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Some Covid Links

Tweet [1]

GMU Econ alum Ben Powell, writing at The Hill, argues that “[t]he omicron variant is another excuse for government meddling.” [2] A slice:

More than 100 years ago the great journalist and pundit H.L. Menken observed [3] that the “whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by an endless series of hobgoblins, most of them imaginary.” The threat of terrorism served that purpose for the last 20 years, and we still tolerate removing our shoes at airports and limiting liquids to three ounces as a result.

The politicians and health bureaucrats will use each new variant of COVID-19 to keep us alarmed and infringe our freedom until we become accustomed to and passively accept these infringements — if we let them. Enough is enough. It’s time to demand the freedom for people, and the businesses that serve them, to determine for themselves which health precautions they would like to take and which hassles they’d rather avoid.

Reason‘s Liz Wolfe rightly criticizes New York City strongman Bill de Blasio’s vaccine diktats [4].

Speaking of strongman de Blasio’s vaccine mandates, Joel Zinberg explains that these are “motivated by politics, not public health.” [5] A slice:

The most nonsensical aspect of de Blasio’s mandate is that it is targeted at employers and their employees. In the age groups that make up most of the workforce (18 to 25; 26 to 34; 35 to 44; 45 to 54; 55 to 64), the percentage fully vaccinated [6] ranges from 75 to 89 percent, and 85 to 96 percent have received at least one dose. No mandate is necessary for a workforce so highly vaccinated and well protected.

And the Editorial Board of the Wall Street Journal joins in to criticize strongman de Blasio’s vaccine mandates [7]. Two slices:

Mayor Bill de Blasio has done enormous damage to New York City over his eight years in office, and most New Yorkers will be elated to see him leave on Dec. 31. True to form, however, on Monday he announced one more progressive parting gift: A coercive and counterproductive Covid vaccine mandate.

The mayor is requiring that all private workers in the city be vaccinated by Dec. 27, which he called “a pre-emptive strike” against a virus surge this winter. The mandate is a strike against the city, not the virus. It will yield diminishing public-health benefits while making it harder for the city to recover economically from his and former New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s destructive lockdowns.

…..

Hospitalizations are increasing mostly upstate where vaccination rates are lower and fewer people have natural immunity. While vaccines are protective against severe illness, they don’t prevent infection or transmission. Unvaccinated workers are mainly a threat to themselves. Mr. de Blasio’s mandate threatens small businesses struggling under the city’s tax burden and expensive labor regulations.

Kathryn Wylde, CEO of the Partnership for New York City, said businesses “were blindsided” by the mayor’s announcement, adding “there’s no forewarning, no discussion, no idea about whether it’s legal or who he expects to enforce it.”

The mandate—the first nationwide, as far as we know—is a nasty and needless infringement on liberty. There’s also this contradiction: Mr. de Blasio wants to punish law-abiding workers who have done nothing wrong, while his anti-police policies have encouraged a surge of violent crime and made major public areas of the city dangerous again.

Also in the Wall Street Journal, GMU law professor Eugene Kontorovich argues that de Blasio’s vaccine mandate on all private-sector employees is likely unlawful [8]. A slice:

The constitutionality of Mr. de Blasio’s mandate will turn primarily on Jacobson v. Massachusetts (1905), in which the Supreme Court upheld a smallpox vaccination law. The justices held that state governments have the power to exercise “self-defense” against infectious disease on behalf of the community, so long as the measures were “reasonable” and not “arbitrary.” But Mr. de Blasio’s measure goes far beyond the holding or reasoning of the precedent, to say nothing of the past century of constitutional doctrine.

Jacobson involved smallpox, which before its eradication was one of the most fearsome diseases known to man. It killed 30% of those infected. It disproportionately affected children and commonly left them disfigured by lesions. Covid-19 is serious, but it’s in a different league.

Vinay Prasad explains that “a six-year-old child should not be forced to get the Covid shot to eat in a restaurant.” [9] A slice:

Now to the policy question: what sense does it make to exclude kids who don’t meet this vaccination requirement from NYC restaurants? I have to say it is crazy. Both James [Lim] and Marty [Makary] are correct: focusing on this age group, and ignoring natural immunity, and using the brute force of the state to impose such a draconian restriction is a terrible policy decision.

Karol Markowicz decries the Covidocracy’s abuse of children [10]. Three slices:

It’s no mystery why kids are having a hard time. After a year-plus of schools in blue areas being semi-open at best, we’ve brought kids back into classroom settings only to have them take insane, unnecessary precautions [11] that actively harm learning.

Last week, my son’s class presented projects. The kids were masked and in their classroom while the parents watched the presentations on Zoom. [12] To sum up the presentations by 6-year-olds: “Skjnskjngpnw kngiwnk plplwoje!” The Zoom featured a bunch of parents leaning in and listening intently to try to catch a word or two of what their kid was saying. I was fully unsuccessful.

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The “Now It Can Be Told” pieces are there to cover up the fact that the teachers unions ran the show and spineless politicians did their bidding to needlessly keep schools shut. We broke children because Randi Weingarten [13] said so. But it’s not just her. The rot is deep. The unions sat down with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to craft policies to keep schools shut. Anthony Fauci [14] went from saying schools should be open to saying they could only open once President Joe Biden’s [15]stimulus plan passed. Every force on the left aligned against children.

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In a year we’ll be seeing the articles about how, actually, masks were bad for kids all along, with no apology for having gotten it wrong. Already a Brown University study tracking cognitive development in small children attributes a dramatic drop in verbal and nonverbal development to masking. [16]

I’m going to do what I must to save my kid. But it’s long past time those in charge should have to answer for what they’ve done to so many kids who will be left behind.

Betsy McCaughey is appalled by the mix of hypocrisy and authoritarianism that leads so many people on the left to applaud vaccine mandates [17]. A slice:

A mayor who professes to defend bodily autonomy is doing the opposite, forcing everyone to take the shots, regardless of personal qualms. This is the same de Blasio who warned [18] at a recent Brooklyn pro-choice rally that “you cannot have your government attempt to take away your right to control your body. It cannot happen in America.”

My GMU Econ colleague Bryan Caplan believes, plausibly, that he’s identified a Covid asymmetry [19]. Here’s his opening:

During Covid, the U.S. reverted to our old tradition of federalism – and then embraced gubernatorial dictatorship [20].  As  result of this strange and shocking institutional revolution, the U.S. witnessed a dramatic rise in policy variance. Some parts of the U.S., like Florida and Texas, returned to near-normalcy in a matter of months.  Others, like California and New York, became and remain soft police states.

Ryan M. is understandably dismayed by the current state of the world [21]. A slice:

There is a hellish tyranny sweeping across the world. There is a hellish tyranny sweeping across the United States. It doesn’t wear uniforms or jackboots, and it isn’t dropping bombs. It is the same tyranny that we neglected to defeat 80 years ago; the one that finds enemies at home and puts them into camps for their own safety and for that of their countrymen; the one that asks to see your papers; the one that promises to keep you safe by protecting you against your neighbor, and even yourself.

Jim Bovard exposes several of Biden’s Covid whoppers [22].

Brian Pottinger warns of South Africa’s “looming vaccine revolt.” [23] A slice:

In common with the rest of the world, South African epidemiological estimates of fatalities at the outset of the coronavirus outbreak verged on the fantastical. Initial predictions were for between 87,000 and 350,000 fatalities in the first phase. There were 103. Two years later, with the virus in retreat, fatalities attributed to Covid (but by no means vouchsafed) are only now beginning to touch the lowest initial estimates.

Yet the South African Government imposed one of the longest and most severe lockdowns, supported by a baying national and social media. The decision has proved inappropriate in nature, premature in timing and catastrophic in impact. In a country where many depend on ad hoc daily or weekly subsistence wages, the sudden cessation of economic activity wreaked havoc amongst the poor and self-employed. A failing state was unable to deliver on its promise of subsidies, responsible policing or effective containment.

Brown University epidemiologist Andrew Bostom pushes back against the fast-emerging mania for vaccine-booster mandates [24]. A slice:

Rapidly accumulating data [25] strongly suggest prior covid-19 infection, “natural immunity,” is more robust, flexible, and enduring than exclusive covid-19 vaccine-acquired immunity. Pfizer’s covid-19 booster trial data confirm boosters afford no benefit [26] in preventing covid-19 infections among those with natural immunity.

Given these overall randomized trial findings regarding covid-19 vaccine boosters—absence of even a short- term reduction in mild covid-19 infections in those with natural immunity, and no data establishing that boosters prevent covid-19 hospitalizations, deaths, or SARS-CoV-2 transmission—there is no rational, evidence-based justification for covid-19 vaccine “booster mandates.”

Glenn Greenwald sarcastically tweets [27]: (HT Jay Bhattacharya [28])

People who have only received two COVID vaccine shots are gross, and I’m grateful that the Atlantic stepped and bestowed them with a shameful new name — the Unboosted — while suggesting they perhaps must be shunned along with their even more filthy brethren: the Unvaccinated.Face vomiting [29]