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The Most Dangerous Virus

Here’s a letter to a frequent reader of my blog:

Ms. Robertson:

Thanks for your e-mail.

You ask why I write so little about the coronavirus. My answer is simple: I have nothing to add to the already huge discussion of this matter. I’m completely ignorant of medicine and public health, and I know next to nothing about the history and the economics of pandemics. As I recall my great colleague Walter Williams long-ago telling a tv-show host who questioned him on some topic about which Walter had no expertise, “Unlike you, Mr. ___, I don’t pretend to know everything about everything.”

So I spend my time combatting a virus about which I do have some expertise, however modest. And as it happens this virus is far more lethal, widespread, and frightening than is the coronavirus. The virus of which I speak is the economic-superstition virus.

In the past 100 years alone, one especially deadly strain of this virus (namely, communism) killed 100 million people. And those whom this virus doesn’t kill it impoverishes –  witness the deprivation suffered still today by the people of Cuba and North Korea.

Fortunately, we Americans aren’t yet as widely infected as are the populations of some other countries with the most lethal strains of the economic-superstition virus. But traces of some of these strong strains of the virus are amongst us, and less-lethal but nevertheless debilitating strains are widespread now in the U.S. – and seemingly infecting more and more Americans daily. On the left rampages the democraticsocialismvirus. On the right looms the threat of a pandemic of the economicnationalismvirus. Untreated and uncontained, these strains of the economic-superstition virus will become increasingly lethal as they spread.

My effort, if it is of any value at all to others, is best devoted to inoculating whoever I can against any and all strains of the virus of economic-superstition.

Donald J. Boudreaux
Professor of Economics
Martha and Nelson Getchell Chair for the Study of Free Market Capitalism at the Mercatus Center
George Mason University
Fairfax, VA 22030


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