In my column for the August 26th, 2011, edition of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review I applauded public-choice scholars and scholarship. You can read my column beneath the fold.

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Reason’s Charles Oliver reports on Covidocratic tyranny in Santa Cruz County, CA:

The Santa Cruz County, California, health officer has announced that masks will be required indoors indefinitely as part of its efforts to reduce the spread of COVID-19. Private homes are exempt from the order if only members of the household are present. But if there are people who live elsewhere inside the home, everyone must wear a mask. The order does not exempt those who are fully vaccinated.

Wall Street Journal columnist Holman Jenkins – writing in response to the omicron variant – is correct: “Covid overkill is bad for everybody except the politicians.” Three slices:

The latest variant of concern may be indeed that most expected of evolutionary developments, a virus resistant to existing vaccines. This is what follows from putting our vaccines into 4.5 billion arms. Early readings suggest Omicron may also be that other expected thing, a variant producing milder symptoms. Evolutionarily, the virus wants you to remain active, energetic and meeting lots of people and sneezing on them.

To someone in my age group and health, encountering Covid-19 unvaccinated would be like putting a gun to my head with 150 empty chambers and one bullet. I could further lower these odds and did, some 90%, by being vaccinated. By now facing Covid for the vast majority of Americans is like facing one bullet for many thousands of empty chambers, thanks to vaccines and natural immunity plus youth and general good health.

…..

Omicron’s arrival is an appropriate moment, in fact, for a new memoir from Trump Covid adviser Scott Atlas. His book has been rightly likened to “Mr. Smith Goes to Washington,” in the sense of rediscovering that Washington’s real job isn’t policy, it’s politics.

Dr. Atlas repeatedly pulls his hair over an early Covid response in which hundreds of thousands of elderly and highly vulnerable people died while politicians focused inordinately on isolating and protecting those at little risk.

But this approach actually solved a real problem. It just happened to be the problem of how politicians could negotiate the Covid moment with the least damage to their own careers.

Their intuitive weathervaning was on the money. For older voters, lockdowns were barely an inconvenience and showed politicians pleasingly devoted to their health at any cost. For many affluent voters, lockdowns were a work-at-home lark, and their 401(k)s went up thanks to the Federal Reserve.

Less affluent and younger voters were more of a mixed bag, but some could be bought off with government checks. And of course, America’s schoolchildren, who suffered most and benefited least from lockdowns, don’t vote.

Voilà. Many of the prescriptions imposed by Washington and the state capitals may have inflicted needless damage while doing little real good against the virus, but they proved shockingly successful at reproducing (to use a verb favored by political scientists) their own political power.

…..

The stock market, which is never as dumb as people think, recognizes as much. It continues to tremble not from fear of a new variant but from fear of what political incentive might again do to the economy and business.

Christian Britschgi documents some instances of how the arrival of omicron is fueling renewed Covid Derangement. A slice:

Everything else that politicians are currently doing, from masking to porous travel bans, feels like so much political theater. It’s a well-worn script that officials are apparently committed to following every time a new COVID variant pops into existence.

Harvey Risch and Gerard Bradley explain that “Covid-19 vaccine mandates fail the Jacobson test.” A slice:

Similarly, Covid-19 vaccine mandates for children are unwarranted because children almost entirely get infected from their parents or other adults in the household, and infrequently transmit the infection to their classmates, teachers or uninfected household adults.

Normal healthy children do not die from Covid-19, and the 33 children aged 5-11 years estimated by the CDC to have died from Covid-19 between October 3, 2020 and October 2, 2021 all had chronic conditions like diabetes, obesity, being immunocompromised (e.g., after cancer treatment) that put them at high risk, and even these numbers are much lower than childhood deaths from traffic and pedestrian accidents, or even being hit by lightning. Covid-19 in children is almost entirely an asymptomatic or mild disease typified by fever and tiredness and resolves on its own in 2-3 days of rest. Thus, vaccine mandates for children are unwarranted.

Ron Bailey rightly complains, about the FDA, that “[t]he same agency that stymied COVID-19 testing is now dawdling over approving new antiviral pills.” (DBx: Focus on realities such as this one, dear readers – and especially those of you who insist that Covid justifies trusting government officials with more power.)

el gato malo decries the absurdities about omicron.

Silkie Carlo writes, in the Telegraph, that “[g]overnment by diktat is becoming the new normal. We must resist it before it’s too late.” Two other slices:

We are clearly in a period of prolonged exceptionalism — the kind that redefines a country and its values. The muscle memory we have acquired from repeated executive-imposed lockdowns is impossible to unlearn. The Government’s continued avoidance of parliamentary scrutiny — unless forced by backbench pressure — treats democracy as part-time, debate as futile, and opposition as something to be squashed.

Let’s be honest, this is exactly how politicians intoxicated with power want it to be.
…..
Magna Carta enshrined the ancient democratic principle that the law is above the word of the King. But the word of Covid authoritarians has emerged as its own supreme authority that increasingly we are scolded for questioning.

In which case, we must question it more.

Telegraph columnist Allison Pearson writes that “[t]he omicron hysteria shows we are being led by experts who have no idea what living a normal life is.” A slice:

Well, David, this week I am not angry. I am raging. Since that lovely lunch, they have come up with a new variant which has pleased a lot of people no end. “We now interrupt this normal life to bring you something you didn’t know you needed to be scared about (which, probably, you don’t actually need to be scared of) but we’re going to scare you anyway because there are some concerns you seem to be enjoying your freedom rather too much so we are here to remind you that freedom is conditional on not enjoying yourself and remaining suitably scared.”

How else are we to interpret the impertinent statement by Dr Jenny Harries, current head of NHS Test and Trace, that “being careful, not socialising when we don’t particularly need to” is the way people can “do their bit” to reduce the spread of the new omicron variant? “And, of course, our behaviours, particularly around Christmas we tend to socialise more, so I think all of those will need to be taken into account,” averred Harries. Let me take a wild guess that Jenny has never downed three of Uncle Des’s Snowball cocktails and been Mariah Carey with a Santa hat in the family karaoke contest.

It is a golden rule of mine that anyone who uses “behaviour” in the plural is a nerd with a very limited understanding of what makes humans happy. Unfortunately, the geeks have inherited the Earth. In the past year and a half, narrow scientific minds have come to exercise undue influence on the Government and now they are upset that their control over the rest of us is, like Covid, waning fast. What do you suppose Harries has in mind when she says “not socialising when we don’t particularly need to”?

Philip Johnston says what too few say: “Masks aren’t a minor inconvenience. They’re dehumanising and controlling.” Two slices:

I object to masks not because my reading glasses steam up or my breathing is impaired but because they are dehumanising devices that should be obligatory only in extremis, not as a go-to expedient for a panicky Cabinet.

…..

Mass mask wearing is the most visible sign of public willingness to go along with this madness every time there is a variant, which is why the scientific case for doing so either needs to be unambiguous or I must be made to wear one by law.

Writing at UnHerd, Paul Kingsnorth decries vaccine mandates and Covidocratic repression. A slice:

Perhaps it’s my age, or perhaps it’s just blind prejudice, but when I wake to the news that the Austrian government has interned an entire third of its national population as a danger to public health, a chill runs down my spine.

I look at the news photos of armed, masked, black-clad police stopping people in the streets to ask for their digital papers, and I read stories of others arrested for leaving their own house more than the permitted once a day, and I hear Austrian politicians intoning that those who refuse to accede to the injection are to be shunned and scapegoated until they acquiesce.

Then I watch interviews with “ordinary people”, and they say that the “unvaxxed” had it coming. Some of them say that they should all be jailed, these enemies of the people. At best, the “anti-vaxxers” are paranoid and misinformed. At worst they are malicious, and should be punished.

Then I look across the border at Germany. I see that in Germany, politicians are also considering interning the “vaccine hesitant”, and are also discussing enforcing vaccination upon every citizen. By the end of the winter, says Germany’s refreshingly honest health minister, Germans will be “vaccinated, cured or dead”. There is apparently no fourth option.

In Australia, the Covidocracy doubles down on its tyrannical ways.

Dan Wootton writes that “[i]f we don’t stand up to our hysterical Omicron overlords now then I fear our future as a free people is lost forever.” A slice:

Much of it was sparked by the deja vu of a dreaded 5pm emergency Saturday evening press conference – like the one that saw the government unfathomably ‘cancel Christmas’ for millions of us last year thanks to Delta – where the fear and hysteria of a new Covid scariant was expertly whipped up.

But this time Boris Johnson, Chris Whitty and Patrick Vallance were not the Three Wise Men, they were the Three Clueless Blokes.

None of them has any idea if the Omicron variant is more transmissible or – crucially – if it evades the vaccines.

In fact, so far there is no evidence of pretty much anything at all.

The South African scientists who had discovered the thing in the first place warned we were chronically overreacting, rather than waiting for evidence.

But who cares!

In the hysterical new world where only Covid matters, it was full steam ahead with a raft of new restrictions.

Travel bans are back (including for South Africa as some sort of bizarre punishment for using their brilliant science to warn the world).

So too are mask mandates on public transport and in retail settings, ten day self-isolation for Omicron contacts and compulsory day two PCR testing for all travellers, including home isolation while awaiting results.

Even then, the BBC, ITV and Sky News didn’t think Boris and the doomsday duo had gone anywhere near far enough.

Such a hysterical overreaction to a scariant before waiting for the facts has been my worst nightmare come true.

All the warnings folk like me have been making for the past 20 months are coming to fruition: The mad scientists are in control and, if we continue to allow them to act like this, a return to normal is no longer achievable.

In fact, I’m beginning to doubt if the normality I so desperately crave – a world where we make sensible decisions for ourselves, weighing up all the usual risk factors like we do every single day – will ever return.

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Quotation of the Day…

by Don Boudreaux on December 1, 2021

in Current Affairs, Politics

… is from page 651 of the 1988 collection of Lord Acton’s writings (edited by the late J. Rufus Fears), Essays in Religion, Politics, and Morality; specifically, it’s a note drawn from Acton’s extensive papers at Cambridge University; (I can find no date for this passage; typo corrected):

You shoot a general who shows cowardice in the field. What punishment is there for the ministers who in the cabinet crouch in terror before the foe, and demoralize the spirit of the people?

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Here’s a video of the talk – the Pope Lecture – that I gave at Clemson University earlier this month (November 11th). I thank Brad and Sidney Thompson for honoring me with the invitation to deliver this lecture.

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(HT David Henderson)

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In my column for the August 10th, 2011, edition of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review I identify the essence of modern government.  You can read my column beneath the fold.

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The Wall Street Journal‘s Editorial Board continues to be one of the mainstream media’s relatively few voices of sanity amidst the on-going and self-fueling Covid hysteria. A slice:

One politician who hasn’t got the message is New York Gov. Kathy Hochul, who invoked Omicron to declare a disaster emergency that will let the state suspend elective procedures at hospitals if their staffed-bed capacity falls below 10%. But the real cause of the “disaster” is her mandate requiring that healthcare workers be vaccinated.

Ms. Hochul has refused to allow even religious exemptions to her mandate. In September she issued an executive order that would allow the National Guard to fill staffing shortages at hospitals and nursing homes if needed. By mid-October, the state reported that 4,100 unvaccinated workers were put on furlough or unpaid leave, 3,100 had been fired and another 1,300 quit or retired.

Many hospitals, especially in upstate rural areas, were already short of staff. Now those that are stretched will have to postpone elective procedures, which are a crucial source of hospital revenue. Reprising Andrew Cuomo, Ms. Hochul is defending her destructive vaccine mandate while compensating for its unintended harm with another destructive policy.

And here’s the conclusion of Wall Street Journal columnist James Freeman’s latest:

For starters Mr. Biden should forget about more masks and mandates and demand that his FDA immediately approve what appears to be a highly effective Covid treatment–or clearly explain to the public why it won’t. Whether or not Mr. Biden can keep his honesty pledge, he can at least be held accountable.

Reason‘s Jacob Sullum explains why we shouldn’t “expect Joe Biden’s travel ban to save America from the omicron variant.

Here are the transcript and video of a debate from last November between Jay Bhattacharya and Marc Lisitch.

Jeffrey Tucker interviews Shannon Robinson, the lead plaintiff in a case challenging Covidocratic tyranny in Missouri.

Fauci’s “La science c’est moi” moment prompts this spot-on tweet from Jay Bhattacharya:

No true scientist believes that anyone who contradicts him ipso facto argues against the truth. No one with such hubris should be at the center of COVID policy.

And here’s Jay Bhattacharya’s recent discussion with Dan Proft and Amy Jacobson.

Writing at UnHerd, Toby Green and Thomas Fazi decry the left’s “Covid failure.” Two slices:

Throughout the various phases of the global pandemic, people’s preferences in terms of epidemiological strategies have tended to overlap closely with their political orientation. Ever since Donald Trump and Jair Bolsonaro expressed doubts as to the wisdom of a lockdown strategy in March 2020, liberals and those on the Left of the Western political spectrum, including most socialists, have fallen over themselves to adhere in public to the lockdown strategy of pandemic mitigation — and lately to the logic of vaccine passports. Now as countries across Europe experiment with tighter restrictions of the unvaccinated, Left-wing commentators — usually so vocal in the defence of minorities suffering from discrimination — are notable for their silence.

As writers who have always positioned ourselves on the Left, we are disturbed at this turn of events. Is there really no progressive criticism to be made about the quarantining of healthy individuals, when the latest research suggests there is a vanishingly small difference in terms of transmission between the vaccinated and the unvaccinated? The Left’s response to Covid now appears as part of a broader crisis in Left-wing politics and thought — one which has been going on for three decades at least. So it’s important to identify the process through which this has taken shape.

In the first phase of the pandemic — the lockdowns phase — it was those leaning towards the cultural and economic right who were more likely to emphasise the social, economic and psychological damage resulting from lockdowns. Meanwhile, Donald Trump’s initial lockdown scepticism made this position untenable for most of those leaning towards the cultural and economic Left. Social media algorithms then further fuelled this polarisation. Very quickly, therefore, Western leftists embraced lockdown, seen as a “pro-life” and “pro-collective” choice — a policy that, in theory, championed public health or the collective right to health. Meanwhile any criticism of the lockdowns was excoriated as a “right-wing”, “pro-economy” and “pro-individual” approach, accused of prioritising “profit” and “business as usual” over people’s lives.

…..

Another Left-wing fantasy that has been shuttered by reality is the notion that the pandemic would usher in a new sense of collective spirit, capable of overcoming decades of neoliberal individualism. On the contrary, the pandemic has fractured societies even more – between the vaccinated and the unvaccinated, between those who can reap the benefits of smart working and those who can’t. Moreover, a demos made up of traumatised individuals, torn apart from their loved ones, made to fear one another as a potential vectors of disease, terrified of physical contact – is hardly a good breeding ground for collective solidarity.

Also writing on the left’s embrace of Covidocratic tyranny is former Labour MP Tom Harris. Two slices:

Take the latest Covid variant, omicron. You might have imagined that this new development is a matter for policy-makers who seek to steer us through an economic recovery while putting in place the necessary practical safeguards to prevent a spike in hospitalisations. But you would be wrong.

To many, the Omicron variant is a welcome opportunity to impose, or reimpose, government restrictions on the way we conduct our lives. And those who resent or resist such impositions will find themselves neatly categorised under the same heading as Brexiteers, Trump supporters and opponents of trans self-identification.

It’s a wholly disingenuous process that makes false assumptions about our fellow citizens based on our own prejudices. The new divide in our society, it seems, is between those who relish the prospect of tougher mask-wearing and social distancing rules and those of us who can’t wait for all this to be over with.

The journalist Dominic Lawson has written about the Left’s love of lockdowns — a scurrilous notion, until you actually start looking at the evidence. Lawson cites good examples, such as Professor Susan Michie, a member of the SAGE committee and a lifelong communist who seems to believe China’s strongarm anti-Covid tactics should be emulated here.

Indeed I have noticed this yearning for restrictions, this disconcerting enthusiasm for anything that smacks of government diktat, during personal interactions with friends who are Labour Party supporters.

One of my Facebook friends wrote indignantly about what seemed to him to be a life-threatening experience in a coffee shop. A stranger had sat in a seat opposite him to drink coffee. That’s it. The jeopardy started and ended with someone sitting near him. Given that my friend and his nemesis were in the coffee shop for the same reason — to drink coffee — masks were not worn. But my friend nevertheless took to Facebook to bewail the insensitive disregard that was apparently on show.

…..

My perception is that there is a lack of empathy among many on the Left for people who work in the private sector, or indeed own a business, to whom the re-imposition of restrictions can cause great financial harm. Both the restaurant owner and the café barrister are expected to embrace financial uncertainty for the supposed greater good.

Covid hysterics – and the anti-social fears that these hysterics fuel – are again rising in Britain.

“It’s funny how it’s always children who lose out from Covid restrictions” – so writes Robert Taylor in the Telegraph. A slice:

In the first year of the pandemic, around 100,000 people in the UK died after testing positive for Covid. Of these, just 0.025 per cent were children. That’s tragic for the families of those 25, of whom six were otherwise healthy. Awful and unthinkable. But during that same period, around 50 children were killed on Britain’s roads, and around 16,000 injured. Every year, hundreds of teenagers commit suicide. Where are the panicky measures for them?

So, let’s not pretend that Covid restrictions – whether testing, bubbles, one-way systems, masks or stay-off-school orders – are for the benefit of children. The reverse is true. Disruption to education has been so bad that it would cost £15 billion to provide a catch-up service. Pupils lost half a year of progress. Many suffered mental health issues and domestic abuse. Skills relating to communication, fine motor and problem-solving are lower than they’ve been for many years. An Ofsted report bluntly states “Repeated isolation has chipped away at the progress pupils have made”.

We know all of this, and more. Yet we are willingly, wilfully, about to put children through it all over again.

Also in the Telegraph is columnist Sherelle Jacobs’s expression of fear that the Whitehall “blob” will react to the omicron variant by again locking down the British people. A slice:

Omicron has also empowered the usual suspects to demand the tightening of measures, before we know anything about the true threat it poses. It is all alarmingly familiar: while the teachers’ union calls for bubbles to be reimposed in schools, the broadcast media incredulously asks why Boris Johnson is yet to demand people work from home. It is groundhog day north of the border, too, as Nicola Sturgeon reverts to her usual populist tricks, trying to browbeat the PM into vapid gesture politics. Yesterday, true to form, she called for a pointless increase of self-isolation for arrivals to eight days.

Tim Stanley laments the fact that “[w]e have normalised the extraordinary and let fundamental British values be trampled by Covid.” A slice:

It’s true that we’re not fully locked down, and our rules aren’t as draconian as in parts of Europe, but don’t swallow the propaganda that these measures, however proportionate, are “light”. Cancelled travel means divided families. PCR testing and isolation on return from abroad will hit the travel industry hard. Isolation if you come into contact with a carrier is a recipe for another pingdemic. Then there are the masks, compulsory on transport and in shops, which might do some good and bring a little comfort, but are also irritating, uncomfortable and an invasion of our civil liberties. This matters, or should.

A keen interest in human rights should extend from the prisoner in their cell to the migrant at sea, and yet the general population has been desensitised as to how unusual and unhealthy it is for a government to be able to order us to cover our faces without an immediate parliamentary vote – and with only a smattering of MPs predicted to oppose.

Labour and the broadcast media will nudge ministers to go further; the vast majority of voters will comply. We have normalised the extraordinary, accepting as inevitable phenomena that contradict the fundamentals of what I was taught was the British way of life, such as snooping, emotionalism and invasive policing. Someday, we’ll have to sit down with a pencil and paper and rewrite our national myth.

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Quotation of the Day…

by Don Boudreaux on November 30, 2021

in Philosophy of Freedom

… is from page 99 of the late Christopher Hitchens’s excellent little 2001 tract, Letters to a Young Contrarian:

Distrust any speaker who talks confidently about “we,” or speaks in the name of “us.” Distrust yourself if you hear these tones creeping into your own style. The search for security and majority is not always the same as solidarity; it can be another name for consensus and tyranny and tribalism. Never forget that, even if there are “masses” to be invoked, or “the people” to be praised, they and it must by definition be composed of individuals.

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In my latest column for AIER, I do my best to debunk the claim that a policy of free trade is elitist. A slice:

Even the former staunch free trader Paul Krugman now complains that the full-throated case for free trade is an elitist “scam.”

Nonsense.

A policy of free trade is nothing more than a policy under which ordinary people are left unmolested to spend their incomes in whatever peaceful ways they choose. It’s a policy of government not penalizing or prohibiting commercial exchanges merely because the counterparties to those exchanges happen to live abroad. Free trade is a policy of not forcing fellow citizens – whether they be ‘elites’ or the most humble – to pay for special privileges granted to powerful interest groups.

Under a policy of free trade, all producers must earn their livings honestly – that is, by supplying genuine value to consumers as consumers judge that value and not according to what that value is asserted to be by producers themselves, or by their cronies in government. Under a policy of free trade government does not deny any of its citizens, either as consumers or as producers, the opportunity to get the most for their money in voluntary exchange with others – nor, however, does government artificially inflate the incomes of the politically potent by forcibly transferring income away from the politically impotent.

Free trade is a policy of simply leaving people alone. Free trade is not imposed; free trade is the absence of government impositions. Those who argue that free trade is imposed imply that when Jones, after taking Smith hostage, eventually releases Smith from captivity, that Jones thereby imposes freedom on Smith. But of course Jones does no such thing. Likewise, a government that removes obstructions that it once imposed on its citizens’ freedom to enter into commercial exchanges does not impose freedom on its citizens; it restores its citizens’ rightful freedom. It returns to them what is rightfully theirs – what should never in the first place have been taken from them.

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The Wall Street Journal reports that “[e]vidence grows that infections provide as much protection as vaccines.” A slice:

Immune memory, however, appears to be stronger following infection. The Rockefeller research group found in an earlier study, also published in Nature, that the antibodies produced by memory B cells—which quickly multiply in subsequent encounters with the virus—continued to evolve at least a year after infection. The study on vaccinated people found that the antibodies produced by their memory B cells didn’t change much over time.

One possible reason for the difference, they said, was that pieces of virus remain in the body for weeks after infection, whereas vaccine particles fade away faster. The upshot: The immune memory of people who have been infected is ready to produce a broader array of antibodies than of people who have been vaccinated.

The above WSJ report prompted Jeffrey Singer, M.D., to quip on Facebook: “You mean everything I learned about immunity in medical school is correct?”

Here’s the Times of India on the omicron variant. (HT Jeffrey Singer) Two slices:

The new Omicron variant of the coronavirus results in mild disease, without prominent syndromes, Angelique Coetzee, the chairwoman of the South African Medical Association, told Sputnik on Saturday.
…..
“It presents mild disease with symptoms being sore muscles and tiredness for a day or two not feeling well. So far, we have detected that those infected do not suffer loss of taste or smell. They might have a slight cough. There are no prominent symptoms. Of those infected some are currently being treated at home,” Coetzee said.

The official noted that hospitals have not been overburdened by Omicron patients and that the new strain is not been detected in vaccinated persons. At the same time, the situation might be different for the unvaccinated.
“We will only know this after two weeks. Yes, it is transmissible, but for now, as medical practitioners, we do not know why so much hype is being driven as we are still looking into it. We will only know after two to three weeks as there are some patients admitted and these are young people aged 40 and younger,” Coetzee added.

Why can’t all world ‘leaders’ – as they are comically called – be like Madrid’s Isabel Díaz Ayuso? Three slices:

Madrid’s rising star leader on Friday attacked “paternalistic” Left-wing governments for confining people to their homes as she warned that any return to a Covid lockdown would be remembered as a “historical error”.

Isabel Díaz Ayuso, the president of Madrid’s regional authority, defied Spain’s socialist government to free her city from a lockdown she believed was doing more harm than good.

Ms Ayuso was able to use devolved powers to apply the loosest set of restrictions to business and leisure in Spain before abandoning all limits last month.

“The economy is also a health question,” said Ms Ayuso in her imposing offices in the centre of Madrid.

“Playing off health and economy against each other is a lie, because what happens to the people who are ruined? What about their health? And the people who commit suicide or suffer depression?”

…..

“What is happening is an abuse of power, and lockdowns are a failure – even in health terms. Many governments around the world go straight for lockdowns without trying all the alternatives, whether it is because they lack creativity or courage.”

The 43-year-old was catapulted to star status after reopening the Spanish capital for business. “Ayusomania” transformed her into a political phenomenon, as well as a hate figure for the Left, and she is tipped to one day be Spain’s first female prime minister.

…..

The streets bustle in a capital famous for its 24-hour lifestyle, with cafes and restaurants now doing a roaring trade into the small hours of the morning. Things were very different in the dark early days of the pandemic, when Spain instituted one of Europe’s strictest lockdowns.

“We have shown that lockdowns are not the answer. We have gone on the attack against the virus and not against businesses,” said Ms Ayuso, who added that people needed to take “individual responsibility” to fight the pandemic.

She said she had weathered “unprecedented pressure” after going against lockdown. Her stance brought her into conflict with some senior figures in her Right-wing Popular Party (PP) as well as the ruling socialist coalition, for whom she reserves trademark scorn.

“Paternalistic Left-wing governments think that citizens are better off locked-up in their homes and living off subsidies,” she said. “We have shown in Madrid that you can fight the virus without destroying people’s personal hopes and dreams.”

Here’s Professor Ellen Townsend’s written evidence, submitted to Parliament, on “[t]he human rights implications of long lockdown and the damaging impact on young people.” (HT Jay Bhattacharya) Two slices (footnotes deleted):

The rights and needs of young people have been ignored in this crisis and this is a national and global disaster in the making. The future of our youngsters has been sacrificed in order to protect adults which goes against the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (article 3) states: “In all actions concerning children, whether undertaken by public or private social welfare institutions, courts of law, administrative authorities or legislative bodies, the best interests of the child shall be a primary consideration”. The lockdown measures taken are not proportionate to the risks posed by the virus to young people and below I outline some of the evidence demonstrating the disproportionate impact of lockdowns on young people. Lockdowns deprive young people of the right to education, to normal psychological development, to good mental health and wellbeing.

Lockdowns and school closures disrupt our normal functioning and social interaction – we are fundamentally social beings. For young children, face-to-face play is essential to wellbeing. For some children, playtime at school is the only time they are able to interact with other children. Playing closely with peers protects against mental ill health and without this essential contact young people have felt very lonely and isolated in lockdown with deleterious and long-term impacts on mental health: the impact of loneliness on mental health can be seen up to nine years later. The social and emotional benefits of playing together cannot be understated.
…..
There are other areas which impact on children which are beyond my professional scope which include missed health checks, screening, operations, treatments and vaccinations. Moreover, poverty, hunger and homelessness are increasing the more lockdown policies are implemented.

The long-term consequences of harms to young people (or indeed people of any age) have not been accounted for in policy making. All other harms are being trumped by Covid-19 which is not how a holistic and compassionate public health system should operate. We must name and account for the harms caused by lockdowns in robust cost-benefit analyses and impact assessments which must be transparent and published.

It is time to prioritise the rights and needs of young people in this crisis and weigh the harms caused by social restrictions and lockdowns. We are letting down a generation of young people who may never for forgive us for the harms we have caused.

Robert Higgs on Facebook:

Run, Chicken Little, run! The omicron variant is coming.

Fauci says U.S. should prepare to do anything and everything to fight the omicron variant.” (DBx: Well of course he does. Tyrants – especially those who arrogantly believe themselves to be humanity’s saviors – always concoct reasons for why their powers must be exercised without limit.)

For those of you who doubt that Fauci’s self-importance and arrogance are out of control, check out this statement of his when asked about criticisms leveled at him by Senators Rand Paul and Ted Cruz: “They’re really criticizing science because I represent science. That’s dangerous.” …. In response to which Newman Nahas tweeted: (HT Jay Bhattacharya)

I and The Science are one. He who has seen me, has seen The Science. No man comes to The Science but through me. He who criticizes me, criticizes The Science.

(DBx: Who will be to Anthony Fauci what Robert Caro is to Robert Moses? There are, of course, differences between these two career government bureaucrats, but the parallels between them are daily becoming more numerous – and ominous. Indeed, Fauci already is responsible for more destruction, and has already – in pursuit of his grand designs – ignored and crushed far more life-on-the-ground details and vitality, than did Moses.)

Speaking of ominous parallels, Marko Strinic describes the frightening similarity of the real-world Covidocracy with the fictional villains in Anthony Burgess’s 1962 dystopian novel, A Clockwork Orange. Two slices:

Moreover, this is also a time when authoritarianism is seen as a viable alternative to free societies. Even though the Soviet Union’s moral bankruptcy is plain for all to see, there are still those who look to repressive methods to help society function.

There are those who believe that to reach full vaccination, we must resort to authoritarianism and coercion to get as many people as possible on board. By pushing objectors to the margins and threatening their livelihoods, those in power believe we achieve a utopian society where illness is eliminated.

This is as ridiculous today as it was in Burgess’s day.

…..

Freedom today is seen as a quaint anachronism by some and a byword for gun-loving (read stupid) Americans by others. A luxury that must be trampled on to achieve the greater good of keeping others safe.

Freedom is not an obstacle to the greater good. It is the greater good. Without freedom of choice, we are nothing more lobotomised bodies, incapable of thinking and ripe for manipulation.

As Burgess puts it: “If he can only perform good or only perform evil, then he is a clockwork orange—meaning that he has the appearance of an organism lovely with colour and juice but is in fact only a clockwork toy to be wound up by God or the Devil.”

The idea of a whole nation of dutiful and unthinking drones lining up to do exactly what they’re told for fear of destitution is far scarier than any virus.

Matt Ridley, writing in the Telegraph, decries the “hasty over-reaction to the arrival of a new variant.” Two slices:

Here we go again, fighting the last war. Because governments are perceived to have moved too slowly to ban flights when the delta variant arose in India, we jumped into action this time, punishing the poor South Africans for their molecular vigilance. But nothing was going to stop the delta going global, and the latest set of government measures to stop the spread of the new omicron variant are about as likely to succeed as the Maginot line was to stop General Guderian’s tanks. The cat is already out of the bag. Just because we can take action does not make it the right thing to do.

This pandemic has mocked public-health experts. They told us to wash our hands and then realised it was spreading through the air. They told us masks were useless and then made them mandatory. They sent covid cases to ordinary hospitals where they infected patients.

…..

With luck omicron will prove to be not only more infectious but also milder than delta. According to the doctor who diagnosed it, omicron “presents mild disease with symptoms being sore muscles and tiredness for a day or two… They might have a slight cough.” This, plus the effect of the vaccines, means that Britain’s policy of opening up in July, defying the modellers’ apocalyptic obsessions, proved sensible. The virus did not spiral out of control, or overwhelm the NHS, but a series of small waves came and went, as society inched towards an endemic truce with the enemy.

Jay Bhattacharya retweets NYC Angry Mom:

We should be measuring everything in this pandemic by years of life lost, and this measurement should include quality of life decline from containment measures.

The youngest people in the country are having their life experiences stolen from them to protect the oldest.

I, too, pledge what Phil Magness pledges (at Facebook):

I fully intend to reject, ignore, and – if necessary – defy any lockdown measure that may come about because of the “Omicron variant” scare. They did not work the last time, and will not work this time. Their purpose is not to control the disease, but to assert political power. You should reject them as well.

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