And see also this report from Reason‘s Billy Binion. (DBx: You must stop fooling yourself into believing that it can’t happen here. It can. The rabid wolf that is tyranny is not at first recognized as such by those who are to become its victims. This recognition comes always too late, only after the beast’s victims have its fangs dug into their throats.)
So why, then, do I feel queasy? When the UK home secretary declares she will make unnecessary foreign travel illegal, she looks as if she is enjoying herself too much. When parliament can only debate restrictions every six months, it is not holding the government to account. At the same time, many of us have got surprisingly used to doing what we’re told, even if we’re not always sure why. That is not a sentiment commonly associated with the UK, where citizens are so stroppy that Downing Street massively underestimated the levels of compliance at the crisis’s outset. True, not everyone co-operates. But the UK government has been going with the grain of public opinion. Polls consistently show that the majority are in favour of restrictions.
The strength of consensus, however, has had strange effects. Opposition parties have pushed ministers to double down on health protection — and focused less on holding government to account over the efficacy of lockdowns or the backlog of cancer cases.
Instead, debates about the trade-offs between mental health, physical health, jobs and freedom, which should have been conducted in parliament, seem to have been going on largely in the head of the prime minister.
British MP Desmond Swayne has given several passionate speeches in the House of Commons against lockdowns and the stirring up of hysteria over Covid-19. Naturally, he’s come in for criticism from pro-lockdowners. Will Jones ably defends Sir Desmond.
Jacob Sullum asks if lockdowns caused the recent decline in new Covid-19 cases. This paragraph summarizes his answer:
Did government-imposed restrictions help curb virus transmission? A comparison of California, where Gov. Gavin Newsom ordered a new lockdown on December 3, and Texas, where Gov. Greg Abbott has not imposed any new restrictions, does not provide much evidence that such measures make an important difference.
Regarding Joshua Spivak’s “The GOP Bid to Boot Gavin Newsom Could Backfire” (Cross Country, Jan. 23): Mr. Spivak recounts several recalls that eventually backfired. But in none of the examples cited had the recalled officeholder unilaterally closed businesses and kept them closed for months, a year or more. Did the previous officeholders bankrupt thousands of businesses and destroy small-business people’s lives? Did they fail to provide consistent electricity to thousands of homes? Did they fail to provide a maintenance plan to prevent scores of wildfires destroying thousands of people’s homes?
Yes, many previous officeholders have suffered recalls and then overcame them. California has more Covid cases than any other state in the union, while Gov. Newsom’s decisions have created untold financial ruin for so many people. For the sake of Californians, maybe this recall will stick.
As part of the CovidFAQ.co website campaign, Sam Bowman has been running around for the last few weeks claiming that “most” covid hospitalizations in the UK are younger-to-middle-aged people.
In its typical usage, “most” means “a majority” or “the largest share.”
This is an easily debunked claim, as the UK publishes hospitalization stats by age. It turns out that 63% of hospitalizations are age 65+.
After being repeatedly criticized over this claim, Bowman conceded the error…and then promptly blocked the guy on twitter who discovered it. It’s good that he’s made that minor admission. But it’s also telling about the quality of “research” that went into his website. If you’re going to appoint yourself as a fact-checker-in-chief to scold others for their errors (as Bowman, Stuart Ritchie, Mike Bird, Neil O’Brien and others involved with with the covidFAQ site have attempted to do), this sort of sloppiness is inexcusable. Ditto for the juvenile approach this crew has taken when it comes to responding to unambiguous falsehoods on their site and in their public statements.