April 26, 2021 Reading Time: 6 minutes

The time is late for liberty lovers on both sides of the political spectrum to regain control and send the clear message that nothing like 2020 will ever happen again by calling for mass resignations and stripping perpetual perpetrators of all power, property, and influence, not as a first strike, of course, but as a form of “equitable restitution” for the colossally bad policies foisted on a bewildered and overly trusting people.

It’s slowly dawning on Americans that 2020 need not have gone down as it did. A virus didn’t lay waste to the global economy, as so many media reports blared. Lockdowns were the big problem and those restrictions on human rights were not simply unnecessary, they were harmful, and obviously so. AIER began warning about them very early, when they were still a gleam in the eye of fanatical reporters at the New York Times, but people educated by government schools refused to believe until the reports of rampant business closures, high unemployment, crime, and drug use, spikes in suicides and other non-Covid deaths, increased child abuse and sexual molestation, and other serious lockdown costs began to sneak by concerted efforts to censor it.

What about all those who died with, if not from, Covid? Tragic indeed but what about all of those who died with, if not from, lockdowns? AIER has discovered not a handful but 35 major studies from leading scientists and economists that show that lockdowns didn’t just hurt the economy, they killed more people than they saved! Unlike Covid, which took mainly the elderly, lockdowns killed indiscriminately across the age spectrum.

Renowned economist Doug Allen of Simon Fraser University in British Columbia penned the latest such study to come to AIER’s attention (Douglas W. Allen, “Covid Lockdowns Cost/Benefits: A Critical Assessment of the Literature” [April 2021]). Instead of quoting from it extensively, I’ll encourage you to read it and simply summarize it here. Basically, Allen found that lockdowns (which should not be confused with the isolation policies of certain islands) were unnecessary because individuals voluntarily engaged in sufficient mitigation efforts to achieve the same level of disease spread and death as top-down, cookie-cutter government mandates did. The latter either did not bind (e.g., socially distanced sexual activity, as if!) or target the wrong behaviors. Turns out, once again, that individuals and their doctors know more about what is best for them than bureaucrats half a world away do!

Despite achieving little to nothing in terms of disease mitigation, lockdowns imposed very high costs. Reduced to years of lost life, Canada’s lockdowns cost at least 3.6 years of life per year of life saved even using the most extreme model of “let ‘er rip” mortality. Under more realistic mortality estimates, lockdowns took 282 years of life for every year they saved, likely making it the most costly peacetime policy in Canada’s history. America’s comparable ratio of death is undoubtedly lower than 282 due to places like Florida and South Dakota. Moreover, the U.S. also suffers from the stain of slavery and Indian removal policies, rendering its lockdowns “only” its third worst peacetime policy ever, but the worst in a century.

Note that the 35 studies AIER has found thus far are not projections based on sundry assumptions like the grossly exaggerated models used to frighten most governments into lockdown policies last year; they are based on past real world data, some of it dubious, but almost always biased in favor of finding social distancing, masking, and other restrictions effective. And while details will vary depending on the country studied and the exact methodology employed, the gist of those 35 studies will never be controverted because while mere correlation doesn’t prove causation, the lack of correlation is a dead giveaway that causation must lurk elsewhere.

Moreover, the entire lockdown logic edifice breaks down daily, as studies show and policymakers admit that children were never in danger from Covid. Closing schools last spring was perhaps a forgivable policy mistake but keeping them closed in the fall (and spring 2021 in some places!) was child abuse that perhaps not coincidentally provided politically active public school teachers plenty of time to agitate for a new president, all in the name of public health.

Other news that AIER knew last year but that hasn’t been widely reported until recently is that Covid doesn’t readily spread via surfaces. And six feet? Not if you are indoors. Sixty feet doesn’t help there according to the latest study out of MIT. But outdoors you can almost swap spit with an infected person and avoid infection.

Masking was never more than theater in most real-world situations. It arguably led to more spread by giving people a false sense of security and of course harmed most wearers, which is why people don’t wear masks unless coerced into doing so. (No mask? No soup for you!) Count your lucky piles that America didn’t end up with South Park’s TSA (Toilet Safety Administration) checking to ensure your anti-covid rectal implant remains firmly in place.

Policymakers pretend that they didn’t know/couldn’t know that their policies were so harmful but don’t fall for such a lame tactic. Their policies were more novel than the coronavirus itself and they knew it, or should have. A much less radical, more proven approach would have been that espoused by the Great Barrington Declaration signers and states like South Dakota that left it up to individuals to determine their own position on the risk-reward tradeoff line and to protect the vulnerable through delivery services, extended hours (not shortened ones that forced more people into enclosed spaces), or special hours for the elderly and infirm.

Heck, variolation of volunteers with live coronavirus virals, which I was told last spring was somehow “unethical” though a tried and true method of rapidly and safely protecting healthy individuals from deadly smallpox, would have been less radical than shutting down vast swathes of the economy by diktat. With no need to develop an expensive and potentially dangerous vaccine, a well-executed variolation campaign would have ended the pandemic before George Floyd’s murder.

Policymakers and pundits should follow the Hippocratic dictum to first do no harm. In the face of uncertainty, they should do nothing until they have some clue about cause and effect and even then should take it slow and easy in case their models prove wrong, or wrongheaded, as so many do. But lockdowners didn’t show any intellectual humility at all. They got what they wanted and suppressed those who challenged them whenever and however they could, especially on Twitbook and other socially distanced media, all while claiming to follow “the” science.

Of course the lockdowners only rhetorically relied on science. Science meant following their “one cheek” rules, which meant suppressing actual science, aka the pursuit of empirical truth. Allied but not completely overlapping groups did the same regarding “Russian” collusion, the 2020 election results, and the meaning of words and phrases like “armed insurrection,” “equity,” “infrastructure,” “mostly peaceful,” and “systemic racism.”

In the past, I might have mused about whether such policymakers (and their media minions) are more evil “demoncrats” or daft donkeys. But America’s existential crisis runs deep enough that now only performance matters. Insufficient, alleged good intentions be. Our current crop of policymakers is failing miserably and it doesn’t matter if John Kerry is an idiot for implying that he wants to suck all the carbon dioxide from the atmosphere or if such statements simply constitute part of a nefarious hydra-headed plot to complete America’s socialist turn.

In short, most of our leaders in both parties should resign immediately as too venal and/or incompetent to lead this great (as in large) nation, or any of its states. A few may be impeached or recalled and more will not seek reelection, or win if they do. But in the context of the last twenty years of repeated failures (9/11 and the wars and civil liberties violations that followed; the financial crisis and the great [as in long] stagnation that followed), some policymaker turnover here and there simply isn’t enough. Arguably, America needs only a few leaders and it certainly doesn’t need the specific ones currently in office.

Mass resignations and mea culpas from America’s ruling class need to occur, as they already have in the public health sector to some extent, not so much out of revenge but for everyone’s protection. Because policymakers have destroyed the rule of law by interfering in judicial proceedings, openly contemplating unconstitutional laws like DC statehood, breaking their own lockdown rules, and openly calling for violent political action, American society can no longer guarantee its leaders’ safety. 

Policymakers know they are vulnerable, which is why many, including the allegedly beloved Dr. Fauci, have increased their personal bodyguard at taxpayers’ expense and why troops remain stationed outside of the Capitol even though everyone now knows that all the deaths on 6 January were due to natural causes, except for the gunshot wound inflicted by law enforcement personnel. (If the victim had been of a different hue, the outcry against her death would be deafening instead of a murmur.)

The sad thing about all this is that American lives would have been saved by simple, sensible policies, like providing accurate and up-to-date information about Covid. They would have embraced police reform, and maybe even police abolition given time to gun up and improve their self-defense skills. Americans also would have happily switched to a system of private schooling, with public subsidies for the poor, rather than have the entire public school curriculum dumbed down, and racially ramped up, in the name of “equity.”

Again, though, a small number of leaders, in the name of “democracy,” have apparently decided that they are somehow smarter or more important than the rest of us, all evidence to the contrary notwithstanding. They get to say what goes. But they are the ones who need to go, before their failed policies become so palpably criminal that Americans decide to strip them of their property, freedom, and perhaps, in a country increasingly devoid of effective police or rule of law, their very lives, in the name of restitution for systemic covidism and other abuses of power and reason.

Robert E. Wright

Robert E. Wright

Robert E. Wright is the (co)author or (co)editor of over two dozen major books, book series, and edited collections, including AIER’s The Best of Thomas Paine (2021) and Financial Exclusion (2019). He has also (co)authored numerous articles for important journals, including the American Economic ReviewBusiness History ReviewIndependent ReviewJournal of Private EnterpriseReview of Finance, and Southern Economic Review. Robert has taught business, economics, and policy courses at Augustana University, NYU’s Stern School of Business, Temple University, the University of Virginia, and elsewhere since taking his Ph.D. in History from SUNY Buffalo in 1997. Robert E. Wright was formerly a Senior Research Faculty at the American Institute for Economic Research.

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