Monday, April 20, 2020

How Authoritarians Frame the COVID-19 Situation Incorrectly

Anthony Fauci, power freak
Probably the best one-sentence example of how authoritarians are misframing the COVID-19 situation comes in the form of a tweet:
There is a lot to unpack here but first I must point out that in my view there are no such things as rights the way the term is used in the tweet, the way it is used by Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez or in general the way it is used by many libertarians. I am a Misesian when it comes to rights. (SEE: Foundations of Private Property Society Theory). 

But moving on, there are many problems in the tweet that go beyond the rights question.

In the tweet, there is an implication that a person by contracting the virus is leaving others helpless which will kill some of them and the further implication being that therefore everyone must, by government force, be ordered into lockdown. But this fails to take into consideration individual risk-reward ratios and that there are simple ways to avoid risk.

Thus the question must be asked: Doesn't it make more sense that those, who are most vulnerable, take precautions and self-isolate rather than most of the country?

Indeed, anyone can self-isolate who chooses regardless of their individual risk. And those who do not consider the risk significant can go on with their lives.

Further, if there is a demand for social distancing, won't businesses respond to this demand?

The authoritarian framing that all must be locked-down flies in the face of individualism and respect for private property. Some may be willing to take the risk of getting infected (especially if they are not in a high-risk group). Why should free association be denied on private property? Why can't a bar pack them in if it chooses? Some individuals might be very willing to frequent such a place. How could this harm a person who is self-isolating? Where is the problem?

Just why should authoritarians be telling all what to do, when there is an obvious remedy for those who don't want exposure to the virus?

As Friedrich Hayek wrote:
“Emergencies” have always been the pretext on which the safeguards of individual liberty have eroded.
During "emergencies" central planning power freaks come out, they sense the panic in the masses and offer false remedies that always involve freedom being taken away and transferred in the form of power being gained by the freaks.

There are serious questions as to whether government officials are providing an honest accounting of the situation (See, for example: THE BIG LIE: Did COVID-19 Mitigation Save Two Million Lives?) or if they are just stoking mass hysteria, but even if we take at face value all they feed us about the virus, there is nothing they say which supports the idea that the country needs to be put on lockdown.

Those who fear the virus can isolate to their heart's content.

The rest of us should be left alone to "live until we die."



  1. One of the frequent responses that I hear to RW's valid points is that those who are "irresponsible" could end up overwhelming the healthcare system, in that if they don't "social distance" and, consequently, contract the virus in a serious way, then they'll flood the hospitals. There are a number of things to say about this.

    First, it assumes that everyone who contracts the virus will come down with a serious complication, and we know that this is far from the truth. If young, otherwise healthy people crowd a beach or a bar, and some of them contract the virus, then only a tiny percentage would end up with serious complications.

    Second, those who don't self-isolate are assuming the risk that they turn up to the hospital and there is no room for them.

    Third, it's a bit rich for those who have spent years restricting the supply of hospitals, doctors, and medical innovation to put restrictions on the population because the latter might overwhelm the artificially lower supply of these things. It's akin to forcing employers to favor dumb high-school graduates over smart graduates, because the government-school system pumps out so many of the former. Fix the underlying causes now: repeal all regulations relating to healthcare (CON, patents, the FDA, medical-school accreditation, non-recognition of foreign medical training, etc.).

    I'm sure that there are other good responses, and would like to hear of them.

  2. How to handle a real pandemic in a non PPS is one of if not the hardest questions freedom oriented people have. First we have to define a pandemic. It’s subjective with our current knowledge of disease and probably always will be.

    I try to use the NAP as a foundation. But what is aggression in the context of a virus? How harmful is the virus? How do you know if you have it?

    Then we have “experts” saying viruses like C-19 will run their course no matter what we do. We can “flatten the curve” but somewhere around 80% will become infected.

    Obviously if a person is intentionally trying to spread a disease with the intent to cause harm that person is an aggressor. But we used to have pox parties to intentionally spread disease that have caused deaths in order to build immunity.

    Very subjective.

    1. "How to handle a real pandemic in a non PPS is one of if not the hardest questions freedom oriented people have."

      -- Like any question posed to libertarians assuming a state-run society, it's not really possible to come up with a good answer, because a libertarian society would be different in so many facets that just talking about changing one aspect of today's society won't always make sense. It's like asking a libertarian, "Given taxes, what would be the best form of tax?" I refuse to play that game.

      But I'm happy to discuss how a libertarian society might handle a pandemic and compare it to how a state-run society is handling it.

  3. This is Dr. David Katz of Yale talking about "Total Harm Minimalization", from an Epidemiological point of view.

    This is Dr. John Ioannidis of Stanford going through the data and method explaining that Covid-19 is not much different than the seasonal flu.