If the pandemic policy response had taken the form of mere advice, we would not be in the midst of this social, economic, cultural, political disaster. What caused the wreckage was the application of political force that was baked into the pandemic response this time in a way that has no precedent in human history.
The failure to admit the enormous and shocking policy failures of the last two years is costing us dearly. The refusal to reverse course and re-embrace fundamentals of freedom and human rights is setting the stage for outcomes even more grim than what we have heretofore experienced.
How this began: The virus was here (the US) already for months from 2019 and life went on normally. Once the consciousness seeped in and the politicians panicked, we moved quickly from travel restrictions to lockdowns to mask mandates to domestic capacity restrictions to vaccine mandates. Somewhere along the way, we learned to classify people by profession, stigmatize the sick, then finally to demonize the noncompliant. It’s been 20 months of intensified controls, driven by political leaders from both parties, with precious little dissent from media organs.
Think for a moment about Directive 10-289. It was passed via executive edict amidst a collapsing economy. Factories were shutting down. Workers were fleeing their jobs. Production was grinding to a halt. People were starting to panic. Government decided to do something to fix the problem. It ordered everyone to keep doing what they were doing before. It tried to stop history.
The last 14 months elevated a global group of intellectuals and bureaucrats about which most people had previously cared very little. Among them, the ones who believe least in freedom entrenched their power, thanks to a big push by the lavishly funded but largely discredited World Health Organization. The WHO tapped an “independent panel” (the fix was already in: the panel’s head is former New Zealand Prime Minister Helen Clark) to figure out what the world did right and did wrong in response to Covid-19. The final report has all the expected verbiage about the needs for more global coordination and largesse going to public health.
I’m sitting at a bar in Texas, surrounded by maskless people, looking at folks on the streets walking around like life is normal, talking with nice and friendly faces, feeling like things in the world are more-or-less normal. Cases and deaths attributed to Covid are, like everywhere else, falling dramatically. If you pay attention only to the media fear campaigns, you would find this confusing. More than two weeks ago, the governor of Texas completely reversed his devastating lockdown policies and repealed all his emergency powers, along with the egregious attacks on rights and liberties.
What a glorious thing the reopening is! After nearly a year of darkening times, the light has begun to dawn, at least in the US. Given how incredibly political this pandemic has been from the beginning, many people smell a rat. Is it really the case that the reopening of the American economy, particularly in blue states, is so perfectly timed? Do the science and politics really line up so well?
As a naturally optimistic person, it vexes me that the word catastrophe has echoed in my mind since early March 2020. It’s the word the great smallpox eradicator Donald Henderson used in his 2006 prediction of the consequences of lockdown, a word that wasn’t around then. His masterful article addressed the idea of travel restrictions, forced human separation, business and school closings, mask mandates, limits on public gatherings, quarantines, and the entire litany of brutality to which we’ve been subjected for nearly a year, all summed up in the word lockdown.
For so many months, it’s been nonstop bad news on business closures, arts trashed, museum shuttering, unemployment, missed surgeries and diagnostics, plus rising loneliness, drug overdoses, depression, and suicide. Every day has been as dark or darker than the previous one.
Why watch COVID press conferences and briefings by politicians? They are just upsetting. These people seem to have no clue about why the virus is ignoring them. They keep issuing strange and arbitrary rules that they make up, change by the day, all enforced by intimidation and compulsion.