Give Me Freedom or Give Me COVID

The following individuals and groups, who have historically focused on denying or downplaying the risk of man-made global warming, have turned their attention to the COVID-19 crisis.

This set of examples examines arguments for opening the economy despite data suggesting this could sharply increase coronavirus cases. Some view lockdowns or shelter-in-place orders as infringement on basic rights. Others suggest that it's acceptable to sacrifice a vulnerable portion of the population for the greater good.

*Please note that automatic transcripts were generated for some of the video materials, and while we have reviewed the transcripts, there may still be errors. Contact DeSmog if you notice any errors and we will address them as soon as possible.*

These examples are taken out of a larger body of evidence DeSmog has gathered on COVID denial.

Alex Epstein

Power Hour: Ray Niles on How a freer market can help us protect ourselves from COVID-19,” ImproveThePlanet on YouTube, May 20

Alex Epstein: [00:07:31] Yeah, find this issue of the controls ratcheting up, really motivating to get involved, because just knowing a bit of the history myself, I can just see where we're at a point where we're having really unprecedented use of power, particularly by state governors, just saying, well, we can indefinitely tell people to stay in their homes. And that's scary to me that that could continue indefinitely and in fact, that it could get normalized. So that’s part of my own motivation for getting involved, seeing like, oh, this is a time sensitive thing. I've a lot of other things in a sense. I'd rather be talking about other plans. But once these things get established, they're very, very hard to move back.

[…]

Alex Epstein: [00:10:26] I'm curious, how would you state what do you think the role of the government of a free society is in this pandemic?

Raymond Niles: [00:10:33] I think the role of government is to empower individuals to take all steps to protect themselves. So, for example, if a person owns a business, they should be free to set whatever policy they want to protect themselves and their customers. They might require that people wear a mask or maybe they don't require that people wear masks.

[00:25:40] We were told the most of us were told, like even if you yourself are not at high risk from this, you should be willing to be forced to be inside your home indefinitely, because if you have a serious thing, then the hospital won't have the capacity if the hospital's been overloaded. But what's very conspicuous now is that the capacity of the whole medical system has gone dramatically down because people aren't able to go for other procedures. And, you know, people are like hospitals are losing money. Doctors are losing money. Practices are closing. So the very thing that we were supposed to avoid, it actually hasn't happened through an overload of the beds, but it's happened through a decrease of the whole system.

[…]

Raymond Niles: [00:26:58] No, non-essential medical procedure is going to be permitted in the hospitals. Well, guess what? That's how hospitals make money. So they've destroyed the most of the revenue opportunity for hospitals. And then when it turns out, it turns out the original estimates of the infection rate and the death rate for Coronavirus were way too high. It's just a fact. There were way too high. So the number of beds they thought they would need for Coronavirus was, you know, it was a big mistake on what they thought to begin with.

[…]

Alex Epstein: [00:29:04] I definitely think there's just no respect for the rights of individuals, for the judgment of individuals. And you see this, that the level of people locked inside their homes. But you also see is on the level of the hospitals, just oh, well we’re going to just, we just decided that all the hospitals, what they should do is they should be infinitely ready for one virus. That's it. And no matter where they are, no matter how much it's spread. You said one size fits all, which is a total description, like if something bad is happening in Italy, if something bad is happening in New York City, then it must be everywhere and so we're going to order the whole country to stop everything so that it has infinite, the maximum possibility of dealing with this virus regardless of any other circumstance. It's just an incredible example of…it's almost fascism, you could call it, in terms of like supposedly we own our lives and we own our property, but we're not allowed to use it when the government decides that the virus is a significant enough threat.

Raymond Niles: [00:30:28] And what bothers me, to be honest, is I don't see very much protest against it. And we're seeing some now a little bit in places. I see individual examples. You know, there is an art gallery in California, there are barbers. There are bar owners who are who are trying to open their businesses despite this. But whereas the mass revolution or mass revolt against this? I feel like the original American spirit of pride in your individual freedom is just not evident the way it should be, because our government, it is fascistic. It is fascistic.

[…]

Alex Epstein: [00:39:20] So there's this whole idea. They'll say, well, if you go out, you know, you're killing people or, you know, you're killing somebody’s grandmother. But that grandmother can decide whether to go out. This isn't something that transmits a thousand miles. Again, it's not a death ray. And so in general, yeah, it's people, you know, if you save this, many people died. Well, in general, there's this many people are choosing to put themselves in situations, and they're in many ways, they're rightly trying to put themselves in situations. I mean, I have a bunch of elderly neighbors and some of them are probably deciding I would rather increase my risk of death by one percent and be able to go to the pool and walk on the beach because who knows how long I'll be alive. That's a rational thing for them. And it's in a free country.

[00:40:01] Like here's a controversial statement, like the freest, the best outcome, with regard to Coronavirus, given how quickly it spreads, is not zero deaths and is not the country with the lowest Coronavirus deaths is not the best country. The country in which individuals are freest to decide what to do about Coronavirus within the context of their lives, that's the best country. It's the same with the flu and it's same with everything else.

[…]

[00:45:25] We've seen the destruction of taking away people's freedom. It's immediate to tens of millions of Americans. They can see, my life is a lot worse because of these policies. And now maybe people say, oh, well, it would have been worse because of the virus anywhere anyway. But you're seeing certain places, Taiwan, South Korea, Sweden, in different ways where people were freer and they're not all dying from the virus. They didn't have this Armageddon. And so what that shows is that a pro freedom response was possible and was better. And I'm really interested in anything that can be done to tell the truth about what has happened in that the catastrophe risks have unjustly and catastrophically restricted our freedom, and then the implications going forward.

Alex Epstein, via Facebook, May 6

The Tom Woods Show: Ep. 1627 Lockdowns vs. Human Flourishing: Is There Another Approach? April 6

[6:18] I think the purpose of the government is to protect our freedom. And that's different from saying the purpose of the government is to prevent early death from any given cause. 

I think ultimately, if you really believe that, then you just believe the government should control your life for anything. And you're even seeing with locking people down, it's decreasing the death rate, whether it decreases the death rate from Coronavirus. It's definitely decreasing the death rate from say car crashes. Is that justified? Because the government can say, well, we want to save lives. And I think most people would think, no, there's something wrong with that. 

And the thing is, the government's purpose is to protect our freedom. And then with our freedom, we decide how to sustain our lives, including how to make different kinds of risk, reward trade offs. So that's one thing I think is lost when people think, oh, it's the government's job to quote, save lives. I think it's to protect freedom. 

[…]

But also, if you're concerned about a spike in hospital resources, they're by far the biggest likely users of hospital resources. So that kind of thing can make sense. And then you can talk about rational and I believe voluntary measures that most of us can take that are low cost that slow the spread of the virus. But that's very different from eliminating it or eliminating its spread. And I do not think that eliminating it is at all compatible with human freedom or human flourishing, given everything we're told about its nature, and in particular, its contagiousness. That would be different from something like Ebola that isn't super contagious.

So you can isolate a couple people. And and and get rid of it. But nobody's saying we can isolate the flu. And this is supposedly more contagious, even much more contagious than the flu. So this this clarity of purpose about is the government supposed to protect our freedom? And then can protecting our freedom involve eradicating this it seems like no, and therefore it can only be it's protecting our freedom through managing this and in particular, managing a really catastrophic spike in I should say, the government controlled health care system and that A big part of the problem that the healthcare system is in many ways inept because of government controls.

And I'm sure you've enumerated many of the reasons why. But even given that it's government controlled, you can say, yeah, maybe we can do certain things to slow the spread. And those should focus on, they should focus on on liberating free people to produce more of the treatment. That's one of them. But then insofar as isolation is necessary, it should definitely focus on the most vulnerable. So it should be selective isolation, versus universal isolation, which is the dominant policy and that is morally completely indefensible, and cannot be the optimal way to achieve any kind of management.

[14:42] The purpose of the government is not to extend people's lives. It's to leave us free to live our lives as we judge best. 

Power Hour: 4 Ideas About COVID-19 You Won’t Hear Anywhere Else” via SoundCloud, March 18. Note that this episode seems to have been since removed from SoundCloud, however is still available at Apple Podcasts.

[00:17:49] The Corona crack down, this tyrannical behavior, this indefinite universal isolation illustrates the tyrannical nature of the ”right to health care.”

[00:18:08] My view of health is health is a responsibility. So it's a responsibility. Individuals…. and so we have a right. We have a right to the pursuit of health care, including to produce different forms of health care, whether medical care, rather, medicines, medical services or to produce them. And, of course, to trade with others who produce them. But fundamentally, health is a responsibility and we should be free to pursue it and produce it. 

Alex Jones

MUST WATCH FULL SHOW - 03:24:2020 - We’re Not A Nation Of Cowards, This Is Not How America Works, Time To Go Back To Work!” The Alex Jones Show, March 24

 [00:02:17] No, the virus is real, it kills some people. Nobody's bad that wants to be upset about it. Quarantine themselves. But that's your choice. The forced shutting down of society.

[00:02:30] It's unconstitutional and it's deadly dangerous. 

American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC)

State Audio Resources: COVID-19,” Via ALEC_states on SoundCloud, March 21

Art Laffer: [00:00:36] They let me just say, the the issues are very serious here. I mean, obviously, it started with a Coronavirus, but then it spread right into the economy and a lot of people holding off work. We have a lot of reduction in demand and all that. There are two very serious economic issues at hand. My view there's a liquidity issue and there is a production issue, both of which are very serious.

[…]

[00:02:43] The production issues are very different and they are very material as well by people staying at home, not being there at work. You have a great shortfall of supply in this country.

[…]

[00:04:42] My best guess is that that would do a great deal to re-accelerate and re bring back employment as fast as possible. Following the nature of this, I really Coronavirus induced downturn. The third thing I'd like to just. John, before I let you all go, is the thousand dollars per family payment is I don't believe it makes any sense whatsoever, to be honest with you. People do need the money, very much so. But, you know, the government doesn't create resources. The government redistributes resources. And everyone you bail out. You put someone else into trouble. And when I look at this number, I don't know why one month would be enough. Two months would be enough. Three months. But every every month of that is at least 200, 150 to 200 billion dollars. You don't go very many model very where you run out of money. You're run out of money. Yeah. You run out of money.

[00:05:49] Symbolic gestures just don't make sense here. We need production and we need it right now.

[…]

[00:07:27] If people could go back to work. Believe me, they would have gone back to work. The reason we have a downturn is because supplies were taken off the table because of the Coronavirus. Well, now it's pyramiding and spiraling down. And that's you know, that's the real that's the real, real problems. And what you find happening is with these politicians, you know, whenever you know, whenever politicians make decisions, when they're either panicked or drunk, the consequences are rarely attractive. And you can see that with a W and with Obama in 2008, 2009.

[…]

[00:08:01] I mean, in five days of policy making, you can destroy a lifetime. And this is not the time to panic. It's to be clear eyed. We need to get production back, period. And that's what they have to do is right away. So my suggestion is discount freely. Make sure you take care of people who have liquidity problems, but not but not solvency problems and make sure they don't become solvency. And number two, make sure you do a massive payroll tax waiver for the next eight months. So you make it very attractive for workers to work and you make it very attractive for employers to employ. And please don't do these symbolic gestures of $1000 per family for the next five months and then wonder why it's a depression. 

[00:00:41] We cannot  keep the American Academy shutdown for another three weeks. If it goes a day beyond three weeks. I think we get to a situation where the literally the cure is worse than the disease. We have to get the American economy open again. And that means that this kind of lockdown can't continue because the costs, in my opinion, are going to be in the trillions of dollars.

[…]

[00:02:06] I'm a civil libertarian. The idea that we should have a policy like what's going on in California right now to me is completely outrageous. It is a violation, it is an abuse of governmental power. The idea that people can't go out of their homes is just outrageous to me. And I'm worried that that's going to come to many other States as well. I don't think you can do that. I just I think people will not stand for that kind of policy.

[00:03:07] I was thinking of starting a hashtag. You know, something like, you know, end the lockdown.

[20:19] Lisa B Nelson: You know, I think that the the I continue to be very optimistic, I continue to, you know, want to get America back to work again, and I'm appreciating the 15 days, to slow to spread. I get that we're about halfway through that, but I also am encouraging our government leaders at the state level, to really look for ways to pivot to getting back, you know, to so that we can open America and get people working again.

[22:13] Yeah. You know, I mean, we are always going to defer to a limited government and free market response. We've never taken, you know, strong positions in support of any kind of bailout. And, and we, I guess we would call it a bailout. But, but I also think that there's some important elements in in some of these bills that are going to encourage that fluidity and get money back in the hands of businesses. So, you know, we're going to look for that limited government response, but support some of the things that have to happen at the state level. And I would, I would, you know, again, I would guess I would look at it much more.

Benny Peiser and Andrew Montford

Coronavirus Lessons From the Asteroid That Didn’t Hit EarthWall Street Journal, April 1

When competing models are giving wildly different, and in some cases frightening, predictions, the pressure on governments to adopt a draconian approach can be overwhelming. But, as we are seeing, the costs of such measures are extraordinarily high. Nations cannot afford to lock down their economies every time a potentially devastating new virus emerges. Setting up an effective pandemic hazard scale would inform policy makers and the public, helping fend off media demands for “something to be done” until the right decisions can be made at the right time.

Bjorn Lomborg


 

View: Shutdown is unsustainable,” The Economic Times/India Times, April 5

The potential impact of the Covid-19 pandemic is enormous. But draconian policies to tackle the virus also have colossal costs. Ignoring the trade-offs could land us with one of the worst possible outcomes.

[…]

This middle ground is more like what Sweden has been doing – recommending people to work from home if possible, and asking those who are sick and over-70 to avoid social contacts. But most people still work, children go to school, most of society is still running. This is long-term sustainable. Shutting everything down is not.

Charlie Kirk

Growing concerns over coronavirus,” Fox News via Youtube, March 23

Charlie Kirk: [00:00:28] And so what I'd like to see is an even heavier focus and more national unity about assisting those areas and also relieving some of the quarantine and allowing the American entrepreneur to be liberated. Day fifteen comes some of the other parts of the country that have not been as impacted because you talked about there are real economic consequences to these sorts of quarantines that have been going on.

Charlie Kirk: [00:02:34] Look, the president has done a phenomenal job. And I can tell you the president is been he's adapted quick into quick leadership form, almost like wartime form quicker than any other president we could possibly imagine. He has brought the country together against an invisible enemy. And I'm telling you, the president will make the right decisions to get this economy back and roaring in quick order. And he will be able to allocate the resources needed in these parts of the country, need them, and he will liberate the American off. 

Club for Growth/David McIntosh

Podcast: David McIntosh On Economic Shutdown And Bailouts Amid Coronavirus,” The Federalist, March 25

David McIntosh: [00:05:24] I think I think the government's making many mistakes like that in the early panic days. And I was pleased to see yesterday the president announced he was hopeful the government could start allowing the economy and schools should follow suit to reopen as soon as Easter. We'll see if that deadline works.

But I think it's important for him to set out there. There is an end to this. And, you know, the health care providers, they're doing their job. But but their perspective is very narrowly focused. How do we prevent any new patient from getting this Coronavirus, whereas the world has to operate on a whole larger scheme of things. How do we let families function of taking care of their kids? How do we get people to work so they can earn money to pay for the mortgage and pay for their bills? And so you can't simply have the health care providers dictating that this go on indefinitely until we tell you it's OK that that's not acceptable.

Craig Rucker/CFACT

Bill Gates: You know better than this. We need you now!CFACT, March 25

As we work together to combat COVID-19, much of America is shuttered and our economy stopped.  We need to keep people safe, no doubt about it, but if we don't keep the economy moving there's a world of hurt in store for us all.
 

Emergency! Narrow the recovery curveCFACT,  March 23

If we don’t enable economic recovery to get moving, the resulting harm will exceed the harm from the virus.

Time to be smart.  Fast.

Coronavirus: What’s the endgame?CFACT, March 17

It will likely be a long time until the risk from the coronavirus approaches zero.

[…]

In short, our leaders need to plan not just how they will conduct the war against this virus, but an “exit strategy” on how to pull out when the mission has been achieved.

European Institute for Climate and Energy (EIKE)

When the elephant jumps down the cliff for fear of the catEIKE, March 22. Originally published at ACHGUT. Translated with Google Translate.

However, the guards are probably wrong with the demand for comprehensive social containment, which is tantamount to blocking public life. Through horror scenarios and highly emotional reports, which are not embedded in an overall fact-based context, they, together with the grateful media, drive politicians to irrational actions, which in retrospect will probably have done more harm than Covid-19 itself.

[…]

My personal conclusion:

  • Currently, with a week, maybe month long policy of social containment, we are buying the probably only minor cushioning of Covid-19 consequences with the increasing risk of a system crash.
  • Politicians, fired by experts who do not consider the overall context, are likely to outdo themselves with measures that are probably only of limited use, but which jeopardize our society's ability to act. What applies to the subject of climate, energy or immigration applies even more to a pandemic like Covid-19. A challenge will not be mastered by panic and moralism, but by expertise and reason on the basis of reliable data, which can most reliably deliver a free and unrestricted science.
  • The media in particular must finally stop, particularly in the face of such a crisis, to distort the perception of their listeners and viewers because they report on terrible individual situations in purely emotional terms, without paying attention to the overall context. In this way you reduce the scope for making sensible decisions.
  • The functionality of our society is based on a functioning economic life. It is not cynicism, but rather ethics of responsibility when you realize that Covid-19 does not have the potency to paralyze working life itself, because it is above all a danger to the elderly and the sick. On the other hand, if even the worst calculations come true, the best long-term care for those affected can only be achieved through a stable supply situation. And this is increasingly endangered by social containment policies.
  • Therefore, old and seriously ill people must remain in quarantine as optimally as possible and as humanly as possible (see also report on coronalage 15.03.2020 ) in order to end the policy of social containment by Easter at the latest.

FreedomWorks

Reopen America Strategy Session with Stephen Moore and Scott Rasmussen,” FreedomWorks video, May 6

Scott Rasmussen [00:15:17] Seventy six percent of voters know that the number of people who had this virus now is much higher than we initially thought because we've seen all of those news reports. A lot of people don't have symptoms, but they are having it.

So people are aware of that increase. But when we ask if they are aware that the fatality rates, the number of people who get it die, is lower than we initially thought – and quite frankly, it's significantly lower - only 44 percent are aware of that.

The people who know the latest data, who know that it's not you walk outside and you catch the virus and you die, they are much more supportive of reopening society. Those who mistakenly believe that the fatality rate is as high as we thought it was back, you know, when this was just in Kirkland, Washington. They're the ones who are saying, no, we can't possibly reopen. So, the more people understand the realities of this, the more support there will be for reopening society.

Adam Brandon [00:17:45] But I'm also just curious what it's like in the House of Representatives under Nancy Pelosi at the moment, and it just seems like legislation is being driven, driven by panic and not fact.

Congressman Chip Roy [00:21:19] But I'm also going to fly right into this and say that 30 million unemployed is unconscionable and that the leadership of this country should be ashamed. They should be ashamed for letting this happen, for allowing this to become two weeks of, you know, flattening the curve in order to give our hospitals the chance to catch up is now turning into months on end shutdown of our American way of life. To hell with these leaders.

I want more Americans to go in and open up their barbershops. I want more Americans to go open up their bars and restaurants. I want more Americans to go use those services. You tell these local tyrants to pound sand.

I'm sick of it. We're watching our American way of life getting absolutely decimated because we've got elected leaders who are walking around like they've been anointed to tell us how to live our lives.

You got Governor Hogan saying, oh, now you're not going to be to leave Maryland to go on vacation now – to hell with you. I'm going to go wherever the hell I want to go. And look, I'm proud of Governor Abbott for leaning into this but Texas needs to go farther, faster, and we need to restart because every day that goes by is the day that this freight train of the American economy slows down. Thirty million unemployed. Compare that to the less than three million that were unemployed as a result of the 2008 financial crisis.

This is real. And we need to get busy getting it started so that our kids and grandkids don't inherit a mess instead of inheriting the greatest economy in the history mankind.

Adam Brandon [00:50:31] And what we've lost in a lot of this is who is at most at risk in this country. We're trying to compile some stats right now of who is dying in the United States. And frankly, it's, it's it tends to be older folks with certain pre-existing conditions. My father's probably in that category, 80 years old, and his heart's not as strong as it was a few years ago. So absolutely everything, every precaution necessary needs to be able to take… to help him.

But when we were looking at statistics on how many people below 30 and below 40 were dying, it's not it’s… it's… I’m not saying that this is not a bad disease, but I am saying that we do know who is the most affected. And I believe we have to start educating – going back to something we opened up with, with 62 percent of Americans still nervous to walk outside their door. We need to make – that actually hurts because you don't understand who is at – we should be spending more time educating who is the most at risk and what we should do to keep those people safe and healthy.

And we're wasting too much resources trying to keep college kids safe. Look. College kids statistically – that’s not a high probability that this is really going to affect them. So we're going to have to do a more and a better job. And unfortunately, the media is not going to help us get that message out. And that's why we're going to rely on our activist community to be forwarding information to folks, family members. And I think as we start to see Georgia and other states start to open up, we're going to have to get into a discussion about numbers and who's really at risk.

And I'll end with this: is that you remember we were told this is how - this is the capacity for a hospital and as long as you kept the cases under that capacity, that is our goal. Well we've done that and what I fear is the media has moved the goalposts now to trying to say prevention, prevention. I was told at the beginning of this crisis that everyone's going to get this eventually, that eventually there's nothing you can do to stop a pandemic. It's all about preventing hitting that line. Well, we've done that and we've done our part. And now it's time to prevent the next economic crisis that could find the next American generation.

Gregg Easterbrook


Heartland Institute

Taken from; Todd Richmond. “Waukesha County residents mount 2nd stay-at-home lawsuit,” Wisconsin Law Journal, May 8

Jeré Fabick, a policy advisor and board member of the Heartland Institute, and Larry Chapman filed a lawsuit with the Supreme Court challenging stay-at-home orders in Wisconsin as unconstitutional.

The Wisonsin Law Journal reported Fabick had alleged the order limits his free speech and travel rights and, according to the lawsuit, he wanted to engage in protests against the order but the travel ban prevented him from joining one in Madison on April 24.

Even a public health crisis does not give the State executive authorities license to impose measures that are arbitrary and irrational, or that patently violate our most sacred constitutional rights,” the lawsuit said.

Richard Ebeling – “LEAVING PEOPLE ALONE IS THE BEST WAY TO BEAT THE CORONAVIRUS,” Heartland Institute, March 24

Social distancing” is the new official language for government telling people not to interact with others at work, or in the common areas of everyday life, or even at home. What it amounts to is the government telling people where, with whom, and when they may associate in close proximity with others for mutually beneficial trades or for various forms of family activities and social comradery and entertainment.

Suppose that the federal government in close collaboration with state governments were to introduce such draconian coercive controls and commands on the American people at any time other than like the present one, when many in the country have become wrapped up in fear and near hysteria over the threat of the Coronavirus. I think it is likely that many would wonder if some type of political coup d’état was not in the process of transforming the American Republic into a near totalitarian state and planned economy. 

[…]

My answer, for whatever it may be worth, is that is exactly right: Government should be doing little or next to nothing. The problem is a social and medical one, and not a political one.

Hoover Institution

John Cochrane (Hoover Senior Fellow) “Still needed – the back to work plan,” The Grumpy Economist (John Cochrane's blog), April 8, 2020

In a month or so, cases in hospitals will have stabilized or tapered, and it will be time to begin reopening the economy. But most people will still not have been exposed, the virus will still be looking around ready to break out again. Technological saviors, in particular a vaccine or an effective treatment, will not have arrived.

It will be time to return to where we should have been in January. There are two parts to this. First, businesses and people need to adopt common-sense efforts to limit the spread of the virus. Second, we need an intense public health response: A regime of intensive watching, testing, tracing, isolating, locking down hotspots, and running businesses smartly.

Finally, I am seeing news all over that this thought is spreading. Today I do my bit to super-spread it. We need both, like yesterday.

John Yoo and Harmeet K. Dhillon. “Statewide Lockdowns And The Law,” defining ideas (Hoover Institution Journal), March 31.

As losses mount throughout the economy due to the coronavirus quarantines, President Trump suggested that he wants the nation “to be opened up and just raring to go by Easter.”  He has since stepped away from that proposal and issued guidelines that lockdowns stay in place until the end of April.  But Trump still seems to be more optimistic than many state governors in his hope that the U.S. will return to normal economic activity sooner rather than later.

But even if Trump were to issue a declaration re-opening American businesses, a nationwide compliance would remain beyond his power.  The Constitution’s system of federalism reserves the authority to lift the quarantine orders in the same people who issued them in the first place: the state governors.

Because state government sits closer to the people, we can and should demand more immediate transparency and accountability of our officials for these draconian, potentially devastating policies.  They may impede the spread of the disease, but we cannot tell if this comes at an acceptable cost because neither governors Gavin Newsom nor Andrew Cuomo have explained how they made the cost-benefit trade-off involved.  They risk judicial intervention or, ultimately, popular rejection, should they continue to keep shutting down their economies without justified benefits.

Richard Epstein, a Hoover scholar and friend, has come under fire for his claim that public health officials have overestimated the rate of infection and the lethality of the coronavirus.  Regardless of Epstein’s theory of why the spread of the virus will slow, the underlying truth of his argument remains: stopping the spread of disease balances lives potentially saved against the economic losses from the lockdowns.

[…]

 Our states do not shut down their economies every winter to stop the flu, which can kill 60,000 a year nationwide.  Even if the deaths from the coronavirus extend to a higher estimate of 200,000 deaths nationwide, or 24,000 deaths in California, we are still forgoing millions in economic activity to save each life.  While each life is precious, our society chooses not to stop all economic activity to stop other illnesses, such as the flu, or to forgo certain valuable freedoms such as driving to reduce auto accidents.  As the Great Recession showed, massive economic losses can cost lives too by reducing incomes, decreasing longevity, and increases in death by suicide and drug overdoses.

[…]

These are tough decisions. California cannot spend whatever it takes to save every life.  In the 2017-18 flu season, the CDC estimates that 61,000 Americans died of influenza; but we do not impose the types of economic lockdowns and social distancing we see today to stop the flu.  We elect officials to state government to make these policy decisions for us, in a responsible and informed manner.  If they do not explain how and why they arrived at their decision, they risk popular discontent.  If the lockdown continues for weeks on end, and it appears that our leaders imposed statewide quarantines without sufficient proof that the numbers of lives saved would justify the heavy, widespread cost, they even risk civil disobedience where Americans will simply ignore the bans on social and economic activity.  No state has enough manpower to control an unwilling American population.

David R. Henderson. “How To Hobble The Economy–And How To Revive It,defining ideas, March 25.

The sooner the mandatory sheltering is ended, the better. Those of us who are on the elderly side—I’m 69 and my wife is 70—should , to be sure, be super-cautious for at least the first few weeks. Others will be too. It’s simply absurd to think that the vast majority of people will choose to go for the next few months without any precautions. Meanwhile, these people, especially younger people, need to be allowed to get on with their lives.

Independence Institute

Freedom on Tap - Dave Kopel, Rob Natelson,” IITV via YouTube, April 7

Jon Caldera: [00:18:50] What's been shocking for me is how complicit people seem to be about being put under house arrest without any sort of due process that the media especially seems to be giving kudos to those people who are putting us under house arrest without any challenge about their love of the First Amendment, which I thought gave us a right not only to free speech, but the right to assembly, the right to worship and the right to due process. And I don't see any of that. 

Caldara: When the coronavirus cure is worse than the disease,” Complete Colorado, March 24

The CDC types are paid to have a purely engineering mind-set. Flatten the curve. Flatten the curve at all costs. To them market realities are an obstacle to overcome, a limitation to push through to a medically healthy outcome. Their expertise is health, not the economics to pay for it.

[…] 

Shutting down private businesses by government fiat is economically insane, not to mention bordering on martial law.

It will certainly flatten the curve of COVID-19, a very worthy goal, but in the long run it could be curing a sickness via suicide. A person struck by the virus can and likely will survive. Small businesses, especially in hospitality, likely won’t. And the families that depend upon them might not either.

[…]

If you’re like me, you’d feel comfortable going to a restaurant during this crisis, assuming there was enough distance from other customers. I’m denied the simple freedom to choose.

James A Peden

James Delingpole

James Taylor

Is the coronavirus lockdown the future environmentalists want?CFACT video featuring Marc Morano and Heartland Institute president James Taylor, April 30

James Taylor [00:15:26] It appears the government is seeking to restrict our freedoms merely because it can, and because it fears criticism from the left if they go one step short that what any other governor or what any other state does. But our freedoms are very important, and especially when we look at a situation now where, as tragic as the COVID-19 situation is, we appear to at least have peaked, perhaps beyond the downside, and nowhere near what they had predicted for us. If we’re looking at 60/70,000 deaths, heck let’s say 80,000 deaths, that is just for equivalence, that’s about two flu seasons. Approximately 40,000 people each year die from the flu in the United States. And the question is, is it worth shutting down all of our freedoms, shutting down society, likely putting us into a great depression if we continue this, to basically avoid two flu seasons? Now that is a very serious consequence, those deaths that have occurred, but again the trade-off is what we need to consider.

James Taylor [01:01:20] The question brings up these government restrictions. Remember this is a bait and switch at the expense of our most important and basic freedoms. We were told that we needed these lockdowns until we flattened the curve so that we wouldn’t overwhelm hospitals and health care providers. And that if we flattened the curve, we wouldn’t be reducing the overall number of cases, we wouldn’t be reducing the number of deaths, other than preventing some unnecessary deaths because nobody could get into a hospital or see a health care person. Now that we’ve done this, now that the curve is flattened, still we see, as Marc mentioned, we’ve got in California now new restrictions. You can’t go to the beach. Restrictions that continue to exist and are becoming worse in some places, even when the justification that was initially given has gone away. If you want to justify it by a certain excuse, a certain rational, present it, and if you want to change it, tell us you’re going to change it and give us the opportunity to voice our concerns. And the people are rising up around the country, this is indicative of Americans as a whole understanding the government is out of control. People are wise.

Jay H. Lehr & Tom Harris (International Climate Science Coalition)

Environmentalists should hope for quick economic rebound,” Canada Free Press (among other news sites), March 21

It will be tempting for climate activists to tell us that the reduction in economic activity due to COVID-19 is an example of what we should be striving for. Indeed, the emergency is already being presented in some circles as a dry run for the system wide changes needed to address climate change.

But this is a serious mistake. Environmentalists should hope the economy quickly rebounds. Only when we are affluent do we have the luxury to engage in environmental protection. While poor communities are usually willing to make sacrifices for some very basic components of environmental improvement such as safe drinking water and waste disposal, greater protections are not often instituted. However, as income rises, citizens raise their environmental goals and willingness to pay for a cleaner environment.

Jim Lakely

Jim Lakely on Twitter as @jlakely. 22-part Twitter thread, June 3

Part 1/22

Part 7/22

Part 9/22

Part 18/22

Part 21/22

Part 22/22

See full thread here.

Marc Morano

Quoted in “Washington Reopens in a Win for Trump Amid Nagging Safety Doubts,” Financial Post, May 29

You have a much greater risk of getting killed by a car than Covid,” said Marc Morano, a former Senate staffer and Trump supporter who lives in Northern Virginia. He said Trump’s decision to cede control to Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and the “medical bureaucracy” including the Centers for Disease Control was the “greatest blunder of his presidency.”

He allowed the greatest economy to essentially be nuked in a matter of weeks because of the Anthony Fauci-CDC scare scenario,” Morano said.

Is the coronavirus lockdown the future environmentalists want?CFACT video featuring Marc Morano and Heartland Institute president James Taylor, April 30

Marc Morano: [00:59:41] I think we have to acknowledge at a national level that lockdowns, there's no science to support essentially that they work. Especially, I can understand a flattening the curve or at least some kind of limited. Very limited. But you don't lockdown… We need to acknowledge that they were wrong and not allow future lockdowns. That's number one. [00:59:58]

Marc Morano: [01:00:20]  I'm going to advocate absolute breaking of the law tonight. If you have people going to the beach and getting arrested, it's easy for police to show up, arrest a few people or go to a park and arrest someone. But if people start showing up en mass to the beach, the police can't arrest everyone.

And if you start having owners of businesses start, and we're seeing this now, artists and other shops declaring themselves—tailor shops—declaring themselves nonessential, they're opening up. More of them do it, the police can't arrest everyone. This is my key thought. The Berlin Wall was not taken down because the East German government passed a law that said, let's remove the law. It came down because the people no longer gave their consent for a wall to be up. So when the people no longer give their consent through lockdown, through this kind of mass civil disobedience, that's how you fight it. Not through calling your congressman or senator and complaining into a voicemail. You've got to act. And I think that's what has to happen here. Sorry. I'm calling for lawbreaking tonight. [01:01:18]

Mark Mathis


Martin Armstrong

While everyone seems distracted on blaming China for creating this virus, even if they manufactured it and sent infected people on planes, that still does not answer WHY have Western governments so eagerly sought to use this virus as the excuse to transform Democracy into Authoritarianism. The European Commission is not elected anyhow, so the EU removed any accountability to the people for their leadership no different than China. Everywhere we look, civil liberties are being suspended in Europe. This is precisely in line with our model which forecast 2020 as the year for a European Revolution.

[…]

We are already seeing the narrative emerge that we should remain locked down until Gates comes up with his vaccine which curiously won’t be ready until AFTER the US Elections. The two characters that they have sought to overturn ar Trump and Borris Johnson. They both stand in the way of socialism. This is NOT normal. This virus is by no means that lethal to just overthrowing democracy. There is another motive that goes beyond Gates and China. This is the political forces seeking to hold on to power. Perhaps they have looked at Socrates and saw the Monetary Crisis Cycle coming and this was a preemptive strike to try to prevent the collapse of Europe and socialism. That may be the single greatest motive behind jumping on the bandwagon with Gates.
 

The End of Democracy?Armstrong Economics, April 12 (emphasis in original)

While everyone seems distracted on blaming China for creating this virus, even if they manufactured it and sent infected people on planes, that still does not answer WHY have Western governments so eagerly sought to use this virus as the excuse to transform Democracy into Authoritarianism. The European Commission is not elected anyhow, so the EU removed any accountability to the people for their leadership no different than China. Everywhere we look, civil liberties are being suspended in Europe. This is precisely in line with our model which forecast 2020 as the year for a European Revolution.

[…]

We are already seeing the narrative emerge that we should remain locked down until Gates comes up with his vaccine which curiously won’t be ready until AFTER the US Elections. The two characters that they have sought to overturn ar Trump and Borris Johnson. They both stand in the way of socialism. This is NOT normal. This virus is by no means that lethal to just overthrowing democracy. There is another motive that goes beyond Gates and China. This is the political forces seeking to hold on to power. Perhaps they have looked at Socrates and saw the Monetary Crisis Cycle coming and this was a preemptive strike to try to prevent the collapse of Europe and socialism. That may be the single greatest motive behind jumping on the bandwagon with Gates.

Manhattan Institute

Brian Riedl, Senior Fellow: “Necessary Intervention,” City Journal (Manhattan Institute Publication), March 23

We must acknowledge the unsustainability of shutting down much of the United States economy, and financing family and business incomes through unprecedented government borrowing. Just a few months of an economic lockdown will cost the government and the economy trillions of dollars. At some point, Washington’s borrowing capacity will become constrained, possibly leading to the Federal Reserve monetizing more of the additional borrowing. Business bankruptcies will continue to escalate, and a prolonged depression may become a real possibility. Depleted inventories and constrained supply lines could lead to production shortages of basic goods. It is incumbent on public officials to devise a strategy that will allow schools and businesses to reopen before this crisis extends into the summer.

The Virus and the Economy,” City Journal, March 8

We still don’t know enough about the virus because we lack adequate information, including about such crucial factors as how deadly it really is and who it affects. Even the experts have disagreed. In recent days, growing evidence suggests that our approach should be surgical, rather than broad-based. Widespread quarantines and wholesale shutdowns of communities, for example, inevitably suppress the economy. Instead, we should focus our efforts on helping those overwhelmingly more vulnerable to the virus.

Pete Hegseth

Speaking on Fox News’ Outnumbered, May 7 – see archived part 1 and part 2. Also reported at DailyBeast

I don’t love the warrior talk, but I do think you’re going to need that kind of ethos and that spirit to put freedom before fear. Listen, there’s a lot of anxiety, there’s a lot of misinformation, the experts have been telling us hundreds of thousands of people are going to die.

Now that we are learning more, herd immunity is our friend, healthy people getting out there, they’re going to have to have some courage. We’ve seen courage, we’re going to talk about it later, in Texas, where people are defying ridiculous orders. That takes courage, that’s not easy. So, I think that spirit, the American spirit frankly, is in full supply and ready to go if some of our experts and some of our leaders will just get out of their way. They’re drunk on power, it’s time to open up.

Phil Kerpen

Posted May 12:

Posted May 12:

The Good, The Bad, And The Ugly Of Congress’s Latest Coronavirus Spending Bill,” The Federalist, March 25, 2020

Four Months of Full-Pay Unemployment
This repeats and worsens the principal policy error of the Obama recession: enhanced unemployment benefits that undercut work incentives, contract the active labor force, and undermine economic growth.

Even worse, this bill for the first time provides unemployment benefits for a worker who quits if he or she self-certifies that “the individual has to quit his or her job as a direct result of COVID-19.”

Four months exceeds any reasonable expectation of how long shutdown orders will be in place, and will disincentivize a significant portion of the workforce from returning to work before the extended benefits end.

Reason Foundation

Will Aggressive COVID-19 Control Measures Cost More Than They Are Worth?Reason Foundation, March 18 

We can scale back both the expected number of deaths without drastic action and the economic impact of trying to prevent them, but we still seem to be left with a big imbalance between costs and benefits. Something like a nationwide lockdown makes sense only if you combine a low estimate of the economic cost with high estimates of the policy's effectiveness and the number of deaths that would otherwise occur.

Matt Welch. “Stop It With the Coronavirus Curfews Already,” Reason Foundation, March 17

How do these curfews and mandatory quarantines end? No really, how do they? What does success look like? When is the “emergency” over? We see very little acknowledgment that these questions are even relevant, let alone attempts to answer them amid the cascade of competitive shutdowns.

I, too, urgently hope that people mostly stay the hell away from each other over the coming weeks. But not at gunpoint, and not in such a way that creates new and perhaps even worse pathways for unhealthy behavior. Let's be careful out there both personally and governmentally.

Richard Epstein

Don't Expect Millions To Die From Coronavirus, Says Richard Epstein,” Reason Foundation (video), March 18, 2020

Richard Epstein: [00:20:42] So in New York state there are about 10 deaths today. My guess is not a single one of these deaths came from anybody who got a public exposure in a bar or in a school. And what happens is we know in effect that the number of people that we have in the state is relatively low with, say, a thousand people. That exhausts the pool of people who could have caused this thing by getting contracted two weeks or three weeks ago. So then you have to assume that what's going to happen next week. My guess is you'll see a kind of a modest increase going on. But the adaptive responses will be so strong.

The thing that is clear is most individuals, when you actually talk to them, are more cautious, I think, about the situation than it warrants. And indeed, one of the things that's kind of depressing about all of this is every private institution that I'm aware of has taken independent steps like the way in the city. So, you know, NYU just announced that it's cleaning out its dormitories of undergraduates, all of whom are aged 20 and very healthy. They have to go home.

We're not going to have classes. Well, I can understand them saying, OK, Professor EPSTEIN, you're 76 years old. Maybe you ought not to be in school, but suppose I'm just 30 years younger. I would certainly want them to have the class going on. So I see what happens here is what you do is you assume that everybody is in the highest risk class. Then you overestimate the damage to the highest risk. These institutions are going to suffer huge amounts. My wife and I, as we even talked to people with whom we do business. You know, the exercise codes I have the people start to cancel on that woman. You know how she's going to be able to pay them rent, all sorts of things, like you said, while you're paying you right now. 

Richard Epstein: [00:25:21] Well, it's all this stuff, again, depends upon the rapidity by which things start to spread one way or another. And there's no question that early on and this thing is going you may want at the beginning to sort of slow down certain kinds of interactions. But generally speaking, you give strong kinds of advice as people respond to them and you'll start to see it behave. What's so dangerous here is that people are putting these things into place as if their capital investments that will stay in effect for three to four months and. This economy cannot survive these kinds of shut down.
[…]
And unlike the Coronavirus, which will get less serious as you go on in time, the financial dislocations, the financial stresses, the bankruptcies, the reworks will get worse as time goes on. If you look at the legal blogs, as I have done, the single hottest topic now is voicemail, which is a force majeure, depending whether you like French or you like the land, its big forces, what it means. And the question is to what extent when you have big forces do excuse people from the performance of their contractual obligations.  [00:31:34]

Richard Epstein: [00:34:12] Well, if I'm correct, amount the path of the virus. This means that you would expect this thing to be a serious issue for three weeks or for a month. The way it was in China, the way I think will turn out to be in Italy at where it was in Korea. And so by May 1st or so you would want to see things more or less return to normal, at which point you got six months before the election.

Steve Milloy


Stephen Moore

Freedom on Tap - Steve MooreIITV via YouTube, April 14 

Stephen Moore: [00:03:17] Steve Moore and Arthur Laffer and Steve Forbes were named to the president's economic recovery task force.  [00:03:24]

[…]

Jon Caldera: [00:03:47] All right. Let's let's get into that. So here here's here's my frustration. I'm thrilled that the president has Faouci on every day and they're doing all this wonderful modeling. They're doing all this wonderful modeling and the modeling is terrific and they're showing how many people can be saved. But I don't see somebody right next to them doing modeling to show how many jobs are going to be lost, how many foreclosures there's going to be, how many how many folks are going to be unemployed, how many houses are going to go under, how many businesses and small businesses. The longer we keep this open, and the media doesn't ask that question, and am I off on this?  [00:04:28]

Stephen Moore: [00:04:29] Now, you and I think alike on this. I regard this. This may go down in history as one of the biggest boneheaded moves by government in 100 years. [00:04:41]

Stephen Moore: [00:04:42] And it's also going to go down in history potentially as one of the great abuses of governmental power, not just at the federal level, but at the state level and local level.  [00:04:50]

Stephen Moore: [00:05:53] So. So that's point number one is I do think that it's worth paying out. We're kind of in a climate of fear right now. And frankly, just between us girls, I mean, I'm a little disappointed with the American people, that they are so, you know, we have generations of snowflakes right now that are just afraid. And by the way, that's even many of my own family members. So that's number one. Number two, the reason this was so unnecessary is because we've always known from the start who are the people who are susceptible to to dying from this disease. Ninety percent of the people, or roughly thereabouts, 90 percent are over the age of 75 and or have a chronic disease like diabetes or heart disease or something of that nature or emphysema and or are people, John, that are overweight. Just teasing you. But obesity is very highly, highly related to so to Coronavirus death. So if you were to sequester or isolate those groups of people and keep them safe. I'm not saying we should let those people die. I'm saying we should keep them keep them isolated.  [00:07:05]

Stephen Moore: [00:08:32] So one of my missions for this task force is, you know, as I said at the outset, you open the economy immediately in places again.  [00:08:40]

Stephen Moore: [00:09:59] By the way, the lowest among us, the people at the very bottom of the income ladder are the being being hurt the most that. But Nancy Pelosi is the biggest cheerleader for keeping the economy shut down. Remember when she said she cared about poor people? Maybe she doesn't. [00:10:14]

[00:11:55] So every level of government, my point would be and I really just want to kind of take questions from folks in addition to you, John. But I would say this here is my analysis that if we don't open the economy by May 1st, I think we are in really, really deep trouble. And we're going to look at 15 to 20 percent unemployment. We're going to thirty five million people unemployed in this country. [00:12:19]

Stephen Moore: [00:15:33] this is be a drive-in and they're gonna shut down the capital. Don't tell anybody, but they think they can get fifteen hundred people to come in. And this is great, you guys. So we have one big donor in Wisconsin. I'm not gonna mention his name. And I told about this. He said, Steve, I promise I will pay the bail and legal fees for anyone who gets arrested. So this is a great time. Gentlemen and ladies, for civil disobedience. We need to be the Rosa Parks here and protest against these government injustices.  [00:16:04]

Jon Caldera: [00:20:33] It is. It is terrifying. This virus doesn't terrify me.  [00:20:37][3.9]

Jon Caldera: [00:20:38] The politics terrify me.  [00:20:38]

Stephen Moore: [00:20:39] This is why let me just say one quick thing. This is a man made crisis, right? This is no longer an act of nature. This is a man made crisis.  [00:20:47]

Stephen Moore: [00:25:09] If you keep this economy locked down for eight, ten, twelve weeks, you're not going to have an economy reopen.  [00:25:13]

Stephen Moore: [00:27:44] Well, I think the first thing the people in Colorado have to do is write a big, big check to the Independence Institute. But that would be a good start right now. But it would be a good start. You should write a contribution check to these groups because it's hard to raise money. I know this because people are really, you know, that people lost a lot of money. I think that the more the more civil disobedience, the better. And however you want to do it to people. You know what really disappoints me, John and Laura, is the national polls are showing the American people are in favor of the shutdown, the lockdown, because American people are sheep. And we need to get the word out that this is unconstitutional, that the damage that we're doing to families is significant. 

Steve Moore, Founder of the Committee To Unleash Prosperity, Discusses Response to COVID-19,” ALEC_states via SoundCloud, March 21
 

We can actually keep the American Academy shutdown for another three weeks if it's a day beyond three weeks. I think we get to a situation where the literally the cure is worse than the disease.

[…]

The idea that we should have a policy like what's going on in California right now to me is completely outrageous. It is a violation, it is an abuse of governmental power. The idea that people can't go out of their homes is just outrageous to me. And I'm worried that that's going to come to many other States as well.

Walter Williams

Benefits vs. Costs of the Government Response to the COVID-19 Pandemic,” Capitalism Magazine, April 20

The first thing to keep in mind about any crisis, be it war, natural disasters or pandemics, is we should keep markets open and private incentives strong. Markets solve problems because they provide the right incentives to use resources effectively. Federal, state and local governments have ordered an unprecedented and disastrous shutdown of much of the U.S. economy in an effort to slow the spread of the coronavirus.

[…]

Wittkowski argues that the lockdown prolongs the development of the “herd immunity,” which is our only weapon in “exterminating” the novel coronavirus — outside of a vaccine that’s going to optimistically take 18 months or more to produce. [1] He says we should focus on shielding the elderly and people with comorbidities while allowing the young and healthy to associate with one another in order to build up immunities.

[…]

The absolute worst part of the COVID-19 pandemic, and possibly its most unrecoverable damage, is the massive power that Americans have given to their federal, state and local governments to regulate our lives in the name of protecting our health. Taking back that power should be the most urgent component of our recovery efforts. It’s going to be challenging; once a politician, and his bureaucracy, gains power, he will fight tooth and nail to keep it.

Willis Eschenbach

Is Extending Lockdowns Worth The Cost? (was Do Lockdowns Work?),” WUWT, April 1 

If the peak is in two weeks, and the effects of what we do today won’t be visible for two weeks, and at this point the possible changes are small, is that worth the huge damage this lockdown is doing?

The problem that I see is the cost. One week of lockdown has cost us two trillion dollars, along with thousands of failed businesses, people unable to retire because their 401Ks are in the toilet, hundreds of thousands unemployed, a big uptick in domestic violence, and lots of jobs lost.

Now, I estimate that something on the order of 80,000 people will die in the US from this virus. (Curious me, I also looked up the estimate from the model above … 93,000.) Suppose the “flattening the curve” saves 10% of them. By all indications, it won’t, but let’s use that number.

That means that we have spent two trillion dollars to save maybe 8,000 people.

And that, in turn, means that we’ve spent a QUARTER BILLION DOLLARS PER PERSON, most of them over 70 like me but unlike me with other diseases, and put our economy in the crapper in the bargain. I may be wrong, but somehow I don’t think my life is worth a quarter billion dollars.

[…]

Call me crazy, but I do NOT want to spend another two trillion dollars to prop up a mostly “feel-good” lockdown ..

Given the general ineffectiveness of these various lockdown-type interventions in the Western countries, and given that a couple weeks of lockdown have already cost us a trillion dollars and hundreds of thousands of vanished jobs and failed businesses and unemployed workers …

… given all of that, I have to ask … is yesterday too soon to end the lockdowns?

Don’t give up. Just end the stay-at-home shelter-in-place regulations. Leave a strong VOLUNTARY self-isolation on geezers like myself, retired folks. Test incoming visitors to the US. Keep washing hands. START WEARING MASKS!

END THE AMERICAN LOCKDOWN!!Skating Under The Ice, March 21

END THE AMERICAN LOCKDOWN!!! We simply cannot afford a dead economy costing us a trillion a week, not even in good times, and especially not at this time when we are preparing to fight a war against a most sneaky and dangerous virus. 13,000 dead worldwide already … let’s add as little as possible to that number.