International tourist arrivals are down by 85% from 2019. A third of the world’s borders are shut. There seems to be no movement in the direction of reversing this disaster and reinstituting the wonderful world of 2019. In fact, there seems to be very little awareness that this has happened to us much less of the terrible consequences. Forget the freedom of movement; the Biden administration has only promised to open up “when it is safe to do so.”
The epidemiologists asked to advise governments almost invariably admitted that what they were advocating was only based on their projections of Covid cases and Covid deaths, devoid of any analysis of the effects these actions would have on public health, the economy, education and other important aspects of life. They nonetheless had no problem advocating lockdowns and other draconian measures.
Long before the vaccine was created, market signals from China indicated the virus wasn’t terribly lethal for the healthy, but much the same was revealed here. In other words, in a world without a vaccine, the healthy were going to get the virus, but the natural immunity achieved was going to render them less liable to get it again, and spread it.
We’ve long misconstrued who precisely can be part of the intellectual battle. Everyone without exception can qualify as an intellectual provided he or she is willing to take ideas seriously. Anyone and everyone is entitled to be part of it. Those who feel the burden and the passion of ideas more intensely, in Mises’s view, have a greater obligation to thrust themselves into the battle, even when doing so can bring disdain and isolation from one’s fellows – and doing so most certainly will (which is why so many people who should have known better have fallen silent).
In a world in which not every human being lives an isolated existence – that is, in our world – each of us incessantly acts in ways that affect strangers without thereby justifying government-imposed restrictions on the great majority of these actions. Therefore, justification of government obstruction of the ordinary affairs of life requires far more than an identification of the prospect of some interpersonal impact.
The biggest problem was an intellectual failing, and it was one shared by media elites and high-end intellectuals. They had not come to terms with the core truth that pathogens are part of the world around us and always have been. New viruses come along and their trajectory follows certain patterns. In humanity’s delicate dance with them, we need intelligence, rationality, and clarity in order to avoid the illusion of control – none of which are strengths of government.