Cost of Lockdowns: A Preliminary Report

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In the debate over coronavirus policy, there has been far too little focus on the costs of lockdowns. It’s very common for the proponents of these interventions to write articles and large studies without even mentioning the downsides.

Here is a brief look at the cost of stringencies in the United States, and around the world, including stay-at-home orders, closings of business and schools, restrictions on gatherings, shutting of arts and sports, restrictions on medical services, and interventions in the freedom of movement.

Continue reading at: https:/www.aier.org/article/cost-of-lockdowns-a-preliminary-report

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This column from American Institute for Economic Research was published on 11/18/20 and is republished with permission. ©All rights reserved. The opinions expressed may not necessarily reflect the views of The Prickly Pear or of our sponsors.

Founded in 1933, the American Institute for Economic Research (AIER) is one of the oldest and most respected nonpartisan economic research and advocacy organizations in the country. With a global reach and influence, AIER is dedicated to developing and promoting the ideas of pure freedom and private governance by combining advanced economic research with accessible media outreach and educational programming to cultivate a better, broader understanding of the fundamental principles that enable peace and prosperity around the world.

 

The Founders Outsmarted the Presidential Election Fraudsters

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Who chooses the President of the United States?

This question is by no means rhetorical.  For example, the mass disinformation media has chosen Joe Biden as the winner of the 2020 election.  Many people liked this news, but I must disappoint them – the television broadcasters have, according to the U.S. Constitution, nothing to do with who will live in the White House for the next four years.

Maybe the Supreme Court chooses the President? No, the Constitution does not provide for this.  Could it be that the citizens of America choose their President? Following the U.S. Constitution, no.  So, who then chooses the President?

Before answering this question, let us note that, contrary to popular misconception, the President of the United States is not a representative of the American people.  State legislators and governors are representatives of the people, and at the federal level so are the members of the House of Representatives of the United States Congress.  (Currently, senators are also representatives of the people, but before the ratification of the 17th Amendment to the Constitution in 1913, they were appointed by state legislators).  So, who does the President of America represent?

The President of the United States of America, according to the Constitution, represents state legislators’ interests and no one else.

In general, the federal government’s structure in America reflects the numerous attempts of the Founding Fathers of the United States to introduce a system of effective state control over the federal government.  The fact is that the main difference between our country and all other countries, without exception, is that it was organized “from the bottom up,” that is, individual colonies voluntarily united against a common enemy – the British Empire.  All other “republics” on the planet were created “from the top down,” when the already existing provinces were graciously granted some independence by the already existing central government.

In building the American state, the fundamental principle was state control over the newly created federal power structure.  Therefore, from the Founding Fathers’ point of view, the federal government in Washington should consist of both representatives of the people (congressmen) and representatives of the state leadership – the federal President and senators.  This is how the institution of the Electoral College was invented and implemented.  The electors are appointed by the state legislatures, and they are the ones who elect the President of the country.

Continue reading at American Thinker

Gary Gindler, Ph.D., is a conservative columnist at Gary Gindler Chronicles and the founder of a new science: Politiphysics. Follow him on Twitter and Quodverum.

Most States Reject Higher Taxes at the Ballot Box: Arizona is the Lone Exception

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While public attention has been on the highly charged speculations of the Presidential race, voters in 17 states throughout the country were asked to vote on a variety of tax measures at the ballot box.

The results of these measures were fascinating to say the least, especially the results in typically blue states that are generally favorable to higher taxes.
Despite Biden’s incessant promise to undo Trump’s tax cuts, voters in the country’s most liberal states rebuffed proposals to increase taxes across the board.

It is a well-known fact that these traditionally high-tax states have driven droves of citizens and businesses to lower-tax states such as Arizona, Texas and Utah in the past decade.  Except for measures to increase taxes on marijuana, tobacco, and other drugs, ironically, Arizona is the only state this election to pass the same economically ruinous policies blue states are now trying to undo.

Illinois voted on a measure to eliminate their Constitutional flat income tax system and institute a progressive, soak the rich system, which failed by a wide margin of 10 points.  Opposition to this change was realistically much higher than even 55 percent because in Illinois a Constitutional amendment can be ratified with a simple majority and voters who leave the question blank count as an affirmative for the measure!

California too, asked voters to increase taxes in the form of removing a cap on property taxes for commercial owners.  Like Arizona’s Prop 208, California’s Proposition 15 would have constituted the largest tax increase in California’s history.  Surprisingly, the measure has failed, leaving intact one of the shelters for California’s businesses.
Despite an oppositional education lobby and the proponents being outspent almost 2:1, Colorado’s voters
passed a REDUCTION in their income tax by a margin of 15 PERCENT!  Colorado’s flat tax system protects taxpayers from class warfare at the ballot box.

Even in Washington state that does not have an income tax – cutting taxes is popular.  The legislature repealed four separate onerous taxes on businesses including a plastic bag tax. These changes were on voters’ ballots as “advisory votes” which allow the electorate to affirm or oppose tax changes made by the legislature – all were supported by the majority of voters.

One of these measures was a repeal of a tax targeted at the aerospace industry which has threatened to send Boeing out of the evergreen state.  Alaskan voters too saw the wisdom of not killing the golden goose, where voters could have passed a measure to raise a $1Billion by sticking it to the oil industry, but the proposal failed by an almost 30 percent spread.

These results are astounding.  State and local economies have been pounded by the COVID19 shutdowns and there is almost universal acceptance that lower taxes on individuals and businesses will encourage growth and recovery.  The failure of the left’s tax policies is apparent to even the die-hard leftists in the bluest states in the country.  Their uncompetitive tax systems have driven away businesses and job-creators and hamstrung economic growth and they are now changing course.

After a decade of climbing out of the Great Recession, Arizona has rebuilt its economy by controlling spending, adopting competitive tax policies, and limiting regulatory burdens on businesses.  That has led to thousands of new jobs, a more diversified economy and prosperity in the state which has allowed for over a $1 billion of new sustainable monies to flood the education system.

Proposition 208 undoes all this progress.  Despite our state’s success story and liberal states trying to adopt our playbook, it looks like Arizona will have to learn the hard way

 

This Blog from the Arizona Free Enterprise Club was originally published on November 11. 2020 and is republished with permission. The opinions expressed may not necessarily reflect the views of The Prickly Pear or of our sponsors.

 

Lessons from the Election

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We have now confirmed what it takes for a Democrat to get elected President in this country. There must be either a national crisis or an international pandemic occurring concurrent with the election. In 2008, Barack Obama won because the Republicans’ inept candidate mishandled the reaction to the loan crisis. Without an international pandemic, Joe Biden does not defeat Donald Trump.

For years we have been told that the MSM, educational institutions and the Entertainment community are turning out Left-wing robotons destined to give control of the country to socialist fanatics too stupid to understand their political philosophy is an international failure. The American people once again rejected that thinking. Republicans will hold the U.S. Senate, picked up seats in the House and added a Governorship. The Republicans added control of state legislatures despite over $50 million being spent by Eric Holder’s operation to attempt to win control there. Even if Joe Biden becomes president, he will have a narrow lane from which to operate.

No matter what happens, Donald J. Trump woke up many Americans to the reality that our government seems to not be operating in our best interest. The government here in California acts and votes for their self-interest, not ours (the residents.) The public employees spend hundreds of millions of dollars to elect officials who will act for their best interests, not ours. They put forth propositions that will raise taxes which will go to pay for their inflated salaries, pensions and lifetime gold-plated health insurance. They stood by as businesses were crushed in the pandemic, but no public employees were laid off. Their jobs are “essential” – ours are not.

The same exists in Washington D.C. Virginia, a formerly reliable Republican state, has turned Democrat based on the ever-expanding federal workforce taking over the Northern suburbs that adjoin D.C. They do not have our interests at heart. Rather, they have their own interests, especially the interest of expanded rule over us. Mr. Trump exposed that as never before. Even our national security apparatus nakedly operates for its own self-interests.

We Republicans will never go back.

As for those Never-Trumpers, I was speaking with an involved Republican who told me “I did not believe much in John McCain, but I went out and worked for him because he was our nominee. I did not care for Romney, but I worked hard to get him elected. Now these Never-Trumpers tell us they cannot support Trump because they are too high-minded.” Let it be made clear to all you people such as John Kasich, Bill Kristol, the Lincoln Project leeches and the rest – Adios. See you later. We don’t need you or want you back. If you can support a guy backed by Nancy Pelosi, Chuck Schumer and all the AOCs of the world then you are too deeply confused to be on our team.

We should all thank the Lincoln Project because they spent over $60 million trying to turn Republicans against President Trump. Yet 93% of registered Republicans voted for Trump in 2020 versus 90% in 2016. These people were harmful to the Republicans they worked for in the past and thankfully they do not work for them anymore.

We want the Hispanic gardener who understands American values and work hard every day for themselves and their family. We want the Black person who realizes Democrats are only trying to keep them on a modern-day plantation and they will never get a piece of the American dream listening to the trash Dems throw out to them.  These Americans have far greater wisdom than Never-Trumpers will ever achieve. You Never-Trumpers are dead to us.

You are probably thinking this next one:  Can we get rid of the pollsters?  I am reading a book entitled The Death of Expertise. The author questions why we are giving such little credence to “experts.” Maybe because they are so inept. More importantly why do we need these people to tell us what is going to happen? Why do news reporters feel compelled to tell us what a person is going to say while we are waiting for that person to come to a microphone? We have ears, we can listen to what they say and we don’t need a preview. Everything seems to need a preview today. Why?  When they are so defective like our polling industry, it is particularly curious. The candidates can hire their own pollsters and use that data for their campaign. The rest of the polls should just go away. If anything, they are harmful.

One has to wonder if polls like the Washington Post/ABC in Wisconsin which had Biden up 17 points less than a week from the election was an active attempt at suppression of Republican voters. What other explanation is there for a discrepancy of this magnitude? Even these two operations cannot be that incompetent.

Can we stop with the lies about the Republicans being the party of the rich? Chuck Schumer repeatedly tells us that while he is lining his campaign war chest with Wall Street dollars. Nancy Pelosi carrying on about the “working guy” while she has lived the life of the rich and famous for decades and then goes to expensive fundraisers with wealthy contributors. Most of the top ten wealthiest people in this country are Democrats. Biden lied in the debate and told us his average contribution was $43.  Maybe this is from someone who gives him monthly contributions of $30 that add up to $300. You do not raise $1.6 billion from $25 per person. That would be over 20 million contributors. The Dems have become the party of the rich and intellectually arrogant. They care about feathering their own nests and the only workers they care about are public employee union members. Are there successful Republicans? Damn right there are. That is because we want every hard working American to become fabulously wealthy. Even Democrats.

We have been told that Donald Trump was the problem. Whether Mr. Trump ultimately prevails or not we will have different Republicans running for president. We will see whether the likes of potential candidates like Mike Pence, Nikki Haley or Tom Cotton will be treated in a respectful way. Based on history they will be attacked for a litany of supposed misdeeds. Whoever wins the Republican nomination will be assailed in a malicious manner validating that was not all about Trump. It is just the manner of our political opponents

If Joe Biden is our President, the Democrats will have given us a cognitively challenged president who will be in charge for up to four years.  His skills and energy will dissipate. It will all be worth it in their eyes because they believe the ends justify the means.

Bruce Bialosky is a nationally  known columnist. He was appointed by President Bush to the U.S. Holocaust Commission and is the Founder of the Republican Jewish Coalition of California. This article first appeared 11/8/20 in Flash Report  and is reproduced herein by the permission of the author. Comments can be directed to Bruce@Bialosky.biz.

The Trump Loss and the Role of Libertarians

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As the after-action reports filter in for the most recent Presidential election, for those who lost (which at this writing is still undetermined), high on the list must be the treachery of the mainstream media, the big tech companies and voter fraud.

Not getting sufficient attention yet is the role played by the Libertarian Party and its associated think tanks and publications.

Although final numbers are not yet available in all key swing states, it would appear that the Libertarians have delivered to the nation, the most pro-socialist, big government group of Democrats, ever to walk the earth. It would appear that Trump lost PA, GA, WI, and perhaps AZ because of the Libertarian vote.

Critically, it also likely forced the run-off race for the Senate in Georgia (the Purdue race.) It is the U.S. Senate that must prevent the loudly declared leftist agenda of the Democrats with a Biden Presidency.

It stretches the word irony that a small party that proclaims its dedication to liberty and limited government would willingly deliver such a result. It should cause these merry mischief makers to reflect carefully on what they have done.

And who was the Libertarian candidate? Can you name her? Did you know it was a her? Was she even on your political radar?

Libertarians are supposedly socially liberal and fiscal conservatives. They are supposed to believe in liberty and advance its prospects. But they have been drifting to the left for some time. Libertarians of recent vintage believe in open borders, drug legalization, personal sexual liberty and generally are agnostic or atheists as it relates to the function and role of religion. We say “recent vintage” because many earlier Libertarians endorsed more traditional, religious based morality. If not, they tended to be followers of Ayn Rand, who developed a fairly strong morality based on reason. Neither type of earlier Libertarian endorsed situational ethics.

To have a limited government, people must largely control themselves via some internalized moral system. They must be responsible for their own lives and their own support, except in the gravest failures. And even then, private charity and local support should come before federal intervention and largess. Thus, the attack on morality and the family must necessarily make big government more likely. Do Libertarians understand that?

In theory, open borders promoting the free flow of capital and people, would be ideal. However, when you have that coupled with the welfare state and identity politics which destroys the functioning of the “melting pot”, it falls dangerously short of ideal in terms of sustaining and protecting liberty.

But most Libertarians oppose constant foreign wars, excessive paper money creation, judges that legislate from the bench and the Administrative State. They favor school choice, believe in religious liberty, oppose national healthcare, believe in capitalism usually to an extreme and oppose identity politics because they believe in treating people as individuals as opposed to racial categories. The also strongly support the Second Amendment and federalism with its dispersion of power so important to the American founding. In most ways, they share common ground with Conservatives.

Personally, I like Libertarians. They often produce stimulating arguments and challenging views that make one think and reflect on first principles, like non-aggression, peaceful commerce and social harmony. But when if comes to practical politics, Libertarians are unrealistic and naïve to the point of foolishness. Also, they tend to see little connection between cultural trends and those of politics (it is often said that “politics is downstream from culture”.)

It is hard to see why a Libertarian could vote for a Joe Biden and Kamala Harris.

You might say, they did not and they might believe that. But in a close election, not voting for the Republican means Democrat victory. Get it?

Some might argue it is a sophisticated way of creating divided government. We doubt such careful calculation is in the equation. More likely, it is their own sense of self-importance and their joy in teasing the major parties that pay insufficient attention to them. But the record of Libertarians often electing Democrats is pretty clear. Besides divided government is paralyzed government, which does not work well in crisis. If you want the government to shrink, would you not want to elect or influence the party mostly likely to shrink it?

Likewise, dealing with the Chinese threat to liberty requires greater unification of the parties.

It would seem electing Libertarian leaning candidates within an existing party would be time better spent than sabotaging the party pushing for a smaller, less intrusive government.  The Republican party is often a leaking vessel carrying the ideas of liberty. Isn’t that good enough reason for Libertarians to be within the Republican party, fighting to hold the party of less government accountable for failing the cause rather than helping elect the party of massive government and decreased liberty?

Instead, Libertarians may be responsible for costing Trump the election and put the forces of limited government in a position where recovery could be difficult if not impossible. Trump after all, was NOT an establishment Republican.

While Trump no doubt rankled them for his positions on immigration, abortion, his personality quirks and lack of fiscal conservatism, he was the candidate that started to deregulate, nominated strict constructionist judges, defended the Second Amendment, the First Amendment, promoted school choice, opposed national healthcare, attempted to scale down our endless foreign wars and protected religious liberty. He also endorsed prison reform, enterprise zones, cut tremendous amounts of regulation and cut taxes. He even attempted to appoint Judy Shelton, a pro-gold standard economist to the Federal Reserve.

He was moving his party in a more limited government direction, not perfectly, but substantially.

Whatever his failings, he clearly was better than the weak and confused Biden who already is being besieged by left-wing elements demanding payback for their loyalty.

Trump himself, is the victim of “deep state” machinations that should be opposed by all friends of limited government. Do Libertarians really like the CIA and FBI interfering in elections?

Do Libertarians think the Democrats will deliver fiscal conservatism and sound money?

On some key Libertarian social issues, Trump was largely silent on pot. He largely respected federalism through the Covid pandemic and let the states do their thing, giving us at least a range of public policy choices valuable to future research for what works.

But is pot legalization really more important than the Bill of Rights?  Even if one supports legalization, the priorities are all wrong.

In terms of sexual issues, Trump moved to decriminalize homosexual behavior in foreign countries.

On abortion, Trump is pro-life. Libertarians themselves differ on abortion but all would agree it should not be subsidized by the state. If Roe is overturned, the states will determine abortion policy which should not be offensive to Libertarians.

Neither candidate ran on fiscal conservatism, but the Democrats have openly embraced socialism, free college education, the Green New Deal, racial reparations, Modern Monetary Theory, climate change regulation, harsh Covid lockdown – all of which would make Trump the relative fiscal conservative.

So, if our calculations are right, Trump supported due process for males on college campus, opposed the violence of Antifa and Black Lives Matter, opposed the teaching of critical race theory, reduced foreign wars, reduced our dependence on international organizations, reduced the regulatory state, defended the Bill of Rights. And Libertarians voted against him because of WHAT?  Immigration policy? Marijuana legalization? Failure to balance the budget? His tweets?

With a huge expensive state, how can you balance the budget?  Smaller government means smaller budgets. By defeating Trump, now what are the chances of balancing the budget?

If our analysis of Libertarians is correct, they will rightfully go down as one of the most foolish political movements ever to pretend they support liberty.

In politics, you never get all that you want. The choices are basically who on balance moves the country in the direction you seek. Perfection is not part of the political equation and, frankly, is not part of the human condition. This advice is applicable to Conservatives as well, who often find the Republican Party just as frustrating.

If Libertarians felt their “independence” of either major party signals their moral purity on key issues, they have succeeded in putting in power the least likely party to advance liberty.

That, my friends, is a poor calculation. It is virtue signaling of the worst kind. It is making a moral statement that not just has little meaning. Rather, it actually succeeds in getting the opposite of what your supposed virtue supports.

It goes beyond being childish and ventures into the self-destructive. Pay attention to me, it seems to say, or I will burn down the house.

What is the solution?

Perhaps serious self-examination by Libertarians is in order. As far as Republicans are concerned, the GOP needs to reach out to fellow liberty lovers and make them feel more welcome within the party.

 

Lockdown Despotism and the “Control Panel” Delusion: Why the Biden-Harris COVID-19 plan is so ominous.

Estimated Reading Time: 6 minutes

Joe Biden and Kamala Harris recently updated their “plan to beat COVID-19.” One passage is worth examining for the dangerous mentality it betrays:

“Social distancing is not a light switch. It is a dial. President-elect Biden will direct the CDC [Centers for Disease Control] to provide specific evidence-based guidance for how to turn the dial up or down relative to the level of risk and degree of viral spread in a community, including when to open or close certain businesses, bars, restaurants, and other spaces; when to open or close schools, and what steps they need to take to make classrooms and facilities safe; appropriate restrictions on size of gatherings; when to issue stay-at-home restrictions.”

The passage brings to mind a warning given to America long ago.

The warning was delivered in 1835 by Alexis de Tocqueville, the famous French observer and admirer of the young republic. In his classic book Democracy in America, de Tocqueville included a chapter called, “What Sort Of Despotism Democratic Nations Have To Fear,” in which he warned the American people of:

“…an immense and tutelary power, which takes upon itself alone to secure their gratifications, and to watch over their fate. That power is absolute, minute, regular, provident, and mild. It would be like the authority of a parent, if, like that authority, its object was to prepare men for manhood; but it seeks on the contrary to keep them in perpetual childhood…”

Does the Biden/Harris “plan to beat COVID-19” represent the kind of despotic power that de Tocqueville warned us about? Let’s see.

Is the power “absolute”? Well not yet, at least, since it refers to CDC “guidance” as opposed to federal mandates. But governors and mayors have proven to be quite deferential to the CDC, so its “guidance” has translated into state and local-level mandates before and likely will again.

Is the power “immense”? Clearly. It covers the opening and closing, not only of restaurants and bars, but of all businesses. Thus, it claims sway over the country’s entire in-person economy and commercial life, regardless of private property and self-ownership.

The plan covers, not only businesses, but all spaces: that is, everything about the coming and going of Americans, again irrespective of individual rights.

The plan also encompasses all gatherings wherever they may occur, thus violating “the right of the people peaceably to assemble,” as enshrined in the First Amendment.

The plan entails “stay-at-home restrictions,” meaning the power to imprison at will Americans in their own homes, violating the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments, according to which neither the federal government nor any state is allowed to “deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law.”

So, yes, the plan is very immense, both in its scope and impact.

Is the power “minute”? Yes, the plan expressly distinguishes itself for promising much more “specific” guidance. That is what the “dial” metaphor is all about. Rather than a lockdown “light switch” to turn society off and on, the plan promises to use the CDC as a social distancing “dial” to scientifically fine-tune social proximity on a community-by-community basis.

Not only that, but within each community, it reserves the discretion to open or close certain businesses and spaces. We have already seen such discretion in action throughout the period of lockdowns, as certain political protests and celebrations have been allowed and even encouraged by officials even as they shutter nearby businesses and prohibit private gatherings, including funerals, marriages, parties, concerts, games, festivals, and religious services.

de Tocqueville famously observed that the strength of America rested in its vibrant civil society, consisting of a rich proliferation of non-governmental associations and institutions. That, and not merely “voting,” is what he meant by American democracy. He wrote:

“The political associations that exist in the United States form only a detail in the midst of the immense picture that the sum of associations presents there.

Americans of all ages, all conditions, all minds constantly unite. Not only do they have commercial and industrial associations in which all take part, but they also have a thousand other kinds: religious, moral, grave, futile, very general and very particular, immense and very small; Americans use associations to give fêtes, to found seminaries, to build inns, to raise churches, to distribute books, to send missionaries to the antipodes…”

What we seem to be seeing in the lockdowns is the state using its “minute” and “discretionary” power to cripple all physical manifestations of civil society other than its own.

Is the power “tutelary,” as in denoting the relationship between guardian and dependant?

Incredibly so, although it only accelerates something that has been long underway. The public has been so spooked by the government and media’s alarmist and distorted claims about the disease, that they have offered up a childlike deference to officialdom, abjectly following its lead, even after its “guidance” has often proved to be vacillating and wrong.

As de Tocqueville warned, the state has taken upon itself sole responsibility for our “fate.” And the public has eagerly acquiesced to this government tutelage, abdicating the responsibilities of free adults and letting our “guardians” keep us in “perpetual childhood.”

de Tocqueville wasn’t the only European to warn America of an all-encompassing, kindly despotism “for our own good.” Ludwig von Mises warned of central planners who, in the name of giving us everything we want, would take away everything we have—even everything we are.

As Mises wrote:

“Planning other people’s actions means to prevent them from planning for themselves, means to deprive them of their essentially human quality, means enslaving them.

The great crisis of our civilization is the outcome of this enthusiasm for all-round planning. There have always been people prepared to restrict their fellow citizens’ right and power to choose their own conduct. (…) What is new and characterizes our age is that the advocates of uniformity and conformity are raising their claims on behalf of science.”

Indeed, in its plan to beat COVID-19,” the Biden-Harris team boasts that their administration will “listen to science” and that the CDC’s “dialing” up and down of lockdowns throughout the country will be “evidence-based.”

This deference to “science” is meant to sound humble, but it is used to justify the extreme arrogance of the social engineer. As Mises wrote:

“It is customary nowadays to speak of “social engineering.” Like planning, this term is a synonym for dictatorship and totalitarian tyranny. The idea is to treat human beings in the same way in which the engineer treats the stuff out of which he builds his bridges, roads, and machines. The social engineer’s will is to be substituted for the will of the various people he plans to use for the construction of his Utopia. Mankind is to be divided into two classes: the almighty dictator, on the one hand, and the underlings who are to be reduced to the status of mere pawns in his plans and cogs in his machinery, on the other. If this were feasible, then of course the social engineer would not have to bother about understanding other people’s actions. He would be free to deal with them as technology deals with lumber and iron.”

However, such a grandiose undertaking is not feasible. As Mises and F.A. Hayek demonstrated, society is far too complex to be centrally planned.

Central planners, no matter how informed they are by “the science,” cannot access or process anywhere near the amount of knowledge that would be required to balance all the myriad trade-offs that are relevant to any decision impacting millions upon millions of unique individuals.

This inescapable fact makes no exception for central planners charged with “public health.” To shut down a business, to lock down a community, to isolate a human being, etc., has manifold unintended consequences that ripple like waves in a pond. Central planners cannot anticipate such ramifications, especially because so many of them involve human valuation and choice.

The Biden-Harris “dial” is pitched as an improvement on the “light switch” approach to lockdowns. But it doesn’t matter how many switches, dials, buttons, meters, and gauges that central planners cram onto their “control panel.” It’s all hubris and folly, because human beings are not and can never be cogs in a machine. And the more we let them treat us so, the more human lives will get crushed and torn asunder in the social engineer’s infernal contraptions.

As Mises and Hayek explained, the only way that human beings can navigate the sea of complexity that is life in society, including such multifaceted concerns as public health and pandemics, is through free cooperation among planning individuals (including individual scientific experts who earn the voluntary trust of others). Mises made an important distinction:

“The alternative is not plan or no plan. The question is: whose planning? Should each member of society plan for himself or should the paternal government alone plan for all? The issue is not automatism versus conscious action; it is spontaneous action of each individual versus the exclusive action of the government. It is freedom versus government omnipotence.”

To save our freedom, livelihoods, and long-term health from omnipotent government, we must defy the central planners and social engineers, scoff at their “scientific” switches and dials, and reclaim our responsibilities as a free and courageous people.

Dan Sanchez is the Director of Content at the Foundation for Economic Education (FEE) and the editor-in chief of FEE.org.

This column  from Foundation for Economic Freedom  (FEE) is republished with permission. ©All rights reserved. The opinions expressed may not necessarily reflect the views of The Prickly Pear or of the sponsors.

Lockdowns Haven’t Brought down Covid Mortality. But They Have Killed Millions of Jobs.

Estimated Reading Time: 4 minutes
During the early onset of covid-19 in the spring, government officials across the political spectrum widely agreed that government intervention and forced closure of many businesses was necessary to protect public health. This approach has clearly failed in the United States as it led to widespread economic devastation, including millions of jobs lost, bankruptcies, and extremely severe losses in profitability. Nor have states with strict lockdowns succeeded in bringing about fewer covid deaths per million than states that were less strict.

Consequently, a few months into the pandemic, some governors weighed the competing economic costs with covid-19 containment and slowly reopened their economies. Of course, these governors did not mandate businesses reopen; however, they provided businesses the option to reopen.

Hysteria ensued as many viewed easing restrictions as akin to mass murder. The Atlantic famously dubbed  Georgia Governor Brian Kemp’s easing of restrictions as “human sacrifice” and referred to Georgians as being in a “case study in pandemic exceptionalism.” Instead, we should view the lockdowns as a case study in the failure of heavy-handed approaches in containing a highly infectious virus.

Now that we are nine months into this pandemic, there is a clearer picture of how state government approaches varied widely. It is clear that “reopened” economies are faring much better overall than less “reopened” economies. “Fueled by broader, faster economic reopenings following the initial coronavirus rash, conservative-leaning red states are by and large far outpacing liberal-leaning blue states in terms of putting people back to work,” writes Carrie Sheffield. This follows logically especially when considering that human beings learn to adapt very quickly. Now, we have learned much more about treating this virus and about who is most at risk from infection.

Not Everyone Can #StayHome

Even so, many proponents of lockdowns still contend that every covid infection is a failure of public policy. But this position is largely a luxury of white-collar workers who can afford to work from home. Lockdowns have been described as “the worst assault on the working class in half a century.” Martin Kulldorff, a biostatistician, says, “the blue-collar class is ‘out there working, including high-risk people in their 60s.” Kulldorff’s colleague Jay Bhattacharya notes that one reason “minority populations have had higher mortality in the U.S. from the epidemic is because they don’t often have the option…to stay at home.” In effect, top-down lockdown policies are “regressive” and reflect a “monomania,” says Dr. Bhattacharya. With this in mind, it is easy to see why more affluent Americans tend to view restrictive measures as the appropriate response.

For many Americans, prolonged periods of time without gainful employment, income, or social interaction are not only impossible but potentially deadly. Martin Kulldorff notes that covid-19 restrictions do not consider broader public health issues and create collateral damage; among the collateral damage is a “worsening incidence of cardiovascular disease and cancer and an alarming decline in immunization.” Dr. Bhattacharya correctly notes that society will be “counting the health harms from these lockdowns for a very long time.”

Mixed Messages

Bhattacharya emphasized the politicization of these restrictions: “When Black Lives Matter protests broke out in the spring, ‘1,300 epidemiologists signed a letter saying that the gatherings were consistent with good public health practice,’” while those same epidemiologists argued that “we should essentially quarantine in place.” Such a contradiction defies logic and undercuts arguments about the lethality of this virus. If this novel virus truly were as devastating to the broader public as advertised, then political leaders supporting mass protests and riots during a pandemic seem to be ill founded. This contradiction has been cited in countless lawsuits challenging the validity and constitutionality of covid-19 restrictions.

Separately, these often heavy-handed restrictions have targeted constitutionally protected rights like the freedom of religion. Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito criticized the Nevada governor’s restrictions saying, “that Nevada would discriminate in favor of the powerful gaming industry and its employees may not come as a surprise…We have a duty to defend the Constitution, and even a public health emergency does not absolve us of that responsibility.” This scathing criticism, however, did not gain the support of the Supreme Court as a 5–4 majority deferred to the governor’s “responsibility to protect the public in a pandemic.”

The Worst State and Local Offenders

Such deference may be politically beneficial for the Supreme Court, but it presents a much more significant problem for basic freedoms. For one, many of these covid restrictions have been issued by state governors or administrative agencies rather than through democratic means. Michigan governor Gretchen Whitmer has been targeted for her continued sidestepping of democratic channels and for her top-down approach.

These covid restrictions are somewhat meaningless without ample enforcement and resources, so many major American cities have created task forces for enforcing these covid restrictions. For example, Los Angeles mayor Eric Garcetti has threatened to shut off public utilities for those who host massive house parties. Garcetti wants to treat private gatherings similarly to the bars and nightclubs he has forced closed. Not only is this ridiculous, but it is also authoritarian; there have been few checks on his ability to weaponize public utilities this way. The New York City Sheriff’s Office recently “busted a party of more than 200 people who were flouting coronavirus restrictions.” Their crime? Deputies found around two hundred maskless individuals “dancing, drinking and smoking hookah inside.” In typical government fashion, the owner of the venue was “slapped with five summonses…for violation of emergency orders, unlicensed sale of alcohol and unlicensed warehousing of alcohol.” What would we do without the government?

California governor Gavin Newsom has long been a part of this effort to restrict freedoms under the guise of public health. Governor Newsom and the California Department of Public Health released new “safety” guidelines for all private gatherings during the Thanksgiving holiday. According to Newsweek, “all gatherings must include no more than three households, including hosts and guests, and must be held outdoors, lasting for two hours or less.” Given Newsom’s interventionist tendencies, it is likely that these restrictions will be enforced. How will the government determine how many households are at a Thanksgiving meal and who will enforce the two-hour window? These are questions that journalists should ask.

Meanwhile, the varying levels of economic recovery between red states and blue states demonstrate how top-down policy can be a failure. Strict lockdowns have devastated millions of families’ incomes while failing to bring success in suppressing covid mortality. This failed experiment must be brought to an end.

Mitchell Nemeth is a Risk Management and Compliance professional in Atlanta, Georgia. He holds a Master in the Study of Law from the University of Georgia Law School, and he has a BBA in Finance from the University of Georgia. His work has been featured at the Foundation for Economic Education, RealClearMarkets, Merion West, and Medium.

This column, published 11/12/20, from Mises Wire (at Mises Institute) is republished with permission. ©All rights reserved. The opinions expressed may not necessarily reflect the views of The Prickly Pear or of the sponsors.

The Arizona Corporation Commission “Regulates” Our Climate Thirty Years into the Future

Estimated Reading Time: 3 minutes

On October 29, almost out of the public eye, the Arizona Corporation Commission (ACC) gave final approval to a dreadful regulation, mandating all energy in the state be produced with zero carbon emissions by 2050. Arizona has its own mini-Green New Deal!

The consequences will be devastating to Arizona’s economic competitiveness. A mere 15% mandate imposed in 2007 had a $1 billion impact on ratepayers and that was low-hanging fruit. Voters in 2018 soundly defeated a ballot proposition similar to the Commission’s.

The absurdity of legislating (by regulation) 30 years into the future was apparently lost on the three commissioners (two Republicans) who voted for the measure. Policymakers in 2050 will be elected to enact their own current priorities, not ones from 30 years ago. Attempts to gain credit for future emissions reductions without bearing the economic consequences are mere virtue signals on the cheap.

To be slightly fair, Commissioners are relentlessly targeted by environmental activists, known for their cult-like hysteria. Wildly impractical, poverty-inducing and ineffective solutions are common in today’s climate politics.

Hysteria production was the obvious goal of Greta Thunberg, the Swedish teenager who wowed the UN and the Davos Economic Forum, sternly warning that we have only 12 years to avoid turning our planet into an uninhabitable hellhole.

Several prominent scientists and no less an expert than AOC herself confirmed her claim. Al Gore and others have made a handsome living proclaiming alarmist deadlines, most of which have already passed.

Fear of the End of Days isn’t the only driver of environmental radicalism. It’s also another social justice movement. Global Climate Strike, known for organizing massive demonstrations worldwide, demands that we “ensure a rapid energy revolution with equity, reparations and climate justice at its heart”.

These self-appointed experts aren’t searching for the most feasible ways to limit carbon emissions. They demand instead “non-corporate solutions that recognize the traditional knowledge, practices and resilience of indigenous people”.

Climate change thus conceived incorporates rejecting capitalism and technological innovation while implementing a wish list including, among other items, minimum wages, forgiveness of international debts and “access to nature for all”.

But the mother of all proposals to zero out carbon emissions is the federal Green New Deal. As outlined in a report produced by congressional Democrats, it would “mobilize every aspect of American society on a scale not seen since World War II.“

Every building in America would be upgraded or replaced for “state of the art energy efficiency”. High speed rail would replace air travel. The report proclaims nothing less than “a massive mobilization of all our resources into renewable energies.”

The GND would completely transform how we produce and consume energy, harvest crops, drive cars and manufacture goods. But all this coercive transforming would not come cheap.

The net cost of the GND is difficult to pinpoint, but credible estimates are in the 50 to 90 trillion range, an unimaginable sum many times our total GDP. But don’t worry. According to the report, “the investments will be paid for with public money appropriated by Congress”. Isn’t that nice?

But here’s the clincher. Even a fully implemented GND would have only a negligible effect on the earth’s climate. Using the methodology developed by the UN Climate Panel, eliminating all U.S. carbon emissions would make the globe only 0.138°C cooler by 2100. If the entire developed world also went to zero, the effect would only be 0.278°C by 2100. For this we would devastate our way of life?

Even some prominent left-wing intellectuals realize that this is laughingstock material. As Peter Franzén put it in the New Yorker, “to prepare for the coming climate apocalypse, we need to admit that we can’t prevent it “.

Each dollar we waste on pipe dreams is one less dollar we have to spend on what humans always do in the face of threatening change: adapt accordingly. Climate change is a problem and anthropogenic warming is real but the wisdom of the crowd is also correct: we have other equally vexing, expensive problems to deal with.

We can get through this if we use human intelligence to stay calm and thoughtful – not like the Arizona Corporation Commission.

 

Thomas C. Patterson, MD is a retired Emergency Medicine physician, Arizona state Senator and Arizona Senate Majority Leader in the ’90s. He is a former Chairman, Goldwater Institute.

 

Why Do Dead People Vote for Democrats?

Estimated Reading Time: 2 minutes

As controversy swirls around the latest Presidential election results, we need to ask ourselves some basic questions.

Why do dead people overwhelmingly vote for Democrats?

Historians widely agree that the election of 1960, the state of Illinois was delivered to the Democrats by the Daley political machine in Chicago. That resulted in the defeat of Republican Richard Nixon and the election of Democrat John F. Kennedy. Robert Dallek, who wrote definitive biographies of both JFK and LBJ, concluded that Daley “probably stole Illinois from Nixon”. However, some suggest Kennedy would have won without it.

Nevertheless, Nixon considered contesting the election, but given the tense situation in the Cold War, decided against doing so.

There is considerable speculation that the dead may again be pivotal in our most recent election. Voting by dead people and voter fraud has a long tradition in America, especially among Democrats.

You would think these events alone would perk up the interest in the dead by political scientists and pollsters. But no, this group remains largely marginalized and ignored.

Some have speculated it is because the dead are notorious for not responding to pollsters.  That may be true but their participation is still important to our democratic process.

We think it more likely Democrats simply have a better ground game. Either way, it is a grave problem that needs to be explored.

Democrats simply have more experience at mobilizing the dead. And the dead, are vulnerable so to speak. No one contacts them very often. If Democrats contacted you every two years and said they needed your vote, how would you respond?

Not only are they seeking your vote, they might let you vote multiple times and even fill out the ballots for you. From this perspective, it is understandable why the dead might vote for Democrats. All of us respond, or would try to, when we are made to feel important. That is especially so if one feels ignored for a long time.

Make no bones about it, the Democrats simply are better at reaching out to the dead and getting their vote.

Republicans cannot hope to be competitive unless they develop a better outreach to the deceased community. They must learn to dig deeper to uncover more voters. Failure to develop a competitive strategy could be a deadweight on the GOP for years to come.

 

Inconceivable! – The “Election” of Joseph Biden

Estimated Reading Time: 4 minutes

The last week has seen some of the most bizarre behavior I have ever witnessed by our country. Yes, we had an election, complete with the usual vitriol, slanders and innuendos. Yes, we had the usual partisan lines drawn. Yes, we had the usual swamp dwellers climb out from the swamp and try to sway the masses to their candidate. None of this is unusual, so why is the current result of the election inconceivable? This happens in every election process. What made this election so different?

Let us just review the state of AZ. This is a proud state that remains rooted in its western independence, so much so that approximately 1/3 of all voters here are registered independent. They believe in the Second Amendment. They believe in the First Amendment too. So, what was different about this election? Let’s begin with the results as stated by the Secretary of State, Katie Hobbs: Biden received 1,643,488 votes and Trump received 1,626,536 votes. What is so unusual about that? On it’s face, there is nothing unusual about it. Underneath the numbers, a lot of this defies any reasonable test of logic.

Let’s begin with the anecdotal evidence. The Trump campaign made nine, yes nine, campaign trips to the Grand Canyon state. Every visit was overflowing with supporters, not just at capacity but people lined up for hours to get into these events. The enthusiasm was palpable around these events, there was never an empty seat or even room to add another person without running into trouble with the fire marshals. Let’s contrast this with the one, yes, one event that the Biden team held in Phoenix – if you took away the media, the Secret Service detail and his staffers, would have been empty! Virtually no one came. I get that this is a Covid-19 campaign environment, social distancing is considered important by certain doctors and that some members of the public are reluctant to come out of their homes. But it defies logic to think that a voter response like that would be the foundation for the highest voter turnout ever. Yet that is exactly what we are expected to believe. Inconceivable!

Here is a Presidential candidate who virtually never left his basement in Delaware. He managed to get through two debates, although each required almost a full week of rest and preparation just to be able to stand upright and maintain coherence for 90 minutes. He then would retire for ‘a few’ days in order to recuperate. It begs the question, at age 78, can he even handle the intense and consuming demands of POTUS? His cognitive gaps are staggering and blatant, his numerous gaffes in public speaking are horrific and he rarely seems fully aware of where his or who he is with. This is the compelling rhetorician who was able to de-rail the Trump train? Inconceivable!

A quick look at the numbers: 2008 was an historic vote. We had the first African American candidate on the ballot and we had just gone through eight years under George W. Bush which culminated in the Great Recession. It was not a big surprise that the country was looking forward to a new path forward, yet even in one of the biggest turnouts in American election history, Obama was only able to garner 44.9% of the AZ voters to his cause for his 2008 campaign to victory; granted this was against a local favorite. In 2012, Mr. Obama again was riding his populist wave and achieved another term in the White House but his success in AZ waned further to 44.1% of the vote, this time against Mitt Romney. Let’s try the Hilary Clinton campaign in 2016, surely this would be a record breaker! Not exactly, she was only able to get 46% of the vote as voter apathy hit an all-time high in the new millennium with voter participation declining to 70% of the voting population. All three elections from 2008 forward were solid red for the Republican party. So, what was different in 2020?

First, we had Covid-19. Second, we had to shut down our entire economy for a quarter. Third we had to figure out how to re-start the economy under some bizarre and illogical regulations. Social distancing, masking, working from home, the death of the fitness industry – all new circumstances we all have had to adjust to. Oh, yes, and we had a Presidential election for the leader of the free world. One candidate: highly visible, highly energized, and crisscrossing the USA in order to gain support. Another candidate who was rarely seen outside of his basement. At this juncture, we are asked to believe that Mr. Biden won this election of the people of the United States. Inconceivable!

Mr. Biden’s compelling campaign strategy of never leaving his house, never holding a press conference and never issuing a campaign platform or speech was enough carry him in this predominantly Red state. Remember, this is the same candidate who was unable to fill an elevator with his supporters on the campaign trail. He chose as his VP, the most Socialist member of the Senate. His son and brother are embroiled in pay-to-play schemes in China, Ukraine and Russia. His campaign strategy was to hide from the press, the people and any scrutiny. The strategy that we are expected to believe generated the highest voter turnout total in AZ history: 77.6% of the electorate, more than Barack Obama and more than Hilary Clinton. How (without being inconceivable)?

We may never know as our Democrat Secretary of State Katie Hobbs who oversaw the process is doing her best to avoid scrutiny during the process. There are serious allegations of fraud in FL, GA, TX, MI, NV, PA and AZ from two software programs that have manipulated votes around the country (called The Hammer and Scorecard) as whistleblower Dennis Montgomery, their architect who built the program for the 2009 Obama intelligence agencies, maintains. At the very least, this level of fraud requires that the governor demand a recount of this election. The very foundation of our Republic is at stake. Two final thoughts: “sunlight is this best disinfectant” and democracy dies in darkness. Let us shed some sunlight and dispel the darkness. The doubts over this election process are just too great to ignore. They are indeed inconceivable.