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Scott Atlas, Steve Hanke, Philip Kerpen, and Casey Mulligan have just published an excellent study the title of which is descriptive: “COVID Lessons Learned: A Retrospective After Four Years.” Three slices from the Executive Summary:

Lesson #1: Leaders Should Calm Public Fears, Not Stoke Them

Conventional wisdom pre-COVID was that communities respond best to pandemics when the normal social functioning of the community is least disrupted. During COVID, the public health establishment followed the opposite principle: they intentionally stoked and amplified fear, which overlaid enormous economic, social, educational, and health harms on top of the harms of the virus itself.

Non-COVID excess deaths from lockdowns and societal panic are estimated at about 100,000 per year in the United States and zero in non-lockdown Sweden.

Lesson #2: Lockdowns Do Not Work to Substantially Reduce Deaths or Stop Viral Circulation

Most lockdown measures were realized around the time when hospitalizations peaked, which due to the time- lag between infection and severe disease, necessarily occurs well after the infective peak. They were timed to claim credit for declining waves, but rarely had any discernible causal impact.

A comprehensive literature review was conducted by Herby, Jonung, and Hanke and published in an authoritative, peer-reviewed book by the Institute of Economic Affairs in London. The Herby-Jonung-Hanke Johns Hopkins research found: “lockdowns in the spring of 2020 had a negligible effect on COVID-19 mortality. This result is consistent with the view that voluntary changes in behavior, such as social distancing, did play an important role in mitigating the pandemic.”

A much wiser strategy than issuing lockdown orders would have been to tell the American people the truth, stick to the facts, educate citizens about the balance of risks, and let individuals make their own decision about whether to keep their businesses open, whether to socially isolate, attend church, send their children to school, and so on.


Lesson #9: Protect the Most Vulnerable

One of the most striking features of the earliest COVID morbidity and mortality data was a profound differential in risk between the old and the young.

When specific populations are known to have a high risk for death or serious illness, a strategic use of resources to heighten their protection and awareness should be employed. Specific steps might include: prioritized testing to nursing homes and senior centers; high-frequency testing of all nursing home staff and visitors; extra infection control standards in nursing homes, in alliance with hospitals; frequent monitoring and alert outreach to high-risk seniors in communities and nursing homes when infections are high.

Jay Bhattacharya talks with Canadian physician Kulvinder Kaur.

Martin Kulldorff tweets:

On Monday 3/18, the Supreme Court will hear our 1st amendment case on whether the government may pressure social media to censor content they don’t like.

About this case that the Court will hear on 3/18, George Will writes “government has no business bullying social media platforms on speech.” A slice:

Biden administration officials from the White House, FBI, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and other federal entities persistently contacted social media platforms in attempts to influence the platforms’ dissemination of various posts expressing views the government disliked or that it mincingly deemed “problematic.” Many concerned the pandemic and involved supposed “disinformation” (about lockdowns, masks, vaccines, etc.) that turned out to be not merely debatable but true.

In 2023, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit upheld a district court’s injunction against certain federal officials coercing, or too powerfully importuning, social media platforms to delete or otherwise disfavor certain constitutionally protected speech. The Biden administration asked the Supreme Court to disallow these “unprecedented limits on the ability of the President’s closest aides to use the bully pulpit to address matters of public concern” and on the FBI’s and CDC’s abilities to perform their missions.

Something certainly is unprecedented. Government attempts to shape the discourse on social media platforms are as new as the platforms. But government attempts to enlarge its reach are as old as government.

Clarity is elusive concerning when attempts at “persuasion” become “coercive.” And when “jawboning” or “cajoling” become impermissible pressure on the platforms. The common problem is government pressure to make the platforms’ “content moderation” policies — deciding what and who they will delete or downgrade — reflect government’s preferences.

Social media platforms are private entities that express, through those policies, their editorial preferences. When government interferes with these, the platforms suffer a First Amendment injury.

Vance Ginn explains that “taxing unrealized capital gains on property, stocks, and other assets is not just a bad idea, it’s an economic fallacy that undermines economic growth and personal liberty.” A slice:

The tax undermines personal liberty by infringing on individuals’ property rights and financial privacy. It gives the government unprecedented control over people’s assets and creates a powerful disincentive for individuals to save and invest. This is particularly troublesome in an era of increasing government surveillance and intrusion into private affairs.

Scott Bessent makes the case that Sam Bankman-Fried’s arrogant altrusism is no justification for a lighter prison sentence. Two slices:

He acted as if he were above the law. He played fast and loose with customers’ assets because he thought he knew better. He lied to customers about the safety of their assets, lent them to himself to speculate with in his hedge fund, and concealed the resulting losses by “borrowing” still more from his unwitting clients. This is the stuff of garden-variety Ponzi schemes.


By arguing that he deserves a lighter sentence because his motives were supposedly altruistic, Mr. Bankman-Fried’s legal team is asking Judge Lewis A. Kaplan to endorse the same twisted moral calculus that led the defendant into criminal activity in the first place.

It doesn’t matter if you agree with Mr. Bankman-Fried about how to make the world better, whether you support his veganism, his global-warming alarmism or his priorities for spending his ill-gotten gains. History teaches us that the greatest crimes are committed by those who believe they are mankind’s benefactors.

Eric Boehm is correct: “The U.S. Steel/Nippon deal should be none of Joe Biden’s business.” A slice:

Indeed, being bought by Nippon would potentially benefit everyone involved, from U.S. Steel’s shareholders and executives all the way down to the workers in its plants. Nippon has announced plans to invest $1.4 billion n reviving U.S. Steel—potentially doing something that neither former President Donald Trump’s tariffs nor Biden’s blue-collar schtick has been able to accomplish.

“In many ways, the deal is a victory for Biden’s attempts to revive American manufacturing,” explains The Wall Street Journal. “U.S. Steel would receive an injection of capital and technology. The U.S. and Japan would together take on China’s dominance in the global steel market.”

Biden’s opposition to the deal is partially about performative politics—about using these companies, their employees, their shareholders, their employees, and their customers, as pawns in an attempt to gain a marginal advantage in a contest for power: November’s election. That’s embarrassing.

It’s also a decision likely swayed by cronyism. As the Journal notes, Ohio-based Cleveland Cliffs made an unsuccessful bid to buy U.S. Steel last year, and the company has been lobbying hard to get federal officials to block the U.S. Steel/Nippon deal so it can have another shot at making the purchase. That’s gross.

Scott Lincicome decries government-imposed restrictions on the cottage-food industry.