George Will bids adieu to 2022. Two slices:
The Federal Emergency Management Agency denied that Vladimir Putin’s nuclear saber-rattling explained its recommendation that, if nuclear war seems imminent, Americans taking shelter should practice social distancing and wear masks. FEMA says its “nuclear explosion” guidelines predate the war in Ukraine.
This year was replete with reminders that we increasingly live in a “permission society” that requires government’s approval to do even sensible things. For example, when Hurricane Ian ripped the roofs off many Floridians’ homes, Terence Duque, a Texas roofer, hastened to Florida’s Charlotte County to ply his suddenly much-needed trade. This commercial activity between consenting adults got Duque arrested by the County’s Economic Crimes Unit for being useful: for conducting business without — wait for it — a Florida license.
Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, scourge of the plutocracy, last year had “Tax the Rich” written on the back of her custom-made dress at the Met Gala, where a table cost up to $300,000. This year, arrested at an abortion-rights protest, the histrionic congresswoman walked with her hands behind her back, as though handcuffed, until she passed some supporters, to whom she gave a clenched-fist salute.
For instance, it’s high time for Congress to end tax deductions for employer-paid health insurance. This tax deduction is one of the biggest of what we wrongly call “tax expenditures.” It’s responsible for many of the gargantuan distortions in the health-care market and the resulting enormous rise in health-care costs. The CBO report doesn’t eliminate this deduction; instead, it limits the income and payroll tax exclusion to the 50th percentile of premiums (i.e. annual contributions exceeding $8,900 for individual coverage and $21,600 a year for family coverage). The savings from this reform alone would reduce the deficit by roughly $900 billion.
Dollar store chains, which serve primarily low-income communities, have taken a lot of heat in recent years. Incumbent retailers don’t like how stores like Dollar General are “stealing their customers.” Observers and activists find them aesthetically and socially unappealing. Anti-chain movements cloak themselves in nice-sounding rhetoric, but they are fundamentally efforts to suppress people’s commercial autonomy because special interests, observers, and activists don’t like the results. And as demagogues are wont to do, they are able to whip up resentment and gain support even among the people their demagoguery hurts by making impassioned, plausible-sounding cases that Walmart, Dollar General, or McDonald’s caused their poverty and distress.
Housing regulation is another kind of commercial voter suppression. Consider what happens when people rally to oppose new housing developments (you can probably find more than one example not far from you with a quick search). Efforts to restrict development or to require that housing construction go through a lengthy approval process are efforts, once gain, to suppress the dollar-votes of the people who would occupy the new housing.
In short, the federal government will now start acting like many other governments around the world, using the threat of force to get prices down to what it thinks is reasonable. I feel bad for drug companies because I feel bad for anyone who produces a product to help us and gets punished for doing so.
But even if you don’t feel bad for drug companies, you should feel bad for yourself. The reason is that the federal government will be forcing down prices on an increasing number of drugs and those drugs, given that they’re covered by Medicare, are the kind that we seniors disproportionately use.
As a pediatric intensive-care-unit doctor, I am not surprised that prolonged symptoms following Covid in children were exaggerated, since Covid in children is so mild compared with in adults. But vaccine reactions, including heart inflammation, are unfortunately common in teenagers, especially in males after the second dose.
I’m not that concerned about long Covid in kids. I am, however, very concerned with what might be called “long Covid vaccine.” I welcomed the vaccine when it was released in January 2021 and worked long hours as a vaccinator at our local clinic. I never envisioned that this vaccine would later be mandated for healthy young adults as a prerequisite for college admission or as a cudgel to prevent one’s dismissal from the military. Dr. Makary provides nuance and intellectual curiosity to the Covid discussion, a healthy change from the many so-called experts who were trotted out seemingly to sell the vaccine to the masses.
Robert M. Spear, M.D.
Why did so many lockdown proponents, and even those who remained silent as this tyranny was being practiced upon humanity, not foresee this development – a development that was obvious to a handful of us from the very start?
Governments have been the most important and most damaging source of covid misinformation during the pandemic. With the Indiana AG’s office & @MartinKulldorff, we prepared a list of particulars, including recovered immunity, school closures, etc.