by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
And what has been the response to this economic carnage on the part of our ruling class? Branding strategies! Politicians have put cute names on what has been a taking of private property on an unprecedented scale. …
… The politicians’ ignorance about the complexity of economic life was stunning, as was their hypocrisy. To a person, every elected official, every public health expert, and every media pundit who lectured Americans about the need to stay in indefinite lockdown had a secure (“essential”) job. Not one of them feared his employer would go bankrupt. Anyone who warned that the effects of the lockdowns would be more devastating than anything the coronavirus could inflict was accused of being a heartless capitalist who only cared about profits.
But to care about the economy is to care about human life, since the economy is how life is sustained. It is a source of meaning, as well as sustenance, binding humans to each other in a web of voluntary exchange. To its workers, every business is essential, and to many of its customers as well. Even judged by the narrowest possible definition of public health—lives lost—the toll from the lockdowns will exceed that of the virus, due to the cancellation of elective medical procedures, patients’ unnecessary fear of seeking medical treatment, and the psychological effects of unemployment.
In May, politicians started inviting a few scattered sectors of their state economies to reopen, with blue state governors and mayors being particularly parsimonious with their noblesse oblige. These blue state officials invoked “science” to justify yet another arbitrary set of guidelines to determine which businesses would be allowed to start up again and when. …
… In fact, the numerical benchmarks, enforced with draconian punctiliousness, seem to have been drawn out of a hat—they certainly had no evidence behind them.