Dr. Fauci’s career has been one of maximizing budgets and influence for his agencies and himself, all the while handling multiple public health crises with less than stellar outcomes. Economist Gordon Tullock in his book The Politics of Bureaucracy observed that the primary characteristic of a successful bureaucrat is “a desire to rise” and only secondarily does intelligence or competence impact the success of a bureaucrat. This understanding of success within bureaucratic systems is further illustrated by Friedrich Hayek in Chapter 10 of Road to Serfdom, “Why the Worst Get on Top.” While Hayek’s work focuses on tyrannical politicians, the logic clearly applies to government bureaucrats. Indeed Dr. Fauci’s career demonstrates both these realities simultaneously. Far from the neutral expert concerned only with the best outcomes, Dr. Fauci’s career is one of ambition and even “failing upwards.”
Dr. Fauci first rose to public attention in the 1980s during the AIDS crisis. In a 1983 Journal of the American Medical Association article, he speculated that AIDS could be spread through household contact. This resulted in widespread coverage from media outlets, who, citing Fauci’s work, stoked widespread alarm about AIDS transmission while raising his profile significantly. Two months later, Dr. Fauci avoided culpability for promoting the egregious claim by entirely reversing his stance, stating in an interview with the Baltimore Sun, “It is absolutely preposterous to suggest that AIDS can be contracted through normal social contact like being in the same room with someone or sitting on a bus with them. The poor gays have received a very raw deal on this.”
Unfortunately, the social harm from his irresponsible speculation was already done, and his reversed stance only advantaged his own career. His actions during the AIDS epidemic read like a masterclass in ambition and self-preservation.
Looking back on Fauci’s long career as a U.S. government bureaucrat, Johns Hopkins School of Medicine professor Marty Makary warns of “the public health risk of putting America’s fate in the hands of one doctor.” Three slices:
Anthony Fauci is ending his long and celebrated government career by being widely lauded for getting so much so very wrong on Covid-19.
Now 81 years old, Dr. Fauci has spent 38 years as head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, part of the National Institutes of Health. He has been rightly honored for his many contributions over the decades, most notably during the fight against AIDS, for which he was awarded a Presidential Medal of Freedom by George W. Bush. But to Covid-19 he brought a monomaniacal focus on vanquishing a single virus, whatever the cost—neglecting the damage that can follow when public health loses sight of the public’s health.
As the lead medical authority to two administrations on Covid-19, Dr. Fauci was unwavering in his advocacy for draconian policies. What were the impact of those policies on millions of Americans? And what would the country look like now had our public health experts taken a different approach? As Dr. Fauci is preparing to leave his post, those are a few of the questions worth asking as we consider his various Covid-19 legacies.
One of the most inexplicable decisions by Dr. Fauci and his team was to ignore natural immunity—that is, the immune response generated by contracting Covid-19. As the evidence mounted that having had the virus was as good as—perhaps even better than—a vaccine, Dr. Fauci and his circle ignored it.
When Dr. Sanjay Gupta asked Dr. Fauci in the Fall of 2021 on CNN: “As we talk about vaccine mandates, I get calls all the time, people say I already had Covid, I’m protected, and now the study says even more protected than the vaccine alone. How do you make the case to them?” Dr. Fauci answered: “I don’t have a really firm answer for you on that.”
Hundreds of studies have now shown that natural immunity is better than vaccinated immunity and that the level of protection vaccines have against severe disease is at the same level of natural immunity alone.
But Dr. Fauci didn’t talk about it.
Just ask the authors of the Great Barrington Declaration — the open letter published in October 2020 that called for focused protection of the most vulnerable instead of blanket shutdowns of schools and businesses. It was authored by Dr. Jay Bhattacharya of Stanford, Dr. Sunetra Gupta of Oxford, and Dr. Martin Kulldorff, then of Harvard, and it was signed by tens of thousands of doctors and scientists.
Drs. Fauci and Collins never talked to these prominent authors to discuss their differing points of view. Instead, they criticized them.
But where’s the data to support such a sweeping recommendation? The new mRNA vaccines expected to be authorized next month have no clinical trial results that are public. In fact, we know nothing about them. Urging the American people to blindly obey to take a novel mRNA vaccine is not only bad medicine, it’s bad policy. And it’s certainly not following the science.
We just saw this data ambush approach two months ago with the Covid vaccines for babies and toddlers. Here’s how the timeline played out. The White House and public health officials promised them and pushed them hard for children between the ages of 6-months and 5 years. Then vaccine manufacturers released data and declared them safe and effective (the media blindly parroted the message). Here’s the catch. The underlying data actually showed the study sample was too small to make safety conclusions, and most of the claimed effectiveness was statistically invalid. The Pfizer vaccine in babies and toddlers had no statistically significant efficacy. Moderna’s vaccine had an efficacy of just 4% in preventing asymptomatic children aged 6 months to 2 years. (Some European countries have restricted the use of Moderna’s vaccine for anyone under the age of 30 due to the risk of myocarditis). One frustrated CDC official told me the vaccines are so ineffective in young children it wouldn’t matter if you, “inject them with it or squirt it in their face.” Maybe that’s why after a month of pushing Covid vaccination for children under five, only 3% of them got the jab.
We’ve had enough, haven’t we? God knows, we are a tolerant people, but we’ve had enough. Because we did as we were told last time and stayed at home to support the NHS, the Office for National Statistics says there are now at least 1,000 more deaths than usual every week. In the spring of 2020, I predicted that lockdown would end up killing more people than Covid – one of only a handful of journalists prepared to ask what was going to happen to all the other ill people if the NHS shut them out. “Pearson wants people to die,” was the standard retort.
Well, today, it’s the lockdown enthusiasts who stand accused of abetting a massacre. Remember when, every night, the news used to update the total of Covid deaths? I’d like to see the BBC and ITV start reporting the daily toll of lives lost because cancers (and heart disease) were found too late. A terrifyingly large and growing number in the corner of the screen might just wake the public up to what I believe is fast becoming one of the biggest avoidable tragedies of modern times.
Australian authorities in effect copied New Zealand PM Jacinda Ardern’s doctrine of the health ministry as the “single source of truth” on coronavirus. The unavoidable consequence of this was attempts, with legacy and social media help, to marginalize and silence all dissenting voices. The more the latter’s warnings come true, the greater is the loss of trust in experts, institutions and ministers.
“Social pressure to have the ‘right’ opinion is pervasive in America today,” notes Populace, a social-research organization, in a report published this summer. “In recent years, polls have consistently found that most Americans, across all demographics, feel they cannot share their honest opinions in public for fear of offending others or incurring retribution.”
“One important, but underappreciated, consequence of a culture of censorship is that it can lead individuals not only to self-silence, but also publicly misrepresent their own private views (what scholars call preference falsification),” the authors add.
Given the events of recent years, it’s no surprise that some big disconnects are over COVID-19 responses and the management of public schools, which have become merciless battlefields.
“A majority of people say publicly that mask wearing was effective, but they don’t believe it in private,” Populace notes. “Whereas 59 percent of Americans publicly agree that wearing a mask was an effective way to stop the spread of COVID-19, only 47 percent privately hold that view (a 12-point gap).”
In 1772, Joseph Haydn and his musicians were spending a long summer performing at the country retreat of Hungary’s Prince Esterhazy. The musicians were restless and wanted to go home, but Esterhazy expected them to stay there as long as he did.
To change the prince’s mind, Haydn wrote a symphony. In the finale, each player, one by one, ends his music, snuffs out his candle, and exits—until only two violinists are left (one being Haydn) to quietly end the piece. Now known as the Farewell Symphony, it persuaded Esterhazy to release the troupe.
Esterhazy’s effort to control the musicians was about as heavy-handed as European governments got with respect to music in those glorious days between, say, 1700 and 1820. (Think, from Vivaldi and Telemann to Mozart and Beethoven.)
Over that period musical performances were enriched and diversified on multiple dimensions. The piano replaced the harpsichord, the cello replaced the bass viola da gamba, Bach brought the organ’s sounds to new heights—to mention just a few changes. Ways to share music—orchestras, quartets, sonatas, concertos, oratorios, and operas—proliferated. The styles we know of as Baroque, Classical, and Romantic began to solidify, and the stunning masterpieces that we love today emerged.
It was not planned, it was not forced, it was not “orchestrated.” It was, as Friedrich Hayek said about the world-wide economy, a spontaneous order.
When we think of the word “spontaneous” these days, we think of something that happens suddenly, like spontaneous combustion from an unlit haystack or the spontaneous outcry of an angry crowd. But the original meaning of the word (and the way Hayek used it) emphasizes the lack of a conscious plan or direction. It stems from a Latin word meaning “of one’s free will.” A complex spontaneous order—such as a modern economy—was not created or designed by anyone but came about by the purposive actions of many.
Unlike most other nations on the planet, the U.S. has substantially reduced its carbon emissions over the past 15 years. This is largely owing to the fracking revolution that replaced a lot of America’s coal with natural gas, which is cheaper and cleaner. Even without the new law, the U.S. was on track to cut emissions substantially by 2030, according to research by the Rhodium Group. Averaging their high and low emission predictions, the U.S. would drop emissions by almost 30% absent the new law. With the new law, emissions will decline instead by a little over 37%. The “most significant legislation in history” will actually cut emissions by less than eight percentage points.
While the administration talks up its emission reductions, it never seems to tout the law’s impact on temperature and sea level—for good reason. If you plug the predicted emissions decline into the climate model used for all major United Nations climate reports, it turns out the global temperature will be cut by only 0.0009 degree Fahrenheit by the end of the century. This is assuming the law’s emission reductions end when its funding does after 2030. But even if you charitably assume they’ll somehow be sustained through 2100 without any interruption, the impact on global temperature will still be almost unnoticeable, at 0.028 degree Fahrenheit.
The cost of the act also belies the oft-repeated claim that green technologies are already cheaper than fossil-fuel alternatives. If they were, they wouldn’t need enormous subsidies. If green energy is going to work, it needs to be as reliable and cheap as fossil fuels. Otherwise developing nations in particular aren’t going to switch to cleaner energy, preferring instead to focus on development and prosperity.