by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
Since 2015, we’ve been debating whether nationalism and national conservatism have anything to offer America. The COVID-19 crisis has clarified that debate. There’s a lot of heady talk these days that the nationalists and populists have been proven right, now. The nation-state is still the primary actor in a great crisis, and it will interrupt, alter, and simply ignore the international conventions that make markets run smoothly, that keep travelers and businessmen passing through borders. Nation-states will interdict and piratically seize needed medical supplies, filching them even from friends who paid fair and square. …
… But this national conservative would like to acknowledge loud and clear that the COVID-19 crisis is also a libertarian moment. Just as nations seek out self-sufficiency, so too do individuals. And an individualist streak has been necessary for probing and rejecting the dubious or outright fraudulent advice of public-health authorities, corrupted by either Chicoms or groupthink.
And libertarian insights are finally being applied to good effect. For instance, even in a national emergency, we need competition. The temporary monopoly of the federal government on developing a test for coronavirus was the greatest failure of all in the American response. Some university labs found creative ways to get around FDA and CDC red tape to develop their own tests. Eventually, regulations were relaxed and existing private labs developed better and faster tests, and even began developing COVID testing platforms that could grow to meet the insane demands of this crisis. …
… That’s not the only regulatory net that had to be cut. State departments of health, in the race to find hospital space and ventilators, cut all kinds of regulations that make health care more expensive and cumbersome to deliver.
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