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Trump’s Disastrous Final Year in Office 


The Donald’s fourth year in the Oval Office was a disaster. The US economy literally collapsed after February 2020, but there is no way that Trump gets a free hall pass for the Washington-instigated economic mayhem that transpired.

Donald Trump’s original sin was his wholehearted embrace from the Bully Pulpit on March 16th of the “two weeks to flatten the curve” scheme, which was actually never about two weeks.

It is now evident that Fauci’s deputy came back from China in February 2020 singing the praises of its brutal lockdowns in Wuhan. Consequently, Washington’s incipient Virus Patrol was quickly assembled by Fauci et. al. out of the bowels of the Deep State and set about imposing chicom-style “non-pharmaceutical” policy interventions—that is, statist control schemes—across the length and breadth of the land.

However, unlike any actual Republican who might have occupied the Oval Office at this crucial moment–even a RINO like George Bush Sr.—the Donald was constitutionally incapable of resisting the sweeping implementation and indefinite extension of Fauci’s two-weeks ploy and the reason isn’t hard to fathom. To wit, the Donald was copacetic with these devastating assaults on personal liberty and private property because he accompanied them with massive fiscal and monetary relief and bailout measures. And while these egregious “stimmies” were an anathema to conservative doctrine, they were right up the middle of the Donald’s philosophical fairway.

In fact, the record leaves no doubt that Trump never cared a whit about Federal spending and borrowing. Likewise, he had rarely, if ever, mentioned the words liberty and limited government in his entire adult life.

To the contrary, he had been a crude, anti-market protectionist since the 1970s and had an abiding fondness for easy money. After all, he had literally gambled his way to (dubious) paper wealth in the real estate sector via massive accumulation of cheap debt fostered by the Fed after the mid-1990s.

In a word, without the Fed’s printing press, the Donald would have never gotten out of Fred Trump’s bailiwick in Queens, nor have remotely gained the opportunity to betray the GOP’s core principles on Federal spending and borrowing.

As it happened, of course, Donald Trump had quickly blown his dad’s fortune by the early 1990s on his New Jersey casino ventures and the Trump Shuttle, among other failures. It was only the cheap money of Alan Greenspan and his heirs and assigns in the Eccles Building that rescued the Donald from a one-way trip to the bankruptcy courts, thereby eventually making possible his false claims to be a successful businessman who knew how to fix what ailed the American economy.

Yet it was this threadbare business acumen claim that led to his freakish ascent to the Oval Office. And we do mean freakish, as in utterly unlikely.

Thus, after the Donald got out from under his casino disasters in 1995 and through 2016, the price of New York real estate (purple line) rose by nearly 250 percent. At the same time, the inflation-adjusted cost of benchmark debt (10-year UST) plunged from more than 4.0 percent to barely 0.4 percent. (dark blue line). So if you were speculating with tons of debt—what was not to like about the lowest interest rates that the world have ever seen for an extended period of time?

Indeed, the Donald became a rabid “low-interest man” for no better reason than it had conferred upon him fabulous paper wealth for essentially doing nothing more than building monuments to his own insatiable ego. That is, he learned something during 1995-2016 but it was the very opposite of what the GOP’s historic sound money principles were based on.

Index Of New York Real Estate Prices Versus Inflation-Adjusted Yield On 10-Year UST, 1995-2016

Artificially cheap debt, of course, is the mortal enemy of capital markets efficiency, productive investment on Main Street, and sustainable growth of middle class prosperity and living standards. But it is also toxic to the financial culture, leading egomaniacal blowhards like Donald Trump to believe that they are economic geniuses.

Accordingly, “Trump-O-Nomics” was mostly about the Donald’s ego-generated whims: Tax cuts one day, spending boondoggles the next, a great Mexican Wall to keep out willing workers and protectionist assaults on “Chiiina” for good measure.

Consequently, in March 2020 the Donald was not about to see his Greatest Ever Economy” go up in smoke, so he unhesitatingly embraced what should have been the unthinkable for any red-blooded conservative. To wit, what soon amounted to upwards of $6 trillion of Covid relief bailouts, $5 trillion of balance sheet expansion at the Fed and tens of billions of payments moratoriums for students, renters, and mortgage borrowers.

In a word, free market rules, personal liberty, and financial discipline got slaughtered in one mighty Trumpian fell swoop.

And there is no way that the Donald should be let off the hook, even for the last $2 trillion of this spending bacchanalia ponied up by Joe Biden as the American Rescue Plan. After all, the heart of it was completion of another $2,000 per family stimmy grant which had first been advocated by the Donald himself in the run-up to the November election.

In a word, Trump-O-Nomics heavily mortgaged future taxpayers in order to buy off what would otherwise have been a fierce political reaction to the Lockdowns. Laid-off workers with a family of four, for instance, easily collected a total of $30,000 to $40,000 in stimmy checks, $600 per week unemployment toppers, child credits, and other tax breaks over the subsequent 18 months. Likewise, nearly 12 million small businesses and self-employed entrepreneurs collected upwards of $800 billion in PPP (paycheck protection program) loans, of which $740 billion was forgiven!

And that’s to say nothing of nearly $2 trillion which was parceled out to state and local governments, education institutions, health care agencies, and nonprofits of every way, shape, and form. The amount of political acquiescence which was ultimately paid for with Uncle Sam’s credit card and the Fed’s printing press money, therefore, was truly staggering. This financial bacchanalia involved orders of magnitude greater fiscal handouts and pork barrels than had ever before been contemplated on the banks of the Potomac.

What this folly also did was drastically distort, misshape and yo-yo the American economy in ways that will cause setbacks for years to come. And that disaster, which is the source of the present financial and economic turmoil, is the real legacy of Trump-O-Nomics.

In the meantime, the GOP needs to either throw in the towel on its traditional principles and just become the second “government party,” or run like hell from Donald Trump and the baleful record they helped him compile during his term in office.

The Caesarist Danger In Plain Sight

We shouldn’t mince words. Donald Trump is unfit for the Presidency (or any public office) because he is the ultimate Caesarist politician. He craves power in megadoses purely for the satisfaction of his Brobdingnagian ego, yet has virtually no policy principles that might constrain any lunge into state action that strikes his fancy.

As it has happened, today’s stagflationary economic mess, shipwrecked central bank, and impending fiscal calamity are all the fruits of exactly that kind of Caesarist aggrandizement of the state. We are referring, of course, to Donald Trump’s disastrous final year in office when he endeavored to be the Great Man who vanquished the Covid pandemic.

Indeed, that’s how we got the hellacious lockdowns, quarantines, public hysteria, mask mandates, and foolhardy stampedes into forced mass injections of an unproven and evidently unsafe vaccine.

To be sure, all of this Covid-fighting mayhem was cooked up by Deep State apparatchiks led by Dr. Fauci and Dr. Birx. But they got turned loose on the American economy and public only because the Donald latched onto their misbegotten schemes to “stop the spread” as an opportunity for the Great Man in the Oval Office to rescue the nation from an alleged existential threat to society.

Except, covid wasn’t a Black Plague at all and didn’t merit any kind of extraordinary Federal intervention. Any even a moderately principled conservative could have found plenty of evidence for that truth in February and March 2020 when the lockdowns and public hysteria were being unleashed.

In the first place, conservative principles would have strongly militated against even consideration of coercive one-size-fits-all, state-driven mobilization of quarantines, lockdowns, testing, masking, distancing, surveilling, snitching, and ultimately mandated mass vaxxing. That would have been the last resort option, meaning that it would have taken overwhelming evidence of a Black Plague-style exigency to even table these collectivist actions.

At the same time, the parallel excuse that “the staff made me do it” doesn’t let him off the hook, either. If Donald Trump had possessed even a minimal regard for constitutional liberties and free market principles he would never have greenlighted Dr. Fauci and his Virus Patrol and the resulting tyranny they erected virtually overnight. And most especially he would not have tolerated their continuing assaults as the lockdowns dragged into weeks and months.

In this context, the one thing we learned during our days in the vicinity of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue is that any president, at any moment in time, and with respect to any issue of public import, has to call on the best experts in the nation, including those who might disagree with each other vehemently.

Yet in the early days of the pandemic—when the Virus Patrol’s terrible regime was being launched—the Donald was either a willing participant or negligently passive. He made no effort at all to consult experts outside of the narrow circle of power-hungry government apparatchiks (Fauci, Birx, Collins, Adams) who were paraded into the Oval Office by his dilettantish son-in-law and knucklehead vice president.

From the very beginning of the pandemic, in fact, there were legions of pedigreed epidemiologists and other scientists like professors John Ioannidis of Stanford, Martin Kuldorff of Harvard, Sunetra Gupta of Oxford, Jay Bhattacharya of Stanford, Harvey Risch of Yale, and Scott Atlas of the Hoover Institute, among countless others, who strongly opposed the Lockdown regime and sweeping set of public health interventions which accompanied it.

And they said so loudly and publicly. Yet only Dr. Atlas made it to the vicinity of the Oval Office, and then for just a few months after August 2020 when the die was already cast.

Many of these dissenting experts later signed the Great Barrington Declaration in October 2020, which correctly held that viruses cannot be extinguished via draconian quarantines and other clumsy one-size-fits-all public health interventions. Indeed, when it came to coronaviruses in particular, it was doubtful whether even vaccines—which had never been successful with coronaviruses—could defeat the latter’s natural propensity to mutate and spread.

From day one, therefore, the logical course was to allow the virus to spread its own natural immunity among the public at large, and to focus available resources on the small minority that owing to age, compromised immune systems, or comorbidities were vulnerable to severe illness.

The ultimate evidence for this proposition is that among the 4.8 million Israelis who have tested positive for the Covid thru May 2023, there has not been a single Covid death in the population under 50-years of age who did not have preexisting comorbidities.

The crucial significance of this stunning fact— validated by Israeli public health authorities—cannot be gainsaid. It is flat-out impossible to claim a Black Plague-style emergency when not a single healthy person under 50 years of age in an entire nation succumbed to the disease. And we are talking about a nation that sits at the crossroads of human civilization, not New Zealand stranded all by its lonesome out in the far Pacific.

In fact, that the Covid was not remotely a Black Plague-style threat was known from the earliest days. In addition to decades of scientific knowledge about the proper management of virus-based pandemics, there existed the screaming real-time evidence from the stranded Diamond Princess cruise ship. The 3,711 souls (2,666 passengers and 1,045 crew) aboard skewed heavily to the elderly, but the survival rate known in mid-March 2020 was 99.7 percent overall, and 100 percent for those under 70 years of age.

That’s right. As of March 10, 2020, shortly before the Donald elected to impose Chicom-style lockdowns on the US, the ship had already been quarantined for a month and 3,618 passengers and crew had been systematically tested and tracked multiple times.

Among that population, 696 or 19 percent had tested positive for Covid, but 410 or nearly three-fifths of these were asymptomatic. Among the 8 percent (286) who became ill, the overwhelming share were only mildly symptomatic. At that point just 7 passengers—all over 70 years old —-had died, a figure which grew only slightly in the months ahead.

In short, just 0.19 percent of an elderly skewed population had succumbed to the virus. These facts, which were known to the White House or certainly should have been, made absolutely clear that the Covid was no Black Plague-type threat. In the great scheme of history, Donald Trump authorized lockdowns which amounted to tearing up the Constitution and ripping apart daily economic life for a public health matter that did not remotely approach the status of an existential threat to society’s survival.

To the contrary, from the beginning it was evident to independent scientists that the Covid-19 spread was an intensive but manageable challenge to America’s one-at-a-time doctor/patient health care system. The CDC, FDA, NIH, and state and local public health departments were only needed to dispense solid information per their normal education role, not orders and sweeping regulatory interventions into every nook and cranny of the nation’s economic and social life.

And yet, and yet. The buck stops with Donald Trump because he could have stopped this regulatory carnage at any moment, including before it was actually launched. Unfortunately, basic conservative political philosophy and Donald Trump have never chanced to become acquainted.

The Donald is and always has been a raw power seeker aiming to satisfy his own gargantuan ego on the stage of public office. So when it comes to policy choices he’s an agnostic who just flies by the seat of his ample britches, with an ear keenly cocked for the sound of applause from the MAGA peanut gallery.

Thus, as late as March 9th when Birx, Fauci, and his feckless son-in-law were pressing hard for the emergency declaration and lockdowns, Trump apparently had not yet heard the roar of the crowds. So he tweeted that there was nothing to see with respect to the Covid-19:

So last year 37,000 Americans died from the common Flu. It averages between 27,000 and 70,000 per year. Nothing is shut down, life & the economy go on. At this moment there are 546 confirmed cases of CoronaVirus, with 22 deaths. Think about that!

Apparently, he took his own advice and rethought the entire matter virtually overnight. Two days later on March 11th he was singing an entirely opposite tune, tweeting that he was prepared to go to war against the virus.

I am fully prepared to use the full power of the Federal Government to deal with our current challenge of the CoronaVirus!

In doing so, however, the Donald chose an immensely destructive route that compounded immeasurably the harm wrought by these sweeping public health interventions. To wit, Trump unleashed the Virus Patrol bootheels on the American public on March 16th, and then immediately embraced a fiscal and monetary compensation strategy that in essence said, “Shut it down, lock them up, pay them off.”

In fact, in a tweet on March 18—just two days after he launched sweeping lockdowns across the nation—the Donald made the linkage abundantly clear:

For the people that are now out of work because of the important and necessary containment policies, for instance the shutting down of hotels, bars and restaurants, money will soon be coming to you. The onslaught of the Chinese Virus is not your fault! Will be stronger than ever!

From that point on it was Katie-bar-the-door when it came to shutting down the economy and social life and curtailing personal freedom and property rights. Yet the Donald public health ukase was belied by the facts on the ground from the very beginning.

The figures below reflect “WITH-Covid” fatality rates by age cohort through December 31st of 2020. Accordingly, they betray no distortions from vaccination rate differentials which may have impacted the numbers thereafter.

We have labeled these age cohorts the Six Nations of Covid. From practically day one—April 2020—the CDC published these age cohort-based statistics on a weekly basis and the relative mortality rates per 100,000 among the six groups never really changed.

That is to say, the risk of death was approximately 9,300X higher for the Great Grandparents Nation during the 10 months of the pandemic in 2020 than for the School Age Nation. Likewise, the Grandparents Nation risk of death WITH-Covid was 288X higher than that of the Socializing Nation (age 15 to 24 years) and 15X higher than that of the Core Working Age Nation (age 25 to 54) .

These differentials are so flagrantly extreme as to debunk in one fell swoop the “one-size-fits-all” predicate of the Trumpian Lockdowns and related universal social control interventions. In effect, public health martial law took the entire population hostage for the ineffectual protection of the few.

Moreover, these same ratios were embedded in the weekly data as early as the second half of April and May 2020. To anyone who bothered to examine “the science,” they literally trumpeted that the Trump lockdowns were dead wrong and needed to be abandoned forthwith. The evidence was always there in plain sight, week after week during the Donald’s disastrous fourth year.

WITH-Covid Mortality Rate per 100,000 as of December 31, 2020

  • School Age Nation (60.9 million age 0-14): 0.2;
  • Socializing Nation (43.0 million age 15-24): 1.4;
  • Core Working Age Nation (128.6 million age 25-54): 21.0;
  • Near Retirement Nation (42.3 million age 55-64): 105.5;
  • Grandparents Nation (45.9 million age 65-84): 402.7;
  • Great Grandparents Nation (6.5 million 85 years+): 1856.1.

As time went on, the one-size-fits-all strategy fostered by the Trump Administration became increasingly ludicrous in light of the evidence. The idea of closing gyms, malls, movies, bars, sports arenas, restaurants, and other social venues disproportionately frequented by young people was especially mocked by reality.

Yet from a population of 42.97 million for the 15-24 age cohort there had been just 602 deaths WITH-Covid during 2020, which was far below the 4,912 deaths from homicide recorded for this cohort on an annual basis during an ordinary year.

So it was not only not rational but a sign of pure derangement to be closing classrooms and quarantining students in their tens of thousands in the face WITH-Covid mortality rates that were tiny when compared to the ordinary hazards of life. For instance, the WITH-Covid mortality rate per 100,000 of 1.4 was below the notable but rare diseases among this age cohort such as the 3.2 deaths per 100,000 due to cancer and 2.2 per 100,000 due to heart diseases.

The fact is, the three leading causes of death in the 15-24 years old cohort in a typical year are traffic and other accidents, suicides, and homicides. Each of these result in mortality rates vastly higher than the Covid rates cited above, and for all three categories combined, the normal year-in and year-out mortality rate of 52.7 per 100,000 is 38X higher than the WITH-Covid figure.

Mortality Rate per 100,000, 15-24 Years Cohort:

  • WITH-Covid: 1.40;
  • Homicide: 11.4;
  • Suicide: 14.5;
  • Auto & other accidents: 31.3;
  • Total homicide, suicide & accidents: 52.7.

To be sure, the proper solution of keeping colleges and universities open elicited a shrieked Killer Campus charge from the Virus Patrol at the time, but that was always nonsense. Gram and Gramps didn’t need to attend homecoming weekend if they believed themselves vulnerable and the Grand Kids could have taken a Covid test before showing up for Christmas dinner with them. And the same goes for the parents, who were at a fraction of the risk faced by grandparents and great-grandparents.

As to the canard that infected but overwhelmingly asymptomatic students would have brought it home to their parents, any kind of rational risk assessment said otherwise. Indeed, Covid-19 brought home by students during Thanksgiving weekend 2020 was among the least of the risk factors faced by parents in the 35-54 age cohort, ranking only slightly above suicide/homicide.

Mortality Rates for 35-54 Age Cohort:

  • Cancers 60.5 per 100,000;
  • Accidents: 57.0 per 100,000;
  • Heart disease: 51.9 per 100,000;
  • WITH-Covid: 30.0 per 100,000; 
  • Suicide/homicide: 17.8 per 100,000

We are now 40-months on from the Donald’s foolish empowerment of Dr. Fauci and his Virus Patrol in mid-March 2020, and all doubt has been removed. If there were two countries on the planet which had diametrically opposite policy approaches with respect to the Covid, it was Australia, which degenerated into an outright public health tyranny, and Sweden, where officials kept their minds open to the facts and social institutions—schools, churches, shops, theaters, malls, factories, etc–open to the public.

The graph below, which charts the incidence of confirmed Covid cases on a cumulative basis, tells you all you need to know: Namely, that lockdowns and other draconian social control and quarantine measures can temporarily suppress the spread—essentially by extinguishing human social interaction—but cannot keep the genie in the bottle indefinitely.

Thus, as of late November 2021 Sweden had recorded 114,000 confirmed “cases” per million people versus just 8,000 per million in Australia, leading the Covid crusaders to say, “We told you so.”

The answer, of course, was not so fast. Either the province of New South Wales and other heavily populated regions of Australia were going to remain outdoor prisons forever, or the lockdowns would eventually be lifted and the virus would do what respiratory viruses do—spread among most of the population.

That’s exactly what happened, and barely two years later the results are crystal clear. The cumulative rate of cases per million in Australia soared by 55X to 440,000 during the next 600 days!

The red line in the chart below is so stunning, in fact, as to suggest that the gods of contagion had determined to punish the insouciance of the Australian Virus Patrol with malice aforethought.

By contrast, the cumulative case rate in both the US and Sweden barely doubled during that period, since the vulnerable population had long since been exposed, infected, and (overwhelmingly) cured.

Moreover, it’s not as if the recent eruption of cases in Australia was owing to the nation being suddenly overrun with anti-vaxxers. That’s assuming that the Covid vaccines, as promised, actually stop the spread, which they do not.

Still, the evidence shows that Australia led the vaccination rate parade, as well. As of March 2023 it had administered 250 doses per 100 people or slightly more than the 240 doses per 100 in Sweden and 202 in the US.

Another perspective is available via the excess deaths statistics. The chart below tracks deaths from all causes per million population compared to projections based on the most recent pre-Covid years.

As it happened, the rate for Sweden at 1,435 per million was just two-fifths of that for the United States (3,740 per million) and also dramatically below that for most other European countries, all of whom had far more draconian public health control regimes than Sweden.

Of course, the flaws in the insane numbers diarrhea about tests, case counts, hospital counts, death counts, and heart-rending anecdotes about individual suffering and loss are now more than evident. But the single most important thing to grasp is that when it comes to the heart of the narrative—the alleged soaring death counts—the narrative is just plain bogus.

The undisputed fact is that the CDC changed rules for causation on death certificates in March 2020, so now we have no idea whatsoever whether the 1.10 million deaths reported to date were deaths because OF Covid or just incidentally were departures from this mortal world WITH Covid. The extensive well-documented cases of hospital DOAs from heart attacks, gunshot wounds, strangulation or motorcycle accidents, which had tested positive before the fatal event or by postmortem, are proof enough.

More importantly, what we do know is that not even the power-drunk apparatchiks at the CDC and other wings of the Federal public health apparatus found a way to change the total mortality counts from all causes.

That’s the smoking gun unless you consider the year 2003 to have been an unbearable year of extraordinary death and societal misery in America. To wit, the age-adjusted death rate from all causes in America during 2020 was actually 1.8 percent lower than it had been in 2003 and nearly 11 percent lower than it had been during what has heretofore been understood to be the benign year of 1990!

To be sure, there was a slight elevation of the all-causes mortality rate in 2020 relative to the immediately preceding years. That’s because the Covid did disproportionately and in some ghoulish sense harvest the immunologically vulnerable elderly and comorbid slightly ahead of the Grim Reaper’s ordinary schedule.

And far worse, there were also extraordinary deaths in 2020 among the less Covid vulnerable population owing to hospitals that were in government-ordered turmoil; and also due to an undeniable rise in human malfunction among the frightened, isolated, home-bound quarantined, which resulted in a swelling of homicides, suicides and a record level of deaths from drug overdoses (94,000).

Still, the common sense line of sight across this 30-year chart below tells you 1,000 times more than the context-free case and death counts which scrolled across America’s TV and computer screens day-in-and-day-out, even as the Donald’s Task Force was fanning the flames of hysteria from the White House Bully Pulpit.

In short, the data below tells you there was no deadly plague; there was no extraordinary public health crisis; and that the Grim Reaper was not stalking the highways and byways of America.

Compared to the pre-Covid norm recorded in 2019, the age-adjusted risk of death in America during 2020 went up from 0.71 percent to 0.84 percent. In humanitarian terms, that’s unfortunate but it does not even remotely bespeak a mortal threat to societal function and survival and therefore a justification for the sweeping control measures and suspensions of both liberty and common sense that actually happened.

This fundamental mortality fact—the “science” in bolded letters if there is such a thing—totally invalidates the core notion behind the Fauci policy that was sprung upon our deer-in-the-headlights president stumbling around the Oval Office in early March 2020.

In a word, this chart proves that the entire Covid strategy was wrong and unnecessary. Lock, stock and barrel.

And also that with regard to the Covid-Lockdown disaster, Harry Truman’s famous “buck” indeed stops with Donald J. Trump.

In short, there was never any reason for sweeping intervention by the public health apparatus at all. Nor for the coercive one-size-fits-all, state-driven mobilization of quarantines, lockdowns, testing, masking, distancing, surveilling, snitching, and ultimately mandated mass vaxxing.

In fact, the experimental drugs developed on a reckless pell mell basis under the Donald’s multi-ten billion dollar government subsidy scheme called Operation Warp Speed represented what was probably the most insidious statist measure of all. By design the program was intended to stop the disease cold via 100 percent mandatory mass vaccination after a radically foreshortened testing period that could not possibly have proven either the safety or efficacy of the jabs.

Yet there is no mystery as to why the Donald enabled the Fauci-fostered calamity which ensued. To wit, he possessed no principles to suggest otherwise and saw it as an opportunity to earn glory and acclaim through muscular generalship of a Washington-led war on the virus.

So, yes, at the end of the day a Caesarist politician is the handmaid of Leviathan. Donald Trump proved that in spades during his first term, and now the nation’s rickety economic and fiscal foundation is in no condition to chance another such eruption of statist mayhem in the future.

Indeed, it should never be forgotten that the Bully Pulpit is a dangerous thing, especially when it is within the grasp of an egomaniacal demagogue who craves the spotlight. That is the real lesson of Donald Trump’s anti-Covid crusade.

Therefore it would not be going too far to say that the eruption of irrationality and hysteria that Trump triggered during his final year in office most resembled not 1954, when Senator McCarthy set the nation looking for communist moles behind every government desk, or 1919, when the notorious raids of Attorney General Palmer were rounding up purported Reds in their tens of thousands, but the winter of 1691-1692.

That’s when two little girls—Elizabeth Parris and Abigail Williams of Salem, Massachusetts—purportedly fell into the demonic activity of fortune-telling, which soon found them getting strangely ill, having fits, spouting gibberish, and contorting their bodies into odd positions.

The rest became history, of course, when a malpracticing local doctor claimed to have found no physical cause for the girls’ problems and diagnosed them as being afflicted by the “Evil Hand,” commonly known as witchcraft. Within no time, three witches were famously accused, and as the hysteria spread, hundreds more were tried for witchcraft and two dozen hanged.

Yet there is a lesson in this classic tale that is embarrassing in its verisimilitude. Namely, one of the best academic explanations for the outbreak of seizures and convulsions which fueled the Salem hysteria was a disease called “convulsive ergotism,” which is brought on by ingesting rye grain infected with a fungus that can invade developing kernels of the grain, especially under warm and damp conditions.

During the rye harvest in Salem in 1691 these conditions existed at a time when one of the Puritans’ main diet staples was cereal and breads made of the harvested rye. Convulsive ergotism causes violent fits, a crawling sensation on the skin, vomiting, choking, and, hallucinations—meaning that it was Mother Nature in the ordinary course working her episodically unwelcome tricks, not the “Evil Hand” of a spiritual pathogen, which imperiled the community.

The truth is, the witchcraftery of Dr. Fauci notwithstanding, it was also Mother Nature in 2020—likely abetted by the Fauci-sponsored gain-of-function researchers at the Wuhan Institute of Virology—which disgorged one of the nastier among ordinary respiratory viruses. Such viruses, of course, have afflicted humankind over the ages, which, in turn, has evolved marvelous adaptive immune systems to cope with and overcome them.

So like in 1691 there was no Evil Hand or sci-fi pathogen at large that was something new under the sun, nor a disease that was extraordinarily lethal for 95 percent of the population. The ordinary daily economic and social life of Americans didn’t need to be tried and put to the gallows. That was Donald Trump’s great mistake and there is no pardon for it.

In the great scheme of things, however, the Covid-19 pandemic has now already been proven to be merely an unfortunate bump on the road to longer and more pleasant lives for Americans and much of the rest of the world, too. That truth is strikingly depicted in the chart below.

While the all-cause mortality figure for 2020 shown above did not exist when the CDC published the chart below, the green line would have depicted it as only a tiny upward blip—of which there have been several during the last 120 years shown below, most notably the Spanish Flu episode of 1918-1919.

Yet even then, the US age-adjusted death rate in 2020 (828 per 100,000) was actually 67 percent lower than it had been in 1918 (2,542 per 100,000) because since then a free capitalist society has gifted the nation with the prosperity and freedom to progress that has ushered in better sanitation, nutrition, shelter, lifestyles and medical care.

It is those forces which have pushed the green line relentlessly to the lower-right corner of the chart, not the Federales atop their bureaucratic perches in Washington.

It is telling that Donald Trump has never even remotely grasped that basic truth.

Reprinted from Stockman’s subscription-only site. 

Published under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License
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  • David Stockman

    David Stockman, Senior Scholar at Brownstone Institute, is the author of many books on politics, finance, and economics. He is a former congressman from Michigan, and the former Director of the Congressional Office of Management and Budget. He runs the subscription-based analytics site ContraCorner.

    View all posts

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