Monday, November 23, 2020

Lockdowns Are Politics Masquerading As "Science" And "Morality"

unz  |  Nearly one year into the COVID pandemic, even a modicum of critical thinking should tell us that lockdown politics as practiced in the United States is an unmitigated disaster, and with no end in sight. The reference here to lockdown politics is meant to signify a particularly assaultive, tyrannical set of government policies that in less than a year have brought severe harm to millions, more likely tens of millions of Americans and others across the world. Sadly, a Joe Biden presidency is only bound to aggravate this already intolerable repression and misery.

One grievous problem with the lockdown mania is that by obsessively fixating on the virus, a power-mad elite has ignored what must drive any public intervention: the need for a comprehensive, detailed cost-benefit analysis informing social policy. Stale rhetoric about “following the science” turns out to be not only one dimensional and useless, yet it remains a justification for continuing mass shutdowns, in state after state. The worst consequences include millions of lost jobs and businesses, escalating poverty, record numbers of bankruptcies, educational chaos, new health crises, a sharp rise in addictions and myriad psychological problems.

Meanwhile, it has become abundantly clear that lockdown rules – the very rules overlooked at times of street demonstrations and upheavals – apply only to Trump supporters, the great “super-spreaders”, wherever they gather. Those arbitrary directives have been cynically used by Democratic governors, mayors, and their health czars as a dictatorial political weapon – in part to bolster their own power, in part to subvert Trump’s second presidential run. For them, the pandemic is welcomed as a godsend, to be leveraged for a “global reset” on the road to maximum power, an incipient fascism. What we have here is what C. Wright Mills long ago called the “higher immorality” in his classic The Power Elite.

Entirely predictable fallouts from months of destructive lockdowns were recently acknowledged by even the staid World Health Organization, which urged a worldwide end to the shutdowns – a message, however, never processed by an insular political/medical/media establishment in the U.S. The WHO projects a future of intensified global poverty, food insecurity, disease spread, and other health crises so long as the lockdown remains in place. Food-supply chains have already been harshly disrupted from the combined effects of COVID and harmful government controls. What leading Democrats such as Berkeley professor Robert Reich and California Governor Gavin Newsom commonly (and senselessly) refer to as an “inconvenience” will, as WHO leaders stress, bring added impoverishment to possibly hundreds of millions of people in lesser-developed nations already trapped in endless cycles of social misery. Such damage scarcely registers across the corporate media, where the horrors are casually written off as “collateral damage”.

The WHO warning has been reaffirmed by thousands of medical professionals and scientists aligned with the “Great Barrington Declaration” – a well-grounded denunciation of the lockdown politics that retains a dogmatic hold on Biden and the Dems. The “Declaration” was orchestrated by three world-respected scientists: Jay Bhatticharya of Stanford, Martin Kulldorf of Harvard, Sunetra Gupta of Oxford. Their message, drawn from a painstaking assemblage of international research, is clear and urgent – end draconian restrictions in favor of “focused protection”, which sensibly allows those (the vast majority) at minimum risk of extreme sickness to return to normal social lives. Those least threatened (under age 50) have a 99.98 likelihood of surviving any bout with COVID – less risky than the ordinary flu. The “Barrington” scientists urge a shift toward what in fact has been the historical norm for virus-mitigation: policies taking into account the full range of economic and social as well as medical factors, logically necessary to curtail the amount of total harm.

The nonstop political/media fearmongering behind mass shutdowns assumes, wrongly, that this particular virus (unlike most others) can somehow be banished from human existence, never to return. They further believe, against all logic and experience, that lockdowns must be imposed until a vaccine is discovered and administered (by mandate?) to entire populations, the ostensible goal being some type of general immunity. Generally forgotten is the poor efficacy of so many vaccines that are promoted as uniform remedies. In fact a vaccine has long been available for influenza, yet the success rate hovers between 20 and 60 percent while hundreds of thousands of people die yearly (roughly 650,000 on average) across the world from that stubborn virus.

The lofty medical experts have little to say, moreover, about the state of public health in general. In the U.S., deaths for 2018 totaled nearly three million, with heart disease (655,000) and cancer (600,000) topping the list. What particularly stands out, however, are the mortality levels for all respiratory diseases, including influenza and pneumonia (both viral and bacterial): roughly 220,000, close to the yearly average and little more than the current COVID death toll. Never in 2018 nor at any time in the past has any government, health, or media figure called for mass lockdowns to either “flatten the curve” or “destroy the virus” in response to such health challenges. Not even a murmur in that direction, much less moral panic.