– August 11, 2020

Up here in Maskachusetts, in the Berkshire Hills, we have a new form of fascism that might well be called “phasism” as our Governor Charlie Baker phases out our freedoms and our economic life. Banning music and theater and Tanglewood concerts and tennis tournaments and baseball games and track meets and schools and colleges, he has put his knee on the arterial flow of our tourist and services dependent economy and it can no longer breathe.

For the last couple months, I’ve been hunkering down and hiding out from this mad-phasist Fuhrer with his menacing black mask inscribed Science will Win and his new COVID forever police state. 

Imposing a new travel ban and new alcohol prohibition rule early in August while COVID deaths sink to virtually none, the Governor has been rescinding “step 2 of phase 3” of his reopening plan. He storms at reports of a “recent [beer] kegger in Chatham, that graduation event in Chelmsford, the booze cruise in Boston Harbor, the football camp in South Weymouth, the lifeguard party in Falmouth, the prom in Cohasset,” as the inimitable Howie Carr recounts in the Boston Herald. Like some demented puritan divine, the governor seethes at “troubling clusters” of “private recreational activity”.

Hey, I’m guilty as sin. I still watch unmasked TikTok dancers, and pruriently ponder Doctor Anthony Fauci’s porno YouTube “film clips” of nude happy faces of people dancing in the streets. I travel freely about the country. I’m trusting you not to tell Governor Charlie!

Skulking under my sheets, I write timidly in the knowledge that Baker has scores of thousands of apparatchiks hounding down any secret hoarders of residual capacity to think for themselves without gubernatorial guidance and medical counsel. 

I only cherish a futile hope that Baker doesn’t amend his mask order with Doctor Fauci’s proposed mandate for goggles. I can hardly breathe in a mask, and I sure don’t know how I can prophesy in goggles.

But I’m relieved to report that righteous scriveners and saner doctors, academics and statisticians across the land are publishing books debunking this amazing COVID madness. I’ve told you already about my Discovery Institute colleagues Jay Richards and Douglas Ax and statistician William Briggs and their demonstration in The Price of Panic (available in October) that lockdowns do no good whatsoever in suppressing epidemic but do effectively devastate much of the economy. I’ve written of my Moonshots colleague John Schroeter’s stirring ebook, already available on Amazon: Covid19: A Devil’s Choice.

With cogent authority, these books present all the statistical arguments on the insignificance of COVID compared to earlier, more deadly epidemics that brought no lockdowns or mask edicts. 

Once to every man and nation, however, comes a moment to speak truth to power without statistical distractions or utilitarian extenuations. Now John Tamny, the libertarian star of Forbes’ Real Clear Markets, has unleashed a devastating tract, to be published as soon as possible (AIER possibly), entitled When Politicians Panicked: The New Coronavirus, Expert Opinion, and a Tragic Lapse of Reason.

Naming names and describing the endless carnival of outrageous overreach, Tamny vividly shows that Governor Baker is just one of many demented governors reveling in power like a Charlie Chaplin Fuhrer during this mass media madness. 

Tamny is not much interested in COVID-19 data, except to dismiss the virus drama as just another epidemic event like scores of others over the centuries. He derides the call to continue lockdowns until the arrival of vaccines. He quotes Holman Jenkins of the Wall Street Journal,

“There were no vaccines for the ’57 Asian flu [that caused 70 thousand US deaths, including many young people (nearly equivalent to Covid-19 deaths adjusted for population)], or the ’68 Hong Kong flu or the 1918 Spanish flu [50 million world deaths]. They were never ‘cured.’ They ended when people decided to accept and adapt to the virus’s existence.” 

Nothing offers any answer to the all-cause death data that show COVID to have been a trivial event in medical terms, with some 300,000  lives lost, average age over 80, in the face of some 58 million global all-cause deaths in 2019. COVID deaths, even according to the Imperial College of London, will be drastically fewer in 2020 than the some 1.4 million new tuberculosis deaths resulting from the lockdowns and COVID hospital distortions.

As Tamny points out, the relative triviality of Covid-19 was blatantly evident as early as March 18, 2020, when Fred Smith, the venerable FedEx founder-CEO, was interviewed by Fox News’ Bret Baier. Smith had extensive operations in the epicenter of the virus in Wuhan, China, and 907 employees there, delivering packages for weeks all over the stricken city. All employees were tested for the virus and only four tested positive. Of those four, two proved to be false positives. None of the FedEx workers got exceptionally sick and all recovered.

Tamny concluded: “That [Smith’s Wuhan] employees were largely spared the virus’s spread, and that none had died from it, reads as a reasonable market signal going back over two months (and realistically much longer than that) [discrediting] the presumed lethality of Covid 19.” COVID seems chiefly to threaten people already dying and physicians who expose themselves repeatedly to a load-dependent viral attack.   

What we have undergone is an egregious and perhaps criminal and certainly unconstitutional power grab by politicians. Whether merely stupid or demagogic or driven by polls or by a nefariously political media, the politicians from Trump on down simply blundered like no others in the history of public policy.  

“Proper history,” Tamny writes, “will indicate that what happened in 2020 was a global debacle…The reaction by pols…amounted to the biggest crime against humanity [in two centuries]. When politicians panicked, those with the least suffered in unimaginable ways…According to a UN study he cites, some 285 million people may die of starvation [because] of “an American upper middle class that was making decisions for everyone and for whom lockdowns were merely an inconvenience or vacation.”

“To blame this on the coronavirus is to excuse ineptitude that is the norm when the combined decentralized knowledge of millions and billions of humans is ignored in favor of the centralized and highly limited knowledge of very few politicians, and even fewer experts.”

“In robbing us of our freedom to live and work as we wanted…politicians suffocated wealth creation along with the information necessary to save us from the maladies and death brought by the virus. [It was] tragic…The expert standard replaced the market standard…” 

Tamny understands economics with an intuitive and uncanny contrarian eye that penetrates beyond all the macroeconomic fantasies of conventional economists. He points out: “If the virus had been lethal, the lockdowns would have made even less sense…The biggest enemy of life is poverty.” Lockdowns simply cause poverty without relieving disease in any way. 

“Let’s never again fight disease with the taking of freedom and wealth so essential to knowledge, prosperity, and by extension life itself.”

As AIER’s Jeffrey Tucker declares: “This country needs a serious anti-lockdown movement, one that is not just political but cultural and intellectual, one that is deeply educated on history, philosophy, law, economics, and all sciences, and can rally around traditional American civic postulates concerning individual freedom and the limits of governments, and also around universal principles of human rights. If liberty means anything, it means that we are not locked down.”

Tamny is giving us a heroic book just in time to lead this movement. We have been suffering not from a medical crisis but from a political and economic and institutional crisis. We have undergone a vast breakdown of moral, educational, intellectual and journalistic standards. Tamny tells this story better than anyone else. All should read his shocking tale.  

George Gilder

George Gilder

George Gilder is a Senior Resident Fellow at the American Institute for Economic Research. Mr. Gilder is one of the leading economic and technological thinkers of the past forty years and is the author of nineteen books, including The Scandal of Money and Life After Google. Mr. Gilder is a founding fellow of the Discovery Institute, where he began his study of information theory.

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