More on Lockdowns and the Presumption of Liberty

(Don Boudreaux) Tweet Here’s a letter to a personal friend: Mr. P____ P____: Thanks for your e-mail in which you dissent in part from the position I take in my letter to Matt Zwolinski . You write that “Closing bars, for e.g., does impair freedom, but appears to be effective.

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What is ironclad for me is starting with this presumption, one that imposes the burden of persuasion always on those who would restrict liberty.

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These three additional conditions are:

(1) Lockdowns are likely to reduce total premature deaths, and not only during the lockdown period but after lockdowns are ended. On this matter, as I said in my letter to Matt, the evidence is murky. A large number of studies show that lockdowns actually don’t work. Of course pro-lockdowners dismiss these studies as being flawed, preferring those studies that show that lockdowns save lives. But many of the ‘anti-lockdown’ studies are done by prominent researchers with no obvious ideological axes to grind. I believe that these studies deserve attention.

(2) There are no less-restrictive plausible means of achieving the same or similar reductions of mortality and morbidity as are achieved by lockdowns. In the case of Covid-19, because the risks fall overwhelmingly on the very elderly and ill, it seems to me that responsibility for remaining isolated falls on them, as opposed to compelling everyone to stay home and out of public places.

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(3) A third bit of additional persuasion that pro-lockdowners must achieve in order to overcome the presumption of liberty is that the means of lockdowns are unlikely to create precedents for the abuse of power in the future.

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As an empirical matter, I don’t deny that humanity might one day be struck by a disease so contagious, so insidious, so indiscriminate, and so lethal that measures as draconian as we’ve suffered in 2020 might be justified even from a pro-liberty perspective. But I’m now convinced that Covid-19 doesn’t remotely come close to being such a disease.

Governments’ responses to Covid-19 have been, and continue to be, massively out of proportion to this danger. And apologists for the lockdowns continue to ignore the strongest arguments against their position. These lockdown apologists repeatedly slay straw men – theatrical feats falsely portrayed by the media as decisive victories against quacks and goofy clowns. None of this gives me even small confidence that lockdown policies come from a rational and well-considered place.

Source: More on Lockdowns and the Presumption of Liberty