We’re Sacrificing the Economy for Nothing

Dr. Anthony Fauci recently warned the Senate of the possibility of “suffering and death” if the U.S. ended its lockdowns too soon.

For all his acclaimed brilliance, Fauci confessed that the reason for shutting down and locking in the economy and society was not the proven effects of COVID-19 but the possible “worst-case” impact.

As a doctor, above all, he does not want the patient to die. Any extreme measure is justifiable. But prescriptions tenable for individual patients are outrageously inappropriate for entire societies.

Human beings have evolved for millions of years with viruses and bacteria. If they could wipe us out, there would not be 8 billion of us around.

If enterprise were governed by worst-case possibilities, the Wright brothers’ plane could have never taken off, let alone an industrial or biotech revolution.

In that same vein, the so-called Green New Deal would close down the U.S. energy economy in the name of a theoretical peril of climate.

Author Jared Diamond regards overpopulation as the ultimate threat and would halt population growth and thus imperil economic expansion and support for the aged.

And Dr. Fauci would close the economy down for COVID-19 and any other possible plague.

But addressing all possibly extreme threats at once would cripple the economy that is the source of the wealth necessary to remedy any actual threat that occurs.

Dictating a repeated dictatorial response to speculative perils, the cautionary principle is a death sentence for the capitalism and freedom that have made it possible for the planet to support a global population of 8 billion people.

Today, lockdowns threaten starvation for an estimated 260 million people in the Third World who can least afford them.

Closures are ravaging the economy of India and wreaking mass starvation there, for example. The United Nations World Food Program estimates that by the end of the year 260 million people will face starvation.

Michael Levitt, professor of structural biology at Stanford Medical School and winner of the 2013 Nobel Prize in chemistry, says, “There is no doubt in my mind that when we come to look back on this, the damage done by lockdown will exceed any saving of lives by a huge factor.”

I’m not arguing that COVID-19 is not dangerous to the old and those with underlying conditions like heart disease, hypertension, asthma, diabetes and other conditions. Yes, it can be fatal to these people, unfortunately. And even if they live, those with severe cases may have lasting damage.

But we can protect the vulnerable while the overwhelming majority who aren’t vulnerable can get back to their lives.

So please, don’t say I’m insensitive to the people who have suffered and died. I’m not. And let’s just say my own age places me at risk, so I’m not being cavalier about it. But we have to look at the situation in its entirety.

The egregious blunder of the current lockdown illustrates the crippling flaws of bureaucratic management of economics and society.

As I wrote in Wealth and Poverty some 40 years ago, “Modern civilization is hopelessly contingent and problematical, subject to destruction any day by possible climatic reversals, astrophysical mishaps, genetic plagues, nuclear explosions, geological convulsions and atmospheric transformations — all conceivable catastrophes originating beyond the ken of plausible remedy or control.”

If we try to battle all these threats at once, we will end up wasting all our wealth on windmills, strewing them across the environment or tilting with them like Don Quixote. We will resort to ever more stifling controls that will suppress the unexpected benefits of creativity that have always been the source of our prosperity and success.

We will invest in problems rather than in opportunities and end up without either wealth or freedom. The human race has prevailed against the plagues and scarcities of its past, not through regulation or lockdown but through creativity and faith.

State planning killed close to a billion people in the 20th century. Led by the banning of DDT, the resurgence of malaria, the suppression of nuclear power and the retardation of global growth, environmentalist excesses have already killed more people than environmental pollution ever did.

Now the expert response to the coronavirus is on track to exceed even environmentalism in its vast damage of our civilization.

In the name of fighting COVID-19, we are destroying the monetary underpinnings of capitalist markets with untold trillions of dollars of wanton spending and crony bailouts.

We are closing down much of the economy for months on end. We are jeopardizing food supplies and other medical services.

We are giving up world leadership in technology to communists in China. We are condoning a devastating blow to the economies of third-world countries that unlike the U.S. cannot merely print dollars and expect people to take them.

It’s time to end the madness.

Below, I show you 25 findings on the coronavirus from the independent nonprofit Swiss Policy Research. It’s further evidence that the lockdown is far more destructive than the virus. Read on.


George Gilder
for The Daily Reckoning

The Daily Reckoning