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Some Covid Links

Randy Holcombe asks a question, about his teaching at Florida State University, identical to a question that I’m now asking about my teaching at George Mason University: Should a professor obey his or her school’s mask mandate? (DBx: Officials at both universities have ordered universal mask-wearing indoors even for the fully vaccinated – and I, like Randy, am fully vaccinated, in good health, and interact in my classrooms with people who are in an age group the members of which are at very little risk from Covid. Further, unlike at FSU, GMU has made vaccination mandatory for students, staff, and faculty . I cannot teach effectively while wearing a mask, and I’m sure that students’ ability to learn is only further reduced by themselves being masked. This ‘policy’ is not science; it’s petty tyranny that does virtually nothing to achieve its stated goal.)

Kerry McDonald reports that “school mask wars are heating up.”

“The Vulnerable Pay the Price for Covid Eviction Moratoriums” – so reports, in the Wall Street Journal, Jillian Kay Melchior. A slice:

Alvin Blount, 56, bought a rental property with pre-existing occupants in May 2020 in Naugatuck, Conn. His upstairs tenant, Mary Rodriguez, has accumulated more than $7,000 in past-due rent and refuses to leave. She has also caused at least $15,000 in property damage, says Mr. Blount’s lawyer, Dana Guiliano. Mr. Blount says Ms. Rodriguez flooded the apartment, blew out the electrical system, and piled up trash on the porch and yard. The squalor has attracted roaches, rats and complaints from neighbors, he says, and it has also made the vacant first-floor apartment unrentable.

Glenn Greenwald:

I live in a place where there’s an outbreak occurring and where people are suffering severe mental health problems and economic suffering because of lockdowns. Depression, anxiety disorders, suicide, drug addiction, and social isolation also kill.

And Martin Kulldorff:

There is, as always, an enormous gap between the people who use elite media and political platforms to demand lockdowns and the people and families who actually bear the burden of those lockdowns.

That’s what makes lockdown advocacy for elites so cheap & easy.

My GMU colleague Todd Zywicki:

Here’s one interesting observation from the week since I filed my case: some vaccinated people lecture me that Covid-recovered should get forced vax despite the fact that there is no trial data on safety (Covid-recovered were purposely excluded from the trial)…

Lionel Shriver rightly argues that “[t]he state should hand back the calculation of risk to the people.” A slice:

This summer, I’ve relished merrily wending my double-vaccinated way about my local supermarket wearing a smile that my neighbours can actually see. This being right-on Brooklyn, I’m reliably the only customer not wrapping a low-flow panty-liner across my gob. (The sole other exception? The local firefighters — with whom, for five minutes a go, I always fall in love. These broad, brawny icons of hypermasculinity tromp the aisles strapped with axes, and they never wear masks. They’re consistently buying family packs of red meat, and no one dares give them grief.) Is my halcyon reprieve from soaring levels of carbon dioxide summarily over? If these vaccines don’t really work, are we all doomed? Will this hell never end?

I don’t think we’re doomed. But only if we start acting like grown-ups. On masks, it’s past time we de-politicise them and assemble proper real-life — not modelled — evidence for whether they make a damned bit of difference. From the blizzard of studies and charts I’ve examined, they don’t. But if we’re going to keep making ourselves miserable and turning every trip for milk into a wander on to the set of a dystopian sci-fi flick, that sacrifice has to be based on better science than ‘masks might help, so why not?’ I’m willing to change my mind, but only in the face of hard, convincing data I’ve never seen.

Here’s more mature and wise thinking from James Allan. A slice:

Take vaccines for those under 25 (and given the current climate I had best come straight out and say that yes, I have had my first AZ jab and the second is soon to come). The evidence out of the United States is that for those under 25 who catch Covid and are not vaccinated their chances of dying are a bit less than 1 in a million. That’s less than the odds of dying from the seasonal flu for them. It’s less than the chances of dying from being hit by lightning. And it is way, way less than the chances of dying in a car.

In most of the democratic world, and certainly here in Australia, the public health class and the politicians suppress that fact at all costs. Because if it got out we might ask ‘why should the young be vaccinated?’. No matter how politically incorrect or unacceptable in nature, surely that’s a fair question. The answer would appear to be ‘they are being asked to vaccinate not for their own benefits (these are next to zero, if honesty means anything) but for the benefits of the very old and otherwise already sick or obese’.

Now that might be a persuasive answer for you; certainly it is for the Peter Singers of the world, all the utilitarians. I just note here that I spent seven years when working in New Zealand on a university ethics committee. If anyone tried to advance that sort of utilitarian claim – that person X must be massively incentivized to take a treatment in order to help person Y not X – it would have been rejected on the spot. Rightly or wrongly, and I have some sympathy for the utilitarian outlook at times, there is no chance at all it would get through.

Ramesh Thakur correctly declares that ‘vaccine passports’ are the result of “an idea whose time must never come.” Here’s his conclusion:

In other words, having tried lockdowns and vaccinations, some of the most highly vaccinated countries are coming round to the view of the Great Barrington Declaration of October 2020 – which itself was a restatement of the official WHO position of October 2019 – of focussing protection efforts on the most vulnerable. The Declaration has been signed by 58,000 medical practitioners and health scientists. Maybe instead of targeting Christensen, our media, public health experts and political leaders should rethink their entire approach? Because vaccinations do not prevent infection or transmission, they cannot stop the spread of the virus. Because they do reduce the severity of the illness and mortality rates, they remain important. Putting the two together, vaccines should be made available to all, strongly recommended for all vulnerable groups but not made mandatory for anyone. Embrace personal choice and individual responsibility as the core elements of Covid risk management as we all learn to live with it as individuals and a nation. This too shall pass.

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

Matthew Lynn writes about the poverty-bound “hermit economies” of Australia and New Zealand. Here’s his conclusion:

Countries can cut themselves off from the world if they want to. They can remain in permanent lockdown and prioritise public health over every other form of endeavour. In effect they are creating “hermit economies”, isolated from the rest of the world – and they are condemning themselves to eventual poverty.

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