Wealth-Destruction & The Annihilation of Individual Rights Will Do Nothing To Help The CoronaVirus Pandemic

In fact, it will make it worse

The entire crisis is largely about how government responds and how people panic, and if you doubt this, I invite you to read about why Singapore’s coronavirus response worked, and why Hong Kong has toilet paper surpluses — even while the rest of the world suffers severe shortages.

Singapore’s response to the coronavirus has been held up by many around the world as a model. As of this week, the country has had 266 total cases (with zero deaths), and its infection rate is much slower than the rest of the world. 

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Wired Magazine, a garden-variety liberal publication, recently said this: “we’re all libertarians during a pandemic” – while the garden-variety liberal Atlantic Magazine recently said the exact opposite: “there are no libertarians during a pandemic.” Which partisan dogmatist should we believe?

Not, incidentally, that the word “libertarian” means anything — a rubber word which can be stretched to cover virtually anything: i.e. Noam Chomsky, civil libertarian, Ron Paul, Rothbardian libertarian, et cetera.

Meanwhile, as this partisan approach rages, the entire world glimpses firsthand, in a way it never has before, that economic law cannot be subverted, is non-partisan, and that in order to prosper and flourish, human beings must produce.

Meanwhile, as partisan ideologues rage on, the world sees up close and personal that voluntary exchange is the very engine of human progress and civilization.

The world sees, in short, the awesome logic of Says Law — yet the world doesn’t know what it’s seeing.

Fact:

In 1934, in their spare and private time, two American biologists, Pearl Kendrick and Grace Eldering, developed a vaccine for whooping cough, then the biggest killer of children in the United States.

It is astounding and appalling – and yet totally unsurprising – to witness governments all across the world trashing their entire economies (and in the process violating individual liberties on a massive scale, while also letting thousands of people get sick), rather than allow widespread testing:

As Ronald Bailey has noted, the FDA and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention “stymied private and academic development of diagnostic tests that might have provided an early warning and a head start on controlling the epidemic that is now spreading across the country.”

And if the policies and decisions above are worth tossing out in an emergency, maybe they ought to be sidelined during normal times too.

Situations like the 9/11 attacks and the coronavirus outbreak often open the door to naked power grabs whose terrible consequences stick around long after the events that inspired them (looking at you, TSA!). Governments rarely return power once they’ve amassed it. But if you listen carefully, you can hear them telling us what stuff they realize can be safely tossed. When the infection rates come down and the theaters and schools and everything else get back to normal, it may be tempting just to go back to the way we were. Resist the temptation.

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Reader, remember this always: it is far easier to compensate the small portion of the population at risk for serious respiratory issues than it is to reinvigorate a dead economy and the thousands upon thousand upon thousands of businesses that die because of this.

There’s an iron-clad economic principle, very easy to understand if you stop and think about it – a principle most clearly articulated by the Austrian economist Ludwig von Mises – that says this: so long as the wealth of a society remains weak or impoverished, the means of dealing with societal issues remains proportionately weak. 

Please consider that.

Please consider where actual wealth comes from.

It comes from production.

Which comes from the freedom to produce – and, just as importantly, the freedom to keep and use the fruits of what you produce, which includes freely exchanging.

The wealthier the country, the healthier the country.

Point of context: When my grandmother was a child, she was lucky to get a single orange for Christmas. I just got a whole damn box of fabulous oranges delivered in the middle of a global pandemic.

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Shutting down private businesses by government decree is economic suicide. It also borders upon martial law. And while this action may flatten the curve of COVID-19 – though probably not – it will in the long run be equivalent to attempting a cure by suicide. 

The majority of people stricken by the virus will survive. Small businesses – run by families that depend upon these businesses for their very livelihood – won’t.

Now please tell me how you’re protecting the life of the individual by indefinitely preventing her from earning a living? By flooding the market with currency (reducing the value of her savings even more) and by instituting powers that will likely never be reversed?

Our hospitals were already crippled by rights-violating regulations to a point they might not be able to cope with this pandemic. The solution offered: violate more rights, cripple entire economies, so that, perhaps, fewer people will need those hospitals.

I’m going to articulate a thought which some of you may also be thinking:

We can’t make it for very long by holing-up in our homes.

Humans must work to produce goods and services. This is how we survive and thrive as a species.

In the meantime, thinking and science have become completely politicized. 

The following is excerpted from a recent article, written by doctor Amesh Adalja – a very smart and levelheaded infectious-disease doc, who also happens to be an uncompromising advocate for free-market medicine:

A prolonged freeze of the economy — even in the face of a deadly pandemic — will cause a long-term damage far greater than any purported benefit….

A degraded quality of life, particularly over time, itself generates its own risks of death. If the lockdown is prolonged, we can expect increases in deaths from cancer, cardiovascular disease, stroke, mental illness, and substance abuse….

Driven by panic at a crisis they ignored for too long, policy-makers are considering imposing mandatory prolonged social distancing measures, the cascading effects of which [will almost certainly] be worse than those of the virus itself….

The answer to this challenge is not to shrink back in panic but to take decisive action to fight the pandemic, while continuing to lead our lives.

Clear all bureaucracy so that vaccines can flourish – clinical trials to move quickly, diagnostic tests getting out there, without the usual bureaucratic entanglement.

And from an interview this same doctor gave the four days ago:

“The success that we had with Ebola monoclonal antibodies has people thinking this is the quickest way we can get a countermeasure for Covid-19,” said Adelja.

Now two private companies say they hope to have treatments for Covid-19 ready in record time.

Japan-based Takeda Pharmaceutical says its unit devoted to plasma-derived therapies could have a product ready for quick approval to fight the coronavirus. New York-based biotech Regeneron has said it can be ready to test hundreds of potential antibodies in Covid-19 patients by early summer. The company’s shares soared on the news even as the stock market as a whole tanked on pandemic fears.

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Amesh Adalja touches upon the very thing that will ultimately solve this crisis: human ingenuity and human intelligence, which are fully unleashed when the human mind and human body are left fully unshackled.