Progressive ideas and global pandemics go together like a strain of COVID-19 and a mucous membrane.
The media tries to look the other way, but one progressive policy after another has been found to be a major cause of the spread of the coronavirus.
For decades, left-wing city planning experts have told us that sprawl is a bad thing. It’d be better for society, they insisted, if we all lived in high-density cities. Then the virus hit. Which area suffered more? Manhattan, New York, or Manhattan, Kansas?
One of the main reasons dense cities have suffered so much is their reliance on public transportation. Is there a pet project that gets liberal local politicians more excited than public transportation? Rail systems let politicians literally choose where you can travel. The politically connected get train stations right by their stores. The businessmen who donate to opposition candidates get screwed. Meanwhile, public transit systems increase public sector employment and fill union coffers, all in the name of saving the environment.
But a new study from the National Bureau of Economic Research found that “New York City’s multi-tentacled subway system was a major disseminator — if not the principal transmission vehicle — of coronavirus infection.” In fact, 79 transit workers thus far have reportedly died of COVID-19.
MTA President Pat Foye summed it up this way: “Most people should stay off mass transit.”
After the study was released, progressive city planners tried to find new methods to keep public transportation safe. No — just kidding! They actually denied science, wrote articles panning the study, and patted themselves on the back for being so wise about smart growth and dense city centers.
Another progressive idea that has fallen apart amid the pandemic is the obsession with banning single-use plastic bags and embracing reusable bags at the grocery store. Reusable bags are the hipsters of COVID-19; they were carrying disease before it was cool. Study after study shows that E. coli, salmonella, and coliform bacteria are frequently spread by these virtue-signaling totes.
Now some cities that previously banned safe, single-use bags have actually reversed course and banned the reusable bags. Many stores that once encouraged reuse now forbid it.
The same progressives responsible for these disease-ridden failures mocked my town of Jacksonville Beach, Florida, for having a limited reopening of beaches last weekend. The reopening occurred because runners, walkers, and bicyclists have been packed into the two streets closest to the beach ever since we were blocked from setting foot on the sand. By allowing us back on the beaches, the local government made it easier to socially distance over a wider area.
The Northeastern know-it-alls were certain chaos would ensue. It didn’t. I was there most of the weekend and saw no beach chairs and no towels. The beaches were full of smiley people walking, running, exercising, and fishing, with appropriate distance between them. In the absence of evidence that our beaches were a chaotic mess, some news outlets literally shared old photos of the beach from when it was packed during an air show.
The notion that central planning experts know how to run cities is a symptom of the most dangerous disease spread by urban liberals — narcissism. Their so-called “progressive” proposals actually embrace century-old technology — densely-packed cities, trains, burlap sacks, and trolleys. This is a large part of what got New York City into this mess.
Conservatives and libertarians are mocked for glamorizing 1776, but is it any better to glamorize life in 1876?
This article was originally published by the Washington Examiner.