The Wuhan flu gave us important insights. More revealing than a blood test, the virus showed us which politicians want to seize power and exercise control. Some governors and mayors issued strict stay-at-home orders where people were ticketed for taking unapproved driving trips. They were arrested if they swam alone in the ocean in front of an empty beach. In contrast, other states told citizens to make wise choices. You could find both the restrictive-government prescription and the hands-off prescription being widely criticized, depending on the flavor of media/propaganda you prefer. Yes, the media exposed its biases as well. It takes a little work to sort bias from fact about this “epidemic”.
Like anyone else, I have my biases. I intuitively understand the desire to leave people alone. What I struggle to understanding is the payoff for controlling everyone. Here are the incentives I’ve found for those who want to rule.
Political Donations for remaining open
During the epidemic, politicians get kickbacks for allowing businesses to remain open. In many Democrat-controlled states, abortion centers were categorized as “essential” yet churches and gun stores were ordered to close. That didn’t surprise me since planned Parenthood donated tens-of-millions of dollars to Democrat candidates, while an anti-gun billionaire donated to many politicians. In turn, Planned Parenthood got the preferential treatment they paid for and gun shops were shut down. If you think this isn’t political, then explain why buying seeds for a vegetable garden was “non-essential”, but buying state-sponsored-lottery-tickets was deemed “essential”.
Political Donations for government programs
Money talks. The flu epidemic opened a second epidemic of pork-barrel spending bills. Emergency bills let politicians hand out government checks to their favorite donors. Spending proposals from the Democrat-controlled House of Representatives were filled with pork and special interest money. The expectation is that these special interests will now make large political donations to the party that rewarded them. When I looked at the federal and state emergency proposals, they include-
- $300 million in funding for public broadcasting
- Expansive new tax credits for solar and wind energy
- Issuing contracts to law firms connected with the democrat party so they can “study” what to do during the quarantine
- Requiring publication of corporate pay statistics by race, and race statistics for all corporate boards
- A $1 billion “Cash for Clunkers”-style program where the government buys planes from airlines
- New emissions standards for airlines and a requirement for full carbon offset by 2025
- $1.5 million to study climate change mitigation efforts in civil aviation and aerospace industries
- New and burdensome OSHA requirements on hospitals
Direct payments to special interest voting blocks.
The flu was an excuse to send money to a politicians favorite group of voters. Governors and Mayors who force people out of work then promise that the government will be there to lend them a hand. Keeping more people on welfare means more voters who are indebted to the government to pay the rent. Politicians can blame unemployment on the orange man, while claiming they are supporting the unemployed.
- Required same-day voter registration and early voting
- Retirement plans for community newspaper employees
- $1 billion to give away Obama phones again
- Cash payments to illegal immigrants
- Bailouts of union pension funds
- Bailouts for student loans
When we’re allowed to shop for groceries, but forbidden to vote in person,
then government decrees are about power, not public health.
Democrats demanded universal vote by mail so that we wouldn’t have to stand in line to vote. Unfortunately, we’ve seen widespread vote harvesting in California. I’m leaning toward having to show up in person to vote, show a state ID, and put my finger in an ink bottle after I vote.
The benefit of controlling others is to exercise power.
We forget the thrill of exercising power over thousands or millions of people. This power seems addictive since governments never seem satisfied but demand more and more control. Politicians use any excuse for media exposure. Statist politicians can use the compliant “news media” and claim they are saving lives as they control more of our actions.
The media seldom challenges the politicians’ claim that government controls during an epidemic actually save lives. The data we have so far doesn’t support the claim that lockdowns stop the number of deaths. I understand the desire to “flattening the curve”, but that is a matter affecting the particular communities that funnel into a single overwhelmed hospital rather than the state as a whole or the nation as a whole. The solution should be local. For example, imposing a strict stay at home order in Laramie, Wyoming has no effect on the patient loads in the Bronx, New York.
That isn’t my opinion, but a judgment formed after looking at the results from nationwide restrictions. Sweden left its businesses open and never asked its citizens to implement social distancing. In contrast, Belgium closed its shops, its schools, and its border. Spain did the same thing, though on a different timeline. In theory, the stricter measures should have limited the rate of exposure and the number of deaths from the Wuhan flu. That isn’t what we saw. The percentage of the population who died from the virus in Sweden was a third of the percentage in Belgium and Spain. In those cases, stay at home orders failed.
The fraction of US citizens who died from the virus is considerably lower than any of those countries, Belgium, Spain, or Sweden … so far. The current projections for the worldwide number of deaths due to the Wuhan flu are comparable to the flu in the 2017-2018 season. In the late 1890s, public sentiment supporting the Spanish-American war was fueled by the Hearst Newspapers. The 2020 “epidemic” looks like the crisis that CNN built.
More than insights and changes in epidemiological practice, our skepticism towards government and the media is the lesson of the year.