Category Archives: Losing Freedom

Gov. Kathy Hochul Will Tell You if You’re ‘Essential’ – WSJ

Power grab. It keeps happening. How long will the general population put up with this? mrossol

Gov. Kathy Hochul announced on Christmas Eve that people whose jobs New York state deems unimportant must stay home and quarantine for 10 days if they test positive for Covid-19. Others are free to return to work five days earlier. The state Health Department described its guidance as allowing for a shortened quarantine for “Healthcare Workers and Other Critical Workforce.” But the meaning is the same: People will be confined to their homes not based solely on their risk of contagion but also on the government’s perception of their social or economic value.


Throughout the pandemic, politicians have exhorted the public to “follow the science.” Courts have generally deferred to public-health decrees that greatly restrict individual liberty—on the assumption that they are grounded in epidemiological considerations. Such factors include the disease’s incubation period, its severity and the immunity of the exposed person. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention this week said that quarantine beyond five days is unnecessary for any vaccinated person.

New York’s policy makes confinement in quarantine turn substantially on economic or political considerations. That isn’t science; it’s central planning.

If a shorter period is medically acceptable, it should be the default, not a government-bestowed privilege. Public-health agencies have no expertise in making determinations about what makes the economy tick. To the extent quarantine decisions are demonstrably influenced by nonscientific factors, the protective bubble that constitutional doctrine has placed around them should be weaker.

The jobs New York deems “critical” go far beyond those necessary to sustain human life. Bartenders, movers and law professors may return to work after five days under New York’s new guidance. People providing services to “government owned or leased buildings” are essential—but those doing the same for private buildings aren’t.

Many of the jobs with a shorter quarantine period—including schoolteachers—are those where increased transmission could be thought to be a particular concern. The guidance also makes healthcare workers eligible for the light quarantine out of concern for staffing shortages, which have been exacerbated by vaccine mandates.

The New York quarantine guidance is another step toward general governmental authority to determine who gets to work and who doesn’t. The process began during the lockdown phases of the pandemic, when states across the country issued lists of exempted “essential” jobs—with no intelligible principle determining what made something essential. (New York had such exemptions from its quarantine policy for interstate travelers, which Gov. Andrew Cuomo lifted in April 2021.) Gossip columnists were “essential” in many states. So were marijuana dispensaries, illegal under federal law.

People disagree passionately on policies such as mask and vaccine mandates. But one neutral way to ensure that policy makers don’t abuse the power, and limit coercive measures to the minimum, is to apply them across the board. In a free society, everyone is equally essential.

Mr. Kontorovich is a professor at George Mason University Scalia Law School.


It’s Madness What Is Happening to College Kids

Pretty simple paradigm, and clearly stated. Also check out Browstone Institute, where it was originally published. mrossol

The Epoch Times, By Vinay Prasad,  December 28, 2021

This is a post about the absolutely insane, crushing restrictions being imposed on young, healthy vaccinated (often booster and often naturally immune) people by institutions of knowledge. In order to prove my thesis that these policies are misguided, let me start with some basics.

When it comes to COVID19, there are only 3 things any of us can do:

  1. We can lower the risk of bad outcomes when we encounter the virus.
  2. We can delay the time to meet the virus
  3. We can engage in theater which does not delay the time to meet the virus

What goes in these buckets?

Category 1 (risk reduction) is easy. You can’t modify your age, a huge risk favor, but you can modify your vaccination status, and you can modify your weight and general health.

Category 2 (delay time to virus) is harder. We don’t have many well done studies, but theoretically if you sealed yourself in a bunker and ate canned food, you would do this. Wearing a snug n95 might also delay the time to meeting the virus. The challenge with these interventions is they are not sustainable by most people, and may lead to fatigue or backsliding, and thus the effect is transient.

Delaying serves two purposes:

  1. For the individual, it makes sense if, by delaying, you can do something for category 1 that you cannot do today. If you are waiting for your vaccine, for instance, by all means delay.
  2. For the community it makes sense, if, by some delaying, the pandemic trajectory is bent and hospitals are less likely to be overwhelmed.

Delaying also has a downside. It may hurt your mental health, particularly when you do it effectively. If you need evidence of this damage: please see twitter.

Category 3 (useless, virtue signaling theater) is the most common. Wearing your mask when you enter a restaurant and walk to your table, but not when you sit there for two hours laughing and drinking is one example. The fact this policy exists reflects serious impairment in thinking and total failure of policy makers.

Making a 2-4 year old wear a cloth mask in day care (which the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends against the advice of the World Health Organization), but, of course, kids take the cloth mask off to nap next to each other for 4 hours in the same room! Theater.

Closing beaches and other outdoor activities. Wearing a mask outside. The list goes on and on, and most things we did fit in this category. On a side note:  Here we review all data on masking.

Enter Young, Healthy College Kids

The vast majority are either double vaxxed or have natural immunity or both, and some are also boosted. They are young (lucky them!), and the majority are healthy. What more can such students do for Category 1? Nothing.

What about category 2? It appears that many universities are making college kids wear masks, restricting their movement, banning gatherings etc. Here is just one example of how extreme they are:

These severe restrictions might actually delay the time till college kids meet the virus! But it does so with a huge disruption to their lives. All the wonderful things of being young require being very close to other people. Many simply cannot occur with a mask on.

Will these restrictions benefit the college kids? Absolutely not. When they eventually meet the virus— and they will— on vacation or next semester— they will just be a little older, but have similar great chances of doing well.

Will the restrictions benefit society? Doubtful. After all, everyone not on a college campus is not following any of these ridiculous rules, and the pandemic trajectory will be dictated by those (aka 99.9% ) of places.

It will likely not even to protect the faculty and staff on campus, who will largely face risks when they leave work and go home and on vacation, and again, if these folks have already optimized Category 1, delay makes little sense.

Will it harm the college kids? Absolutely, it will. Their mental health will surely suffer from this isolation. It has already. I will say again: all of the joys of youth require being close to other people.

What is the net balance? The net balance is these policies are catastrophically detrimental to them. Moreover, there is no countervailing benefit to staff or society to justify the huge imposition. It is morally and scientifically bankrupt.

Truly, I can’t even understand how anyone thinks these policies are justified. I am also surprised college students have accepted them with scant protest. I can only surmise that many have been mislead into thinking this sacrifice serves a broader interest (i.e. believe they are being altruistic), or that the incentives on their lives and career for conformity are so great they are afraid to speak up.

I suspect the strong link between restrictions and political party may also affect them. After all, the youth most strongly leans left (full disclosure: as do i!), and thus adheres to the identity badges of the left (but in my case, sadly, I spent too many years studying & publishing on scientific evidence to turn my brain off).

In short, draconian restrictions on vaccinated young people or those with natural immunity living in tiny pockets of college campus makes no sense, and is a policy that contributes to a harm in societal well-being. The policy is unethical and illogical.

To young people: I am personally sorry that those of us who recognized the futility and harm of these policies could not have done more to shield you from the anxieties and risk aversion of the irrational.

This article was originally published by Brownstone Institute. Republished under Creative Commons License 4.0.


Coercion Made the Pandemic Worse

WSJ  21/28/2021  by David R Henderson and Charles L Hooper

The online Merriam-Webster dictionary defines “anti-vaxxer” as “a person who opposes the use of vaccines or regulations mandating vaccination.”  [This definition was just changed a few weeks ago.]  Where does that leave us? We both strongly favor vaccination against Covid-19; one of us (Mr. Hooper) has spent years working and consulting for vaccine manufacturers. But we strongly oppose government vaccine mandates. If you’re crazy about Hondas but don’t think the government should force everyone to buy a Honda, are you “anti-Honda”?

The people at Merriam-Webster are blurring the distinction between choice and coercion, and that’s not merely semantics. If we accept that the difference between choice and coercion is insignificant, we will be led easily to advocate policies that require a large amount of coercion. Coercive solutions deprive us of freedom and the responsibility that goes with it. Freedom is intrinsically valuable; it is also the central component of the best problem-solving system ever devised.

Free choice relies on persuasion. It recognizes that you are an important participant with key information, problem-solving abilities and rights. Any solution that is adopted, therefore, must be designed to help you and others. Coercion is used when persuasion has failed or is teetering in that direction—or when you are raw material for someone else’s grand plans, however ill-conceived.

Authoritarian governmental approaches hamper problem-solving abilities. They typically involve one-size-fits-all solutions like travel bans and mask mandates. Once governments adopt coercive policies, power-hungry bureaucrats often spout an official party line and suppress dissent, no matter the evidence, and impose further sanctions to punish those who don’t fall in line. Once coercion is set in motion, it’s hard to backtrack.

Consider Australia, until recently a relatively free country. Its Northern Territory has a Covid quarantine camp in Howard Springs where law-abiding citizens can be forcibly sent if they have been exposed to a SARS-CoV-2-positive person or have traveled internationally or between states, even without evidence of exposure. A 26-year-old Australian citizen, Hayley Hodgson, was detained at the camp after she was exposed to someone later found to be positive. Despite three negative tests and no positive ones, she was held in a small enclosed area for 14 days and fed once a day. Even the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says quarantine can end after seven days with negative tests. Why didn’t the government let her quarantine at home? And why doesn’t it exempt or treat differently people who can prove prior vaccination or natural infection?

Although U.S. authorities haven’t gone nearly that far, early in the pandemic the Food and Drug Administration used its coercive power to discourage the development of diagnostic tests for Covid-19. The FDA required private labs wanting to develop tests to submit special paperwork to get approval that it had never required for other diagnostic tests. That, in combination with the CDC’s claims that it had enough testing capacity, meant that testing necessitated the use of a CDC test later determined to be so defective that it found the coronavirus in laboratory-grade water.

With voluntary approaches, we get the benefit of millions of people around the world actively trying to solve problems and make our lives better. We get high-quality vaccines from BioNTech/ Pfizer, Johnson & Johnson and Moderna, instead of the suspect vaccines from the governments of Cuba and Russia. We get good diagnostic tests from Thermo Fisher Scientific instead of the defective CDC one. We get promising therapeutics such as Pfizer’s Paxlovid and Merck’s molnupiravir.

With authoritarian approaches, we get solutions that meet the requirements of those in power, regardless of how we benefit. Consider this hypothetical example:

Policy A ends with 1,000 Covid-19 cases, 5,000 people who have completely lost their liberty for two weeks, 1,000 lost jobs, and 300 missed key family events, such as the funeral of a loved one.

Policy B ends with 1,020 Covid-19 cases, 4,000 who have lost some of their liberty for one week, 1,000 who have completely lost their liberty for two weeks, 300 lost jobs, and 100 missed family events.

The government may prefer Policy A because it is focused on one aspect of the problem. You might prefer Policy B because many aspects of life matter to you—not only coronavirus cases—and B is much better on the other dimensions. But your preferences don’t count.

With coercive solutions, you’ll often deal with an official who will absolve himself of responsibility by pinning the rule on those giving the orders. With voluntary solutions, if it doesn’t make sense, we usually don’t do it. And therein lies one of the greatest protections we have to ensure that the solution isn’t worse than the problem.

The supposed trump card of those who favor coercion is externalities: One person’s behavior can put another at risk. But that’s only half the story. The other half is that we choose how much risk we accept. If some customers at a store exhibit risky behavior, then we can vaccinate, wear masks, keep our distance, shop at quieter times, or avoid the store.

Economists understand how one person can impose a cost on another. But it takes two to tango, and it’s generally more efficient if the person who can change his behavior with the lower cost changes how he behaves. In other words, to perform a proper evaluation of policies to deal with externalities, we must consider the responses available to both parties. Many people, including economists, ignore this insight.

By what principle do we throw out the playbook of the more successful country, ours, and adopt one from less successful, more authoritarian countries? The authoritarian playbook has serious built-in weaknesses, while solutions based on free choice have obvious and not-so-obvious strengths. Freedom is beneficial in good times; it’s even more crucial in challenging times.

Mr. Henderson is a research fellow with the Hoover Institution at Stanford University. He was senior health economist with President Reagan’s Council of Economic Advisers. Mr. Hooper is author of “Should the FDA Reject Itself?” and president of Objective Insights, whose clients include pharmaceutical companies.


Anthony Fauci and the Creation of the Bio-Security State

The Epoch Times,  12/6/2021  by Roger Kimball

A new populist spirit, represented by Donald Trump, among others, has led to a reshuffling of seemingly settled ideological alliances. The reshuffling is ongoing.

I know this because I find myself approving of at least parts of “The Real Anthony Fauci: Bill Gates, Big Pharma, and the Global War on Democracy and Public Health,” the new bestseller book by Robert F. Kennedy Jr.

It’s odd indeed that I find myself in nodding agreement with an anti-vax climate warrior named Kennedy, but there you are—or, rather, here we are.

Toward the end of a long and riveting interview with Tucker Carlson about his book, Kennedy reflects on the extraordinary—indeed, “totalitarian” isn’t too strong a word—government impositions upon individual liberty in the name of battling the COVID pandemic and issues a critical admonition that we forget at our peril.

“We have to love our freedom,” he said, “more than we fear a germ.” Can we pause for a round of applause?

The risks of COVID to the general population were and are wildly exaggerated.  Everyone knows that now, although not everyone is yet ready to admit it.

‘Safetyism’  But even if the disease was as dangerous as some alarmists at first predicted, Kennedy’s point still stands.

“Even if this was the deadly disease that they say it is,” he told Carlson, “there are worse things than death.”

Indeed, he continued, “We’re lucky that there was a whole generation of Americans in 1776 that said, ‘It would be better to die than to not have these rights written down.’”

Noting the extraordinary assault on our constitutional liberties—a phenomenon that has echoes in other democracies around the world—Kennedy asks us to remember the smallpox epidemic that ravaged Washington’s army during the Revolution and the “malaria contagion that culled the Army of Virginia.”

The Founders were well acquainted with “the deadly and disruptive potential of infectious disease epidemics.”  Nevertheless, they included no references to pandemics in the Constitution.

Over the past couple of years, however, “public health” is wheeled out to rationalize “a string of new exceptions to our Constitution. We are given just one rationale to explain everything that is happening: COVID.”

In other words, Kennedy opposes the spirit of “safetyism” that pervades our culture and gives license to the many corporate and government actors who are only too happy to exploit our abhorrence of risk in order to control us.  Kennedy’s book is full of alarming things.

In some ways, it reads like a 1960s leftist tract against militarized government and “transnational corporations.”

The fact that I find myself nodding in agreement with much of his analysis is part of that ideological reshuffling I mentioned.  It reminds me once again that the categories of “right” and “left” are no longer reliable guides to political filiation.

I also note with some amusement the hysterical (I do not mean “funny”) vituperation directed at the book by the left.  Isn’t there some mistake?

After all, we’re talking about a paid-up eco-warrior here, the son of liberal icon Robert F. Kennedy, for heaven’s sake!

How is it that he has attracted the ire of Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), who actually asked Amazon and other online emporia to alter their search algorithms so that people looking for books about the CCP virus wouldn’t be directed to Kennedy’s book?

Fauci and ‘Endemic Corruption’

A large part of Kennedy’s book, as its title suggests, is an attack on Dr. Anthony Fauci, who emerges as one of the most malevolent and destructive characters on the public scene in the past five decades. How is it possible that he emerged as “America’s Doctor,” showered with adulation from a terrified but grateful public?

As Kennedy shows in meticulous detail, Fauci’s career has been a litany of greed, incompetence, cruelty, and a callous and unquenchable thirst for power.

He’s joined by a rogues’ gallery of supporting actors, including Microsoft busybody Bill Gates and bioweapons expert Robert Kadlec, a Dr. Strangelove wannabe. Even former MI6 spook Christopher Steele, he of the Trump–Russia “dossier,” makes a cameo appearance here.

But the focus is mostly on Fauci and “the carefully planned militarization and monetization of medicine that has left American health ailing and its democracy shattered.”

In June, Fauci told a reporter, “Attacks on me quite frankly, are attacks on science.”  But what was this “science” of which Fauci spoke?

“As the world watched,” Kennedy notes, “Tony Fauci dictated a series of policies that resulted in by far the most deaths, and one of the highest percentage COVID-19 body counts of any nation on the planet.”  That’s not all.

“Anthony Fauci,” Kennedy writes, “seems to have not considered that his unprecedented quarantine of the healthy would kill far more people than COVID, obliterate the global economy, plunge millions into poverty and bankruptcy, and grievously wound constitutional democracy globally.”  It gets worse.

“We have no way of knowing how many people died from isolation, unemployment, deferred medical care, depression, mental illness, obesity, stress, overdoses, suicide, addiction, alcoholism, and the accidents that so often accompany despair. We cannot dismiss the accusations that his lockdowns proved more deadly than the contagion.”

Consider these facts:

“Between 2018 and 2020, the average Hispanic American lost around 3.9 years in longevity, while the average lifespan of a Black American dropped by 3.25 years.”

Fauci’s lockdown “shattered the nation’s once-booming economic engine, putting 58 million Americans out of work, and permanently bankrupting small businesses, including 41 percent of Black-owned businesses, some of which took generations of investment to build.”

“Dr. Fauci’s business closures pulverized America’s middle class and engineered the largest upward transfer of wealth in human history. In 2020, workers lost $3.7 trillion while billionaires gained $3.9 trillion.

“Some 493 individuals became new billionaires, and an additional 8 million Americans dropped below the poverty line.”

Who won in the COVID Wars?

“The biggest winners were the robber barons—the very companies that were cheerleading Dr. Fauci’s lockdown and censoring his critics: Big Technology, Big Data, Big Telecom, Big Finance, Big Media behemoths (Michael Bloomberg, Rupert Murdoch, Viacom, and Disney), and Silicon Valley Internet titans like Jeff Bezos, Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg, Eric Schmidt, Sergey Brin, Larry Page, Larry Ellison, and Jack Dorsey.”

All this sounds bad, but I have barely scratched the surface of Kennedy’s indictment.

As he notes, while COVID is certainly a problem, it is “not the problem. … The problem is endemic corruption in the medical-industrial complex, currently supported at every turn by mass-media companies.”


Doubtless, it’s possible to take exception to parts of Kennedy’s analysis and some of his political causes. But his book is exhaustively researched and every assertion is supported by publicly available evidence.

His analysis of the formation of the “bio-security” state in the aftermath of the fall of the Soviet Union makes for chilling reading. What if the security apparatus set up to deal with Islamic terrorism has mutated into a “track and trace” intelligence state whose object is the citizens of the United States?

But perhaps his biggest contribution, which comes in the course of his discussion of Fauci’s chillingly corrupt and incompetent handling of the AIDS crisis in the 1980s, is this pellucid observation about the nature of science.

“While consensus may be an admirable political objective,” he observes, “it is the enemy of science and truth.” This is exactly right. As Kennedy observes, “the term ‘settled science’ is an oxymoron.”

Moreover, “the admonishment that we should ‘trust the experts’ is a trope of authoritarianism.”

Those few sentences are worth the price of “The Real Anthony Fauci.”

Views expressed in this article are the opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Epoch Times.