(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.
What is ironclad for me is starting with this presumption, one that imposes the burden of persuasion always on those who would restrict liberty.
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.
(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.
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.
“Men . . . go mad in herds, while they only recover their senses slowly, and one by one.” So wrote Scottish journalist Charles Mackay in his 1841 bookExtraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds, which for good reason to this day remains in print.
The Covid-19 hysteria, scientifically called mass psychogenic illness, that began in March has yet to peak. And if some have it their way it will continue indefinitely, merely going, in medical terminology, from epidemic to endemic. That is, it will never fully go away no matter what. We apparently finally have some medicines that work with countless more being tested, doctors have gotten better at applying treatments, vaccines are being administered in what is by far record time, and yet the media and public health community onslaught shows absolutely no sign of abating.
We have heard White House Covid-19 task force member Dr. Deborah Birx claim “This is not just the worst public health event. This is the worst event that this country will face, not just from a public health side.” Oy! This even as we’re now hearing the mainstream media, led by cult figure Dr. Anthony Fauci, say that the vaccinations now being rolled out don’t mean the masks can come off. Start with the second first.
There are any number of cute memes asking in some manner, “If masks work, why do we need social distancing? If social distancing works, why do we need masks?” Well, it’s called a layered defense (with no pun intended regarding the use of masks or those people you see wearing two at once.) Cars are filled with a vast number of safety devices and roads have also been made safer in myriad ways, but it doesn’t mean they all don’t work in their own manner. So whatever arguments there are against masks (such as that they don’t stop aerosolized virus) aren’t necessarily negated because social distancing is still encouraged or mandated.
But we are left wondering, “Then when do masks come off? When do the other measures end if it’s independent of vaccinations?”
Remember that originally lockdowns and masking were supposed to be extremely temporary, as little as 15 days, to “flatten the curve.” And it was supposed to be a one-time flattening. But it didn’t work out that way. Once the original goal was achieved, the posts were moved. And nobody told us to where. It’s like literal goalposts; if not the zero-yard line then any other goal is arbitrary.
Except. For. One. That’s total elimination of the disease. That may be close to impossible and incredibly expensive to even try, but like eliminating all carbon emissions in a decade it is a goal.
The problem, of course, is that we’ve never eliminated an airborne virus by quarantining healthy people and there’s no scientific breakthrough that has made that any more possible now than it’s ever been. For example, the masks virtually everyone is using, even first-liners, are no better than what some people used during the Spanish flu a century ago. Social distancing dividers at various businesses and schools are just like the sneeze guards at the local buffet. Contact tracing with use of mobile devices has been hailed as a savior of sorts, and perhaps can be of help, albeit at the expense of invading privacy. At least it’s targeted, right? Well, no. It seems to be of limited efficacy without distancing.American Institute for Economic Research
An immune system overreaction (a cytokine storm) can be more deadly than the disease. America’s political immune system is overreacting, and it’s killing us. An older friend of mine lives in Oregon, which has had 137 deaths from the Wuhan virus.
We live in almost comically crazy times. Yes, yes, I know, Heinlein coined the term The Crazy Years. But as I have pointed out before, you only wish these were the crazy years. In point of fact, these are the “pants on their head, running around saying wup wup wup years.” They might also, in […]Power Imbalance and Consequences — According To Hoyt