The British Government Pushed back “Freedom Day” with No Explanation
During the pandemic, governments have gained in power at the expense of society. The many laws voted and decrees announced have severely limited individual freedoms in many countries, despite the fact that from the beginning many doubts existed regarding the effectiveness, the relevance, and the legitimacy of these draconian measures used to fight the pandemic. The successive lockdowns, the obligation of wearing masks outdoors, the closing of schools and colleges, are just a few glaring examples.
Yet, now that the pandemic is in remission in most countries, many governments do not seem to be in a hurry to remove these restrictions and let conditions return to what they were before this health crisis erupted worldwide in early 2020. In most Western countries at least, the medical emergency has passed; the elderly are mostly vaccinated already. In the US, many states like California and New York kept harsh limitations on individual freedoms in place, though other states, like Florida and Texas, opened up much earlier and arguably did not show worse results. In the United Kingdom, the date for the total lifting of restrictions, euphemistically called “Freedom Day,” has just been postponed for no clear reason. In France, there is not much zeal for quickly restoring prepandemic individual freedoms either.
What’s going on here? The nature of political power has the answer.
The State’s Unquenchable Thirst for Power
When the state arrogates new powers to itself, it is naturally difficult for it to give them up. This can be seen with governments that have become accustomed, during most of the pandemic, to exercise a significant influence over the smallest details of the daily lives of individuals, such as when one can go out, when one must go home, or even whether one can invite friends over for dinner!
This unquenchable thirst for power is also seen in the size of the state and the extent of its regulatory scope, which continue ceaselessly to grow in most countries. In the United states, the federal government has expanded dramatically in the last fifty years, by practically every metric. In France, the state has added around a million bureaucrats to its ranks since 2000. Of course, it is always possible to find cases where some politicians have managed to reign in the state, but such efforts are usually only temporary and certainly only exceptions to a larger trend.
Ludwig von Mises identified in his work Bureaucracy this tendency
Article from Mises Wire