We offer them anarchy, thinking we are offering an orderly society without imposed government and with an opportunity to choose whatever type of governance suits them best — one size or type need not fit all.
Government officials, who purport to know what is good for us better than we do, are rarely content simply to advise us of this superior knowledge and recommend that we act in its light.
I always thought that totalitarianism would come to the USA via war and the central government’s ostensible efforts to fend off a foreign foe by regimenting the people. I failed to foresee that the country would arrive at this horrifying destination by a different road, namely, state and local government overreactions to a perceived public-health crisis.
Have you ever been struck by the fact that most of the matters about which people demand that the government “do something” are none of their business, and hence no proper business of the government officials who purport to represent them, either?
One of my greatest disappointments of the past five years, so far as public affairs are concerned, is that so many of my acquaintances whom I had counted as supporters of the free society have gone over to the dark side — by which on this occasion I mean to supporting Trump.
When government officials order certain types to business to close or to operate only at no more than 25 or 50 percent of capacity, those orders in many cases are tantamount to a death sentence, because many businesses cannot afford to close completely for an indefinite period or to operate far below capacity. The permanent closures of small businesses entail unemployment for many employees and a loss of investment for owners, many of whom worked and saved for years in order to go into business for themselves.
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.
Free trade does not need any more justification than freedom itself.
Perhaps the most idiotic aspect of all the rules and guidance documents governments have made, disseminated, and enforced in connection with the COVID-19 pandemic is the common underlying assumption that dealing with the disease is the only thing that matters.
One of the most important differences between people operating as government functionaries and people operating in free markets is that the former are free to, and do, make the same mistakes again and again. People who make mistakes in markets have to reallocate resources to more promising ventures; they cut back production of goods and services that consumers are not buying; and they close firms that cannot cover their costs in the long run.