The Covid pandemic has become a breeding ground for ideas about fake liberty

Originally published at: https://thoughtleader.co.za/our-responses-to-social-unrest-and-structural-uncertainty-are-not-enough/

Social protection strategies that emphasise systemic responses only to ‘livelihood shocks and uncertainties’ hardly take into account the ways in which poverty and unemployment are produced and reproduced in South Africa

One of the things that should have constitutional issues, is that a single minister can indefinitely suspend some human rights (at least freedom of movement, privacy (at least in the regulations, the parts about phone tracking does not seem to be implemented), the right to peacefully assemble) under a state of disaster. It should at least be held to the same standard as a state of emergency, where the national assembly needs to be involved in the extensions. (It would likely still be extended though)

The regulations can and have been challenged in the courts.

Sometimes not super-rationally, but that’s the law for you.

The phone tracking thing was a myth. The app the government developed gives away a tiny fraction of your privacy compared with common social media platforms. Go take a look at Facebook’s list of permissions on the Google Play Store. Then tell me why people post a scare about an app that does not actually give away anything personal on Facebook.

My view is that if we don’t want the government to manage us, we should learn how to protect ourselves. If we don’t, we are forcing a choice between the government micromanaging society and a pandemic running out of control. So I studied up on epidemiology as best I could on top of many other commitments, worked with community organisations to deal with the early-lockdown food crisis, helped make the case for masking before government got there, aided with linking Gift of the Givers with our local public health officials, etc.

The alternative to government micromanagement of our behaviour is not only a raging pandemic; there’s also the alternative of citizens understanding their options and taking charge of their safety themselves.

Sadly far too many of those arguing against an authoritarian approach by government are also spreading the sort of disinformation that prevents people from making the rational choices that would make an interventionist government less necessary.

You could call my approach rational libertarianism. If society broadly has the knowledge to act rationally, you don’t need an excessively controlling government to achieve the best outcomes.

What I mean with the phone tracking is section 8 of this regulations (AFAIK, it was never implemented (as mentioned in my initial comment)). (The app does not use location at all, but there were plans to get location info from the networks)

The current measures are mostly rational, however it would make sense to require that the extension of the state of disaster is done through parlement, instead of by a single minister (in the same way that a state of disaster would need to be extended 37(2)(b)). This seems to set the precedent that the constitutional requirements can be ignored in many cases by declaring a state of disaster instead of a state of emergency. (IMO, a reasonable judgement would be to require parlement to be involved in future extensions) (measures are necessary, but allowing a single minister to impose such significant measures indefinitely seems dangerous)