Opinion: Calabash is Dying (and I don’t feel so good myself)

Calabash, right here in Brunswick County, is known as “The Seafood Capital of the World.”  Calabash restaurants and others along our southern coast provide hundreds of jobs and form the basis of much of the sales tax and other taxes that support our county and municipal services.  Many other retail and hospitality businesses depend on this traffic to support families and their communities.

The current executive orders shutting down certain parts of the economy, while letting others operate at their own choice, are so discriminatory that it defies description.  The government is saying, “You small businesses are not smart enough to operate safely, but we in Raleigh know much better what is good for you.”  Instead of providing guidelines for basic safety, they issue orders punishable by fines or imprisonment.  “Experts” in Raleigh and Washington are telling us what to think and do in our local communities and businesses.

Each day I receive questions, like “Why are the big box stores, not locally owned, allowed to operate, and my family’s business is closed by executive order?  We know how to operate safely.”  Or “In the restaurant business we have to go to school at the ‘Health Department’ to learn how to be sanitary and safe, and we get inspected regularly to be certain.”  “We know how to wear masks and move tables six feet apart.  Do they think we are stupid?”  “They” – the folks in Raleigh and Washington — may not think exactly that, but they are convinced that they know better than you do what is best for you – essentially treating you more like children than professional adults who know your business.

What is all of this based on?  It may be based on models and projected death rates, most of which have now been shown to be wrong.  In fact, some states are revising their death rates downward to reflect “deaths FROM COVID” rather than “deaths WITH COVID”.  No one knows the real recovery rate, as many cases are unreported from home.

Another strange aspect of all this is the comparison of our county to hot spots like Charlotte, Raleigh, and Durham, which have much higher population densities.  Our curve of cases has been on the decline for at least three weeks, hovering between 40 and 55, while the two deaths recorded were two months ago and were travel-related.  There is no differentiation between counties or regions, but just a comment: “We’re looking at that.”  This is the bureaucratic and political answer from the Governor’s people in Raleigh, while our businesses are dying down here.

Incidentally, restaurants and small businesses are open and thriving just 10 minutes to 30 minutes from most of Brunswick County — down in South Carolina.  Guess what most of the license plates in their parking lots say? That’s right; “North Carolina!”

Why, you ask, is there such tight control of what we can do?  There’s the answer: CONTROL.  The more fear that can be instilled in people, the easier to control them.  Then they can’t exercise their rights of assembly, free speech, and life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness protected by the Constitution.  If you can keep law-abiding citizens locked up in their houses, you can release criminals from the prisons into the streets (and also get their votes).

Speaking of the Constitution, many of us believe most of the executive orders currently in North Carolina are unconstitutional.  People ask me, “What are you in the legislature going to do about our out-of-control Governor?”  I have to explain the legal aspects of our House and Senate majority NOT having a super majority, which is required to override the Governor’s vetoes.  Anything we do would be successfully vetoed.  If we take it to the state courts, the 6-1 majority on the Supreme Court is of the Governor’s party.  No relief there.

In closing I should point out that I was acquainted with the Governor when he was a citizen of Nash County.  We raised our family in Rocky Mount for almost 25 years.  We attended the same church, and my late wife taught him high school English. I knew him as a very nice person from a well-respected family.  I am simply disappointed by the things going on around him that appear to be influenced by folks who seemingly want to prolong the economic distress of our people outside the Raleigh beltline and D.C. beltway.  We have to ask the question, is it politics?  If the answer is “Yes”, then what is the agenda and the point of all this control and denial of our Constitutional rights?