The further to the left or the right you move, the more your lens on life distorts.

Thursday, July 23, 2020


I am proud to say that I have been skeptical of the collective hysteria about COVID-19 since early April. My many, many posts on the subject speak for themselves. I was willing to accept a 15-day lockdown in March in the hope that governmental leaders would develop appropriate strategies for protecting the most vulnerable (even in March, super-seniors had already been identified as the demographic that had the most to fear from the virus) and then reopen the country. By the end of the first 15-days, I was convinced that our "leaders" had become the prisoner of two ideas and were about to make catastrophically bad decisions. 

That's exactly what happened. Stampeded by a media that at best was irresponsible and at worst, was downright evil in its effort to sow fear, uncertainty and doubt, government at all levels panicked and gave in to hysteria. "Leaders" refused to assess risks in a calm and thoughtful manner, adopted strategies based on grievously flawed predictive models, listened to public health "experts" who were myopic in their world view, and elevated "safetyism" to the level of a religion. Their subsequent actions, culminating much later with state and local capitulation to rioters in many cities, have grievously hurt our country. By late April, I was derisively referring to the catastrophist crowd as Team Apocalypse.

In a well-crafted and extremely troubling lecture (be sure to read the whole thing) that explores the nexis of Team Apocalypse's shutdown of the country and the state/city Democratic leaders who allowed "peaceful" protests to become dangerous riots, Heather McDonald writes:
Over the last four months, Americans have lived through what is arguably the most consequential period of government malfeasance in U.S. history. Public officials’ overreaction to the novel coronavirus put American cities into a coma; those same officials’ passivity in the face of widespread rioting threatens to deliver the coup de grâce. Together, these back-to-back governmental failures will transform the American polity and cripple urban life for decades.
Members of Team Apocalypse (i.e., the main stream media, public health experts, Democrat politicians at the local, state and federal level, and a relatively few GOP catastrophists) cloak their malfeasance in moral posturing. They tell us that all they care about is public safety, yet they refuse to acknowledge that their actions may very well cause more harm over the long term than the virus they irrationally fear. They—not the virus—have created a catastrophe that McDonald describes: 
By now, the collapse of government legitimacy is complete. For three months, public officials abdicated their responsibility to balance the costs and benefits of any given policy. They put the future of hundreds of millions of Americans in the hands of a narrow set of experts who lack all awareness of the workings of economic and social systems, and whose “science” was built on the ever-shifting sand of speculative models and on extreme risk aversion regarding only one kind of risk.

The public officials who ceded their authority to the so-called experts were deaf to the pleas of law-abiding business owners who saw their life’s efforts snuffed out. They engineered the destruction of trillions of dollars of wealth, through thoroughly arbitrary decision making. And then they stood by as billions more dollars of work burned down. Public order and safety, equal treatment under the law, stability of expectations—all the prerequisites for robust investment have been decimated. The failure to quell the riots means that more are inevitable. Any future business faces possible destruction by another lockdown or by looting—which it will be is anyone’s guess.
As politicians turned petty tyrants blithely destroyed the lives and liveihoods of tens of millions of wage earners, private contractors, gig workers, and small business people; as they created levels of financial stress ("How do I pay my rent? How do I pay for groceries?") that were unknown to millions; as they exacerbated serious health conditions unrelated to the virus because people were too afraid to get treated, and as they tore at the social fabric of our country, those leaders should be ashamed. 

McDonald concludes:
The coronavirus lockdowns demonstrated our leaders’ ignorance of economic interdependence. After the riots, that ignorance has been shown to run far deeper. It is an ignorance about government’s most fundamental obligation: to safeguard life, liberty, and property. It is an ignorance about human nature and human striving.

Property and capital are not soulless abstractions, easily replaced by an insurance payout, as the rioters and their apologists maintain. (The Massachusetts Attorney General noted that burning is “how forests grow.”) Capital is accumulated effort and innovation, the sum of human achievement and imagination. Its creation is the aim of civilization. But civilization is everywhere and at all times vulnerable to the darkest human impulses. Government exists to rein in those impulses so that individual initiative can flourish. America’s Founders, schooled in a profound philosophical and literary tradition dating back to classical antiquity, understood the fragility of civil peace and the danger of the lustful, vengeful mob.

Our present leaders, the products of a politicized and failing education system, seem to know nothing of those truths. Pulling the country back from the abyss will require a recalling of our civilizational inheritance.
If it were only "ignorance," I'd feel better, but it's more than that. When you look a little deeper, it's easy to see the signs that much of this was precipitated by a desire to oust a president theyTeam Apocalypse despised. They were willing to sacrifice lives and livelihoods for power. And that makes their actions despicable.