My intrepid Mercatus Center colleague Veronique de Rugy explains that Biden’s environmentally friendly infrastructure plan is good neither for the environment nor for infrastructure. A slice:

While the administration is at it, it should end the Merchant Marine Act of 1920. Also known as the Jones Act, this cronyism is a protectionist provision that restricts the waterborne transport of cargo within the United States to vessels that are U.S.-flagged, U.S.-crewed, U.S.-owned and U.S.-built. This act’s main effect is to increase the cost of waterborne transportation within the United States, which in turn encourages the use of alternative forms of transportation such as trucks and rail — modes of freight transportation that are worse for the environment than shipping on water. The Jones Act also encourages the use of older and, hence, less fuel-efficient vessels.

Also from the intrepid Vero is this exposure of yet more cronyism at that great geyser of cronyism, the U.S. Export-Import Bank.

Juliette Sellgren talks with Matt Welch about teachers unions.

Pierre Lemieux is not impressed with Joe Biden’s recent speech to Congress. A slice:

On free trade, he comes close to 17th-century protectionism and to his immediate predecessor. Among other anti-economic statements, he said:

There is simply no reason why the blades for wind turbines can’t be built in Pittsburgh instead of Beijing. No reason. None. No reason.

What about the following reasons? Because the blades are cheaper in China so that “we” can use the savings to give money to the poor. Or because they are cheaper in China so that “we” can use “our” national resources to produce something else to export in exchange for more blades—which is, ignoring the collective “we,” the essence of the law of comparative advantage.

Scott Winship busts the Josh-Hawley-fueled myth that American women are today less able than in the past to fulfill their fertility goals.

Arnold Kling reviews Shelby Steele’s 2006 book, White Guilt.

Art Carden writes again about the late G.A. Cohen’s silly 2009 book, Why Not Socialism? A slice:

I have always found it interesting and instructive that Cohen builds his case for socialism using a camping trip as a thought experiment. Socialism’s track record is ignominious: socialist governments sent millions of people on “camping trips” to gulags, prisons, and killing fields, never to be heard from again. The camping trips we take under socialism are a lot more likely to be like those than they are to be like the idyllic camping trip Cohen describes. Unfortunately, these regimes were the toast of the intelligentsia until their crimes became too numerous, grotesque, and obvious to ignore. Once it became clear that the New Socialist Man du jour was running a butcher shop, it became “not actually real socialism.” Along these lines, Kristian Niemietz calls socialism “the failed idea that never dies;” I review the book here.

Peter Van Doren concludes that “If we ban compensated organ donation, then we should ban professional football as well.” (Of course, he doesn’t believe that we should ban professional football.) (My excessive vanity incites me to share here this link to my Spring/Summer 1995 Cato Journal paper, “A Modest Proposal to Deregulate Infant Adoptions” – a paper making many points relevant to the debate over liberalizing the market for transplantable body organs.)

Writing in the Wall Street Journal, Christopher DeMuth rightly argues that America’s welfare state is running on borrowed time (and also, don’t forget, on borrowed money). A slice:

Has anyone noticed that the president has proposed increasing federal spending by nearly $1 trillion a year, while promising that 98% of Americans will pay nothing for it? The very idea would have seemed mad to every previous generation of Americans. Today it is considered conventional.

President Biden’s plans have been rightly criticized for the incontinence of the spending and the perversity of the taxes. Much of the spending is designed to exploit the pandemic crisis by transforming emergency income support into permanent middle-class entitlements for toddler care, higher education, medical services and much else. Other spending is called “infrastructure” but includes a list of progressive wants having nothing to do with capital investment. The tax increases—supposedly confined to the 2% with household incomes of $400,000 or more, but heavily weighted against capital investment—would seriously damage the economy and raise radically less revenue than claimed.

But set aside these problems and take the Biden plans as advertised, as a tremendous expansion of government paid for by a select few taxpayers plus lots of new borrowing. This is the apotheosis of a political transformation that began insensibly in the 1970s and has triumphed with barely a quiver of recognition, much less debate. It may be called the borrowed-benefits syndrome.

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Phil Magness documents the appalling track record of the reckless Neil Ferguson and his fellow Imperial College modelers. Two slices:

The satirist Ambrose Bierce once defined prophecy as the “art and practice of selling one’s credibility for future delivery.” Covid-19 has produced no shortage of doomsaying prophets whose prognostications completely failed at future delivery, and yet in the eyes of the scientific community their credibility remains peculiarly intact.

No greater example exists than the epidemiology modeling team at Imperial College-London (ICL), led by the physicist Neil Ferguson. As I’ve documented at length, the ICL modelers played a direct and primary role in selling the concept of lockdowns to the world. The governments of the United States and United Kingdom explicitly credited Ferguson’s forecasts on March 16, 2020 with the decision to embrace the once-unthinkable response of ordering their populations to shelter in place.

Ferguson openly boasted of his team’s role in these decisions in a December 2020 interview, and continues to implausibly claim credit for saving millions of lives despite the deficit of empirical evidence that his policies delivered on their promises. Quite the opposite – the worst outcomes in terms of Covid deaths per capita are almost entirely in countries that leaned heavily on lockdowns and related nonpharmaceutical interventions (NPIs) in their unsuccessful bid to turn the pandemic’s tide.

Assessed looking backward from the one-year mark, ICL’s modeling exercises performed disastrously. They not only failed to accurately forecast the course of the pandemic in the US and UK – they also failed to anticipate Covid-19’s course in almost every country in the world, irrespective of the policy responses taken.
…..
Why is Ferguson, who has a long history of absurdly exaggerated modeling predictions, still viewed as a leading authority on pandemic forecasting? And why is the ICL team still advising governments around the world on how to deal with Covid-19 through its flawed modeling approach? In March 2020 ICL sold its credibility for future delivery. That future has arrived, and the results are not pretty.

The Wall Street Journal‘s Editorial Board weighs in with its own just criticism of the CDC’s decision to follow, not the science, but the teachers’ unions. A slice:

The AFT [American Federation of Teachers] acknowledged to the Post that it had been “in regular touch” with the CDC. Dr. Walensky’s spokesperson told the Post that the “CDC has traditionally engaged with organizations and groups that are impacted by guidance and recommendations issued by the agency” in part to ensure “our recommendations are feasible.”

That must be news to most Americans. Recall the uproar when critics accused the Trump Administration of sidelining CDC career scientists because it elevated outside scientists who disagreed with the liberal lockdown consensus. Now the Biden Administration is letting a powerful Democratic interest group dictate virus guidelines.

Robby Soave – documenting one of the countless sick consequences of Covid Derangement Syndrome – correctly describes the CDC’s guidance for summer camps as “insane.” A slice:

This is bonkers. First, COVID-19 is not easily transmitted outside, even if people are maskless. Second, all camp staffers will have likely had the opportunity to be vaccinated by the time summer arrives. Third, the campers themselves are not at risk of a negative health outcome: For kids, COVID-19 is probably less hazardous than the flu. (In a typical year, more U.S. kids drown than will have died of COVID-19.)

Ilya Somin reports on another court ruling against the CDC’s moratorium against evictions. A slice:

Today’s ruling is similar to most of the previous decisions that went against the CDC order, in so far as they all conclude that the government’s position would give the CDC sweeping power to that goes far beyond anything authorized by Congress. But it differs from the earlier cases because it addresses the issue within the context of the Supreme Court’s famous ruling in Chevron v. Natural Resources Defense Council (1984), which requires federal courts to defer to “reasonable” executive agency interpretations of statutes in cases where the agency is tasked with enforcing the law in question, and Congress has not specifically addressed the question at issue. The Biden administration argues that the CDC deserves Chevron deference in this case. The court wasn’t persuaded.

Jeff Singer – encountering a symptom of Covid Derangement Syndrome – is waiting for behavior to catch up to the realities. A slice:

Yet, while walking alone towards my car in a parking lot the other day, I was chastised by a woman who was several yards away from me because I was not wearing a mask. The woman was double‐​masked and also wearing a face shield. I told her about the CDC’s new outdoor mask guidelines and that I was fully vaccinated. The woman replied that she too was fully vaccinated but knows better than to walk outside without wearing a mask. Realizing that there was nothing to be gained from continuing the conversation I got into my car and drove off.

The woman would have agreed with the Brookline, Massachusetts Town Manager, who announced on April 30 that, despite the new CDC guidance, and despite the state easing its outdoor mask mandate, the outdoor mask mandate will remain in place in Brookline.

Sarah Knapton reports that “Almost a third of recent Covid deaths in England and Wales not caused by virus.” A slice:

Weekly death data from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) shows that, for nearly 33 per cent of people included in the overall coronavirus death figures, Covid was not an underlying cause of death but was merely mentioned on the death certificate.

The number of people who are not principally dying from Covid but are still being included in the official figures has been creeping up steadily as the pandemic has declined.

It had been running at around 10 per cent for most of the crisis but had risen to nearly a quarter by mid-April and is continuing to increase.

Also writing about “Covid deaths” that are not caused by Covid is Ross Clark. A slice:

But the figures which arguably give the best overall view of the lethality of the pandemic are those published by the Institute and Faculty of Actuaries as part of its Continuous Mortality Investigation. These look at mortality as a whole, and don’t just compare it with a raw, five-year average as the ONS does – they adjust for population growth and for an ageing population by looking at the standardised mortality rate. The latest figures, published today, show that cumulative mortality for 2021 up to 23 April is running just 2 per cent ahead of the average for the years 2011 to 2020.

We have become conditioned to hearing frightening daily death figures, which are often crudely converted into ‘Jumbo jet-loads’. Yet the wider picture is of overall mortality running only slightly ahead of a normal year.

Dissent from the official Covid line in Germany is being criminalized. A slice:

For over a year, anyone questioning or protesting the “Covid emergency measures” or the official Covid-19 narrative has been demonized by the government and the media, and, sadly, but not completely unexpectedly, the majority of the German public. And now such dissent is officially “extremism.”

Yes, that’s right, in “New Normal” Germany, if you dissent from the official state ideology, you are now officially a dangerous “extremist.” The German Intelligence agency (the “BfV”) has even invented a new category of “extremists” in order to allow themselves to legally monitor anyone suspected of being “anti-democratic and/or delegitimizing the state in a way that endangers security,” like…you know, non-violently protesting, or speaking out against, or criticizing, or satirizing, the so-called “New Normal.”

TANSTAFPC (There Ain’t No Such Thing As Free Protection From Covid.)

Here’s a report on Jay Bhattacharya’s recent testimony in a court case in Manitoba. A slice from the report:

Lockdowns meant to reduce the spread of COVID-19 push the problem into the future, an outspoken critic of pandemic restrictions said Tuesday at a court hearing on a challenge to Manitoba’s right to impose such orders.

Jay Bhattacharya, a professor of medicine at Stanford University who has criticized lockdowns in the United States, acknowledged that the strict measures reduce the initial peak number of cases, but said the practice delays those infections to a later point.

Bhattacharya testified as a key witness Tuesday of the applicants — seven rural Manitoba churches, a pastor, a deacon and a man ticketed for attending an anti-lockdown protest — who argue Manitoba’s lockdown measures are unjustified violations of Charter-protected freedoms of conscience, religion, expression and peaceful assembly.

John Lee decries Covid Derangement Syndrome.

More than two months ago – on March 2nd – Texas governor Greg Abbott conditionally eliminated all state-wide Covid restrictions. At the time, Abbott’s alleged “Neanderthal thinking” was predicted by many pundits and pols to lead to calamity. Here’s the record (from no less a source than the New York Times.) Since March 2nd, it looks quite good. As of yesterday, May 5th, the 7-day rolling average of new Covid cases in Texas is only 39 percent of what it was on March 2nd. Covid hospitalizations and deaths are also significantly down.)

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… is from page 40 of Reinhold Niebuhr’s 1944 volume, The Children of Light and the Children of Darkness; (this quotation appears on page 1 of Christopher Achen’s and Larry Bartels’s important 2016 book, Democracy for Realists):

The democratic idealists of practically all schools of thought have managed to remain remarkably oblivious to obvious facts.

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Here’s a video that accompanies my and Randy Holcombe’s new book, The Essential James Buchanan. This one is on government debt. (And here’s the chapter on debt from the book.)

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National Review‘s Charles Cooke says “enough with Covid zealots.” A slice:

The architects of this collective madness remain immovable, and proud of it. Now, as ever, they meet every move toward normality with accusations of “murder” that are invariably proven incorrect, and yet are repeated in precisely the same tone and with precisely the same confidence the next time around. Now, as ever, they greet evidence to the contrary by either dismissing it out of hand, filtering it through a conspiracy theory, or issuing a never-to-be-revisited injunction to “wait a couple of weeks.” And, on the rare occasions that their position becomes untenable, they quickly change the subject, moving the material question from whether there is any evidence that one needs to wear three masks while skydiving to asking impatiently what harm can come from doing so. Every deadline is delayed; every argument is elastic; and nothing but COVID is written in on the ledger’s negative side. They’re zealots, for whom it will always be March 12, 2020. They must be stopped.

I do not believe that the initial panic over the coronavirus was driven primarily by cynicism or by expedience. But I do think that there is something both cynical and expedient about the glacial pace at which this country is being permitted to return to normal. For a certain sort of political progressive, our COVID-led status quo — with its rampant safetyism, its reliance upon experts, and its outsized role for government — is just not that big a deal, especially now that it can be used as an all-encompassing pretext for the Biden administration’s attempt to “remake” the United States. Add in that progressives seem to wildly misjudge how dangerous the virus really is — the chance that somebody with COVID must be hospitalized is between 1 and 5 percent, and yet 69 percent of Democrats believe that the number is more than 20 percent, and 41 percent believe that it is more than 50 percent — and you have a recipe for disaster. In the press, in the blue states, and in the federal government, that recipe is still being followed . . . well, well past the point of being overdone.

Writing in The Atlantic, Emma Green reports on “Progressives” abandoning science in order to continue to embrace Covid hysteria. A slice:

The spring of 2021 is different from the spring of 2020, though. Scientists know a lot more about how COVID-19 spreads—and how it doesn’t. Public-health advice is shifting. But some progressives have not updated their behavior based on the new information. And in their eagerness to protect themselves and others, they may be underestimating other costs. Being extra careful about COVID-19 is (mostly) harmless when it’s limited to wiping down your groceries with Lysol wipes and wearing a mask in places where you’re unlikely to spread the coronavirus, such as on a hiking trail. But vigilance can have unintended consequences when it imposes on other people’s lives. Even as scientific knowledge of COVID-19 has increased, some progressives have continued to embrace policies and behaviors that aren’t supported by evidence, such as banning access to playgrounds, closing beaches, and refusing to reopen schools for in-person learning.

As Phil Magness would say, a straw man is now stomping through the Seychelles.

Sarah Knapton is rightly appalled by the Covid revisionism underway to salvage the reputation of Neil Ferguson. A slice:

As pandemic revisionism goes, it was really quite extraordinary.

Asked on BBC Radio Four’s Today Programme about the latest data showing Britain is enjoying an eight-month low in coronavirus deaths and infections, Professor Neil Ferguson said on Tuesday: “The data is very encouraging, and very much in line with what we expected.”

As it was on the radio it was impossible to tell whether this was said with a straight face, but we must assume it was.

It is a wonder that nobody choked on their morning toast, for if Imperial modelling has stood for anything in this crisis, it is relentless pessimism. Plummeting figures were certainly not predicted by its researchers.

The difference this time is that the Government has pressed ahead with reopening despite the doom-mongering, and so has proven the models wrong.

Now to a Ferguson who makes good sense on Covid: the historian Niall Ferguson – who here talks with Peter Robinson.

Those of you who doubt the reality of Covid Derangement Syndrome might wish to be aware of the latest from the mayor of Washington, D.C.

Julia Hartley-Brewer is awesome.

Ramesh Thakur reports on India.

A letter from Canada: we’re handling COVID worse than you.

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Quotation of the Day…

by Don Boudreaux on May 5, 2021

in Adam Smith, Economics, Myths and Fallacies

… is from page 181 of Douglas Irwin’s vital 1996 volume, Against the Tide: An Intellectual History of Free Trade (footnote and citation information deleted):

Of course, material wealth via productive efficiency was not an end unto itself. “Consumption is the sole end and purpose of all production,” [Adam] Smith declared. And [John Stuart] Mill put it only slightly differently in stating that the ultimate aim of production is to produce utility for those who purchase and consume such goods.

DBx: People who deny this truth nearly always fancy themselves to have a richer and more complete understanding of human nature than is the understanding allegedly possessed by economists. But in reality people who deny this truth don’t understand economists’ point on this matter – which is, to put it summarily, that for Jones to really produce anything – for Jones to be genuinely productive – requires that the goods or services that are the products of Jones’s efforts be useful, when consumed, either to himself or to others. If Jones exerts great amounts of time and energy rearranging matter without much regard to how the results will enhance consumption, that which he ‘produces’ will be just as worthless, both to himself and to anyone else, as would be that which he ‘produces’ if he spends only a few seconds and very little energy rearranging matter without much regard to how the results will enhance consumption.

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In The Essential James Buchanan, Randy Holcombe and I do our best to introduce the general public to the essential ideas of the late 1986 Nobel-laureate economist, James Buchanan. (Buchanan directed Randy’s dissertation research at Virginia Tech and was later a colleague of mine at George Mason University.) Our little volume is released today by the Fraser Institute.

It’s available free on-line here and for a modest price on Kindle. It will soon be available also in hard copy.

Randy and I thank especially Fraser’s Jason Clemens, Niels Veldhuis, Kristin McCahon, and Bryn Weese not only for encouraging us to write The Essential James Buchanan, but also for their skill and professionalism at ensuring that its quality is as high as possible.

Eventually, the book will be accompanied by six short videos (available here, as well as on YouTube); so far, though, only four of the videos have been released. Here’s the first:

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In my latest column for AIER I extend the argument that I made in this letter – namely, that the novelty of Covid-19 does not justify the lockdowns. Two slices:

Even if we grant, contrary to fact, that Covid-19 poses to humankind a threat that’s categorically unique, it does not follow that lockdowns are justified or even excusable. The reason is that months-long global lockdowns are themselves, and in fact, categorically unique events fraught with serious perils.

It is true that in March 2020 we had little knowledge of the extent to which humanity would be ravaged by Covid. But we also had little knowledge of the extent to which humanity would be ravaged by lockdowns imposed to fight Covid. Because there was never any reason to doubt that lockdowns would have severe economic and non-economic costs – and because lockdowns arrived on the scene just as suddenly and just as surprisingly, and with just as much novelty, as did the coronavirus – the same ‘logic’ that appears to justify an embrace of the case forlockdowns also justifies an embrace of the case against lockdowns.

In short, humanity in early 2020 was confronted with two novel dangers. Yet only one of these dangers – that lurking in the novel coronavirus – was recognized as such. It and only it was taken to be an excuse for potential overreaction. It and only it was taken to justify acting-now-and-asking-questions-only-later. The other of these dangers – that lurking in the novel lockdowns – was largely ignored or severely discounted.

…..

In reality, each danger, and each proposal for reducing the danger, should be considered with appropriate rationality and never in a panic. (That tamping down panic is often difficult in practice doesn’t make this advice any less warranted.) No one doubts that the greater, the more novel, and the more immediate the danger, the greater is the justification for acting to avert the danger with vigor and speed. But if one of the speedily proposed means for averting the danger is itself novel and plausibly poses dangers as great as – even if not as immediate as – those posed by the danger itself, this proposed means ought to be resisted until and unless a careful calculation provides sound reason to believe that use of this means is likely to generate benefits greater than costs.

Yet there was no such careful calculation for the lockdowns imposed in haste to combat Covid-19. Lockdowns were simply assumed not only to be effective at significantly slowing the spread of SARS-CoV-2, but also to impose only costs that are acceptable. Regrettably, given the novelty of the lockdowns, and the enormous magnitude of their likely downsides, this bizarrely sanguine attitude toward lockdowns was – and remains – wholly unjustified. And the unjustness of this reaction is further highlighted by the fact that, in a free society, the burden of proof is on those who would restrict freedom and not on those who resist such restrictions.

While I believe that the evidence is now decisive that lockdowns were a huge mistake, my point here is not, strictly speaking, anti-lockdown. My point here, instead, is pro-science and good sense: Whatever the novelty and dangers of Covid-19, the novelty and dangers of Covid-19 lockdowns are at least arguably of the same magnitude. The dismissal of the unknown possible horrors of lockdowns in order to focus attention exclusively on the unknown possible horrors of SARS-CoV-2 is as unjustified by science as it is unpardonable as policy.

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My GMU Econ colleague Bryan Caplan brilliantly explains his thoroughly non-racist reasons for opposing George Mason University’s official anti-racist policy. Here are only two of Bryan’s reasons:

1. George Mason University is part of the government, and as such ought to scrupulously respect freedom of speech, thought, and association.  And in practice, an official Anti-Racist policy is almost certain to trample these freedoms.  Once you officially declare that racists are utterly unwelcome on campus, the impulse to officially crush them without mercy is strong.  And the willingness to shield them from unofficial persecution practically vanishes.

2. The total number of bona fide racists at GMU is tiny.  So if you identify racists accurately, a big Anti-Racist crusade would be an absurd overreaction.  Not only would it whip up hysteria over a minor problem.  It would distract scarce attention from serious problems.

Washington Post columnist Kathleen Parker writes insightfully about Sen. Tim Scott (R-SC) and “Progressives'” intolerance of blacks, such as Sen. Scott, who dissent from “Progressive” dogma. A slice:

During his response Wednesday night to President Biden’s address to a joint session of Congress, Scott managed to keep his balance. He leveled strong and smart criticisms at Biden’s agenda for the next four years.

But you wouldn’t know it to read his critics on the left. The only Black Republican in the Senate, Scott was quickly trending as “Uncle Tim” on Twitter, as a tool of white supremacists and as a blind servant of the far right. Liberals just cannot handle a Black conservative.

This, my friends, is (also) what racism looks like in America today.

Let a Black man speak for the GOP; let him defend conservative values that were once considered mainstream; let him challenge the current orthodoxy of systemic racism that pegs Whites as oppressors — and he will feel the wrath of those for whom, as Scott said, belief in racism is essential to political power.

Robby Soave is correct: “There is no ‘fake news’ exception to the First Amendment.”

George Will stands up for the First Amendment.

Here’s my colleague Dan Klein on Adam Smith on Jean-Jacques Rousseau.

My intrepid Mercatus Center colleague Veronique de Rugy say “open the schools already!”

Here’s the latest installment in George Selgin’s series on the New Deal.

Ryan Bourne is rightly critical of Joe Biden’s failure to think at the margin.

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Writing in today’s Wall Street Journal, Charley Hooper and David Henderson clearly explain the differential impact of Covid-19 – and of protections aimed at mitigating Covid-19 – on the young as compared to the elderly. Two slices:

Now that the Covid-19 pandemic seems to be abating, it’s a good time to look at lessons that observers have, or should have, learned. The list of mistakes is long, but the most glaring was the failure to understand and act on the virus’s propensity to attack the old and vulnerable. Policy makers failed, in other words, to understand the enemy.

Some clear thinking based on data that were available last spring would have led to two insights. First, the benefits of protecting the old and vulnerable exceed the costs. Second, the costs of protecting the young and healthy exceed the benefits.

…..

Assuming that reduced lifetime earnings are the only costs and reduced life-expectancy losses are the only benefits, the 18-year-old faces a cost of protection of approximately $102,000 and a benefit of 31% of a day. Would you pay $102,000 to live an extra 7.5 hours? What 18-year-old values his time at $13,600 an hour? The costs for the 85-year-old are close to zero (remember, this person is probably retired) and the benefit is 65 days. To be sure, there are other costs for both groups. For the 18-year-olds, that makes protection even less of a good deal. The 85-year-old, by contrast, may be willing to endure more risk for the sake of time with loved ones.

In hindsight, the 18-year-old should have invested only minimally in protection; the costs exceeded the benefits. Work, school, sports and socializing should have continued, perhaps with some minor precautions. But the 85-year-old should have worked hard to protect himself—the benefits exceeded the costs.

SARS-CoV-2 is highly discriminatory and views the old as easy targets. Had policy makers understood the enemy, they would have adopted different protocols for young and old. Politicians would have practiced focused protection, narrowing their efforts to the most vulnerable 11% of the population and freeing the remaining 89% of Americans from wasteful burdens.

(DBx: Note that Hooper’s and Henderson’s essay supports the advice offered in the Great Barrington Declaration.)

J.D. Tuccille, I fear, is correct to predict that a long-haul Covid victim is freedom. A slice:

Some people not only admit their interest in exploiting the crisis—they celebrate it.

“Crises have always granted reformist policymakers powers to bypass legislative gridlock and entrenched interests,” exulted Cornell University historian Nicholas Mulder last March. “The coronavirus crisis is already allowing the implementation of ideas that would have been considered very radical just months ago.”

Mulder did his happy dance before governments further tightened lockdowns, extended their control, and restricted the speech of those who disagree. Once-radical ideas are, in fact, becoming the norm in even nominally free countries.

The ratchet effect doesn’t explain why limits on government, rule of law, and protections for liberty were eroding even before COVID-19 arrived on the scene. The ongoing, years-long decay of liberal democracies is a puzzle with which experts grappled before the pandemic and, no doubt, will debate after it has passed. But the environment in which they continue their discussions is likely to be less free and open as a result of the symptoms of long-haul “emergency” measures that the world just can’t shake.

Similarly, in this short, powerful two-minute speech, Irish political philosopher David Thunder expresses well the fear that I, and some others, have long had about Covid Derangement Syndrome: People will sheepishly succumb to the tyranny of the biosecurity state whenever even a mildly more than normal respiratory disease is reported.

Rosa Silverman reports on the identification of yet another long-lasting ill consequence of Covid Derangement Syndrome: Covid anxiety syndrome. A slice:

It was Marcantonio Spada, professor of addictive behaviours and mental health at London South Bank University, and Ana Nikčević, a psychology professor at Kingston University, who identified and named the phenomenon of Covid-19 anxiety syndrome.

Early in the pandemic, they hypothesised there would be a number of coping behaviours people would adopt in relation to the perceived threat of Covid, which, while initially helpful, may over time become problematic, especially during the process of reintegration. These behaviours – which may include not touching things, avoiding using public transport, worrying, and monitoring our environment and other people for the presence of the virus – could potentially keep us “stuck”, they suggested.

Annabel Fenwick Elliott reports on yet another bizarro-world manifestation in the real world, in the once-free country of Britain, of Covid Derangement Syndrome. A slice:

Sixteen tests, at a cost of £1,600. That’s what a family of four faces if they want to go on holiday to Spain this summer, and then be allowed home again.

According to the latest research from the International Air Transport Association (IATA), even with the cheaper tests (that are few and few between), more than half of British travellers will be priced out of getaways in countries headed for the Government’s ‘amber list’ this season; and that’s most of Europe, by the looks of things.

Even those returning from one of the few likely ‘green list’ destinations will have to open their wallets. Even if you’re coming back from Gibraltar, where 100 per cent of the population is vaccinated. Even if you yourself have had both jabs. Even though your jaunt would therefore pose significantly less risk to your fellow countrymen than you coming home with nits.

What possible excuse could the Government have left for requiring you to pay for an inevitably negative test? And people wonder why conspiracy theories are rife.

Our Government, having illegalised even our most basic freedoms on-and-off for more than a year, and laughed in the face of democracy over a virus with – and this cannot be repeated enough – a survival rate of at least 98 per cent, long before we had vaccines – is now essentially slapping extra taxes onto all those who dare to escape our shores this summer; and at exorbitant rates.

TANSTAFPC (There Ain’t No Such Thing As Free Protection From Covid.)

Teachers Unions’ lobbied the CDC for assistance in protecting ‘teachers’ from having actually to with minimal competency what teachers are paid to do: teach.

Isn’t it wonderful – all this freedom and normalcy now enjoyed by Australians as a result of their early and draconian lockdowns.

Perhaps the single greatest vaccine against premature death is prosperity. A slice:

As of May 3rd — and excluding Gibraltar and San Marino for their tiny size — 10 European countries have coronavirus death rates of over 2000 people per million population: 8 of these are in Eastern Europe, added to by Belgium (2088 per million) and Italy (tenth out of ten, with 2001 per million).

Czechia (with the second worst death rate, of 2738 per million) has followed strict lockdowns all winter, with restrictions imposed in October and again in February. In Hungary, Viktor Orbán’s rule-by-decree was widely condemned when he introduced it in March 2020, and several severe lockdowns have followed – but the country currently has the worst death rate in the world, at 2895 per million. Bosnia (with the third worst rate, at 2620 per million) has also seen tight restrictions when Covid cases have risen.

What is behind this data? Regardless of the lockdown policies followed, it seems, something else has been going on – and some commonality is likely to exist among neighbouring countries with such severe mortality rates. More than lockdown policy, the thing that these Eastern European countries have in common is a comparatively low GDP compared to Western Europe.

(DBx: Question to all pro-lockdowners and anti-anti-lockdowners: Do you recognize that the unprecedented fraying, over the past 15 months, of the complex globe-spanning web of economic relationships ensures that humanity will be poorer than otherwise in the future – and, hence, less healthy and safe?)

Phil Magness shows a picture of one of the costly consequences of “Fauci’s anti-vaxx political posturing”:

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