Matt Rothschild
Op Ed

The Lethal Idiocy of MacIver Institute

“Freedom” and the “free market” won’t solve the pandemic. It will spread the disease.

By - Apr 24th, 2020 12:28 pm
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Give Me Liberty and Give Me Death

Give Me Liberty and Give Me Death

One of the Wisconsin groups that’s doing the most to hype the protests against Gov. Tony Evers’ “Safer at Home” order is the MacIver Institute, which bills itself as “The Free Market Voice for Wisconsin.”

On Friday, Steve Fettig, the chairman of the board of the MacIver Institute, said in a statement: “The best way to unshackle Wisconsin from this nightmare is for Wisconsinites to take back our rights and to take back our freedom to care for our own families and communities.”

And on Saturday, the MacIver Institute posted a photo of a protester holding a large stenciled sign that said, “The Free Market Decides What’s Essential! Not Faux King Evers & Company.” And it used the hashtags #Liberate Wis, #Liberate America, and #WiRight.

That’s one of the most idiotic signs I’ve seen in a long time, and it’s lethal idiocy: The free market can’t keep us safe in a pandemic. These free marketeers are willing to risk not only their lives by going to these protests. They’re willing to risk the lives of everyone they come in contact with: their family, their friends, the grocery clerk, the hardware store clerk, and the ambulance drivers and the health care workers that their recklessness is endangering.

This crude philosophy — to let the free market decide everything – has now reached its absolute low point as the folks at MacIver and fools like Sen. Ron Johnson are invoking it no matter the cost in human lives. To them, capitalism is a golden calf, and we all must bow down to it, even if it kills us.

Plus, they’d rather have the “free market” decide everything instead of our elected officials. We’re a democracy: We elect people to represent us and to govern us during a crisis. We don’t elect the “free market” to govern us.

Chairman Fettig, by the way, is the CFO of Tankcraft Corp in Darien, and he’s given $5,850 to Republican candidates over the years.

The MacIver Institute is part of the State Policy Network, which is funded by the Koch, DeVos, and Mercer families. And MacIver itself received $1,250,000 from the rightwing Bradley Foundation from 2008-2016, according to SourceWatch.

MacIver is busy ginning up support for today’s rally in Madison. On April 21, it put out a “McIver News Bulletin,” with video reporter Bill Osmulski praising the protests last weekend and predicting a much larger protest in Madison on Friday.

What MacIver doesn’t seem to get is that this virus is two-to-three times more infectious than the flu and five-to-ten times more lethal. Already, at least 257 Wisconsinites have died from the virus.

If MacIver gets its way, hundreds more will needlessly die.

Matt Rothschild is the executive director of the Wisconsin Democracy Campaign.

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