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Specifically, Leave Us Be

Here’s a response to a recent comment by Thomas Hutchison:

Mr. Hutchison:

Commenting on a blog post in which I link to several essays that argue against covid-19 lockdowns, you write “All have good points, but all seem to fall short in not being specific enough about what to have done/to do instead.”

With respect, to oppose the lockdowns is to endorse leaving individuals free to choose their own levels of prevention, both for themselves and their loved ones. Individuals differ in their risk preferences, in their and their loved-ones’ vulnerabilities, and in many other personal and family circumstances that require the making of trade-offs – trade-offs that will and should be made differently by differently situated people. Therefore, to criticize those who oppose government-imposed lockdowns for not specifying “what to have done/to do instead” is to miss the point entirely.

There is no one set of specific actions to be done. There is, instead, a range of different responses that is as wide and open-ended as is the vast range of differences among individuals. Or, put differently, there is one specific thing for government to do: get the hell out of the way of individual choice and initiative. Immediately end the lockdowns, grand and petit, as well as all threats and prospects of such. This course of action is the one that the authors of the pieces to which I linked call for wisely – and specifically.

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