It is corrosive to public trust when those in charge issue harsh rules for you and me but those making the rules can ignore them when they wish.
The corrosion will undercut our democracy, create more distrust of politicians than already exists, erode respect for public health officials, and eventually undermine compliance with all government rules not just the silly ones.
We do not want any of that to happen.
I sincerely hope governors, federal health officials, elected county officials, and everyone in the public health world will quickly realize the damage they are causing and change their ways fast.
Is it possible to shout my warning any louder?
Today’s illustration of flaming hypocrisy is from the governor of California.
As I was composing the previous post, this story broke, which is a postcard-perfect illustration of corrosive leadership.
11/13/20 – San Francisco Chronicle – Newsom attended French Laundry party with more households than California advises during pandemic – California guidelines prohibit private gatherings with more than three households.
Such gatherings may only be outside.
You may allow guests to use the bathroom if you sanitize it regularly.
In spite of these requirements, the governor of California and his wife attended a dinner on 11/6/20 with at least 12 people with more than three households present. Neither the people involved nor the restaurant will say how many people were present nor how many households were represented.
There is an acknowledgment from the governor and others attending that more than three households were present during the meal.
The governor and the restaurant were quick to point out that the meal was outside and the restaurant followed all the state guidelines for a restaurant. That minimization did not withstand even the first round of publicity.
11/13/20 – California Globe – Gov. Newsom Breaks State Covid-19 Guidelines For a Birthday Party in Napa County – Initial response from the governor was to shift the blame to the restaurant, claiming he followed all the rules for outdoor dining. The other high visibility player at the dinner also said it was okay because they were outside.
Ongoing backlash against the hypocrisy led the government to acknowledge he should have “modeled better behavior.”
Article says that because of the ongoing backlash a more detailed apology was expected over the weekend.
In his press appearance linked in the next paragraph, which was on 11/16/20, the governor acknowledged he was at the dinner, without saying how many people were there or how many households were represented. He did use the phrase “I want to apologize” one time and then minimized the incident saying we are all human and we are all fighting Covid fatigue.
He also minimized by saying there were more people present than he thought there would be; again no indication of how many were there or how many he thought would be there. He also said twice that when we (collective plural) make mistakes we have to “own the mistakes” and he (first person singular) does.
He hinted there will be no relief until the vaccine is in use, presumably widespread.
Statewide curfew under consideration
Presumably because us unwashed masses are not wearing our masks often enough and breaking lockdown (how dare we get together with dear friends and loved ones!) , Gavin Newsom weighs a statewide curfew as most of California returns to toughest COVID-19 tier as explained by Sacramento Bee on 11/16/20.
Smart alecks will of course remind us that the coronavirus is clearly super-duper aggressive and extra vicious after 10 p.m at night.
Article says the unemployment rate in California hit 16.4% shortly after the lockdown started and has only declined to 11%. Not even 40% of the lost jobs have returned.
Watch for the unemployment rate to rise and tax collections to drop as the lockdown tightens.
How expensive is that restaurant?
The French Laundry is reported to be one of the highest rated restaurants in the country. Several articles mentioned it is pricey.
How expensive is expensive?
Check out this article:
5/21/17 – Forbes Travel Guide – What Is The Price Range For A Meal At The French Laundry? – Starting price in 2017 was $310 per person. That is for the Dining Room. If you want the more intimate Board Room, a private dining area, that would be $400 as a starting point. Any additions to the standard menu generate an upcharge.
If you want to bring your own wine with you there is a $150 fee for each bottle you bring along. I’m guessing that would mean that any bottle you purchased would be far more expensive than the corking fee on the BYOB plan.
Oh, you have to pay in full at the time you make a reservation. Advance payment will include food, taxes, and a service charge.
Let’s play around with those pricey prices a little bit.
What’s the likely full tab for a couple?
The governor mentioned he and his wife paid for their own meal. Let’s assume they bought one bottle of cheap wine at the mere cost of the corking fee.
- $310 – basic price, per person, assuming no upcharges for fancier items or extra goodies
- $310 – cost of his wife’s meal, again assuming no upcharges
- $150 – corking fee, or in the alternative an assumption the absolute cheapest item on the wine list would cost that much
- $62 – tax at 8%
- $832 – total before tip
- $166 – low assumption that the service charge, or tip, was merely 20%
- $998 – guess at minimum cost of a dinner for two, with cheap bottle of wine, assuming there have been no price increases since 2017
So, that dinner for two ran at least $1,000.
For one meal.
Back in 2017.
Over $500 in 2017 dollars, I’ll guess closer to $700 per person today.
How many times could you and your spouse and all the kids go out to eat if you had a spare thousand dollar bill laying around?
Oh, don’t forget you and I can only have two other households at your home on Thanksgiving and Christmas day. Oh yeah, everybody must stay in the backyard.
Quick search on the Internet shows large number of media outlets have written their own story on the governor’s hypocrisy. Glancing at the number of articles suggests just about everyone with a by-line has rewritten the San Francisco Chronicle article.
Just one illustration of the newer coverage:
11/15/20 – Wall Street Journal – Gavin Newsom’s Covid Laundry / Lockdowns for the little people but not for the powerful – Clever wordplay on the name of the restaurant (French Laundry).
Article says the base price is $350 per person, so add 13% to the above price which puts the total for two at somewhere around $1,130 at a minimum.
Article points out he got caught attended a party with a dozen or more friends while there are two million people in California unemployed because of the lockdown.
Article says the state published more rules on Friday that you can’t play wind instruments while indoors. Why? I guess the extra velocity from coming out of a clarinet or saxophone would give the bugs increased virility.
Editorial suggests we will have a very Silent Night on Christmas Eve. Of course, that assumes there is actually anyone who will pay attention to the rules which get sillier every day.