There are catastrophes and calamities, and then there’s what’s happening in the United Kingdom’s energy market. Reports this week point to spiraling costs for households and businesses this winter, pushing millions of Britons closer to poverty. It’s a steep price for climate alarmism.
Britain’s energy emergency is a growing threat to an economy expected to be among the developed world’s worst performers next year. It’s a political emergency for the Tories, who are in the process of replacing Mr. Johnson. Former Chancellor Rishi Sunak and Foreign Secretary Liz Truss both say they support fracking and lower taxes on energy bills, although both still pay lip service to net zero. There’s little evidence environmentally minded voters give the Tories credit for net zero and ample evidence voters of all persuasions blame the party for the energy-price crisis.
So much for those who say conservative parties need to adopt the left’s climate agenda to court younger voters. Net zero has turned the Tories into the party that is impoverishing Britain. As steep a price as the party may one day pay at the polls for this blunder, households already are paying dearly today.
Tax increases on corporations get passed along from the board room table to the kitchen table in a variety of ways: lower pay for workers, higher prices for consumers, and smaller investment returns for shareholders.
Emma Camp rightly calls for pro-freedom actions rather than just pro-freedom talk. Here’s her conclusion:
To Democrats and Republicans alike, it seems the only kind of freedom worth protecting is the freedom to proceed with their own political agendas. While it is all well and good for Democrats to speak of the “freedom” to have abortions or marry a same-sex partner, or for Republicans to advocate our “liberty” to own guns or spurn restrictive COVID-19 regulations, we should withhold our praise until politicians on both sides start embracing the freedom to make decisions that fall outside their ideological lines.
Martin Gurri unpacks the “elite panic of 2022.” Two slices:
On April 18, U.S. District Judge Kathryn Kimball Mizelle struck down the federal requirement for wearing surgical masks on airplanes, in airports, and while riding mass transit. Online videos showed passengers and airline staff ripping off their masks and celebrating in mid-flight. Given the accumulated frustration of two years of pandemic travel, the reaction was understandable.
Far more remarkable was the vehemence of those opposed to the ruling. Judge Mizelle was unfit for office, they said. She was too young, at 35; she was unelected; she was a single, unrepresentative voice. Worst of all, she was an “activist Trump judge” and thus branded with the mark of the beast. Rescinding government policy—the kind of thing that American judges engage in with abandon, and usually to progressive cheers—in this instance was condemned as a usurpation of the powers of the executive branch.
Judge Mizelle had crashed an exclusive party reserved for people of higher caste. “The CDC has the capability, through a large number of trained epidemiologists, scientists, to be able to make projections and make recommendations,” said Anthony Fauci, bureaucratic czar of all things Covid-19. “Far more than a judge with no experience in public health.”
That was the heart of the matter. Fauci embodied a bureaucracy and political class that, with the active support of the media, had converted the public’s fear of infection into a principle of elite authority. Under this principle, only trained scientists can make projections and recommendations. The writ of government stretched as far as the boundaries of scientific truth—and those boundaries were, of course, determined by government agencies. It wasn’t just a question of specific policies like lockdowns and vaccine mandates. At stake was the restoration of the public’s habit of obedience that had gone missing during the Trump years.
By spring of this year, however, the public had shed most of its fears, as the in-flight celebrations demonstrated. Legally and psychologically, the state of emergency couldn’t last forever. Judge Mizelle merely officiated at the burial rites over the carcass of an improvised authority. The disproportion between a ruling about masks and the existential howl of the opposition can be explained in terms of the loss of elite control—and it wasn’t the only recent example of such panic.
Much of the gloom reflected the changed political climate. Starting with the onset of Covid-19 in the spring of 2020, elite fortunes took an almost magical turn. The pandemic frightened the public into docility. The Black Lives Matter riots enshrined racial doctrines that demanded constant state interference as not only legitimate but mandatory in every corner of American culture. The malevolent Trump went down to defeat, and the presidency passed to Biden, a hollow man easily led by the progressive zealots around him. The Senate flipped Democratic.
This victory parade culminated on January 6, 2021, when Trump’s outrageous behavior led to his expulsion from social media and the shunning by polite society of anything that reeked of “insurgent” Republicanism. By Inauguration Day, the elites and their identitarian ideas seemed to stand unchallenged.
That was never quite true—and the moment quickly passed. The burden of incumbency has crushed the Democrats. With Trump gone, they have nothing of substance to rally around. President Biden has staggered from disaster to disaster and is touching calamitous levels of unpopularity. Biden inherited peace and a recovering economy but must now deal with inflation, shortages, and a major war in Europe.
Q: Dr. Birx, you were officially hired as White House Coronavirus Response Coordinator on February 27, 2020. Who offered you the job?
A: My friend Matt [Pottinger], the deputy national security advisor (p. 32)
Pointer from Donald Boudreaux. In fact, if you read Lerman’s whole piece, you find that Dr. Birx was friends with Pottinger’s wife. And check out the Scott Atlas book, which I could not bear to finish because it was so depressing.
I cannot get too worked up about Fauci and Birx. They are who they are. The ultimate blame rests with the man who gave them their outsized roles in the pandemic. That man is Donald Trump.
The pandemic was barely underway when some of us sensed something wrong in the bureaucracy. I was not the only one, but please note that as early as March 19 of 2000 [DBx: Arnold here obviously means 2020], I wrote Fire the Peacetime Bureaucrats. President Trump never got around to doing that.
(DBx: Although I have finished reading Scott Atlas’s excellent book, I understand why Arnold couldn’t bear to finish reading it; what Atlas reveals is unrelentingly depressing. Deborah Birx is exposed as being utterly – indeed, almost comically – incompetent, with Fauci coming off as not much better. And of course above all, politics trumps all.)
Social-media platforms have often censored conservatives, and sometimes in tandem with political pressure to do so. Now comes hard evidence that Twitter booted blogger Alex Berenson after White House officials privately complained about him to Twitter employees.
Mr. Berenson has been a vocal critic of government lockdowns, mask mandates and mRNA vaccines. In our view he’s been too quick to dismiss the vaccine benefits and overstated their potential risks, which has hurt his credibility. But that’s no worse than the powers-that-be who have overstated their benefits and been too quick to dismiss their potential, if small, risks.
Twitter didn’t ban Mr. Berenson until August, but its employees were clearly under White House pressure to do so. This pressure probably increased over the summer of 2021 as the Delta variant surged and waning vaccine efficacy stymied Mr. Biden’s promise to shut down the virus.
Twitter is a private company. But evidence of a direct connection between White House pressure and Twitter censorship bolsters the argument that social-media platforms can be sued as “state actors” for restricting speech in violation of the First Amendment. Courts have been reluctant, and properly so, to allow such lawsuits to proceed without evidence linking specific demands from government officials to censorship.
Mr. Berenson has now shown that White House officials sought to conscript the platform into silencing him, and perhaps others who don’t toe the White House line on Covid. Have Biden officials pressured other platforms to censor users who express contrarian views on other topics such as climate change?
The government’s response to Covid shows the importance of robust debate, since much of the official wisdom has turned out to be wrong and did great harm. Think lockdowns. A condominium of Big Tech and government is itself a hazard to public health and democracy.
Trudeau always maintained his government’s Covid policies were based on the science and the latest evidence. Yet, his shifting rhetoric, before and after his election call, tells a different tale. Thanks to a civil lawsuit against the travel mandate by two British immigrants, we’ve now seen inside the guts of part of Trudeau’s Covid machinery, and it’s become abundantly clear that it has little if anything to do with science and everything to do with politics.
From recently released court documents, which I broke in a story for Bari Weiss’s Common Sense, show us senior government bureaucrats scrambling to find a scientific rationale for the travel mandate mere days before it was due to come into force. We’ve had the opportunity to see into the inner workings of Trudeau’s vaccine machinery thanks to two British immigrants, Shaun Rickard and Karl Harrison, who filed a civil suit against the Trudeau government in the Federal Court. Thanks to their efforts, and that of their attorney, Sam Presvelos, the affidavits, testimonies, and cross-examination of key government witnesses are now in the public domain.
These documents clearly show us that the bureaucrat charged with holding the pen, under repeated cross-examination, refused to go into details on who ordered the mandate, citing, “Cabinet confidentiality”. Exactly why the rationale for a public health mandate should be so confidential raises the disturbing possibility that there really was no rationale at all. It’s evident that a political decision was taken by Trudeau and his cabinet to go ahead with the mandates, and the hapless bureaucrats were charged with coming up with some rationale, any credible rationale after the fact.
As it happens, the bureaucrat in charge of crafting one of the world’s “strongest vaccination mandates in the world”, according to the bureaucrat herself and Trudeau, has an undergraduate degree in English literature and self-evidently didn’t have the scientific knowledge to take a call. Neither were there any doctors, epidemiologists and scientists on her team, a secretive panel whose membership is nowhere published, and which rates a passing mention on the government’s website.
The tale of Trudeau’s vaccine mandates has ramifications far outside Canada. The world over, governments have invoked draconian powers, heretofore only used in wartime, to control and regulate their people and curtain fundamental individual liberties, such as the right to gather or the right to mobility. Everywhere, people are told by their governments, much as Trudeau told Canadians, we’re so sorry, we hate to restrict your freedoms, but we’re just following the science and the evidence. We know, in the case of Canada’s travel mandate, that this is simply false. In the Canadian case, Trudeau’s ministers have made it clear that the suspended mandates could come back, as, indeed, could Covid-based restrictions the world over.
The continuation of mask theater is an absolute disgrace.