Almost all of America’s leaders have gradually pulled back their COVID mandates, requirements, and closures—even in states like California, which had imposed the most stringent and longest-lasting restrictions on the public. At the same time, the media has been gradually acknowledging the ongoing release of studies that totally refute the purported reasons behind those restrictions. This overt reversal is falsely portrayed as “learned” or “new evidence.” Little acknowledgement of error is to be found. We have seen no public apology for promulgating false information, or for the vilification and delegitimization of policy experts and medical scientists like myself who spoke out correctly about data, standard knowledge about viral infections and pandemics, and fundamental biology.
The historical record is critical. We have seen a macabre Orwellian attempt to rewrite history and to blame the failure of widespread lockdowns on the lockdowns’ critics, alongside absurd denials of officials’ own incessant demands for them. In the Trump administration, Dr. Deborah Birx was formally in charge of the medical side of the White House’s coronavirus task force during the pandemic’s first year. In that capacity, she authored all written federal policy recommendations to governors and states and personally advised each state’s public health officials during official visits, often with Vice President Mike Pence, who oversaw the entire task force. Upon the inauguration of President Joe Biden, Dr. Anthony Fauci became chief medical advisor and ran the Biden pandemic response.
We must acknowledge the abject failure of the Birx-Fauci policies. They were enacted, but they failed to stop the dying, failed to stop the infection from spreading, and inflicted massive damage and destruction particularly on lower-income families and on America’s children.
Numerous experts—including John Ioannidis, David Katz, and myself—called for targeted protection, a safer alternative to widespread lockdowns, in national media beginning in March of 2020. That proposal was rejected. History’s biggest public health policy failure came at the hands of those who recommended the lockdowns and those who implemented them, not those who advised otherwise.
The tragic failure of reckless, unprecedented lockdowns that were contrary to established pandemic science, and the added massive harms of those policies on children, the elderly, and lower-income families, are indisputable and well-documented in numerous studies. This was the biggest, the most tragic, and the most unethical breakdown of public health leadership in modern history.
“An incalculable number of lives were likely saved by delaying what would have been the natural spread of the virus” [so wrote Achenbach]. Good grief. Is it really 2023 and a national newspaper will still print such blatant misinformation? With so many studies now making clear that restrictions had no clear relationship with outcomes, where are the fact checkers when you need them? Presumably reading the latest work of fiction from Neil Ferguson et al.
The WashPo even wheels out the ‘man collapsed in Wuhan street and died from deadly virus’ image from January 2020 to adorn its ludicrously lockdownphilic piece.
Isabel Oakeshott talks with Brendan O’Neill about why she released the Lockdown Files – files that expose the … the… the… oh, I truly cannot find a word sufficiently harsh to convey just how evil were covidians with political power.
Opposing the relentless raft of lockdown policies was a lonely and, at times, extremely unpleasant experience. Those of us who voiced concerns about effectively closing down a country were labelled as far-Right extremists who were happy to see millions perish to the disease. It was a disgrace, legitimised by low-grade politicians such as Matt Hancock who were far too interested in advancing their own public image. Thousands succumbed to the destructive, and often pointless, lockdown measures they pushed at every opportunity.
My lockdown inbox was overflowing with desperate cancer patients whose treatment had been indefinitely postponed. I remember one case of a mother who had her chemotherapy cancelled, leading to her tragic death leaving behind three young children and a loving husband. And it’s not just cancer: cardiac issues untreated, blood pressure out of control, strokes uncared for, other preventative measures forgotten and of course soaring obesity. The post-lockdown crisis is across all aspects of healthcare, physical and mental. That is for those lucky enough to receive any medical support or diagnosis at all. Others were told to stay home and that’s exactly what they did – dying there without the care they needed and deserved.
To those of you who took a brave stand speaking out against various restrictions and policies – from me, a sincere thank you. We comprehensively lost the argument in the court of public opinion, but hopefully a small difference was made. I suspect the national mood may have significantly shifted over the last week. Sunlight is the best disinfectant after all, and spring is on the way.
Consider the export subsidies that have been around for decades. These handouts mostly benefit the same giant manufacturers, like Boeing and GE, that were the main beneficiaries decades ago. It doesn’t matter which party is in power: Big exporters will collect their largesse and express their gratitude to friends in Congress with campaign contributions and votes. This is why The Wall Street Journal‘s Andy Kessler calls this crony system “Kickback Capitalism.”
Once you understand how political capitalism works, it becomes obvious that it drives most decisions in Congress. For decades, sugar subsidies have benefited the same small group of wealthy sugar-beet farmers and processors through an unholy alliance with politicians that goes far beyond who happens to be in power in Washington, Florida, or Louisiana.
The CHIPS and Science Act, passed last year, is another episode of politicians granting favors to their friends in the semiconductor industry. The previous episode took place in the 1980s and ran through the 1990s.
The COVID-19 era’s $54 billion in airline bailouts were allegedly granted to avoid the layoff of some 30,000 airline employees. Yet during that same time, Regal Cinemas announced the temporary closure of all 536 of its U.S. locations and furloughed 40,000 employees. There was no one in Congress calling for a special Regal bailout (thankfully). The simple reason is that the airline bailouts were not about airline employees as much as they were a means of granting a favor to airline shareholders who have many friends in Congress.
Maybe the most striking example of political capitalism took place during former President Donald Trump’s administration, on live TV no less. Back in March of 2018, Trump hosted a “listening session” with steel and aluminum executives he had invited to the White House. The whole thing was televised, allowing us to see Trump joking around with his CEO friends while they pleaded for government support for their industry. The head of Nucor, for instance, told the president how his 25,000 employees would really benefit from steel tariffs imposed on American buyers of steel. And just like that, those of us watching saw in real time the president grant Nucor’s demand.