Undoubtedly, people who go into government have always chafed at any effort to make them live within legal and constitutional constraints. Government, after all, is defined by the use of coercive power. That the power is supposed to be exercised only within limits must be frustrating to people who were attracted by the opportunity to coerce others for reasons that they always argue are the very best.
One after another, world leaders tipped over like dominoes, their national bureaucracies falling in line to cease all social and economic activity for the first time in history. In March 2020, the Dutch government commissioned a cost-benefit analysis concluding that the health damage from lockdown would be six times greater than the benefit. The government then ignored it, claiming “society would not accept” the optics of an elderly person unable to get an ICU bed. The Dutch government knowingly took a course of action that would cause health damage — let alone economic damage — six times worse for the Dutch people, out of a concern for optics.
Having absorbed disinformation into policy, the formidable machinery of Western institutions has, perversely, helped promulgate a totalitarian hygiene regime around the world, and turned against those standing up for western values that politicians appear too spineless to defend. Police brutality is on the rise as law-enforcement personnel face protesters rightfully angry at the ongoing suspension of human rights through policies rationalized only by the exaggerated fears the policies themselves create, and which therefore have no endpoint. Whether COVID cases go up, down, or sideways, the solution offered by lockdown scientists and public health officials—the WHO being only the worst offender—is always the same: Be more like China. Every policy they’ve imported has been as deeply illiberal as it is ineffective, and many are disturbingly willing to suggest permanent changes to our civilization rather than admit error.
But some coverage has been downright deceptive. Particularly dishonest was a Miami Herald article on Aug. 31 with the headline “Florida changed its Covid-19 data, creating an ‘artificial decline’ in recent deaths.” The Herald’s claims were amplified by the national media as smoking-gun evidence that Mr. DeSantis deceived the public on the Covid death toll in Florida. The insinuation is that Mr. DeSantis has become the Andrew Cuomo of the South.
But many top public-health officials support Florida’s switch to the new methodology, which relies on the actual date of death rather than the date a death was recorded. The Herald concedes that point—but not until their article’s 13th paragraph.
The final reason the Prime Minister should shelve his plans for vaccine passports is that they aren’t necessary. Legions of experts, including the Government’s own scientific advisors, warned Boris that lifting restrictions on July 19 would lead to disaster. Professor Neil Ferguson, whose apocalyptic modelling was partly responsible for the first lockdown, predicted that cases would ‘almost certainly’ rise to 100,000 a day and probably to 200,000.
In fact, they started to decline and, with a couple of hiccups along the way, are declining now. This is in spite of the fact that bars, restaurants and nightclubs have reopened and sports stadiums are packed with supporters.
Around 80 per cent of prosecutions brought under the Health Protection (Coronavirus, Restrictions) Regulations were correctly charged: it is under this legislation, which includes restrictions on leaving home, social gatherings and the enforcement of mask-wearing, that our Northamptonshire rebels were probably charged.
That a man living in England can be sentenced for leaving his own home is a sign of how far down the path of illiberalism we have strayed: never before in our history have we accepted such perverse rules, a fact made all the more unconscionable by their disproportionality.
What concerns me doubly is that they are enforced with such officiousness and subsequently reported so eagerly by an unquestioning and uncritical press. The Northamptonshire Telegraph says sanctimoniously: ‘The defendants were the latest to be convicted after violating emergency rules – which were designed to slow the spread of coronavirus – between January and April. Many of them were punished after failing to stick to the laws in January or February, at a time when many thousands died as the virus spiraled [sic] out of control.’
In any society which abandons the precepts of freedom, there will be a large group of people who willingly become the enforcers of the new regime. Intoxicated with power, they thrive amid a sea of petty regulations.
Lockdowns destroyed people, Atlas said, by “shutting down medical care, stopping people from seeking emergency medical care, increasing drug abuse, increasing death by suicide, more psychological damage, particularly among the younger generation. Hundreds and thousands of child abuse cases went unreported. Teenagers’ self-harm cases have tripled.”
Atlas also noted the increase of other deaths like tuberculosis, caused by the world’s focus on COVID-19. The World Health Organization warned in 2020 of up to an additional 400,000 deaths from tuberculosis because of the diversion of resources to COVID-19. “Mortality data showing that anywhere from a third or half of the deaths during the pandemic were not due to COVID-19,” Atlas said. “They were extra deaths due to the lockdowns.”
Besides causing health issues, the lockdowns have enormous economic costs, especially for poor people and developing countries. The Bangladesh economy’s shutdown during the pandemic, Atlas noted, was forecast to wipe out about $3 billion and close to 900,000 jobs off the nation’s economy with a devastating effect on the nation’s poor.
Children and young people have probably been the primary victims of the collateral damage of pandemic restrictions. They have been used as mere means to protect the elderly when we closed schools and isolated them from their peers. They are now being asked to take a vaccine against COVID-19 from which they benefit very little, and indeed whose risk profile is not well defined. All this, while many of them have been deprived of more important vaccines that could make a difference between life and death, simply because we decided that closing down our society was more important.