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

Monday, January 31, 2022

"The Great Confinement"

Over the past two years, governments across the world have reacted with a combination of fear, dishonesty, incompetence, and stupidity as they implemented draconian and largely ineffective measures to control a world-wide epidemic. They consciously misinterpreted a growing body of data, doubled down on foolish and unnecessary policies, actively had their media allies censor those who questioned their actions, and implemented authoritarian measures that did virtually nothing to stop the spread. They created a cohort of hundreds of millions that continues to live in irrational fear, bordering on hysteria. And it seems, that after many months passed, the elites responsible for this debacle got off on it, enjoying their rolls as petty dictators who could control their populations as they saw fit. No country, with the possible exception of a few wise Scandanavian nations, was spared from this debacle. The United States and its leaders led the pack with bad decisions, worse governmental leadership, and abject stupidity.

In an op-ed, aptly titled, "The Great Confinement", Arthur Herman writes:

The pandemic tempted governments and their elite allies to treat citizens as passive objects to be dictated to, bullied and coerced en masse—an attitude not unlike that found in China, Cuba and North Korea—instead of as active thinking subjects with whom government is in partnership. With few exceptions (the Nordic countries are the best examples), governments failed to find ways to affirm that despite the pandemic, citizens were still individuals imbued with inalienable rights and independent moral standing. This is, after all, how most people see themselves in modern society—as free autonomous beings rather than as laboratory rats in a series of social science experiments.

The models of governance used during the pandemic fly in the face of our own self-perception. This is a sure formula for sowing distrust, resentment and ultimately resistance. That resistance has already spilled out into the streets in Europe’s cities and the highways in Canada.

What people will remember from this extraordinary episode isn’t the experience of Covid itself, terrible though that’s been. It will be the ineptitude and incompetence of governing institutions that are supposed to protect citizens—and the indifference, as this was happening, of the media and scientific establishment.

In the U.S., the Great Confinement has left scars on the national psyche comparable to the effects of the Great Depression. This loss of faith has been compounded by government failure to deal with spiking violent-crime rates and the shocking dereliction of duty on the part of the nation’s teachers. Children and families feel as if they’ve been left stranded by the school systems they pay for with their tax dollars.

In 1932 Franklin D. Roosevelt called those left stranded by the Great Depression “the forgotten man.” Today the Great Confinement has created a nation of forgotten Americans. 

The frustration of many of us who questioned the response to Covid-19 from the very beginning is that none of the people (politicians, public health officials, and the mainstream media) who are responsible for this debacle will be held to account. But in November, the "forgotten Americans" will speak, and I suspect their collective voice will be harsh.

UPDATE: (02-01-2022)

It seems as if the places and institutions that have implemented sometimes Draconian Covid-19 mitigation measures are the ones that are now suffering the most from the virus. Well ... not the virus, exactly, but past and current Covid policies that are unsupported by two years of scientific data. Mathew Yglesias comments:

... Covid-19 mitigation measures are causing burdens over and above the burden of disease per se. To the extent that disruptions are caused by sickness, we would expect to see more disruptions in conservative parts of the country with low vaccination rates. Instead, we see equal if not greater disruptions in liberal parts of the country, even though the higher vaccination rate reduces the burden of disease. That’s because those jurisdictions are implementing Covid-19 mitigation measures with costs that exceed their benefits. And by making high-vaccination places relatively dysfunctional, these mitigations are sending a negative (and inaccurate) signal about the power of vaccination to let people live their lives with confidence.

Tellingly, it’s not just that more liberal jurisdictions have these measures. The rules are specifically strictest in areas of life where left-wing people have the most political clout — universities and public schools — rather than in places with the highest objective level of vulnerability (nursing homes). 

If an accurate history of the Covid-19 era is written (and that's a big IF), what we'll find is that the "foolish and unnecessary policies" promoted by blue-state politicians and their media enablers will have caused more human and economic damage than the virus itself. The problem is that there is no equivalent to the 'death scoreboards' that measures the massive collateral damage.

In blue locales, collateral damage (mental, physical, educational, and economic) has been  profound and lands squarely on small businesses, working people, and children. The dishonest and uncaring petty tyrants who did this should pay a price—they won't.