A Sad Process to Watch

When the lockdowns were imposed last spring in the USA (slightly later in Mexico), the rationale was to flatten the curve so that hospitals would not be overwhelmed. It was acknowledged then, if only implicitly, that lockdowns would not eliminate COVID-19 or keep it from spreading.

The curve was flattened months ago, yet now, as the coronavirus continues to spread and the number of new, confirmed cases is rising in various places, the politicians’ only response seems to be reimposition of lockdowns, which have never been shown to pass even a crude benefit/cost test.

The politicians feel they must respond to media-stirred hysteria, and the only arrow in their quiver is lockdowns, which many people accept as “doing something” even if that something is futile and counterproductive.

Now, as earlier in the year, the politicians entire logic is one of their personal political costs and benefits. So long as so many people fall for the media-stirred hysteria and continue to reward the politicians who overreact by imposing widespread lockdowns, the politicians will continue to resort to lockdowns, the vast number of people who suffer as a result be damned. It’s such a sad process to watch.

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Robert Higgs

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Robert Higgs is Senior Fellow in Political Economy at the Independent Institute and Editor at Large of the Institute’s quarterly journal The Independent Review. He received his Ph.D. in economics from Johns Hopkins University, and he has taught at the University of Washington, Lafayette College, Seattle University, the University of Economics, Prague, and George Mason University. He has been a visiting scholar at Oxford University and Stanford University, and a fellow at the Hoover Institution and the National Science Foundation.

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