COVID-19 pits liberty vs. harm

The drafters of the U.S. Constitution and its Bill of Rights probably were influenced more than any other by John Locke, the 17th-century physician and philosopher. One of Locke's guiding principles was that "All mankind ... being all equal and independent, no one ought to harm another in his life, health, liberty or possessions." Of course, the rub comes when one's exercise of liberty harms another's life, health or possessions.

One of the functions and conundrums of civilized society and its governing bodies is to preserve and enhance its members' liberties while regulating their exercise to minimize the harm to others' life, health and possessions. Our current situation has brought this problem to the fore. Simply stated, it now is the unenviable task of national, state and local leaders to achieve a fair and reasonable balance of the liberty (right to work) vs. harm (disease and death) scale with very little reliable information at hand. What is too much or too little in either direction?

Notwithstanding unsettling statements from leadership, particularly at the national level, our contribution to this task should be to assume, until proven otherwise, that our leaders under impossible circumstances are acting in good faith, that the objectives of each are the individual and the public good, and that political and personal goals are not significant factors in decisions being made. There will be a time for unfettered political discourse. This is not it.

Richard Gossett


Trump's shameless ego on full display

In his virtual town hall interview Sunday night in the cathedral-like Lincoln Memorial, no one familiar with President Trump's toxic combination of insecurity and narcissism should have been surprised when he at one point whined about his press coverage to two Fox News hosts.

"I am greeted with a hostile press, the likes of which no president has ever seen," Trump complained to Bret Baier and Martha MacCallum, as reported.

Then there was this:

"The closest would be that gentleman right up there," he added, pointing at the the statue of Lincoln, who was shot to death. "They always said nobody got treated worse than Lincoln. I believe I am treated worse."

Let's see: Press coverage of Mr. Trump versus Lincoln's assassination. Yep, shamelessness triumphs again.

Michael Loftin



Writer enumerates losers and winners

In this time of crisis, there are numerous failures and winners. Failures include Donald Trump and the federal government; Govs. Bill Lee of Tennessee, Brian Kemp of Georgia and Ron DeSantis of Florida; Hamilton County Mayor Jim Coppinger; Erlanger, Memorial and Parkridge hospitals for their head-in-the-ground nonresponsiveness to the public; the CDC in Atlanta; more than two dozen customers without face masks entering Food City on Highway 41 just across the Georgia state line (in less than a 20-minute time frame while I was waiting for curbside pickup); and all of the young people congregating in parking lots, on basketball courts and other places.

The winners, if they can be called winners in this difficult time, include Gov. Gavin Newsom of California, Chattanooga Mayor Andy Berke, the Catoosa County and Hamilton County school superintendents, and the many thousands of health care workers, volunteers, and first responders around the country. Everyone is trying to adhere to the guidelines for infection prevention.

With the hit-and-miss handling of the virus around the country, I fear as a 68-year-old senior that we are still in for more difficult times economically, physically and physiologically.

Charles S. Young