Wall Street Journal columnist James Freeman is pessimistic about our prospects of being released from the tyranny of hygiene socialism. A slice: Those of us who hoped that at some point a reasonable consideration of costs and benefits might somehow find its way into political deliberations on the virus have of course been disappointed. For the most costly of the Covid rules, the search continues for a way to confirm the benefits. In a new study researchers at Stanford University review the recent history of lockdowns and the destructive societal side effects…. Looking across various countries, the Stanford team finds benefits from less-restrictive measures such as social distancing. But what about the most aggressive interventions that have wreaked such collateral damage over the past
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Those of us who hoped that at some point a reasonable consideration of costs and benefits might somehow find its way into political deliberations on the virus have of course been disappointed.
For the most costly of the Covid rules, the search continues for a way to confirm the benefits. In a new study researchers at Stanford University review the recent history of lockdowns and the destructive societal side effects….
Looking across various countries, the Stanford team finds benefits from less-restrictive measures such as social distancing. But what about the most aggressive interventions that have wreaked such collateral damage over the past year? The researchers report, “we fail to find strong evidence supporting a role for more restrictive NPIs in the control of COVID in early 2020.”
The demonisation of lockdown sceptics intensifies daily. They are branded ‘agents of disinformation’ (the Observer) who are ‘dangerous’ (the New Statesman). They are killing people, we are told. The reason Covid-19 is spreading again, and killing large numbers, is ‘because this metropolitan clique of elites put forth falsehoods and misinterpretations’, says one columnist (my italics).
This is, to be frank, unhinged. It is unreasonable in the extreme to blame the spread of Covid on sceptics who have very little influence in public discussion. Virtually the entire political establishment, the vast bulk of the media and every online ‘influencer’ favours lockdown. The message we receive constantly – on TV, online, in the press – is to stay home, be good, don’t kill people. It is a fantasy to believe that the voices of isolated and demonised sceptics are cutting through this conformist fog and inspiring people to recklessly spread the plague.
Many people might feel that we are in a wartime situation with this virus, and that something closer to martial law is therefore appropriate for this exceptional period. But as human rights lawyer Adam Wagner made clear in yesterday’s UnHerd interview, if history is any guide, emergency measures have a way of becoming permanent — most of the powers taken by the government during 9/11 are still there. We have now been governed in a “Napoleonic” style for almost a year, with new updates coming by ministerial decree on average every four and a half days and with very little oversight. Can anyone confidently say that none of that attitude will stick?
When it comes to the inevitable next virus or pathogen to be identified somewhere around the world, the playbook has surely now been written. As Wagner told me, “the danger is that if Covid never leaves us, or it mutates or a different virus arrives with a similar dynamic we’ll be in a semi-permanent state of “this is what we do” — when this happens, we have lockdowns, we have emergency laws, we take away parliamentary niceties like scrutiny, debates, votes, that sort of thing… And I think that is a danger that doesn’t come out of the fringes of the lockdown sceptic movement. That’s the real deal as a worry.
Those on the Right who have been supporting this policy, that has been imported from China of all places, should be ashamed of themselves. There is very little evidence that lockdowns work, and even if they did, they fail the test of proportionality.
The lockdown also fails on moral and ethical grounds. It intentionally seeks to crush the individual rights of millions to save an institution, ‘the NHS.’
Just because you might like the NHS, and it might save other people’s lives, does not make it right. You cannot crush the rights of one individual in such a brutal and disproportionate way to save another – that is why, in a nutshell, we do not harvest the organs of one healthy person to save the lives of five people. It might be justified on utilitarian grounds, but it fails morally.
Even on utilitarian grounds, this lockdown fails: It will no doubt destroy more lives than it saves.