We may be on the verge of the most consequential U.S. political realignment in almost a century. The cause is Covid—or to be precise, the mishandling of the pandemic response by government, media and the scientific establishment. As the Great Depression destroyed the American electorate’s faith in Wall Street and big business, sweeping in a Democrat-dominated political order, so too has the “Great Confinement”—in the form of lockdowns, shutdowns and mandates—wrecked faith in the basic competence of American government. As in 1932, the party out of power stands to benefit.
The U.S. isn’t alone. For the first time in history the leading industrialized nations decided to close their economies and order citizens to stay home for months at a time. They shuttered schools and businesses, imposed mask and vaccine mandates, and disrupted virtually every institution on which modern life depends.
Unfortunately, the Great Confinement didn’t work. It neither failed to stem the spread of Covid nor prevented large numbers of deaths. In many cases—the New York nursing-home horror being only one of the most extreme examples—it may have made the suffering worse. The governments responsible for the Great Confinement managed to do lasting damage to their nations’ economies. According to the consulting firm McKinsey, the global economy could suffer up to $35 trillion in losses by 2025.
The pandemic tempted governments and their elite allies to treat citizens as passive objects to be dictated to, bullied and coerced en masse—an attitude not unlike that found in China, Cuba and North Korea—instead of as active thinking subjects with whom government is in partnership. With few exceptions (the Nordic countries are the best examples), governments failed to find ways to affirm that despite the pandemic, citizens were still individuals imbued with inalienable rights and independent moral standing. This is, after all, how most people see themselves in modern society—as free autonomous beings rather than as laboratory rats in a series of social science experiments.
What people will remember from this extraordinary episode isn’t the experience of Covid itself, terrible though that’s been. It will be the ineptitude and incompetence of governing institutions that are supposed to protect citizens—and the indifference, as this was happening, of the media and scientific establishment.
In the U.S., the Great Confinement has left scars on the national psyche comparable to the effects of the Great Depression. This loss of faith has been compounded by government failure to deal with spiking violent-crime rates and the shocking dereliction of duty on the part of the nation’s teachers. Children and families feel as if they’ve been left stranded by the school systems they pay for with their tax dollars.
A policy of mass asymptomatic testing, contact tracing, and isolation/home quarantine is lockdown by stealth, one uninfected close contact at a time.
It is not surprising that die-hard lockdowners are claiming that we never really had a lockdown, now that it is clear to everyone the catastrophic failure of the dystopian pandemic plan they forced on the world.
Hours after @NCLAlegal sent our letter to GMU demanding they rescind student booster mandate, they did away with it albeit covertly- no email sent to GMU students yet. Congrats to all GMU students who are now free from medical tyranny, but esp @GrimHogun who fought hard for this!
Governors Ron DeSantis (FL), Kristi Noem (SD), Pete Ricketts (NE), and Mark Gordon (WY). No governors faced more media pressure than Noem and DeSantis. Noem never locked down her state. She never state-mandated face masks. She held strong during a very difficult surge in November and December 2020. She leads a state populated comparably to a metro Dallas county, and made more headlines for her stance than anyone not named DeSantis. Still, fewer than half the South Dakotan kids were forced out of class in 2020 and local governments were permitted to put up their own restrictions.
DeSantis led the third most populated state with a higher-than-average elderly population. Early on he put in protections in long-term care facilities. He locked down last and reopened in May 2020. He removed state restrictions in September 2020, even as COVID-19 activity rose in the fall. He kept more classes open in Florida than any other large population state. And with that, Florida had no worse results than the national average. The burden was not on DeSantis and Noem to beat the street with their open states. The burden was on the lockdown states to have better results and that did not happen. You could not look at a blank chart of states’ COVID-19 performance and pick out the tightly restricted versus looser states. For that, these bold governors get an A on the curve.
Governors Andrew Cuomo (NY), Phil Murphy (NJ), Gavin Newsom (CA), Gretchen Whitmer (MI), J.B. Pritzker (IL), and Tom Wolf (PA). There’s a special place for governors that locked kids out of classrooms for a year and a half, ordered sick COVID-19 patients back into nursing homes, did not practice their own orders, shut down tens of thousands of businesses and still couldn’t beat the U.S average in COVID-19 deaths or excess all-cause deaths.
Here’s the latest from Jon Sanders. A slice:
Politics, not the pursuit of public health, has dominated the government’s reaction to Covid-19, and the fallout from the current surge and its implications are perceived to threaten influence on the critical midterm elections. In consequence, we have witnessed some key changes in recent days. Some of it has been a welcome admission of fallibility, though mostly without the applied lesson of such humility, which would be a wholesale repeal of their ineffective mandates and a willingness to rethink failed strategies.
For example, a Jan. 19 report from the Centers for Disease Control showed, among other things, that natural immunity from a prior infection of Covid-19 provided significantly stronger protection against the Delta variant than that offered by the current vaccines. The finding alone isn’t unusual; the research literature is suffused with studies (146 and counting as of this writing) attesting to the superior strength of natural immunity to Covid-19. What makes this finding significant is that it is from the CDC, which had previously recognized natural immunity only to cast doubt upon it in comparison with vaccine-induced immunity.
Here’s a new song – “We the People” – by Kid Rock that includes criticism of Covid restrictions. (Warning: the lyrics are quite explicit.)
The first cultural issue that exacerbated the crisis is our tendency to value gesture over action. In a society that frequently punishes having the wrong opinion more severely than actually doing the wrong thing, it’s little wonder that political leaders resort to empty symbolism instead of actually governing. Governing is difficult, unglamorous, often thankless if you get it right and hell to pay if you don’t. Gesture is costless and easy – an alluring combination.
The next reality Victorians (and others) have to acknowledge is that government spending doesn’t magically solve problems. Take a quick glance at the premier’s website if you can stomach it. It comprises announcement after announcement of millions of dollars for this program and that initiative. As if assigning a random dollar figure to the top of a media release will make up for all the pain this government has inflicted on people.
The most pathetic example of this was the motion in the Victorian upper house in November calling for the creation of a Minister for Loneliness. It’s hard to imagine a more bitterly ironic development. The latest report from the Victorian Agency for Health Information reveals that the number of children and teenagers being hospitalised with a mental health emergency is up 37 per cent on 2019 levels.
Aaron Sibarium reveals the terrible extent to which colleges and universities have embraced tyranny-seeded insanity in the name of fighting Covid. (HT Phil Magness, who accurately describes higher ed as being “a Faucist dystopia”) A slice:
COVID has normalized such surveillance throughout higher education. Many institutions, including Northwestern University, Carnegie Mellon University, Johns Hopkins University, Brown University, and Harvard University, have set up online forms and hotlines for students to anonymously report COVID “safety” violations.
Yale is a microcosm of the culture these policies are creating. For some students, it is also an ominous preview of what will happen when their peers graduate, as the norms of the ivory tower diffuse into the wider world.
“Like it or not, Yale generates the future leaders of this country,” said Trevor MacKay, a freshman at the university. “Making warrantless surveillance a normal and acceptable part of their lives is dangerous.”
At first, some students said they accepted Yale’s surveillance system out of genuine fear and uncertainty. But what were pitched as temporary stop gaps soon ossified into a seemingly permanent regime—one with very little transparency or due process.
Readers with a delicate constitution may want to avoid the government website at around 4pm on Monday afternoon.
For the first time since the start of the pandemic, coronavirus reinfections in England will be included on the daily Covid dashboard, in a revision that is likely to add hundreds of thousands of new cases to Britain’s cumulative total.
The wince-inducing rise will undoubtedly lead to hand-wringing from the usual quarters, and it will be remarkable if we get through this update without renewed calls to mask up and lock down.
But it is actually fairly good news. It means that we have significantly underestimated the mildness of omicron.
The biggest upside to the change is that the percentage of people dying from each positive test – the case fatality rate (CFR) – will fall.
Currently, the number of people dying after testing positive for coronavirus is hovering at around 0.95 per cent, after peaking at 10 per cent in April 2020 when testing was minimal.
But adding hundreds of thousands of cases to the figures will send the CFR towards something approaching flu fatalities.
Data from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) suggest that around 0.1 to 0.2 per cent of symptomatic flu cases result in death. Adding such a large number of new cases will certainly take coronavirus towards that figure in Britain.