials haven’t a clue !

  2. Vermont had better hope that republicans do well winning seats in the house and senate in 2020,because as much as I don’t like it I see Governor Zuckerman sitting in Phil’s seat.

  3. To those who missed the Gov Scott show today on WCAX, he clearly stated, for the first time that I’ve heard, that Vermont won’t be going back to normal until there’s a vaccine.

    We need to march on Montpelier and convince this tyrant to leave office now. He’s absolutely clueless about the amount of damage he’s inflicted, and he’s completely unwilling to fight for us.

  4. How Benedict Scott can even face himself in the mirror is beyond pale,Now he can add to liar,tyrant,unenployment his list of accomplishments.

    John Klar 2020

  5. Inaccurate numbers for the devastation from the Wuhan Virus and the
    Governor bought it hook line and sinker, and the state suffers !!

    Now the Governor has $1.25 Billion of Federal money lets see how he’ll
    squander it, what liberal project will rise to the top of the list ??

    All Vermont Small businesses should be first in line, and the taxpayer should
    demand a complete ledger on who’s getting the $$$

    Don’t hold you’re breath, if you’re needed financial help.

  6. But what is more unsettling is knowing how easy it was for our own government to trash so many of our constitutional rights with one order, one one day and how few legislators objected! That’s the real anger and fear we should all remember.

  7. Excellent commentary, thank you!

    Along with this is that we seem to have an effective treatment that’s being ignored, and that’s hydroxychloroquine. There hasn’t been a single study that tests its effectiveness when used as an early intervention, yet on the other hand there’ve been several studies on what is not the protocol and, unsurprisingly, find no benefit. Why not test the protocol? The failure to test the actual protocol used by physicians is astonishing.

  8. Someone send Chancellor Scott the memo he doesn’t need to skip debates until Crisis Plandemic is over!
    SORRY AMERICA – Those Catastrophic Mortality Rates Sold to Us by the WHO, Dr. Fauci and Dr. Birx Were a Huge Scam
    By Joe Hoft Published June 3, 2020 at 8:08am 320 Comments
    Cowardly lion Comrade Scott rides again:
    After Announcing Reelection Bid, Scott Says Debates Contingent On Coronavirus
    By Peter Hirschfeld • May 29, 2020

    • Unless I missed something – not discussed in story is that numbers of suspected cases were lumped together with confimed cases from the beginning. And that all cases including deaths were found to be classified as Covid per guidance from CDC.

    • There are better ways…… YES, and it starts with the exiting of the current Governor. Talk about someone who is clueless…….. and this charecterization
      did not just recently appear.

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