Pandemic Follies: Tyranny Won’t Keep Us Safe
Politicians have destroyed more than 13 million jobs this year in a deluge of edicts aimed to fight the covid-19 pandemic. More than two hundred thousand Americans still died from the coronavirus, but the anticovid government crackdowns probably did far more damage than the virus. The covid crisis has also shown how easy it is for politicians to fan fears to seize nearly absolute power.
In March, Donald Trump proclaimed that “we are at war with an invisible enemy.” He also declared, “I’m a wartime president….This is a different kind of war than we’ve ever had.” Maryland’s governor, Larry Hogan, asserted that “every Marylander can be a hero, just by staying home” after he dictated a “shelter-at-home” order threatening a $5,000 fine and a year in prison for any Marylander who went outside in violation of his edict.
Almost 40 percent of households earning less than $40,000 per year have someone who lost his job in recent months, according to the Federal Reserve. The Disaster Distress Helpline, a federal crisis hotline, received almost 900 percent more phone calls in March compared with a year ago. A recent JAMA Psychiatry analysis warned that stay-at-home orders and rising unemployment are a “perfect storm” for higher suicide rates. A California health organization recently estimated that seventy-five thousand Americans could die from “despair” as a result of the pandemic, unemployment, and government restrictions.
In the name of saving lives, politicians have entitled themselves to destroy an unlimited number of livelihoods. Politicians in many states responded to covid-19 by dropping the equivalent of a reverse neutron bomb—something which destroys the economy while supposedly leaving human beings unharmed. But the only way to assume people were uninjured is to believe their existence is totally detached from their jobs, bank accounts, and mortgage and rent payments.
Covid policymakers have written themselves the letter that Cardinal Richelieu gave to one of his agents in the novel The Three Musketeers: “The bearer of this letter has acted under my orders and for the good of the state.” This carte blanche was sufficient to place murders and other crimes above the law and beyond reproach in France. In contemporary America, the same exoneration is achieved by invoking “science” and “data.”
Oregon’s governor, Kate Brown, banned residents from leaving their homes except for essential work, buying food, and other narrow exemptions, and also banned all recreational travel. Six Oregon counties have only one confirmed covid case, and most of the state has minimal infections. But schools, businesses, and other activities were slammed shut by government command.
Michigan’s governor, Gretchen Whitmer, imposed some of the most severe restrictions, prohibiting anyone from leaving his home to visit family or friends. Whitmer also severely restricted what stores could sell; she prohibited purchasing seeds for spring planting after she decreed that a “nonessential” activity. (Purchasing state lottery tickets was still an “essential” activity, though.) Covid infections wer
Article from Mises Wire