by Jon Sanders
Research Editor and Senior Fellow, Regulatory Studies, John Locke Foundation
My latest piece for the American Institute for Economic Research discusses government leaders’ distressing comfort with reflexive despotism on the thinnest of excuses, this time being the mere announcement of a new “variant of concern” without any knowledge how much of a threat it even poses — to say nothing of acknowledging what a disaster all their previous actions have been.
Government leaders have tipped their hands. Covid-19 has given them access to powers that they are loath to lose. Alarmingly, people in the world’s freest societies … have allowed totalitarian restrictions so long as they were euphemized as safety measures. Without the gloss, they include house arrest, dehumanizing dress codes, movement papers for work, shopping, and travel, and apartheid. The establishment of concentration camps for dissenters in Australia is a grievous late development.
Amid all this is the execrable failure of media to stand up to these tyrannical excesses, choosing instead to debase their integrity and basic humanity in service of a political party to the detriment and destruction of their fellow citizens and, worse, children.
The free press, a quaint term in the U.S. that now applies to organizations openly promoting a police state, welcomes these developments. A recent CNN headline declared “Making Covid-19 vaccines mandatory was once unthinkable. But European countries are showing it can work.” Which is like saying China is showing that making human-rights activists “disappear” can work to bring about near-universal acclamation for communism. It’s amazing what “can work” when a government can erase your livelihood if you don’t comply.
Two things stand out amid this worldwide overreaction: how quick and blithe government officials were in reaching for tyrannical controls this time, and how unscientific their overreaction has been. Everything about the detection, reporting, and monitoring of Omicron suggests a wait-and-see approach. Meanwhile, what ought to alarm them is the abject failure of lockdowns, masks, and their other pet nonpharmaceutical interventions. Once again, they choose poorly, to the detriment of society’s health and people’s liberties and livelihoods.
Note about the title:
Yes, the phrase (which, among other things, is the Virginia commonwealth motto) is Sic semper tyrannis, “Thus always to tyrants.” Tyrannis is the dative plural of tyrannus. The wordplay in the title translates roughly to “Sick? At all times a tyrant” (nominative singular, tyrannus).