Long Covid is real. I have reliable patients who describe lingering symptoms after Covid infection. But public-health officials have massively exaggerated long Covid to scare low-risk Americans as our government gives more than $1 billion to a long Covid medical-industrial complex.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention claims that 20% of Covid infections can result in long Covid. But a U.K. study found that only 3% of Covid patients had residual symptoms lasting 12 weeks. What explains the disparity? It’s often normal to experience mild fatigue or weakness for weeks after being sick and inactive and not eating well. Calling these cases long Covid is the medicalization of ordinary life.
The NIH’s fear-mongering around long Covid has also been used to argue for keeping Covid restrictions in place. In November, the Biden administration issued a report on long Covid stating that mask mandates and vaccination “protect people from infection or reinfection and possible Long COVID,” despite no scientific evidence to support the claim.
Given the broad reach of population immunity to Covid today and the less severe nature of the illness, long Covid is less common and less severe than it was in 2020 or 2021. In my experience treating thousands of patients over two decades, people are forgiving if you are honest with them. If public-health officials want to regain the public trust, they should show more humility when it comes to Covid, including long Covid.
“Public-health officials have massively exaggerated long Covid to scare low-risk Americans as our government gives more than $1 billion to a long Covid medical-industrial complex”
Thank you, Dr. @MartyMakary for telling it like it is
Western public health pandemic decisions demolished the lives and livelihoods of the poorest in poor countries. The sin is almost too great to contemplate. Restoration starts with repentance.
The most obvious change in American politics this century is the sorting of voters along educational lines. The Democrats are increasingly the party of educated urban elites; the GOP belongs to the white working class. The dispute is over suburban and minority voters. The latter still plump mostly for Democrats, although the party’s social radicalism is pushing them toward the GOP. Voters with impressive educational credentials tend to be Democrats, and those without them lean strongly Republican.
That one party is the educated party—that its members see themselves, in some respects accurately, as more cultured and informed than their opponents—has generated an intellectual pathology that is obvious to everyone but themselves. Adherents of the smart-people party have lost the capacity for self-criticism. Which on its face makes sense. If your views are by definition intelligent, those of your critics must be dumb. Who needs self-reflection?
In any case, the silo/bubble metaphor doesn’t describe American politics in the 2020s for the simple reason that there is no silo or bubble. Or if there is, it’s very large and almost exclusively populated by adherents of the smart-people party.
If you’re on the right, you simply can’t isolate yourself from the habits and attitudes of left-liberal progressivism. They are everywhere. The most determined imbiber of right-wing opinion still watches television and movies and reads the mainstream press. The left-liberal outlook is expressed everywhere in these media, and generally it isn’t expressed as viewpoint but as established fact.
The conservative voter who follows nothing but right-wing accounts on social media still sees CNN as a captive audience at airports. He advises his college-age children as they negotiate campus environments in which they’re expected to state their “pronouns” and declare themselves “allies” of the “LGBTQ2SIA+ community.” However scornful of left-wing opinion he may be, his employer still subjects him to diversity training. He attends a concert by the local symphony orchestra and has to listen to a four-minute lecture about systemic racism or climate change before the music starts. He can’t watch a pro football game without enduring little pronouncements of wokeness. The right-winger may get 100% of his news from Republican-leaning news sites but still has to be vigilant as his 5-year-old browses the children’s section of the local public library.
There is no bubble, no silo, for such a person.
The urban-dwelling knowledge-class progressive experiences few such dissonant moments.
Consider the past two years of Democratic governance. A slender majority in the U.S. House and a 50-50 tie in the Senate somehow led Democrats to believe they had no opposition to speak of. At times they seemed literally to believe this, as when Sen. Bernie Sanders and others fulminated against his Democratic colleagues Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema for resisting President Biden’s so-called Build Back Better bill—as if the bill had two opponents and not 52.
Democrats and their backers in the news media, insisting on the infallibility of science, doubled down on onerous Covid restrictions long after it was clear that shutdowns, school closures and mask mandates were futile and destructive. In July of this year Anthony Fauci said his only regret is that he didn’t recommend “much, much more stringent restrictions” in the spring of 2020. Even now, long after the views of antimasking and antishutdown protesters have been largely vindicated on the available evidence, long after fans of China’s draconian restrictionism have been disgraced by the reality of China’s failure, no one has offered an apology or an admission of error.
But Republicans and conservatives, when they are empowered and can make decisions, can’t depend on elite society backing them up. If a Republican official somewhere expresses a view falling outside the liberal conventional wisdom, that official can expect opposition from every segment of educated elite society—Hollywood actors, Fortune 500 boardrooms, university-based experts and so on. Blowback from so many sources isn’t easy to take, and in that case the Republican official will often, perhaps usually, back down.
But this objection—the objection that Republicans often behave peremptorily—misses the point. The GOP is, increasingly, the party of the uneducated, of the uncredentialed worker who lacks proper data and nuance. Surely it is the educated voter, the respecter of scientific argumentation and informed debate, who bears a special responsibility to consider contrary views. It’s the smart person, not the stupid or ignorant one, who holds the gravest obligation to respect views other than his own. Yet owing to his status as a smart person, respecting other views is precisely what he can’t do.
In our article in the Southern Economic Journal, Justin Callais and I argue that economic freedom (our proxy for institutions) is a powerful force to enhance income mobility. We argue that, in fact, in addition to reducing legal hurdles, economic freedom’s well-documented effect on economic growth matters more for those at the bottom. If equal income gains for everyone are secured, the gains of an extra one percent income are marginally more opportunity-expanding for the poor than the rich. By allowing for more “absolute mobility,” economic freedom increases “relative mobility” as well.
In the article, we rely on intergenerational relative income mobility data published by the World Bank for more than 120 countries. Their estimates, which are based on people born in the late 1970s and early 1980s, are best available for a wide array of countries.
We then run horse-races between estimates of income inequality and economic freedom across a variety of different tests.
When the aggregate index of economic freedom is used, we find that it rivals the effects of income inequality. This, however, probably underestimates the importance of economic freedom, as some components of the indexes that measure economic freedom have ambiguous effects. The size of government, for example, can both increase and decrease intergenerational mobility. It depresses mobility through the impact of higher taxes that discourage investments (notably investments in human capital). It can increase mobility if taxes are used to finance educational programs that disproportionately benefit those at the bottom of the income ladder. As such, there is value in separating the different components of the economic freedom index.
When we do so, we find that regulations and the security of property rights are immensely powerful. These two sub-components of the economic freedom index are more powerful than income inequality is.