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December 21, 2021 Reading Time: < 1 minute

‘Follow the science” has been the battle cry of lockdown supporters since the Covid-19 pandemic began. Yet before March 2020, the mainstream scientific community, including the World Health Organization, strongly opposed lockdowns and similar measures against infectious disease.

That judgment came from historical analysis of pandemics and an awareness that societywide restrictions have severe socioeconomic costs and almost entirely speculative benefits. Our pandemic response, premised on lockdowns and closely related “non-pharmaceutical interventions,” or NPIs, represented an unprecedented and unjustified shift in scientific opinion from where it stood a few months before the discovery of Covid-19.

In March 2019 WHO held a conference in Hong Kong to consider NPI measures against pandemic influenza. The WHO team evaluated a quarantine proposal—“home confinement of non-ill contacts of a person with proven or suspected influenza”—less indiscriminate than the Covid lockdowns. They called attention to the paucity of data to support this policy, noting that “most of the currently available evidence on the effectiveness of quarantine on influenza control was drawn from simulation studies, which have a low strength of evidence.” The WHO team declared that large-scale home quarantine was “not recommended because there is no obvious rationale for this measure.”

Read more at wsj.com

Phillip W. Magness

Phil Magness

Phillip W. Magness is Senior Research Faculty and Research and Education Director at the American Institute for Economic Research. He is also a Research Fellow at the Independent Institute. He holds a PhD and MPP from George Mason University’s School of Public Policy, and a BA from the University of St. Thomas (Houston).

Prior to joining AIER, Dr. Magness spent over a decade teaching public policy, economics, and international trade at institutions including American University, George Mason University, and Berry College.

Magness’s work encompasses the economic history of the United States and Atlantic world, with specializations in the economic dimensions of slavery and racial discrimination, the history of taxation, and measurements of economic inequality over time. He also maintains active research interest in higher education policy and the history of economic thought. In addition to his scholarship, Magness’s popular writings have appeared in numerous venues including the Wall Street Journal, the New York Times, Newsweek, Politico, Reason, National Review, and the Chronicle of Higher Education.

Selected Publications

“How pronounced is the U-curve? Revisiting income inequality in the United States, 1917-1960” Co-authored with Vincent Geloso, Philip Schlosser, and John Moore. The Economic Journal (March 2022)

The Great Overestimation: Tax Data and Inequality Measurements in the United States, 1913-1943.” Co-authored with Vincent Geloso. Economic Inquiry (April 2020).

The anti-discriminatory tradition in Virginia school public choice theory.” Public Choice. James M. Buchanan Centennial Issue. (March 2020).

John Maynard Keynes, H.G. Wells, and a Problematic Utopia.” Co-authored with James Harrigan. History of Political Economy (Spring 2020)

Detecting Historical Inequality Patterns: A Replication of Thomas Piketty’s Wealth Concentration Estimates for the United Kingdom.” Social Science Quarterly (Summer 2019)

James M. Buchanan and the Political Economy of Desegregation,” Co-authored with Art Carden and Vincent Geloso. Southern Economic Journal (January 2019)

Lincoln’s Swing State Strategy: Tariff Surrogates and the Pennsylvania Election of 1860” Pennsylvania Magazine of History and Biography, (January 2019)

“Are Adjuncts Exploited?: Some Grounds for Skepticism.” Co-authored with Jason Brennan. Journal of Business Ethics. (Spring 2017).

“Estimating the Cost of Adjunct Justice: A Case Study in University Business Ethics.” Co-authored with Jason Brennan. Journal of Business Ethics. (January, 2016)

The American System and the Political Economy of Black Colonization.” Journal of the History of Economic Thought, (June 2015).

The British Honduras Colony: Black Emigrationist Support for Colonization in the Lincoln Presidency.” Slavery & Abolition, 34-1 (March 2013)

Morrill and the Missing Industries: Strategic Lobbying Behavior and the Tariff of 1861.” Journal of the Early Republic, 29 (Summer 2009).

 

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Peter C. Earle

Peter C. Earle

Peter C. Earle is an economist and writer who joined AIER in 2018. Prior to that he spent over 20 years as a trader and analyst at a number of securities firms and hedge funds in the New York metropolitan area, as well as running a gaming and cryptocurrency consultancy. His research focuses on financial markets, monetary policy, the economics of games, and problems in economic measurement. He has been quoted by the Wall Street Journal, Bloomberg, Reuters, CNBC, Grant’s Interest Rate Observer, NPR, and in numerous other media outlets and publications. Pete holds an MA in Applied Economics from American University, an MBA (Finance), and a BS in Engineering from the United States Military Academy at West Point. Follow him on Twitter.

Selected Publications

“General Institutional Considerations of Blockchain and Emerging Applications” Co-Authored with David M. Waugh in The Emerald Handbook on Cryptoassets: Investment Opportunities and Challenges (forthcoming), edited by Baker, Benedetti, Nikbakht, and Smith (2022)

“Operation Warp Speed” Co-authored with Edwar Escalante in Pandemics and Liberty (forthcoming), edited by Raymond J. March and Ryan M. Yonk (2022)

“A Virtual Weimar: Hyperinflation in Diablo III” in The Invisible Hand in Virtual Worlds: The Economic Order of Video Games, edited by Matthew McCaffrey (2021)

“The Fickle Science of Lockdowns” Co-authored with Phillip W. Magness, Wall Street Journal (December 2021)

“How Does a Well-Functioning Gold Standard Function?” Co-authored with William J. Luther, SSRN (November 2021)

“Populist Prophets, Public Prophets: Pied Pipers of Lucre, Then and Now” in Financial History (Summer 2021)

“Boston’s Forgotten Lockdowns” in The American Conservative (November 2020)

“Private Governance and Rules for a Flat World” in Creighton Journal of Interdisciplinary Leadership (June 2019)

“’Federal Jobs Guarantee’ Idea Is Costly, Misguided, And Increasingly Popular With Democrats” in Investor’s Business Daily (December 2018)

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