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Boston Globe columnist Jeff Jacoby decries the authoritarian impulse [2]. A slice:

Anthony Fauci has regrets.

In an interview Monday, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases said that if he could go back and change anything about the government’s handling of the COVID-19 pandemic, it would be to press for “much, much more stringent restrictions [3]” than the ones that were imposed in the spring of 2020.

More stringent. More than the abrupt shutdown of the US economy, which destroyed 21 million jobs [4] in a matter of weeks and drove the unemployment rate to nearly 15 percent. More than the unprecedented closure of every public school [5] in the country, which inflicted a staggering degree of learning loss [6] and emotional turmoil [7] on American children. More than the sweeping shelter-in-place limitations, which did little to reduce the spread of COVID [8] but severely exacerbated harms [9] ranging from domestic violence [10] to mental health [11] to untreated medical conditions [12]. More than the top-down orders — issued with no chance for public or legislative input — that unilaterally prevented Americans from traveling, attending church, holding weddings, or comforting the dying.

The response to the pandemic was an extraordinary diminution of Americans’ freedom to make choices for themselves and a corresponding enlargement of the power of government officials to rule by decree. And Fauci is chagrined that it didn’t go far enough.

To be fair, he is hardly alone in thinking this way. When it comes to COVID or almost any other significant public concern, the authoritarian impulse — a preference for achieving policy goals through coercion rather than the untidy give-and-take of democratic negotiation — now seems to be the default.

Writing in the Wall Street Journal, Eliza Holland and Nikki Johnson explain that inequity in education was increased by covid-vaccination mandates [13]. Two slices:

Most Covid restrictions in the U.S. have long since ended, but the school districts in New Orleans and the District of Columbia are mandating Covid vaccines for children to attend school in person this fall. In the capital, the mandate applies to students 12 and older and requires a booster in addition to the initial two-shot course, while in the Crescent City it kicks in at age 5 and requires only two shots. In neither city are exceptions made for kids who have immunity from prior infection, which provides good protection against severe illness.

…..

As pediatricians, we generally favor childhood vaccines. But the benefits of these mandates aren’t worth the costs.

(DBx: Covidians’ mania to have children vaccinated against covid – a mania that springs in part from most covidians’ refusal to acknowledge that covid poses almost no risk to children – is powerful evidence that the principal impetus behind public “policy” regarding covid since early 2020 was not any serious respect for science. For more such evidence, see the following link….)

David Henderson reports on Senate Democrats’ convenient – and telling – easing of covid restrictions [14].

“Flatten the Curve”: the song [15].

Michael Senger isn’t a fan of covidian Deborah Birx’s book [16]. A slice:

In what may be her most damning remark about the entire U.S. response to COVID, Birx tells us that she’d always known “two weeks to slow the spread” was a lie and knew in advance that she wanted the timeframe extended, despite having no data to support why such a step was scientifically sensible:

No sooner had we convinced the Trump administration to implement our version of a two-week shutdown than I was trying to figure out how to extend it. Fifteen Days to Slow the Spread was a start, but I knew it would be just that. I didn’t have the numbers in front of me yet to make the case for extending it longer, but I had two weeks to get them. However hard it had been to get the fifteen-day shutdown approved, getting another one would be more difficult by many orders of magnitude.

This is one of several quotes in which Birx refers to “our version” of a lockdown, though she never makes it clear what the original “version” of a lockdown was (read: China’s). In fact, though Birx spends hundreds of pages boasting about her crusade for lockdowns across America, she never once explains why she wanted them or why she felt they were a good idea, other than the aforementioned brief asides about China’s supposed success using social distancing to combat SARS-1.

Mark Dolan decries Britain’s “disastrously arrogant, under-evaluated, ill-conceived, non-evidence-based attempt to stop a respiratory virus.” [17]

GMU Econ alum Dominic Pino describes Edmund Burke’s path to free markets [18]. A slice:

He asked [Samuel] Span whether England’s 1707 union with Scotland, which abolished trade barriers between the two, had ruined his business. It hadn’t, Burke wrote, noting that the union had allowed for far more trade that had made both sides better off, even though Scotland was much poorer than England. “Such virtue there is in liberality of sentiment, that you have grown richer even by the partnership of poverty,” he wrote.

John Hinderaker warns of the expansion of the IRS [19]. (HT George Leef [20])

Richard Brookhiser remembers David McCullough, who died on Sunday [21]. A slice:

David was always polite, genial, with never a trace of entitlement or hauteur — a delight to know. He epitomized the serious popular historian. He told engaging stories, often hung on a biography or biographies, but bolstered with research and attention to detail. His interests were wide: TR, Truman, American painters in Paris, the grim year 1776, the founding of Marietta, Ohio. His grand slam was his bio of John Adams. Author and subject were made for each other. Adams’s contemporaries, friends and enemies alike, all seemed to sense that he was a great character as well as, maybe even more than, a great public figure. Add his wife Abigail, as well-spoken and as prickly as her husband, and you had a fine entrée into a great time.

Larry Reed reminds us of Hannah Arendt’s “chilling thesis on evil.” [22] A slice:

Some of Arendt’s friends on the Left swallowed the myth that Hitler and Stalin occupied opposite ends of the political spectrum. She knew better. Both were evil collectivists and enemies of the individual…. “Hitler never intended to defend the West against Bolshevism,” she wrote in her 1951 book The Origins of Totalitarianism [23], “but always remained ready to join ‘the Reds’ for the destruction of the West, even in the middle of the struggle against Soviet Russia.”

Eric Boehm busts the myth that the Orwellian-named “Inflation Reduction Act” will meaningfully reduce the U.S. government’s budget deficit [24]. A slice:

When looking at the impact of legislation on the federal deficit, projections always take into account the next 10 years of federal spending and expected revenue—in other words, that $300 billion reduction created by the bill is the expected total amount over the next decade. That sounds like a lot of money—and it is!—but it looks a lot smaller when you stack it up against other bills Congress has passed in recent years. According to the Congressional Budget Office (CBO), the 10-year deficit has increased by about $2.4 trillion [25] since President Joe Biden took office, thanks to items like the American Rescue Plan, the bipartisan infrastructure package, and this year’s budget omnibus bill.

So, rather than looking at the Inflation Reduction Act as a $300 billion reduction of future budget deficits, it’s probably more accurate to describe it as a plan to actually pay for about $300 billion of the estimated $2.4 trillion that Congress has agreed to borrow in the past 18 months.