Issues & Insights

‘A Colossal Public Policy Calamity’

The White House

How did it come to pass that something as patently wrongheaded and predictably calamitous as the nationwide one-size-fits-all 2020 “lockdown” of America could occur?

Who decided that 320 million Americans would as a practical matter be put under house arrest; that millions of jobs and businesses would deliberately be destroyed; that the religious, educational, cultural, recreational, entertainment, social and travel underpinnings of civilized life in America would by Woke-like fiat be “canceled”; that the world’s largest economy would be thrown into a sudden tailspin, drastically downsized, and saddled with an increasing quantity of debt that exceeds America’s decreasing gross domestic product by ever larger amounts?

No law enacted by the Congress (the legislative branch) and signed by the president (the executive branch) and validated by the Supreme Court (the judicial branch) ordered the lockdown.

The lockdown arose from the synergistic co-joinder of two contagions: The COVID-19 virus that can kill the body and the fear virus that clouds the mind.

The movers and shakers, the crisis makers, were those who created the fear virus with their now suspect but then hysteria-inducing predictions that the COVID-19 virus would kill upward of a quarter-million Americans, or many more, and those in the media who relentlessly spread the hysterical fear virus into every nook and cranny of the nation.

In that sense, the “deciders” were, respectively, the expert epidemiologists in the Deep State science bureaucracy who, even if wrong in their predictions, were almost certainly acting in good faith and the media mindbenders who almost certainly were not, but who nevertheless function as an extra-constitutional, unelected and largely unqualified fourth branch of American government.

Very quickly, overbearing and overreacting governors and mayors closed schools, churches and businesses even in areas far away from COVID-19 hotspots – so great was the irrational fear. Fear stalked the vast prairies as well as the rapidly emptying streets in the cities.

The die was cast early. The Rubicon was crossed with speed. The media had done a favor for the Democrats. It had turned the coronavirus into a lockdown and dropped it on President Donald Trump’s doorstep a few months before the election.

Trump could not have made frightened Americans come out and fight by going back to work and opening their businesses, no matter what he did. Many employers had already opted to stay closed rather than risk permanent ruin from scurrilous “wrongful death” lawsuits under state law if one of their customers or employees were to die of COVID-19 infection.

The lockdown, even in its earliest de facto form, put an end to the Trump-led renaissance and reformation that by January 2020 had produced record or near-record highs in workforce participation and lows in the unemployment rate.

We are now headed back toward the economic dark ages of the over-taxed, bureaucrat-dominated Obama years. We will be even further burdened with trillions of new debt and the additional known and unknown regulatory fishhooks in the CARES Act and the other “economic assistance” packages and bailouts soon to be forthcoming from the Congress.

Even if all of America’s expert scientists were tomorrow to simultaneously sound the “all clear,” it will likely be a long and difficult process to extract the economy from the clutches of the federal and state governments – the former being heavily in debt and many of the latter near bankruptcy.

Restoring America’s financial, constitutional and political integrity will likely take even longer.

If the progressive-socialist Democrats gain control of the White House, the Senate and the House in the November elections, the misery and destructiveness of the lockdown period will have been a foretaste of what life in America will be for many decades to come.

The incomparable Brit Hume’s insightful above-the-fray comment (Hume, Brit. Interview by Shannon Bream. Fox News. Washington, D.C.: 21 April 2020. Television.) about the lockdown bears the hallmark of authentic contemporary American history. The highlights in his own words are excerpted here in a shortened format that to the best of my ability conveys his message.

“I think it’s time to consider the possibility … that this lockdown – as opposed to the more moderate mitigation efforts … is a colossal public policy calamity … And there is not to my knowledge really powerful evidence that imposing this lockdown – apart from, over and above – the other mitigation efforts is making any real difference. I have my doubts that it is making any difference at all.

“I look at people like Dr. (Deborah) Birx and Dr. (Anthony) Fauci, for whom I have very high regard, and I think, you know, these people got us out on this limb. The president listened to them. They were doing what was, to the best of their knowledge, the right thing to do. It was a major wager, so to speak, and a drastic step … I don’t question their good faith at all, but I think they may have made a very serious mistake here.”

When a full history is written, I suspect that the Chinese Communists and the media will top the “blame list,” and that scientists such as Fauci and Birx will be footnotes at the bottom of the list. Even if their computer models were wrong, they might get a “best efforts” medal.

In the meantime, harking back to Ron Ziegler’s famous circa 1970s non-apology, suffice it to say, “Mistakes Were Made.”

Ernest S. Christian, a lawyer, served as a tax policy official in the Treasury Department in the Ford administration.

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16 comments

  • I seem to recall a bygone age when some people were adamant about the pronoun others were required to use in reference to them. I wonder what happened to those days.

    I also recall a bygone age when people held, almost as a matter of religious dogma, that the seacoasts would be overwhelmed by the rising of the oceans. Such was their faith in mathematical models predicting outcomes three or four decades in the future. That was before mathematical models were shown incapable of predicting something three or four weeks in the future.

  • Flu fatalities in 43 states in 2018 were higher than the current COVID-19 fatalities. With only 7 states having higher COVID -19 fatalities than the Flu, why has the entire nation had to be shut down, tens of millions thrown out of work, countless small businesses bankrupted, schools closed, hospitals reserved for only the patients who didn’t show up and petty politicians given dictatorial authority over our lives? https://scontent-sea1-1.xx.fbcdn.net/v/t1.0-9/95441112_10222322917559107_1198862248626356224_n.jpg?_nc_cat=110&_nc_sid=8024bb&_nc_ohc=lGNHv39oiDMAX_GRthW&_nc_ht=scontent-sea1-1.xx&oh=d59a3994706d202e963c7118f58e7c61&oe=5ED594AB

    As we enter the time when we’ll have a vaccine for COVID-19, society will be faced with the reality that, like the current flu vaccine that’s been readily available, not everyone will take the new vaccine, which puts us all back to ground zero with infectious people walking among the healthy.

    • Not clear about the infectious walking among the healthy. Histroy shows that flu vaccines are notoriously unreliable, and in fact even cause some to become sick, or immunity compromised. so which will be the healthy and which will be the health compromised? These viruses mutate so fast that the healthy might be the ones letting their bodies deal with the latest incarnation of flu.

    • I will be one who does not accept the coming vaccination hysteria. I mean the one where the coneheads proclaim that if everyone does not get vaccinated, millions will die! More people die every year from democrat incompetence than in 10 years from wuflu. Prove me wrong.

    • “not everyone will take the new vaccine” That’s primarily because not everyone endures the fetters of having an IQ score equal to ambient room temp. If you’re inclined to believe that vaccines are a sort of magic bullet, as their makers portend them to be, then I’ve got some swamp land in Florida that you might find of interest. Dirt cheap, too.

  • 67% of all new cases of the Wuhan flu are people who followed the order to “stay at home.” So much for ad slogans being sound public policy.

  • In any reasonable explanation of the recent virus mania, one should not forget the obvious pre-planning that took place last fall. The Navy put on a symposium on a viral pandemic for the military at the Naval War College. I wonder what they talked about there. I assume they had gamed out possible responses. Otherwise, what’s the point?

    Homeland Security, interestingly did the same thing for FEMA and DARPA. More gaming?

    Bill Gates sponsored another that included WHO and CDC and international actors.

    I can’t help but believe that the identical, almost instantaneous, world-wide responses to the media-generated virus-mania were pre-scripted for myriad motives.

  • I live adjacent to Athens, Georgia, home of UGA. The administration is Democrat and the population is diverse and liberal. Even though the Governor of Georgia has loosened things up, the Mayor of Athens is still telling people to stay at home and to not open their businesses. It’s hard for me to understand why this man is trying to kill off the businesses which keep Athens going. The mayor of my small Republican town in a Republican county is saying, “Get out and enjoy this great Spring weather!”. Most of Athens’s large retailers have already moved to my county because of the anti-business atmosphere. This is America in microcosm at this moment.

    • And such is life, living in the Age of Stupid. “LEADERS”? Look at their faces, listen to their words, it’s a sideshow of carnival barkers, and snake oil salesmen of whom have waged spectacularly monstrous wars and slaughtered millions while continuing to destroy entire nations… and then meet in Brussels to solve problems that they refuse to admit were of their own creation.

  • Every governor, each morning when he looks in the mirror, sees a president reflecting back at him. With few exceptions, they are power-worshippers who snatched at the opportunity to exercise powers never granted them, hoping that the “emergency” would provide the cover they need. But the most shameful thing is this: we allowed it.

    • That depends entirely upon your definition of “we”. If by WE, you’re indeed referring to democracy, that is to say, those teaming throngs of self absorbed, highly manipulated (hell YEAH, I’m ignorant, gotta problem with that??) that decide elections? What of that element? We the people of independent thought haven’t a snowball’s chance in hell of effecting meaningful change because we are so inimically OUTNUMBERED, enslaved by the stupidity of the masses. Ready to fight fire with fire? I think not. No, while “we the people” continue in our futile efforts to “make nice” in the hope that our attempts to offer logic and reason to those of whom have no capacity for same will eventually come around to our way of thinking, the masses will gleefully hand us the shovel (and any other courtesy they see it in their hearts to extend) to assist in the digging our own graves.

      That moist, somewhat misty feeling you’re experiencing is NOT the morning dew. It’s the left, urinating upon us while attempting to convince us that it’s the morning dew. Our survival demands that we have a comprehensive understanding of that difference, and act accordingly, and of our own volition, naysayers be damned. I for one have no intention of going gently/quietly into that good night.

    • I wonder if he has ever met Ralph Nader. Those two should get together.

  • Fauci and Birx are both passionate Hillary Clinton supporters and advocates, and Fauci has $$ interests in vaccine patents. Both would love to see President Trump go down in flames.Fauci also has an ugly track record going back decades to the AIDS crisis.

    But of course, we cannot doubt their good intentions….

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