A report in The Financial Times on April 26, 2020 referenced an internal British government estimate that ultimately, without mitigation, up to 150,000 people in the UK could die prematurely from other conditions because of the Covid-induced lockdown that put on hold huge numbers of screenings and operations. Professor Karol Sikora, a consultant oncologist with the NHS, estimated up to 50,000 more UK deaths from cancer with a six-month lockdown, owing to the pause in health screenings.
To add to the public policy insanity, the anti-scientific lockdowns barred people from some healthy lifestyle options like strolling and exercising in open air parks and beaches and instead cooped them up in high-risk environments like homes in high-density living complexes. The Guardian reported on May 9, 2020 that there had been 6,546 more non-Covid-19 deaths at homes across Britain compared with the seasonal five-year average.
Why keep extending the emergency? One reason is that in March 2020 Congress barred states from kicking ineligible people off Medicaid rolls during the emergency in return for more federal funding. Medicaid enrollment has ballooned to 95 million—30% of Americans are now enrolled—from 71 million in December 2019. The emergency expands Medicaid in GOP states that opted out of the ObamaCare expansion. It is also a boon for insurers in states that pay per Medicaid participant. Hospitals and physician groups support extending the emergency because they worry that state Medicaid payments will decline if the federal fillip goes away.
Yet if the White House believes Covid continues to be an emergency, why hasn’t the Food and Drug Administration authorized the Novavax vaccine? The World Health Organization green-lighted it in December. The FDA’s advisory board nearly unanimously endorsed the vaccine over a month ago, in part because its traditional technology might encourage vaccination among the hesitant.
Covid shouldn’t be an emergency only when it’s useful to expand the welfare state.
The headline of Matthew Lynn’s latest Telegraph column is “Jacinda Ardern is paying the price for her hermit zero-Covid economy.” (DBx: But this headline isn’t quite right; those who are paying the price of that insane policy are ordinary New Zealanders.) A slice:
She was determined to protect the country’s health. She locked the doors to keep the virus at bay. And, although it might be tough for a while, the country and its economy would emerge in far stronger shape than most of its rivals.
At the height of the Covid-19 pandemic, New Zealand’s Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern was widely praised for her rational, science-based approach to the virus. She was dealing with it far better than anyone else, we were told again and again – and it was a model to be emulated.
Now it turns out that the bill is falling due. New Zealand is crashing into a hard recession.
Business confidence is plummeting. House prices are in freefall. And the central bank is raising interest rates at a faster pace than any other in the developed world.
In reality – surprise, surprise – you can’t turn a country into a sealed-off hermit kingdom without doing long-term damage to its economy.
The political ecosystem consists of Deceivers, Skeptics, and Enablers. Deceivers have a gift for gaining power over others. Think Clinton, Obama, or Trump. Think of the purveyors of the folk versions of critical theory. Skeptics are those who see through the Deceivers and who stick with classical liberal values. Think Thomas Sowell, Robin Hanson, or Bryan Caplan.
Enablers are those who help Deceivers gain power. Think of people of strong partisan faith. They think that the candidate they are voting for is not a Deceiver. They take the professed intentions of political activists at face value.
The academy and the press used to be bastions of skepticism. Professors once defied the bully Joseph McCarthy. Now, left-wing McCarthyism rules the campus. The press used to question the official narrative coming from Lyndon Johnson or Richard Nixon. Today, those same newspapers denounce as “disinformation” anyone who dares to question the official narrative of Deceivers like Dr. Fauci.
When America was founded, the Constitution was the product of Skepticism. Government powers were limited. Power was divided. Most people could not vote. Even so, the President and the Senate were elected indirectly, not directly by the voters.
In the many decades since, the country has become more democratic. The final blows against Skepticism were the advent of mass media and selection of nominees by political primaries. We now have the same dynamic between Enablers and Deceivers that has given Latin American countries demagogic rulers like Juan Peron and Hugo Chavez.
Writing in the Wall Street Journal, Paul Atkins and Paul Ray explain that the Securities and Exchange Commission’s proposed climate-disclosure rule would be the exercise of unlawful administrative power. Here’s their conclusion:
West Virginia v. EPA leaves no doubt that agencies must have a clear statement from Congress allowing them new powers if they are to try to transform America’s economy and society. The SEC should acknowledge the writing on the wall and stand down from this rulemaking. At the very least, it should reopen the comment period for its disclosure requirement, which closed some days before the Supreme Court’s decision, to let the public weigh in on how this tremendously important decision affects its rulemaking.
el gato malo ponders “Latinx.” A slice:
the deep and abiding hilarity of this is that this is not “diversity and inclusion.” it’s “alienating latinos and latinas to mollify becky from vassar” and make her feel like a champion of the downtrodden.
it would, of course, be news to most latins that they are downtrodden. when you don’t see yourself that way but instead as empowered people chasing the american dream, this sort of mascotism falls awfully flat.
and this is an idea around which these ersatz linguistic assassins simply cannot seem to wrap their little heads: nobody asked for your help or your patronage.
in an irony thick enough to stand a spoon in, this is what real “white privilege” looks like: rich, educated elites telling “minorities” what they must call themselves.
it’s assault, not alliance.
it’s outright subjugation “for your own good.”
The ultimate result is that regulated firms are “captured” by legislators and regulators. In exchange for regulatory protections, those firms become dependent on continued regulation. They must continue to pay up—whether literally or figuratively—to maintain their regulatory protections.
Disney provides an example of what happens when firms do not support those with the power to continue their regulatory protections. In 1967, Florida’s state government essentially allowed the company to create its own government to run Walt Disney World. In 2022 the company opposed legislation supported by the Florida legislature and Governor DeSantis. In response, the legislature repealed their privilege to self-govern.
Firms that benefit from regulatory protections must continue to support the legislatures that can reverse those protections, or they will lose them. Stigler concluded that regulatory agencies are captured by the firms they regulate. Still, ultimately, it is the regulated firms that become captured by the legislators and regulators who have the power to terminate their regulatory protections.
It’s been over 2 years since Nikole Hannah-Jones published anything under her own name at the newspaper where she’s a full time reporter.
They are essentially paying her to tweet.