COVID-19 and the Recession

The media repeatedly report the twin threats of “COVID” and “the COVID recession” as though the COVID recession were an organic outgrowth of the virus. This is sloppy. While there is overlap between the COVID health threat and the COVID recession, the magnitude of COVID recession results in the main from policy intervention in an attempt to mitigate the health threat. It is more accurately labeled “the COVID policyresponse recession.” This is a critical distinction.

To be sure, illnesses have huge direct effects on the U.S. economy every year. Sick people miss work. Dead people can’t work. Illness due to the COVID virus certainly adds to this. COVID would have an economic impact on the country due merely from the illness itself. Yet the policy responses themselves have a separable, independent impact on the economy. As the National Bureau of Economic Research’s Business Cycle Dating committee observed in June, “The committee recognizes that the pandemic and the public health response have resulted in a downturn with different characteristics and dynamics than prior recessions” (emphasis added). This separation must be kept in mind.

Recognizing that the impact of the disease and the impact of government intervention are separable does not require that one commit in advance to the inequality facing in one direction or the other. One can believe that the impacts of the disease—economic as well as non-economic impacts—easily outweigh the impacts of the recession (which also include non-economic costs imposed on people as well as economic costs). Believing this, however, does not require the rhetorical slight-of-hand to treat recession costs as though they are not tradeoffs, as if the costs of the governments’ public health response simply develop organically out of the virus itself.

Treating them as the same problem rather than separate challenges obscures the necessity that policymakers, and citizens, need to make decisions that have tradeoffs attached. And the tradeoffs are not easy ones of simply choosing between closing everything down or leaving everything open; between stopping the virus cold and letting it have its way unhindered.

There are grays and gradations in these policy choices, rather than discrete blacks and whites. The bulk of the costs of the COVID recession can be traced to policies that sought to confine people to their homes unless they had a justification to be out, to policies that sought to close broad categories of “non-essential” businesses, and policies that imposed broad prohibition of travel by even healthy people. These policies contrast sharply with significantly less burdensome policies: mask wearing, social distancing, hand washing, and contact tracing.

The question is what was the gain of the most draconian policies in fighting the virus relative to the much less burdensome policies.

Treating the “COVID recession” as though it were simply a natural, necessary outgrowth of the pandemic also runs the risk of normalizing the real novelty of the most draconian governmental policy responses to the novel corona virus. Perhaps more worryingly, it might serve as a precedent, becoming the expected “go to” response to the next novel virus (or serious flu season), whether or not draconian policies are indicated.

For example, the government-ordered, population-wide confinement of healthy individuals to their homes unless they are in pursuit of a necessary occupation of one sort or another is without precedent in the United States. Discussion of the home confinement orders typically moves too quickly to a discussion of the very real and significant quarantine power that U.S. governments have often employed in the past to respond to pandemic threats. There are in fact significant differences between traditional quarantine orders and this year’s confinement orders, not least the sheer breadth of today’s home confinement orders relative to quarantine orders historically. To be sure, quarantine orders can be draconian in themselves (consider the nightmarish quarantine outcome affirmed in State ex rel. McBride v. Superior Court for King County). Yet “quarantine” in the past legally refers to the isolation of sick people or people known to have been exposed and at risk for the duration of their illness or for the period of incubation for the disease. Once that period had passed, they were freed from confinement.

This year’s confinement orders constrain many more healthy people than they constrain sick people, and there is no natural time limit on the confinement of the healthy beyond the end of the pandemic itself. It is no more than governmental laziness—the real reason often papered over by the assertion of administrative convenience—that the possibility of asymptomatic carriers of the COVID virus was taken to imply that the entire U.S. population has been exposed to the disease and could therefore be confined indefinitely under the traditional quarantine rationale.

First, there are many communicable diseases, some much worse than COVID-19, in which carriers are asymptomatic. U.S. law in the past has had little difficulty accommodating asymptomatic carriers. (See, for example, the asymptomatic cases at issue in People ex rel Barmore v. Robertson and Kirk v. Board of Health.)

The more affluent sectors of U.S. society are those most enabled to work remotely from home. They can purchase their security from infection on the cheap relative to poorer segments of society. Yet we don’t hear much about privileged access of the affluent to government ears in the context of virus policy.

Further, there is an initial, much less burdensome alternative to quarantine. “Contact tracing” means that once a carrier is identified, outreach is made to those with whom the carrier came in contact. Quarantine then takes place on a case-by-case basis and only where the need is demonstrated. To be sure, it is possible that an entire neighborhood or even a city might need to be quarantined because of the spread of a disease. This occurred in Compagnie Francaise de Navigation a Vapeur v. Louisiana Board of Health (although the city’s quarantine was almost certainly a pretext to avoid accepting a boatload of immigrants from Italy). Yet even here it requires an affirmative finding of disease, the inadequacy of less burdensome measures, and the recognition that the quarantine would be of a limited duration.

Similarly, the policy of closing down all “non-essential” businesses was unheard of in U.S. history. There is again, a laziness in the modern approach in which “non-essential businesses” are businesses not identified on a list of otherwise “essential” businesses. This paints with a much broader brush than in earlier pandemics. During the 1918-1919 Flu pandemic, it was usual to identify the businesses to be closed by name. Bars, dancehalls, theatres, etc. The unnamed business could remain open. Today, if unnamed on the government-approved list of “essential businesses,” then the business must close. The reversal of the presumption is just administrative laziness. This indolence, however, comes at a steep cost, with its imposition on the need to make a living—particularly among the less affluent—as well as the casual substitution of administrative dictate for individual judgment of risk.

Noted by observers across the ideological spectrum is that the impact of the “COVID recession” affects most severely the less affluent and most economically vulnerable sections of the American public. This overlaps, by and large, with those parts of the population most at risk from the virus. This underscores all the more the need carefully to understand and weigh the tradeoffs between the virus and policies intended to respond to the virus. The more affluent sectors of U.S. society are those most enabled to work remotely from home. They can purchase their security from infection on the cheap relative to poorer segments of society. Yet we don’t hear much about privileged access of the affluent to government ears in the context of virus policy.

It is the most-draconian policies that disproportionately contributed to the magnitude of the “COVID recession.” Perhaps it is defensible in light of the threat that COVID represents. If so, proponents of the lockdown should own the recession as a necessary, if lamentable, requirement. It is legerdemain—sleight-of-hand—however, to pretend that the COVID recession is an organically outgrowth of the COVID virus, as opposed to what it, the result of human intervention, however well-intended that intervention might have been.

Reader Discussion

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on October 20, 2020 at 07:19:23 am

Pithy and well-articulated essay.

The pandemic response of 2020 was an anomaly in the annals of world history and public health, but the US lockdowns were not the first. That was in China, which, as step one, cruelly locked down Wuhan Province, while, as step two, shrewdly kept the rest of China open, and as step three, insidiously allowed both immigration and emigration between Wuhan and the rest of the world. While falling victim to China's malfeasance in steps two and three, the USA stupidly followed China's lead on step one, the Wuhan lockdown, while expanding its draconian nature to cover most of the nation, not just the center of highest disease and the epicenter of spread, California's port cities and New York City.

However, having followed the lead of China (and then Italy) in employing an extensive lockdown at the onset of pandemic, the US was the FIRST nation in history to deploy extensive, harsh lockdown AFTER it became obvious that lockdown was ineffective in curbing pandemic and preventing spread of the China Virus and that lockdown was unnecessary to avoid swamping our hospitals, ineffective in preventing spread, unnecessary to avoid serious illness and death among the vulnerable, counterproductive to public health, cruel and especially harmful to children and young adults, and extremely damaging to economic well-being and national security.

However, extending the lockdowns was very helpful to America's mortal enemy, the CCP. Indeed, the lockdowns were extended by state and local governments in major areas of the USA almost as if they had been planned by the CCP. Those lockdowns were extended (and remain in effect) in big Blue States and big Blue Cities run by big shot Democrats. These states and cities comprise a substantial portion of America's population and GDP and, thus, are vital to our national security.

Blue States and Blue Cities did not extend their lockdowns out of public health concern or for reason of disease prevention. They extended their lockdowns for ONE reason, to punish President Trump and assist Joe Biden in the 2020 presidential campaign. Those lockdowns wrought unprecedented national disaster while reaping unprecedented political gain. They were, indeed, an historical first. And for extending those lockdowns the Democrat Party deserves the first public health award ever bestowed on a political party.

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Image of paladin
on October 20, 2020 at 08:19:10 am

The obviousness of this is what is stunning, but we live in a febrile era. There are three things to always and consistently and unerringly keep in mind under such health related circumstances:

1) tradeoffs
2) tradeoffs
3) tradeoffs

Hence critical aspects of the policy response as reflected in:

"... the government-ordered, population-wide confinement of healthy individuals to their homes unless they are in pursuit of a necessary occupation of one sort or another is without precedent in the United States."

... is why something like Sweden's response should be a baseline to such health oriented circumstances. But public pressure coming from media and outside governmental sources combined with an increase in cases likely due to cooler fall weather, among other factors, are causing some in Sweden to now consider forced lock-downs. Sorry, this is not the black death. Tens of millions die - tens of millions - around the globe every year.

Again emphasizing tradeoffs. How, to highlight one example, should psychic costs to individuals, families and communities be weighed in the balance? (By psychic, to be clear, I mean costs related to heart, soul and mind.) Or similarly, how to evaluate costs related to our Constitutionally guaranteed freedoms and natural rights - both currently and in the future, for precedents and expectations and habits of mind are being formed? These are not things that can be quantified in the main - and then assessed by some bureaucratic/technocratic "expert" class under the pious rubric of "follow the science".

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Michael Bond
on October 20, 2020 at 15:27:18 pm

Excellent point. "As economist Thomas Sowell once stated, "There are no solutions. ... There are only tradeoffs." "
And your "...how to evaluate costs related to our Constitutionally guaranteed freedoms and natural rights..." might even lead up to Patrick Henry: "give me liberty or give me death"; or the corresponding last phrase from the DOI.

Of course he did not say "give me liberty from wearing a mask, or kill me via COVID". Some people don't seem to understand the distinctions.

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Image of R2L
on October 20, 2020 at 09:48:36 am

The error in the essay is not in addressing the facts as presented. Rather, the error is in not addressing the underlying issue. The underlying issue is that other new diseases, much more deadly and contagious than COVID, are being created in labs around the world almost daily; that those diseases could by accident (ala Jurassic Park syndrome), or by intent, or simply as a threat, be released to the public; and that peoples and their governments needs to be able to respond to that circumstance when it eventually occurs. Smallpox was never wiped out. It lives happily in research labs around the world, almost certainly being weaponized in a lab somewhere. While COVID is the pretext for today's action, the potential unspoken horrors of the breakout of really bad diseases are certainly the primary motivator for today's government action. When speaking of COVID as the source of financial problems, understand the subtext which is that it is actually that the existence of bad manufactured diseases is the source of the financial problems, and COVID is a shill topic meant to prevent hysteria. Having a walkthrough of a response to one relatively mild disease, a slightly worse than average flu, is a good thing because it shows us the weaknesses in our personal, financial, and governmental systems while addressing potential much more serious diseases. By approaching the topic indirectly an excessive mass hysteria is avoided.

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Image of Scott Amorian
Scott Amorian
on October 20, 2020 at 15:15:33 pm

Your comment about this "mild" COVID-19 being a "trial run" opportunity triggered several thoughts:
1) some/many govt. and corp. execs and leaders may now be primed to consider the need for even more aggressive protective measures for the next pandemic, but the populace (including share holders) has not yet been educated or alerted to the level of dedication, support, and discomfort such a response to a more dangerous outbreak might require. We have not achieved a war footing mentality for COVID-19; and maybe we should have been directed to think that way in terms of required commitments and their time span (or maybe not in this particular case, although we were told at least 12 to 18 months for a vaccine, with govt. pushing to side step or speed up regulatory steps -- people didn't want to believe it would take that long, and yet are now resisting acceptance of what has been developed so relatively quickly -- because Orange Man Bad).
2) chains of providence for decontamination/ disinfection/ non-contamination may become paramount for a more contagious or deadly agent, to wit:
a) grocery stores/chains may need to stock pile hazmat suits or something almost as protective for the stock clerks and transport personnel "essential" to continued food delivery (and to their external direct delivery to customers).
b) every step in food preparation (as well as for many other goods/ services) will need to be able to certify their non-contaminated status: food in the can/bag/ container, the cans/bags themselves from initial fab to food associated use, boxes used to ship the cans, pallets of plastic wrapped boxes, (perhaps) pallets going into trucks or shipping containers, maybe even the ships used to ship those containers; plus the reverse process back down to the store shelves.
c) better/ expanded national data sharing of the availability of medical personnel and PPE, and related resources, so they can be moved to the hot spots quickly to better contain outbreaks (or patients can be moved to the resources). Seems to be most important for rural and more distant/ isolated areas. Insurance policies may even need to make allowance for the greater use of ground or air ambulances, etc.
d) exploration of wider work from home type options for more people, with more task analysis, etc., to minimize trips of service providers to personal homes/ offices. This may include smarter self diagnosing appliances, TVs, AC units, water heaters, etc. so remote analysis can be made, followed by direct order and shipment of replacement parts (potentially installed by the home owner following video instructions, etc. ) It is going to cost you more to both get the item fixed and to stay safe.
3) we are on the road technologically to implementing many of the above features, but we are not thinking of those added costs as valuable and merited from a healthcare and/or civil stability perspective.
4) avoiding mass hysteria is important and (I hope/ believe) that better open and up front explanation of the situation (up to placing the whole country on a national war time footing) can mitigate that. Clearly we need to take this "not yet critical" time frame to revisit our legal structures concerning police powers, possibly to achieve a better balance between promulgating federal level guidance, rules, and real law/legal restrictions (FEMA like, or relaxing habeous corpus?), vs. federalism oriented implementation and responsibility at the state and local levels (in part to forestall the little Napoleons we have seen lately). If the conditions and situations demanding more extreme measures are explained ahead of time, there should be reduced resistance (and panic) to their being used and enforced within the bounds of specified and controlled police powers.

Possibly the Heritage Foundation and/or other think tanks have already laid all of this out in some position papers, but if so that knowledge is not yet on the screens of most citizens or the MSM.

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Image of R2L
on October 20, 2020 at 14:27:21 pm

“The media repeatedly report the twin threats of “COVID” and “the COVID recession” as though the COVID recession were an organic outgrowth of the virus.”

Certainly it would be more accurate to state “ the Covid recession” is a result of the response to the virus, which is different than the virus itself.

It is important to note the percentage of Covid -19 deaths that were due to patients who had underlying medical conditions in order to accurately reflect the threat that Covid -19 presents to the general population versus those most vulnerable to this particular virus, those with underlying medical conditions, if we truly desire to protect the most vulnerable.


This article is extremely helpful in that regard:


For it turns out that hepcidin receptors have a key role not just in Covid -19:


But also, in other viruses and pathogens :


And thus when it comes to fighting pathogens, natural or otherwise, regulating hepcidin may prove to be key.

This, of course does not answer the question, what is the source of Covid 19, that has proven to be most fatal to the elderly and those with compromised immunity, which is actually what makes Covid 19 a novel Coronavirus.

Certainly that question is worth investigating:



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Image of Nancy
on October 20, 2020 at 16:12:32 pm

A few opinions:

1. The unstated factor affecting political and bureaucratic decision-making is avoidance of blame for inevitable SARS-COV-2 infections. Schools are kept closed, not to prevent COVID cases (claims to that effect are based on a false dichotomy, i.e. that students will either go to school or avoid all activity that could transmit SARS-COV-2) but to prevent school officials from being blamed for "outbreaks." The same goes for any number of other bureaucratic diktats prescribing how many people can congregate, who has to wear a mask and when, whether religious people can attend church services, etc. This phenomenon is superimposed on the more obvious situation where some of these interventions, lockdowns, restrictions and such are politically motivated.

2. No serious person believes that, if everyone stays home, SARS-COV-2 will get lonely and go back to China. Reality intrudes on such fanciful thinking. In the first place, we should note that dentists are reported to have a relatively low incidence of SARS-COV-2 infection. One would expect the opposite to be true, since the virus is presumed to be discharged from the pharynx. Dentists should be swimming in COVID, but aren't. What this suggests is that there is a meaningful distinction to be made among interventions: COVID control strategies of avoidance, and strategies of hygiene. The reason that dentists seem to be doing relatively well in a high risk environment is most-likely that they are quite diligent about the latter strategies. These are the ones that Professor Rogers described as "significantly less burdensome strategies." Not only are they less burdensome, they are far more effective that the avoidance strategies.

Avoidance strategies, in theory, should be very effective but in practice they are not. This is because they are impossible to implement as a general intervention. This is an example of the fallacy of composition. A specific person can, if his circumstances otherwise permit, practically guarantee that he will not contract COVID by avoiding all contact or opportunities for virus spread. This fact does not provide a blueprint for public health policy. The virus is environmentally ubiquitous. It is impossible for all people to avoid contact with all other people, because life goes on. People have to go to the dentist because they break teeth; they have to go to the grocery store because they have to eat; pipes break and a plumber must fix them because people need water and sewer services; some people require human interaction for a meaningful life and fail psychologically and physically if this is denied to them. Avoidance strategies do not work, because they cannot work.

3. The appeals used by the media, political and bureaucratic classes are largely based on unreasonable assumptions. The first is that the goal is zero cases. The second is that the number of cases that are reported completely characterizes the epidemic. The third is that a COVID case is a policy failure. The fourth is that, if an intervention does not seem to be working, it is because it is not intrusive enough rather than that it is inherently ineffective.

4. COVID policy is based on caricatures of the virus. COVID is more usefully thought of as separate disease with a common origin. The most common disease is that which President Trump had: a flu-like upper-respiratory syndrome with mild evidence of systemic inflammation. Less common is SARS-COV-2 infection-related inflammatory response. This is the frequently referred-to "cytokine storm" and likely is responsible for severe respiratory compromise, and is also likely responsible for the coagulation abnormalities that are observed in severe cases. Another syndrome is SARS-COV-2 related cardiomyopathy that affects a very small minority of cases, but is associated with particularly bad outcomes. These distinctions are important because while the number of cases of the first type of disease, i.e. the "bad flu" seem to be increasing ("surging" in breathless media-speak) the more serious types of disease are declining. Death rates are diverging from case rates. Furthermore, the various disease severities have different incidences in different age groups. Failure to recognize these differences compounds errors in policy making because it imposes interventions that are unlikely to work in any population upon populations that are unlikely to need them, even if they did work. The number of cases is not a particularly useful guide because "cases" describes a widely varying, heterogeneous population.

4. In any given year in the United States there are thousands, if not tens of thousands of medical malpractice, products liability, toxic tort, etc,, litigation cases. Almost all of these require expert testimony to one degree or another, and in almost all cases this testimony conflicts. The experts do not agree, and it is quite understandable that each party will cherry-pick opinions most favorable to their respective cases. More cynically, you can often find an expert to agree with just about anything, Policy-makers and bureaucrats make use of this principle all the time. When they say they are "listening to the experts" or "following the science," they are often engaging in the same expert-opinion-shopping seen in litigation, although now it is for political, bureaucratic or other ancillary purposes. A common fallacy is that if someone is regarded as an "expert" it is assumed that other people agree with him, that the appellation of expert implies knowledge of a consensus that, in many cases, is a figment of advocacy. The trouble is not always that experts do not know what they are talking about, it is that decision makers do not care whether they do or not.

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Image of z9z99
on October 20, 2020 at 17:45:20 pm

Highly intelligent analysis!
Surely not the work of a Democrat.
Who is that masked man, Z?

Thanks for the SNL link. 'twas a riot, with 5 of the best from olden days (2 now dead) when the show was very funny, the players not in love with themselves and the humor seldom politically- targeted.

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Image of paladin
on October 20, 2020 at 17:35:49 pm

Not science?
some more information that may be useful:

“In 2005, Shi Zhengli and colleagues found that bats are the natural reservoir of SARS-like coronaviruses.[7][8][9]

In 2008 Shi led a research team which studied binding of spike proteins of both natural and chimaeric SARS-like coronaviruses to ACE2 receptors in human, civet and horseshoe bat cells, to determine the mechanism by which SARS may have spilled over into humans.[10][11] In 2014, Shi Zhengli collaborated on additional gain-of-function experiments led by Ralph S. Baric of the University of North Carolina, which showed that two critical mutations that the MERS coronavirus possesses allow it to bind to the human ACE2 receptor,[12] and that SARS had the potential to re-emerge from coronaviruses circulating in bat populations in the wild.[13] In 2014, the US National Institutes of Health placed a moratorium on SARS, MERS, and influenza gain-of-function studies, due to concerns about the risks vs. benefits of such research,[14][15] lifting this moratorium in 2017 after the creation of a new regulatory framework.[16] Zhengli and her colleague Cui Jie led a team which sampled thousands of horseshoe bats throughout China. In 2017, they published their findings, indicating that all the genetic components of the SARS coronavirus existed in a bat population in a cave in Yunnan province.[1] while no single bat harbored the exact strain of virus which caused the 2002-2004 SARS outbreak, genetic analysis showed that different strains often mix, suggesting that the human version likely emerged from a combination of the strains present in the bat population.[1] Shi has been directing[when?] the Center for Emerging Infectious Diseases at the Wuhan Institute of Virology (WIV), a biosafety level 4 (BSL-4) laboratory located in Jiangxia District, Wuhan.[citation needed]


See references

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Image of Nancy
on October 20, 2020 at 19:13:20 pm

I will not attempt to add to Z's erudite comments / analysis of our Modern Plague (verified by media and democrat factotems incessant harping). Rather, i should like to add another perspective on the tendencies (causes ?) of *scientific* overreach.
Science, to be effective, to have some validity, of course requires some measure of repeatability and / must be falsifiable. These characteristics of "effective" science induced in past practitioners of the art (and yes, it is an art in so many respects) a certain humility. This humility restrained the claims of certitude about both the results and the hypothesis.
What we observe today is the ABSENCE of that scientific humility. In its place, we observe all manner of overblown, non-repeatable claims of certainty even in the face of conflicting evidence. We are to accept this because it is *science.* And this assertion is repeated incessantly by the media adjuncts of the Democrat Party as well as the leading lights of that party. Repetition of non-falsifiable claims and theories is now the accepted substitute for repeatability and falsifiability (damn spellchucker). Additionally, those studies that do not agree with the accepted "scientific" narrative are either blocked, cancelled or characterized as politically motivated (projection, anybody?) opposition research.
Again, we observe no sense of doubt as to the "correctness" of the claims of science and its' pronouncements; nor do we observe any resistance to the policy prescriptions / praxis consequent upon those pronouncements from those aligned, politically, emotionally and perhaps financially, with the 'accepted" science. One may conclude that to expect any doubt from these accolytes AND practitioners of the new science is fanciful at best.
To expect humility would be to ask them to render their own worldview asunder.
Yet, it is not only here that we observe a lack of humility. As Z has averred, the bureaucracy is motivated by fear of "looking bad", being held responsible for "avoidable deaths / illness, etc. This is the institutional imperative; and it is common to all institutions. Yet, once a policy prescription has been formulated and implemented, there can be NO doubt expressed as to the correctness of the policy. It is THE policy and all the citizenry must be in compliant. This holds even if, and when (quite often, it turns out) the agency itself issues conflicting prescriptions / evaluations of both the virus, in this instance, and the remedies.
We observe no sense of doubt, no questioning' nor do we observe any reevaluation of the prescriptions. Rather, and in the extreme case of certain elected government officials (see Gov Whitmer) we observe a stubborn resistance to modify / reevaluate both conditions and effectiveness.
What we are observing in the political arena is the downstream effect of modern science's loss of humility.
Couple that with a phenomenon some have called Adminomania: A delusion that increased administrative and bureaucratic intrusions into people’s lives will actually improve something, fueled primarily by a pervasive blindness to unintended negative side effects and it is not unexpected that an agency, i.e., CDC issues guidance on how to celebrate Thanksgiving or a Governor (Newsom) issues such restrictive guidelines as to make meaningless any celebration of this traditional American holiday. Odd, isn't it, that the one holiday that is most certainly intended to remind the citizenry of the value of "Humility" is to be so restricted as to minimize any benefit from the annual reminder that one should be both thankful AND humble.
Yes, there are certain perceived political advantages as well as psychological advantages accruing from the radical use of "police powers." I submit that much of this abuse of power by both elected and bureaucratic officials is made possible by, indeed demands, the lack of humility in modern science.
In short, "scientism" is the corrupted form of empirically sound science.
Think of the parallels to the Soviet Academy of Science and its predilection for forcing research results (and researchers) into a Marxist-Leninist shoehorn. hOw many were cancelled' or even disappeared.
Consider how many in the American scientific community are being cancelled by those whose beliefs and actions are more commonly to be found amongst newly converted ideologues.
How far will we go now that both science and governing cadres have lost all humility and have become "purposive."

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Image of gabe
on October 21, 2020 at 12:01:23 pm

If these assertions are valid:
1) our goal is to determine the truth (or the "truth"); and
2) criticism is the only known antidote to error (CITOKATE)
I have been wondering if it is possible to set up a web based venue for a "slow motion debate" with fact checking that could be considered dispositive on the particular issue being debated or asserted (i.e., an adult version of SNOPES maybe?) I envisioned a scheme where someone would have to pay to place their assertion or position on the site (say $100 to $1000; and with a reasonable "word limit" or allowance for supporting charts, tables, graphics, etc. ) so as to avoid trivial or clearly false ideas being presented. Then if someone wanted to comment for additional clarification or to refute something, they would have to pay to do so (say $10 to $100), enough to minimize/ avoid flame wars and other off topic commentary and keep things on a serious plane. I had the thought that some form of public/ private entity could set up and manage this "semi-official" forum, something along the lines of the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN). The submission fees, and possibly also viewer subscription fees, would help fund it. Part of the intent would be to side step the bias of the MSM, or to make maintaining a biased position expensive enough that parties might decide not to promote such a view.

Unfortunately we also have the adage (from CS Lewis?) "that you can't reason someone out of a position that they were not reasoned into in the first place". Thus there is no certainty that something established with "firm facts" will in fact win out in the realm of public knowledge and public opinion, at least widely enough to satisfy the goals of having a sovereign people consent to how they are governed. And I suppose a Soros or similarly funded operation could still overwhelm the content with purposefully false or unintentionally flawed inputs.

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Image of R2L
on October 21, 2020 at 13:52:31 pm

"I have been wondering if it is possible to set up a web based venue for a "slow motion debate" with fact checking that could be considered dispositive on the particular issue being debated or asserted (i.e., an adult version of SNOPES maybe?)"

Can't resist this:

We already have one or two and they are free.
Facebook and Twitter make claim to fact checking.
Gee, I guess they don;t work BECAUSE they are FREE.
Da ya think?

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Image of gabe
on October 21, 2020 at 14:03:48 pm

As The Veil is being lifted, I will be willing to bet money, that there exists a tight connection between those who desire to attempt a coup in Christ’s One, Holy, Catholic, And Apostolic Church, and those who desire to attempt a coup in this Nation, based on the fact that this same group, in denying The Unity Of The Holy Ghost, and thus the fact that God, The Most Holy And Undivided Blessed Trinity, Through The Unity Of The Holy Ghost, Is The Author Of Love, Of Life, And Of Marriage, and thus The Author Of Our Unalienable Right to Life, to Liberty, and to The Pursuit of Happiness, know that the only way for our unalienable Rights to become alienable, is to render onto Caesar or themselves, what belongs to The Ordered Communion Of Perfect Complementary Love, The Most Holy And Undivided Blessed Trinity.

Why bet money when the error of their ways, has illuminated the fact that they belong to those who serve in opposition to God, and thus in opposition to our inherent unalienable Rights?




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Image of Nancy
on October 21, 2020 at 11:21:35 am

I will not deny that, as Scott Amorian and R2L suggest, if, in the future, some "really bad" viruses are released upon the populace that placing the nation upon a "war footing: may be required.
Yet, we must survey the responses of the "Little Napoleans" implemented in the current situation. We are, of course, aware of Governors Whitmer and Newsom, amongst others and their draconian and quite frankly irresponsible restrictions. We may not, however, be aware of the outright seizure and further consolidation of power by the Napoleans of the southern Hemisphere, viz. Mexico, Brazil, South Africa as described in the following link:
One may venture to describe the new status quo in these countries as a "health dictatorship."

It must also be mentioned that as one commentor suggests in order to effectively counter this or any "new" virus, government must assume a rather aggressive posture. Look no further than that nation which bestowed the beneficience of Covid upon us for the policy and practices required to defeat (allegedly) the virus. China has instituted much of the practices suggested above to include the most detailed form of contact tracing using embedded apps in ALL Chinese citizens cellphones coupled with facial recognition software that detects, monitors and verifies the citizens activities and contacts, as well as monitoring basic health status. Seems well intentioned, one may assert.
Yet, if one wishes to control, limit and alter the behavior of citizens, there is no more effective way to do so than implementing an updated version of 1984's ubiquitous TV screens - only smarter.
Is this what we would prefer to see?
Just a question, kiddies!

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Image of gabe
on October 21, 2020 at 12:22:32 pm

As we know, OUR desire or goal "to control, limit and alter the behavior of citizens" is to do so only within the bounds of their consent, or at least the consent of a majority or super-majority. Perhaps we need a convention of the states to develop constitutional amendments directed solely to the conditions or situations of granting "emergency powers". Define what, how, how long, when, where, why, etc. they would be applied. I agree that in today's environment achieving anything approximating a compromise as was done in 1787 would be very difficult, but at least whatever was generated and then ratified would have the merits of a super majority consent and concurrence.
It might even be sold as part of updating the "living" constitution to the extent that it would address our awareness of just what current technology is capable of achieving, while still permitting conservatives to emphasize the limits of human nature that our Founders and some Enlightenment thinkers were so keen on.

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Image of R2L
on October 21, 2020 at 13:50:04 pm

"Define what, how, how long, when, where, why, etc. they would be applied."
Now that would be a difficult task.
Perhaps, it would be nothing more than a restatement of already existing protections afforded by COTUS as these are, if respected, quite considerable but with the addition of a) some time limitations and b) an express and mandatory requirement that the exercise of such powers must be sanctioned by Legislative enactment.

BTW: Just received "Inventing the Individual" - a very cursory review indicates that this will be a good read. Thx

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Image of gabe
on October 21, 2020 at 13:43:22 pm

I find it telling that comments continue today on a substantive post of yesterday, the only one this week. This may well be due to the untimely dearth of substantive posts on this site, making readers prolong their focus on the very few recent essays that are worthy. (Today's paltry offerings by L&L support my point.) I will repeat for emphasis what I said yesterday in commenting on L&L's "so what" review of a "so what" book":

"We are, today, two weeks away from only the second existential election in American history. Now, as in 1864, the outcome of a close-run thing is in grave doubt, and the nation's fate is in the balance. L&L might find more relevant and useful essays for publication, at least this month, as home-grown Stalinists armed with cultural and political T-34 Tanks race across the plains and threaten the walls of the great American civilization."

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Image of paladin
on October 21, 2020 at 15:33:53 pm


I understand your concern. I usually, as a courtesy to the essayists here, try to wait for relevant posts before expressing an opinion, usually one that I have at least tried to think about in advance. I agree that the upcoming election provides abundant opportunity to discuss its possible effects on law and liberty, the expressed interests on which this site is focused, as well as a plethora of associated issues. Possible topics might easily include, starting with one at least marginally related to Professor Rogers's essay:

1. The corruptibility of experts and the risk posed by charlatans to policy making when they are accorded power and influence based primarily on their political usefulness;

2. Whether demands for democracy and elimination of moderating institutions, e.g. the electoral college, Senate, filibuster, etc. makes our policy-making more vulnerable to those charlatans;

3. Why the more pure that a political system becomes, e.g pure democracy, it becomes more illiberal;

4. The inherent tension between absolute democracy and liberty; and the trade-offs between these that are presented in the imminent election;

5. The notion that 220 years ago we could hold an election and determine a winner on election day, but our ability to do so becomes less and less. Why have considerations such as participation and inclusiveness have eclipsed other more established virtues such as election integrity, transparency, and finality;

6. The inherent vulnerability of rule by experts and judges, when there are no optimizing mechanisms for choosing which judges and experts should be accorded the power to limit individual liberty and conscience;

7. The anomaly of social media making discourse less open, and allowing cognitive biases such as confirmation bias the same legitimacy as reasoned analysis;

8. The potential for this election to bias future elections by legitimizing tactics that are ultimately illiberal, anti-democratic, and conducive to authoritarian excesses.

Just throwing those out there...

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Image of z9z99
on October 21, 2020 at 17:39:51 pm

YEP!YEP AND YEP1 to everything.
It is unfortunate that Michael Greve no longer, or only occasionally comments here as he has a rather solid (and funny) understanding of Admin Law; also Phillip Hamburger would do an outstanding job on Admin / non-delegation issues.
I could name others but.....
Frankly, I am less concerned with economic issues than with legal / political issues that at one time appeared to be the staple of LLB.
What Covid essay has delved into the severe consequences for personal liberty / constitutional issues?
None that I recall. Instead, we are treated to pyschological exegeses of scientism and while there is value in such a presentation, one would expect LLB to present the constitutional issues involved.
And for that omission, that lapse, I am disappointed.
Let us hope that we see a change in what is on the menu.

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Image of gabe
on October 22, 2020 at 09:26:55 am

Excellent suggestions, of course, from you and Gabe.
Me, myself? I just want better stuff, better written. I do not presume to recommend what they write, but, until they give me the Bolingbroke treatment, I assume the right to judge the quality and value of what is written. If critical temerity leads yet again to editorial banishment, I may return as Henry IV, Napoleon or Dalai Lama.

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Image of paladin
on October 22, 2020 at 09:59:27 am

Just so long as you do not return as a Beer Brewing Printer as I am rather fond of that role.

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Image of gabe
on October 22, 2020 at 14:32:40 pm

Oh my! Gabe as the Brewery is like Valery Plame outing herself?

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Image of paladin
on October 21, 2020 at 15:16:33 pm

I am hesitant to criticize LLB as I appreciate this site, if only for my own bemusement at times. Generally, we enjoy good discussions WHEN relevant and informed essays are presented.
Paladin is correct with the dearth of good timely essays. As an example, in the past week, there have been several judicial decisions regarding the counting of election ballots, some of which raise critical issues of the national Legislature's power to SET an election date, when and what votes will be counted, how long may elections be extended, either pre- or post- Election Day.

Why has not McGinnis, Rappaport or some other legal light not shed some "light" on these decisions? While I, at times, appreciate a good movie review, I would prefer that this Friday we are presented with essays covering some of the more substantive issues surrounding this election and the sure to come Court battles over voting, ballot harvesting, etc etc.

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Image of gabe
on October 22, 2020 at 09:01:15 am

I can see from today's stuff that you and I leave a large editorial footprint:)

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Image of paladin

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