California Lockdown Decisions Are Destructive, ‘Totally Arbitrary,’ Commentator Says

December 7, 2020 Updated: December 8, 2020


While politicians make decisions that could “slit the throat of the middle class” in California, they flout the legislative process, misunderstand the science, and do what’s politically safe instead of what they truly believe is best, talk show host and columnist John Phillips told The Epoch Times’ “California Insider.”

Phillips, who hosts “The John Phillips Show” on KACB radio and is a columnist for the Southern California News Group, discussed the recent spate of lockdowns in California because of COVID-19, and especially in Los Angeles County, where the government recently made the decision to ban outdoor dining.

“It’s totally arbitrary,” Phillips told The Epoch Times. “Not just the decisions being made in Sacramento, but also at the local level, are not based on the science—which is what they say when they do something draconian: ‘It’s the science, the science, the science.’”

For example, a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) study was cited in the decision to ban outdoor dining in L.A. That study was done in September and it’s from a model, Phillips said.

“We have actual data. You don’t have to do it based on a model.”

He said that contact-tracing data on the county’s website shows that restaurants aren’t in the top 10 places for contracting the disease. Government offices, grocery stores, construction sites, and several other places are well ahead of restaurants.

“Part of the reason they’re doing this is they don’t understand the science,” Phillips said.

He said the county’s health director, Barbara Ferrer, who has a doctorate in social work, was hired to deal with different health issues facing the county at the time; Phillips questions her ability to handle a pandemic.

“She is not a medical doctor,” Phillips said. “When they hired her, they never anticipated a pandemic would happen. They hired her to be a social justice warrior and write papers about why Whole Foods needs to move into certain poor parts of town.”

She made the decision to close outdoor dining, then the county considered a resolution to overrule that, but a majority of supervisors sided with Ferrer.

Phillips said Gov. Gavin Newsom has overstepped the bounds of his power to make decisions on COVID-19-related mandates.

“He didn’t go to the state legislature,” Phillips said. “He did it himself. And for whatever reason, the state legislature is unwilling to step up and say, ‘Wait a minute, dude. You have overstepped your bounds.’”

There are a couple of reasons the legislature has not challenged Newsom on the process, Phillips said.

One is, “ideologically, they’re on the same page. The Democrats have a supermajority in California. Gavin Newsom is a Democrat, so they don’t want to create conflict there. The other reason is that they’re cowards. Because if you vote on it, you have to tell your constituents which way you come down.”

By allowing Newsom to make the decisions and not having their own stances on those decisions go on the record, lawmakers avoid responsibility, Phillips said.

“You can be a critic if it goes bad. And you can say, ‘Oh yeah, I supported him the whole time,’ if it goes good.”

It’s also politically safe to err on the side of restrictions—of doing something rather than nothing—to prevent deaths, he said.

“It’s a pandemic, so people will get sick and people will die. They don’t want to be blamed for any of those deaths,” Phillips said. “They just want to say, ‘See, I did something.’”

And if people lose their jobs, the legislators will “come in with the EDD [Employment Development Department] checks like Santa Claus.”

Phillips said the lawmakers don’t believe in their own rules and their own public statements about safety.

That’s why L.A. County Supervisor Sheila Kuehl dined at a restaurant the same day she voted to uphold the ban on outdoor dining, as well as why Newsom dined at the French Laundry restaurant for a birthday party after urging Californians to avoid such gatherings. It’s also why House Speaker Nancy Pelosi was caught getting her hair done at a salon in violation of restrictions.

“Nancy Pelosi is not going to go on TV without getting her hair done. That’s just the time she got caught,” Phillips said. “They don’t think that the rules apply to them.”

“If they believed what they said, they wouldn’t be out at restaurants,” he said. “I believe that juggling knives is dangerous. You’ll never find video of me juggling knives.”

All of these measures “are going to slit the throat of the middle class,” Phillips said.

Small and medium-sized companies are going to be replaced by the big guys, he said. Amazon and Walmart were open the entire time.

“Those people are doing just fine.”

Mom-and-pop businesses live week to week and month to month, so they feel the effects more quickly than government bodies that plan their finances annually.

“If you own a small restaurant and all your food spoils, that means a lot to you. If you rely on big weekends like Thanksgiving for a huge portion of your income, and you’re closed that weekend, that means something to you,” Phillips said.

“But if you’re talking about cities, school districts, hospitals, entities like that, many of them really haven’t felt the pain, because they do their budgeting year to year.”

They may not really feel the pain yet, but when they “go to do their budgets next year, they’re going to find a great big hole where the money used to be.”

If they’re smart, they should see this problem coming, he said. But “they operate in a world where if they need money, they just raise your taxes. If there aren’t any taxpayers left because people aren’t making money, you can’t get any more juice out of the squeeze.”

Epoch Times Photo
Business owners and others protest new COVID-19 regulations at the County Administration Building in San Diego, on Nov. 16, 2020. (Sandy Huffaker/Getty Images)

People have been prohibited by law from operating their businesses or going to work, and it’s been arbitrary in many cases, Phillips said.

“In California, if you’re a church, you’re closed, but if you’re a strip club, you’re open.”

Revenue is down 42 percent in the state of California, he said. The only state hit harder is Alaska.

While he sees California taking a big hit, he also sees some hope.

“Politics is always cyclical. There are ebbs and flows,” he said. He lived through the 1990s in L.A., when crime waves and a crack-cocaine crisis hit, when the end of the Cold War led to the closing of military bases that the economy depended upon, and the aerospace industry collapsed.

Many people saw no hope for the region and left.

But then, a correction took place. Mayor Richard Riordan was elected in Los Angeles after campaigning on the slogan “Dick Reardon, tough enough to turn L.A. around.”

“And he did,” Phillips said. The election of Pete Wilson as governor also helped, he said. And while Wilson got the budget back in order, the internet boom and rise of Silicon Valley helped the state as well.

Phillips sees another crisis coming.

“Eventually, there will be a course correction in California. I hope it will be sooner rather than later.”

California’s economy is larger than many nations, and the United States relies on some industries that are based there, he said.

“If this state doesn’t function, we’re all in trouble.”

“California Insider” is an Epoch Times show available on YouTube.

Views expressed in this article are the opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Epoch Times.