State imposed lock-downs have been an economic disaster on an unprecedented, if wholly predictable, scale. But, surely, they have saved lives which is more important than monetary concerns?
State imposed lock-downs have been an economic disaster on an unprecedented, if wholly predictable, scale. But, surely, they have saved lives which is more important than monetary concerns? No, studies show the lock-downs had no effect on corona virus mortality. Instead, they will have caused more additional death than the virus itself.
At last the much-hyped corona-virus pandemic is past its peak. It is almost certainly receding rapidly into the past. More and more studies are being published on the effects of the virus and on the effectiveness of various Governments’ responses. Under particular scrutiny are the unprecedented decisions to put whole populations under house arrest, and to close legitimately operated businesses.
The lock-downs represent a frightening confiscation of liberty and the, hopefully temporary, creation of genuine police states in the West. Liberty, far from being a luxury, or icing on the cake as it were, is a crucial system of ultra-decentralised decision making. In free societies millions of individuals take responsibility for evaluating reality and making the right trade-offs to create as much value as possible. The results of multiple independent centres of decision, i.e. liberty, are always better than those of coercive, monopolistic state decisions. This fiasco is no different, just worse.
Evaluating reality would be much easier in a free society. There would independent, probably mutualistic, healthcare operators. They would have a reputational interest in providing sound guidance. There would not be politicised 24 hour alarmist mass media, companies looking for state imposed mass vaccination profits, or international state institutions like WHO with its unjustifiable 2% corona virus death rate estimate. Nor would there be government health advisers such as Ferguson or Whitty. They are part of a nexus which is funded by Bill Gates and has mass vaccine and population control agendas.
Saner voices indicated a likely 0.2% Case Fatality Rate from the start. They pointed out that the young and the healthy were not in significant danger. Their voices would not have been drowned out in free societies. The hitherto normal polite, informal ‘social distancing’ practice of lying low when ill, and staying especially clear of the medically vulnerable, would have prevailed. As it has until now.
That the world descended into a mass hysteria, from which many have yet to emerge (and some may never do so), seems to have been an accident. I hope it was. If so, it was caused by the need to fill over-expanded news channels with attention seeking reports about a ‘killer pandemic’ when it was clearly nothing of the kind. Social media then amplified the panic. It convinced politicians that they needed to act.
So-called experts like Ferguson, from Bill Gates supported Imperial College, threw in nonsense about 100,000s of deaths. Of course, other exaggerated projections from the same source, such as the estimated 50,000 deaths forecast mad cow deaths which never materialized, might have given pause for thought. Well, apparently, they did not.
Most governments inflicted house arrest and economic strangulation on their own voters, including on the productive working population which was largely invulnerable to the virus. Some did not. In both cases the population supported whatever their own government decided to do. There was no popular clamour for lockdowns.
The political classes must shoulder the entire blame for losing their collective minds and making a horrible mess. They did it by following what seemed to them the path of least resistance, as usual. A coterie of international public health officials linked to the WHO, the US CDC and John Hopkins had been speculating on the desirability of reacting to a new corona-virus by resorting to police state measures. These included such as enforced closure of legitimate businesses and house arrest. Particularly badly hit have been fun activities in the ‘non- essential’ hospitality sector – these people are killjoys, at least when it comes to other people’s enjoyment.
The WHO had been signing UN member states up to lock-down protocols allegedly designed to counter serious disease epidemics such as Ebola . This official lock-down fad was not actually based on actual scientific evidence or theoretical support. It certainly ignored the possibility that individuals could make better decisions than officials with a vested interest in suppressing other people’s freedom. Quite unexpectedly the corona virus panic gave officials the longed for chance to experiment on the world’s populations. The politicians, mostly unthinkingly, gave the experiment in social control the go ahead.
A moment’s reflection on the part of officials or politicians might have made all the difference. Surely closing down society would create enormous costs and, equally importantly, cause many unnecessary non corona virus deaths? Was there merit in trying to evaluate lock-downs in terms of corona virus deaths averted versus economic loss and additional non-corona deaths? No such reflection was thought worthwhile it seems. Had any such thinking been done there could have been no lock down.
Instead populations were subjected to a vicious propaganda campaign in support of a wrongheaded policy. It reinforced the previously induced mass hysteria. I think quite a few people will not recover fully from it. The purpose of the propaganda changed almost weekly, naturally, since the policy lacked any coherent rationale, beyond political expediency and a desire to control other people’s lives.
First the propaganda tried to convince the populace that the lock-down was going to save hundreds of thousands of lives. This was untrue. The estimated death toll had already been reduced to the mid or low tens of thousands at or before the start of the lock down here.
Then the message was protect the National Health Service (NHS). Its hapless managers had apparently, and scandalously, failed to provide any crisis capability, despite repeated warnings, and despite the outcome of an earlier pandemic simulation a few years ago.
Nevertheless, as soon as doctors and private contractors were able to work without can’t do, inept management, several ‘Nightingale hospitals’ were speedily created. And almost all were left empty and then mothballed. So that propaganda story wasn’t right either. Of course, the NHS did hastily empty existing hospitals, sending corona-virus cases into nursing homes to wreak havoc there, and cancelled other treatments, thus jump starting non corona virus deaths. Nursing home deaths shot up on both sides of the Atlantic. In many American States up to half of the dead were in nursing homes. That is something of an own goal for over zealous public health officials and grandstanding politicians.
Next, we had the alleged need to prolong the lock down until a vaccine could be developed, despite the fact that no successful vaccine for a cold virus, or arguably for flu, has ever been developed. Researchers are now complaining they have no corona-virus 19 to help them develop a vaccine – because it is basically dying out – so that story has been fading too. The Italian hospital at the centre of the outbreak says samples over the last ten days show infinitesimally small corona virus loads.
Most recently, and lastly (I hope), we have been treated to lurid assertions about the alleged risk of lifting lock-downs. We would be hit by a second wave of corona virus deaths despite the evident decline in the virus’s already moderate virulence.
Various societies have reopened. Establishment mouthpieces such as the New York Times and the Washington Post enthusiastically predicted a mass dying of rednecks in places like Florida and Georgia as a result of ending lock-downs. To no avail. Rednecks are evidently more resilient than they expected, or perhaps hoped.
So now what can we say about the consequences of the lock-down? Why, that it was simply an abject failure at every level.
Studies have looked at the effect of lock downs and compulsory social distancing – as opposed to natural and normal ‘distancing’ practiced since time immemorial – in reducing the death tally from this latest corona virus 19. The lock-downs seem to have had no discernible effect on reducing corona virus mortality at all. One study reported a 94% probability that these measures were irrelevant.
Why? I do not know. Maybe stressed people trapped indoors with others with vitamin D deficient immune systems were more vulnerable than expected. Perhaps the virus had already reached many before the lock-down began. Be that as it may, until other information arises, the Governments’ draconian measures must be regarded as wholly useless as a corona virus counter measure.
Well, defenders of the lock-downs counter, they didn’t do any medical harm either. It has of course caused huge economic damage. It has pushed unemployment skywards, to around 30 million in the USA for example. But in the strange world of our comfortably state-salaried betters, crippling productive society is a merely economic loss and so of no account.
You would have thought that they would worry that the tax base on which their affluence depends has been compromised, perhaps permanently. But such material considerations apparently do not intrude on their lofty thoughts and concerns.
Evidently many in the political world think of ‘the economy’ as a base commercial thing quite distinct from the health of ‘society’. They also think it is a machine with an off button. This they enthusiastically and stupidly pushed in March.
In fact, society is the web of all productive voluntary, and unhelpful destructive state-coercive, arrangements between people. Many arrangements may have at least a monetary component, but almost none are wholly monetary in nature. Society is far too complex, elaborate and interdependent simply to be ‘switched on’ again. It is not a machine to be stimulated, engineered or simply restarted. In a couple of months, I expect signs of panic as governments around the world realise that there is no ‘on button’ attached to their societies.
The de-capitalisation and disorganisation inflicted across the world has done great damage. Many businesses and jobs will be gone for good. That fact has, and will go on having, clear costs in terms of excess mortality. How does this help in working out the balance of death attributable to the lock down?
First and most importantly, let us remind ourselves that the lock-downs saved no lives. It was a pure loss or waste on every level. There were no gains from the lock-down policies. Just layers of medical and social harm.
Another question might be - do we know whether the lockdowns could have been more lethal than the virus? Was the ‘cure’ somehow worse than the disease? Leaving aside purely economic loss, can we evaluate the health damage caused by lockdown rather than the corona virus?
Well the relevant analyses are beginning to appear, at least for the United States (with thanks to www.LewRockwell.com). One way to think about this is estimating how many years of useful life were lost to the latest corona virus and compare this figure with useful years of life lost as a result of the lock-down.
A big problem is that most governments have been misrepresenting the corona death toll to include everyone who died ‘with’ corona virus. Famously the Italian corona virus deaths comprised 99% people with other medical conditions. Half of the dead had three or more medical conditions. The dead were on average 80 or more years old. It is hard to demonstrate that more than a tiny fraction actually died ‘of’ the allegedly deadly virus.
And fraud has abounded. Washington State’s deaths ‘with’ corona virus include people who have been shot! New York State included some thousands of deaths even though their post-mortem tests showed no sign of the virus.
We actually don’t know what the real toll of deaths caused mainly by the corona virus is. We can look at total deaths to get some idea of the magnitude of the pandemic. In five years in the last quarter century Britain had the same or higher overall winter deaths in proportion to population as we have had this year.
We should be open to the possibility that corona-virus mortality has been no worse than previous ‘bad flu’ winters. Certainly, this newest corona virus has been no worse than the Hong Kong Flu in 1968. None of these other infections resulted in the tragedy of lock down. Nevertheless, we will, for arguments sake, take all reported corona virus deaths as genuine.
How many years of life have been lost to the virus? Well the somewhat criticised Neil Ferguson recently averred that two thirds of the dead would have died this calendar year anyway – within the next six months or less. The nearly 100,000 people currently deemed to have died ‘of’ the virus (actually ‘with’) in the United States therefore represent many fewer lost years of useful life than might have been the case. One estimate has been 800,000 lost years of useful life – or roughly eight years per death.
As to the medical toll of the lock-downs, there are two basic categories of deaths caused by them. One is the product of known statistical relationships between changes in mortality and unemployment (60% higher mortality for unemployed people), or business failure (50% increase). These are ‘deaths of despair’ – drug or alcohol overdoses, murders, suicides, strokes, heart attacks and other stress induced deaths. Lost economic output in the US for the three months of lock down could be over $1 trillion. That is a lot of deaths.
Of course, some people have received oodles of newly printed money to tide them over. But that doesn’t necessarily help with the psychology of worklessness. And the money has mainly gone to well-connected crony corporate friends of government. Small business has been thrown under the bus.
Three trillion dollars of new money printing in the US over these last months has not entirely numbed the pain then. And it should cease at some point, causing fresh disruption and joblessness. If it is true that 40% of the 40 million or so unemployed workers in the USA will remain jobless for many months then the lock downs will be responsible for a tail of deaths of despair lasting many months or even years. (If you think that is a lot, how about 120 million unemployed Indians courtesy of the corona virus panic?)
On a monthly basis the deaths of despair category in the USA is likely to be in the low tens of thousands. Clearly the average age of people dying as a result of the lock-down will be considerably younger than for corona virus victims. Let’s say on average they might otherwise have lived 20 years. All that will be needed will be just 40,000 such excess deaths over the next months and years. The lock-down will then have killed more than the virus. That figure must be baked in the cake. Indeed, it is bound to be far exceeded.
But wait! There is more. Every month, normally, 150,000 Americans get a new cancer diagnosis. But not these last months. Let’s say over half a million Americans will have lost the opportunity to treat their cancers as early as possible. Is that 5,000 unnecessary deaths or 50,000? Who knows? Operations have been cancelled. People are having strokes and getting treatment too late or not at all. Half or more of people in America being treated for cancer and other ailments haven’t been treated over the last months.
We may never get a definitive estimate of the health damage inflicted by governments' crass lock-down policies. But it has clearly been a health as well as an economic disaster. Is there any sign yet of non corona virus lock-down deaths in the figures? Well, in Britain we are now told that less than half of excess deaths (deaths above recent averages) are attributable to the corona virus. That means something else is causing additional mortality. Maybe it’s the lock-down itself?