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While I'm still reading about our presidents (I'm on Lincoln #16), I am taking a break from blogging about my presidents project to concentrate on this strange and surreal time in our lives. Ironically, I began my project to try and discern how the past influences the present and what we can learn from the past to better our present. Now, the answer is more obvious than ever.

The Third Amendment to the United States Constitution states: No soldier shall, in time of peace be quartered in any house, without the consent of the owner, nor in time of war, but in manner to be prescribed by law.

The Bill of Rights was written by James Madison (#5) in response to British soldiers quartering themselves wherever they pleased. It was ratified by the States in 1791 and is relevant today. Not because soldiers are going to be knocking on our doors, but because Madison was prescient in acknowledging the need to balance war and peacetime directives. During war, the government can order homeowners to quarter soldiers. During peace, they can hunker down only with the homeowner's consent. 

War is a battle against an enemy who threatens our lives and liberties. It is correct to characterize our fight against coronavirus as a war. In many wars, the enemy can be seen but the reason for the war isn't always obvious. Today, the enemy cannot be seen but the reason for the war is clear. 

The United Kingdom is directing civilian businesses, such as Rolls Royce and Dyson, to manufacture parts. Not for airplanes as they did during World War II but for ventilators. Our president signed the Defense Production Act into law, which gives power to require citizen businesses to make items to fight our foe. He deployed two Navy hospital ships, one to New York. Ford and General Motors are eager to begin making parts for ventilators. (Henry Ford, as you may recall, was very involved in producing American bombers during WWII. However, Ford and General Motors notoriously aided the Nazis too. I won't even take this space to mention IBM. All for another blogpost.)

Our enemy--the novel coronavirus-is now in all 50 states. The latest numbers show over 14,000 people have been infected with over 200 deaths in the U.S. Some war time provisions are necessary to flatten the curve. Madison realized the need to balance war and peace time directives 229 years ago. It was the right thing to do then, and now. 

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Joanne Lewis Blog