Gretchen Whitmer | Wiki­media Commons

During our darkest hour, our leg­is­lation failed to listen to “We the People.” It is time for Michigan to open its busi­nesses and allow owners and employees to resume making a living, pro­viding goods and ser­vices to Michigan res­i­dents. 

We are reaching levels of unem­ployment not seen in decades, and econ­o­mists predict 15% unem­ployment by June. Every day that Michigan’s economy is shut down, more small busi­nesses will close their doors per­ma­nently, and larger busi­nesses will struggle to resume pre­vi­ously ‑effi­cient man­u­fac­turing and dis­tri­b­ution. 

Farming has expe­ri­enced a decrease in demand for indus­trial-sized packages, such as restaurant-sized cheese and butter, and indi­vidual-size milk cartons for school. Retooling pro­duction lines and dis­tri­b­ution chains is not a prac­tical short term solution, so milk is being dumped down the drain. 

The deter­mi­nation of what is essential versus nonessential is nothing more than the impo­sition of per­sonal views into cit­izens’ liveli­hoods. A young couple’s land­scaping business — eagerly awaiting springtime as an oppor­tunity to grow their business, feed their family, and invest in their future — is essential to them.

The virus has dis­pro­por­tion­ately affected the urban areas, with 80% of Michigan’s coro­n­avirus-related deaths occurring in the greater Detroit area. A county approach to clo­sures would make much more sense. 

Eighty percent of deaths have been in people over the age of 60. This age group has always been at increased risk for com­pli­ca­tions and death from com­munity dis­eases, espe­cially flu. No quar­antine can be com­pletely effective, as staff still must go home, shop, and live life outside of work. Good infection-control prac­tices have always been the best defense in insti­tu­tions. Self-care and avoiding crowds are sen­sible pre­cau­tions for the elderly in the com­munity, and they should be edu­cated in this. The best quar­antine prac­tices address pro­tecting the elderly and vul­nerable and iso­lating those already ill. 

Restau­rants and busi­nesses were busy imple­menting addi­tional san­i­tation mea­sures and mon­i­toring staff before the shutdown was man­dated. Allowing busi­nesses to meet cus­tomers’ needs and allowing cus­tomers to choose which busi­nesses to fre­quent is a cor­ner­stone of our free economy. A sweeping gov­ernment mandate can never account for the many nuances of a free society. 

Many freedom-loving Amer­icans are con­cerned with the long-term effect of the gov­ernment mea­sures we’ve seen as a response to the coro­n­avirus out­break, including losing our essential rights. When the sea­sonal flu, COVID-19, H1N1, or some other disease comes around next winter, will the same mea­sures be put into place then? Can we expect this to be a recurrent sce­nario? The current sit­u­ation is untenable, unjus­tified, and uncon­sti­tu­tional. 

Contact your state senator, rep­re­sen­tative, and Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, and demand that we open Michigan now.

Jon-Paul Rutan is cur­rently running for Hillsdale County Sheriff. He is the co-founder of the Hillsdale Justice Project.