Politicians have destroyed more than 13 million jobs this year in a deluge of edicts aimed to fight COVID. This “crisis” has also shown just how easy it is for politicians to fan fears to seize nearly absolute power.
Almost 40% percent of households earning less than $40,000 a year have someone who lost his job in recent months, according to the Federal Reserve. The Disaster Distress Helpline, a federal crisis hotline, received almost 900% more phone calls in March compared with a year ago.
A recent JAMA Psychiatry analysis warned that stay-at-home orders and rising unemployment are a “perfect storm” for higher suicide rates. A California health organization recently estimated that seventy-five thousand Americans could die from “despair” as a result of the pandemic, unemployment, and government restrictions.
In the name of saving lives, politicians have entitled themselves to destroy an unlimited number of livelihoods. Politicians in many states responded to covid-19 by dropping the equivalent of a reverse neutron bomb—something which destroys the economy while supposedly leaving human beings unharmed. But the only way to assume people were uninjured is to believe their existence is totally detached from their jobs, bank accounts, and mortgage and rent payments.
Covid policymakers have written themselves the letter that Cardinal Richelieu gave to one of his agents in the novel The Three Musketeers: “The bearer of this letter has acted under my orders and for the good of the state.” This carte blanche was sufficient to place murders and other crimes above the law and beyond reproach in France. In contemporary America, the same exoneration is achieved by invoking “science” and “data.
Secrecy and hypocrisy have permeated Covid policies across the nation.
Maryland is busy hiring a thousand “contact tracers” to track down anyone who might have interacted with anyone who tested positive for Covid. Privacy will be no excuse for failing to disclose personal contacts. However, at the same time, the Maryland Department of Health ordered local county health departments to cease disclosing which nursing homes have been ravaged by Covid outbreaks, claiming that such information “‘serves no public health purpose’ and violates privacy laws,” as WJLA-TV reported. Most Covid fatalities statewide have occurred in nursing homes. One might think that children would have a legitimate interest in knowing where their parents faced the greatest risk of dying, but no such luck in the Free State.
Reopen Maryland requested and was denied “information on whether…the state forced nursing homes to accept COVID-19 positive patients discharged from hospitals, as suggested by the Governor’s April 5 executive order and corresponding directives from the Maryland Department of Health.”
Similar policies in other states helped send the Covid death rate into the stratosphere. Governor Cuomo, who callously compelled nursing homes to accept Covid patients, will have no legal culpability for a policy that contributed to more than five thousand nursing home deaths in his state. Pennsylvania’s health czar, Rachel Levine, issued a similar order, contributing to thousands of nursing home deaths, and then removed her own 95-year-old mother from a nursing home to keep her safe.
While much of the media has responded to the pandemic by painting pro-lockdown politicians as saviors, Covid carnage was multiplied by incompetent federal agencies and incompetent scientists at the CDC and the FDA which forced the nation’s most innovative firms to submit to its command-and-control approach regardless of the feds’ having little or nothing to offer.
Because politicians have no liability for the economic damage they inflict, they have no incentive to minimize the disruptions they decree. Trillions of dollars of new deficit spending will be vexing American workers for many years.
As Reason’s Matt Welch noted, “The estimated $3 trillion price tag on the first four batches of covid-19 stimulus, divided by 330 million increasingly underemployed US residents, equals $9,000 per capita, which has ended up where government payouts usually go: to entities with better connections than you.”
Permitting governments to seize boundless power on the basis of shaky extrapolations of infection rates will destroy our nation. It will be years until we know how much permanent damage was inflicted by politicians’ panicky responses to the pandemic.
Source: Pandemic Follies: Tyranny Won’t Keep Us Safe, by James Bovard, Mises Institute