Coronavirus Will Be Deadly To Your Liberty

COVID-19 is the healthiest thing to happen to government power in a very long time.


Nothing makes government grow like a crisis. People get scared, politicians respond to that fear with promises that the state will step in and make everything better, and government ends up larger and more powerful. The pandemic of COVID-19 coronavirus threatens a world-wide wave of sickness, but it's the healthiest thing to happen to government power in a very long time. As it leaves government with a rosy glow, however, our freedom will end up more haggard than ever.

"You can look at it as socialized medicine," Rep. Ted Yoho (R–Fla.) said on Tuesday about White House proposals to have the federal government foot the bill for uninsured COVID-19 patients. "But in the face of an outbreak, a pandemic, what's your options?"

Yoho isn't the only Republican to have found a new place in his heart for government control of healthcare; obviously, the Trump administration is on-board, too. During Senate testimony, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services' Robert Kadlec, who coordinates the department's COVID-19 efforts, floated the idea of treating virus patients as disaster victims eligible for federal funds.

What else can you do "in the face of an outbreak, a pandemic" that has, so far, resulted in an estimated 94,000 cases and 3,200 deaths worldwide (though the numbers continue to grow)? You could, I suppose, rely on the same not-yet-entirely government-dominated health system that deals with influenza outbreaks every year. In the 2019-20 flu season, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention our long-time viral enemy has, so far, infected 32 million Americans, sent 310,000 to the hospital, and killed 18,000.

That's not to say that COVID-19 isn't serious, or that people aren't suffering from its effects. But we forget about our annual wrestling match with a deadly disease, the flu, while freaking out about the emergence of a virus that is frightening mostly because of its novelty, despite any evidence that we're inadequate to the challenge.

Fear is the key here to Yoho's sudden love for socialized medicine, as well as other panicked proposals for the government to somehow save us from the pandemic. Fear is a survival characteristic, but it makes us vulnerable to the impulse—or demand—that we surrender control to somebody else.

"All animals experience fear—human beings, perhaps, most of all. Any animal incapable of fear would have been hard pressed to survive," wrote economic historian Robert Higgs, the author of Crisis and Leviathan (1987), a book-length examination of how bad times drive government to grow in power and scope. "The people who have the effrontery to rule us, who call themselves our government, understand this basic fact of human nature. They exploit it, and they cultivate it. Whether they compose a warfare state or a welfare state, they depend on it to secure popular submission, compliance with official dictates, and, on some occasions, affirmative cooperation with the state's enterprises and adventures."

Or, as Rahm Emanuel put it in 2008: "You never want a serious crisis to go to waste. And what I mean by that is an opportunity to do things that you think you could not do before."

Politicians are human beings, too (allegedly so, anyway) and subject to fear, including fear of being voted out of office by panic-stricken constituents looking for officials to "do something." So, their instinct to exploit a crisis complements their inclination to soothe the fearful by making efforts—even counterproductive ones—to assure the public that everything will be just fine.

That combination of calculation and fright gave us not only a proposal to stick the taxpayers with the medical bills of the uninsured, but also a seemingly pointless cut in the fed funds rate by the Federal Reserve, and proposals for massive federal spending to off-set economic disruptions by the spread of COVID-19.

"The Federal Reserve has become the default doctor for whatever ails the U.S. economy," noted a skeptical Wall Street Journal editorial board. But economic fallout from the virus "relates mainly to the damage to global supply chains and expected limits on travel and commerce as the world tries to mitigate the rates of infection. Nobody is going to take that flight to Tokyo because the Fed is suddenly paying less on excess reserves."

That combination of calculation and fear also gives us Massachusetts Democratic Sen. Elizabeth Warren's proposal to "enact at least a $400 billion fiscal stimulus package to head off the potential economic impact of coronavirus" on top of "free care for coronavirus" that she also endorses. Will the spending repair disrupted supply chains and put production lines back in operation a minute sooner than demand for goods and services dictates? Not a chance—but Warren probably hoped it would look sufficiently compassionate to those looking for government to "do something" to keep her (now-concluded) presidential campaign on life support.

Public health has long been a playing field for fear and calculation, giving us intrusive laws that sit on the books, waiting to be invoked by the next microorganism to catch the public's attention.

Those laws include a nearly unlimited power to quarantine people suspected of exposure to infectious diseases—and then bill them for the confinement, as has happened to Americans returning from Wuhan, China, where COVID-19 appears to have originated. Never mind that "quarantines of passengers arriving from mainland China appear excessive and are inconsistent with available epidemiologic data," according to bioethicists Lawrence Gostin and James Hodge. Crises breed more government authority, not sensible restraint.

There's usually little pushback because "people are pretty compliant as long as they believe that their best interests are being taken care of," Wendy K. Mariner, a health law professor at Boston University, told The Washington Post.

Like all crises, the COVID-19 pandemic will pass, hopefully with a minimum of illness and death. But it will leave behind a residue of laws, spending, and precedents for future government actions that won't depart in its wake. That's because of what Higgs calls the "ratchet effect," by which each crisis sees government shrink a little, but never back to its pre-crisis status. "Thus, crisis typically has produced not just a temporarily bigger government but also permanently bigger government," he wrote.

So, even after the public panic retreats, the politicians' calculations subside, and COVID-19 becomes more knowable and treatable, we'll be left with the permanent swelling of government caused by the latest crisis.

NEXT: Chuck Schumer's Trumpian Attack on the Supreme Court Threatens the Judicial Independence That Democrats Claim To Defend

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  1. You know who else never let a crisis go to waste?

    1. Kruschev and Kennedy?

  2. Is reason really taking the position that quarantines are not the way to control the spread of contagious diseases? I don’t want to be all judgey but objecting to quarantines is as stupid and might actually be dumber than objecting to vaccines.

    Does reason think that no person would ever spread a contagious disease such that quarantines are unnecessary or that sickness spreads by some magical process that does not involve viruses or germs?

    1. If there is one thing that hanging out with the Ron Paul crowd from 2008 to 2012 taught me, it’s that there are an awful lot of germ theory deniers among self-proclaimed libertarians.

      1. And even among those who don’t explicitly deny the tenets of germ theory, there are probably more than a few who would argue that their fundamental right to assume the risk of falling ill trumps the rights of others to be protected from contagion.

        1. That is full on peak retard. I am going to go out on a limb here and say that maybe someone walking around with a contagious disease and creating the risk of giving it to those around them without their consent is violating the non aggression principle. Apparently that is a bold and controversial opinion in some circles.


        2. If your right to . . . anything . . . is contingent on the actions of another person – coerce or voluntary – then its not a right.

          You want to be protected from the contagion – no one is stopping you from quarantining yourself.

          Before we start rounding people up at gunpoint though, don’t you think we should have a serious, sober, conversation about whether violating the NAP is really needed?

          Otherwise, that’s how you got Japanese internment camps.

          1. Uh, no, the situations are not remotely comparable, and it’s embarrassing for you to even draw that parallel in this discussion.

            1. No comparable?

              Let’s see – the US was under threat from an outside force, the Japanese inside the US were considered to be in league with that outside force and, if not quarantined, able to go out and kill people.

              The comparison is more apt that you’re willing to admit.

          2. So how am I supposed to know you have it? If you are in a subway car or an airplane with me, just how and when have I consented to you exposing me to your sickness? I haven’t. And your doing so is a violation of the NAP just as surely as if you had beat me over the head with a ball bat.

            1. It’s a source of never-ending frustration to me that medical professionals are forbidden to inform sexual partners of patients of their risk for contracting disease. The closest we can do is to treat both partners in cases of trichomoniasis to prevent the “yo-yo effect.” Some physicians will offer patients who test positive for chlamydia or syphilis extra doses to take home to their squeeze, but they have to be discreet about it. In case of HIV, of course, our hands are completely tied. It’s infuriating to be that a person can be charged with assault for spitting on someone or tampering with a condom, but knowingly having unprotected sex with an unwitting partner while infected with a transmissible disease is perfectly legal, and physicians are legally obligated to serve as enablers of the aggression.

              1. “to me” — ah, for the love of God, can we get an edit button!

              2. Of course they are forbidden. The doctor-patient relationship is based on confidentiality. If it wasn’t, there would all kinds of problems, such as doctors selling your medical information to advertisers, journalists, or other types of people seeking to profit from someone’s illness; employers pressuring doctors for medical information about their employees; doctors publishing personal information in medical journals, and God knows what else.

                1. Doctor-patient confidentiality isn’t absolute. Physicians are mandatory reporters in cases of child or elder abuse, threats of violence, and so on. Knowingly infecting someone with a disease that can rob them of fertility and even their life should be considered a form of violence, in my opinion, and physicians should be able to intervene to prevent it.

                  I understand my stance contravenes established medical ethics and legalities, and I don’t flout the rules. But I reserve the right to be pissed off about it.

                  1. I completely agree that knowingly infecting someone is an act of aggression and should be punishable by law. But I am opposed to any mandates on a doctor-patient relationship. The extent of the confidentiality should be agreed upon by the doctor and patient before entering into a medical care relationship, and the government should have no say unless that agreement is breached.

                  2. It’s a question of priorities.

                    Is your primary goal to punish people for bad behavior, or to decrease infections?

                    If your objective is punishment, then criminalization is a great route.

                    If your objective is to decrease infections, then it’s terrible. It decreases testing, decreases communication, and makes people afraid of getting tested, and thus decreases the rates at which people are treated.

                    So… vengeance, or public health. Choose your path. But don’t delude yourself that your thirst for vengeance actually leads to better health outcomes, however it may make you feel.

                    1. I don’t know whom you’re addressing here, but it can’t be me, because I made it plainly obvious that my motivation is reducing infections, not vengeance. I’m not advocating for reporting infected patients to the authorities but for physicians to have the discretion to notify and treat partners at risk of infection.

            2. Quarantine yourself.

              So how am I supposed to know you have it?

              How is the government supposed to know? Or are we just going straight to the ‘lock ’em all up’ part?

            3. If you are in a subway car or an airplane with me, just how and when have I consented to you exposing me to your sickness?

              I didn’t expose you. You exposed yourself.

          3. Are you arguing that quarantines are never justified, or that there are trade-offs to quarantines, so we should have serious a discussion and analysis before enacting them? If it’s the latter then John’s comment is spot on, since he’s reacting to this article, which seems to be arguing that intrusive laws such as those allowing quarantines should not be on the books.

            1. I am *not* arguing that quarantines are never justified. I am not even arguing that quarantines aren’t justified in *this* situation.

              I am certainly pointing out – not arguing because its an established fact – that quarantines have trade-offs between short term and long term security.

              Certainly, it might be necessary to say ‘fuck it, lock them all up’ – you don’t get long-term unless you survive the short term.

              I am also pointing out – to a bunch of people who are purport to be libertarians, or at least liberty-minded conservatives – that the fucking government you don’t trust in so much other stuff will be enforcing this quarantine and will certainly use it to increase their power over you going forward.

              So maybe we should consider, consider really strongly, if this situation merits forcing people into quarantine rather than taking a ‘fuck it, won’t effect me if you lock those people up’ default stance. ‘At first they came for . . . ‘ and all that.

              At the very least, instead of shitting your pants at the thought that someone might question whether or not almighty government should be leashed – which is what a bunch of pantswetters have done in response to an article that simply points out that quarantines are an imposition on others (even if one necessary to protect the majority) and will allow the government ever more power and that maybe we should be mindful of that.

              Because that’s all this article does. It tells you to remember that every use of force by the government facilitates and numbs people to the next use of force by the government.

              1. ^+1
                Someone here last week argued that closing *all* borders seemed appropriate.
                Well, kill international trade, impoverish a lot of people and they’ll die from other causes.
                There are trade-offs in ANY decision; consider them before jumping on the bandwagon.

      2. If there is one thing reading your post taught me, it’s that your understanding of germ theory and/or libertarianism is so fucked up that spending 4 yrs. around Ron Paul supporters couldn’t get you sorted out.

        1. As a physician, I am reasonably certain that I have a decent handle on the ins and outs of germ theory, thank you very much.

          Also, the use of the term “self-proclaimed libertarians” was deliberate. There are plenty of Ron Paul adherents who are not libertarians in the classical sense. They’re more social conservatives or constitutionalists with a not-so-latent conspiricist streak than libertarians.

          1. If there is one thing reading your post has taught me, it’s that you’re not a physician but that you’ll lie in order to smugly pass your stupid judgement that nobody believes or cares about on people you don’t like.

            1. I have no idea if he is really a doctor. But you don’t have to be a doctor to believe in virus and germs. Just saying.

            2. I find it amusing that you think I don’t like Ron Paul supporters, considering the fact that by my own admission, I was one. The only person in this thread being judgmental is you. I have an extra jump-to-conclusions mat I could donate to your office if it’ll make you feel better.

              1. Has it been properly disinfected???

              2. The only person in this thread being judgmental is you.

                So to refute my assertion that you’re lying and/or not a physician you’re going with “I was paying my germ-theory-denying, Ron-Paul-supporting friends a compliment.”? Or maybe you were bragging about your Ron Paul supporting friends who don’t believe in germ theory? Is that it?

                Bold move.

                1. Reading comprehension clearly is not your strong suit. Neither is trolling. Move on, little boy.

        2. Well said.

    2. Does John think that the government, given the power to use violence, won’t seize on quarantines to increase their freedom to do violence?

      Does John think that we don’t need to seriously consider the ramifications of allowing the government to ‘self-certify’ the necessity of a quarantine?

      That the long-term potential for harm may be greater in allowing the government a free hand in quarantining people than the damage from this disease?

      1. Relax, the Republicans are in charge so it’s all good.

        1. Yeah, you called it dumb ass. I was totally anti germ and anti quarantine when Obama was in charge. Jesus Christ what the hell is wrong with some of you people?

          1. While y’all are all serious about preventing the spread of viruses at this late date, I would like y’all to ALSO address the unwanted spreading of gravity waves! As I carry around a few excess pounds of baggage, it hurts my circulation, especially in my feet and legs. The unwanted spreading of gravity waves is HURTING ME, here, I am a VICTIM!!!

            WHAT is Government Almighty going to DOOOOO for MEEE, about the unwanted spreading of gravity waves?!?!?!?

            1. Right but you eat human shit.

              1. “Dear Abby” is a personal friend of mine. She gets some VERY strange letters! For my amusement, she forwards some of them to me from time to time. Here is a relevant one:

                Dear Abby, Dear Abby,
                My life is a mess,
                Even Bill Clinton won’t stain my dress,
                I whinny seductively for the horses,
                They tell me my picnic is short a few courses,
                My real name is Mary Stack,
                NO ONE wants my hairy crack!
                On disability, I live all alone,
                Spend desperate nights by the phone,
                I found a man named Richard Decker,
                But he won’t give me his hairy pecker!
                Decker’s pecker is reserved for farm beasts,
                I am beastly, yes! But my crack’s full of yeasts!

                So Dear Abby, that’s just a poetic summary… You can read about the Love of my Life, Richard Decker, here:
                Farmers kept refusing to let him have sex with their animals. So he sought revenge, authorities say.
                Decker the hairy pecker told me a summary of his story as below:
                Decker: “Can I have sex with your horse?”
                Farmer: “Lemme go ask the horse.”
                Farmer: “My horse says ‘neigh’!”
                And THAT was straight from the horse’s mouth! I’m not horsin’ around, here, no mare!

                So Decker the hairy pecker told me that, apparently never even realizing just HOW DEEPLY it hurt me, that he was all interested in farm beasts, while totally ignoring MEEE!!

                So I thought maybe I could at least liven up my lonely-heart social life, by refining my common interests that I share with Richard Decker… I, too, like to have sex with horses!

                But Dear Abby, the horses ALL keep on saying “neigh” to my whinnying sexual advances!
                Some tell me that my whinnying is too whiny… Abby, I don’t know how to fix it!

                Dear Abby, please don’t tell me “get therapy”… I can’t afford it on my disability check!

                Now, along with my crack full of yeasts… I am developing anorexia! Some are calling me a “quarter pounder with cheese”, but they are NOT interested at ALL, in eating me!!! They will NOT snack on my crack!

                What will I DO, Dear Abby?!?!?

                -Desperately Seeking Horses, Men, or ANYTHING, in Fort Worth,
                Yours Truly,
                Mary Stack / Tulpa / Mary’s Period / “.” / Satan

                1. Right, but you spam like that because I point out that you said you want to eat human shit.

                  Every time you do it it is an admission that you know I’m right.

                  1. Even if I DID eat human shit… A spurious accusation that I deny… At least I personally AM NOT a piece of shit (human or otherwise), like you!

                    So go back to lusting after getting fucked by horses who reject your infected, malodorous cunt! Maybe some sunny day, they will stop ALL saying “neigh” to you!

                    1. Just leave it alone. Responding to it is like feeding a stray dog.

                    2. Ahahaha sarc just admitted he thinks a stray dog is smarter than he is ahhahahaahha

                    3. “A spurious accusation that I deny”

                      So you were lying then.

                      Or what? You’re lying now?

                      Either way, you’re lying lololol

                  2. You said you want to eat human shit. Then you lose your fucking mind every time someone points it out to you.

                    1. Here, this might help you!

                      Prescription Treatments for Vaginal Yeast Infections

            2. Yes, you are a fucking dumb ass who doesn’t understand how diseases spread. We all know you are stupid. You really don’t need to prove us correct every single day.

              1. Did you even read the article before you started calling people names and accusing them of being against any and all measures to mitigate the spread of any and all diseases?

                Talk about a straw man argument.

                Like all crises, the COVID-19 pandemic will pass, hopefully with a minimum of illness and death. But it will leave behind a residue of laws, spending, and precedents for future government actions that won’t depart in its wake.

                That isn’t an argument against vaccines or quarantines. It’s simply pointing out that politicians will use this as an opportunity to expand their power. And when the disease runs its course, the expanded government power will not.

                1. the expanded government power will not remain.

                  1. No worries bro, you’re stupid, no one cares when you make errors

      2. Does John think that the government, given the power to use violence, won’t seize on quarantines to increase their freedom to do violence?

        No. But sometimes only imperfect options are available. The fact that the government having quarantine power creates risks to liberty doesn’t mean that doing nothing isn’t worse. Sometimes life doesn’t give you good options. Pretending it does and just ignoring reality is not the right answer in such situations.

        Does John think that we don’t need to seriously consider the ramifications of allowing the government to ‘self-certify’ the necessity of a quarantine?

        What is there to consider? The quarantine power has existed for hundreds of years. And during that time, despite governments enslaving and murdering millions, none of them to my knowledge have ever used the quarantine power to do so. If a government wants to do that it does it. It doesn’t wait around for the quarantine power as an excuse. And when using that power is necessary, the government has other things on its mind than murdering its citizens usually.

        That the long-term potential for harm may be greater in allowing the government a free hand in quarantining people than the damage from this disease?

        No I don’t think that because I am not a paranoid dumb ass. How would that work? Do you think the government is going to pretend people are sick after the pandemic is over so they can lock them up? Really? what do you think is going to happen that could already happen should a government be lawless enough and evil enough to do it?

        To protect against all this, you want to do nothing and allow people who have a contagious and potentially deadly disease to expose other people to that disease. That is peak retard.

        1. See, the thing is, you’ve not read either the article, nor what I’ve written. You’ve read what you *think* is what the article and what I’ve written says.

          No one is arguing against a quarantine. No one. Not a single person.

          The article is just pointing out that you need to keep in mind the trade-offs. Not that you shouldn’t quarantine, but that you should go into accepting quarantining with the understanding of its long-term effects.

          I am also pointing out that the same sort of people who run the DMV, the same sort of people who think that can provide quality healthcare to the whole country ‘for free’, are the people who will be making the decision as to who is locked up.

    3. I don’t want to be all judgey but objecting to quarantines is as stupid and might actually be dumber than objecting to vaccines.

      Part of the issue is with the vagueness around a/the term ‘quarantine’. It’s a bit of a dated or… sophomoric term that conjures very different images in very different peoples’ minds. The government can hold someone against their will in atmospheric isolation and that constitutes a quarantine. They can also hold groups of people against their will and that constitutes a quarantine. They can also prevent groups of people from entering and leaving certain areas and *that* constitutes a quarantine. However, the FedGov can’t legally or practically prevent people from (e.g.) entering/leaving the state of Louisiana or even Baton Rouge and even if a person is being held in isolation, they are free to contact friends, family, lawyers, etc. As such, saying their power of quarantine is nearly unlimited is a bit hyperbolic itself.

      1. While like everything else, the devil is in the details. Can the government abuse this power or apply it in an unnecessarily broad manner? Sure they can. But that is true of every government power. There is nothing special about this power in that regard.

        1. Which is why I am confused as to why you seem so eager for them to apply it.

          *EVERY OTHER* government power has been abused. Every one. Do you think this time is different?

          I don’t. Which is why I think we need to be wary about giving government carte-blanche here.

      2. I was trying to close that damn AnyClip pop-over, and I accidentally flagged your post. I hate this new mobile site.

      3. We talk about, and institute, quarantines every few years. We talked about ’em this year about Coronavirus, we talked about ’em a few years back with Ebola, SARS, MERS and so-on before that…

        If it comes up every few years, and people understand what’s meant each time, I’m skeptical that it’s as “dated” as you imagine.

    4. I know I don’t mind the annual flu season quarantine we go through every year, do you?

    5. The point is that we’re probably destroying our economy for something that isn’t that big of a deal. Look at China; they’re already getting back to work, after initially letting the virus spread for weeks, and you know how many died? About 3,000. That sucks, but it’s hardly such an epidemic that you have to destroy the economy. The real death rate of this is likely well under 1.0%.

  3. so off topic, but have you guys heard the stuff happening in Greece? Civilians rioted against the police on some of the islands over detention camps being put there for illegal immigrants, and the cops lost. No deaths, but plenty of injured, that was all last week. This week it looks like Turkey’s trying to push more illegals across the border and the Greeks aren’t having it, Turkey’s claiming the Greeks are shooting illegals and the Greeks are claiming that Turkey’s trying to flood the country with illegals in an attempt to get political leverage.

    1. Yes. It is the Island of Lesbos. And shockingly the locals have had enough of the joys of being overrun by third world migrants. It would seem to cut against the reason position that all migrants are wonderful and just want to open a vegan food truck and only evil racists could ever object to that.

      1. Greece being overrun with Muslim immigrants has happened before. The Geeks did not enjoy it the first time.

      2. “The Isle of Lesbos” is what I call my ex-wife’s new living arrangement.

        1. ey-oh!

        2. Because the Turkish immigrants invading her southern border are into Greek?

          Thank you, Abelard.

          1. That’s even worse – they invented it.

    2. This makes no sense

      Everyone knows that immigrants grow the economy. So how are Turkey’s actions any sort of threat? In fact, they are screwing themselves by letting these productive immigrants move on to the EU, rather than holding on to them.

      1. It makes one wonder why the Greeks would refuse to grow their economy with all the labor flowing in. It’s like they’re refusing to take free money!

    3. I am not a lawyer, so perhaps one of our resident attorneys could speak to this, but it seems to me that forcing illegal immigrants across another nation’s border could be construed as an act of war. The likelihood of overt hostilities breaking out within the European Union is remote; nevertheless, Turkey should tread lightly to avoid provoking a more defensive posture on the part of Greece. Unless sparking regional conflict is actually part of Turkey’s goal — but I can’t imagine what the strategic or tactical motivation for that might be.

      1. Yes it could be.

      2. I’d venture Turkey is either looking for diplomatic cover for their war with Syria; we won’t flood Europe but we don’t want any loose talk of our conduct or sanctions. Or they are looking to extract payments. Bonus for them is pissing on the Greeks, but I really can’t see them wanting to engage in open hostilities with W. Europe, since they are in conflict with Syria. They have to be weary of Russia and a war with Europe could very well result in a Russian land grab. But I can’t really gauge Turkey and Russian relations. One minute Turkey is shooting down a Russian plane and assassinating an ambassador and then they are buying weapons from Russia.

        1. ” I really can’t see them wanting to engage in open hostilities with W. Europe”

          I’ve been assured that people crossing borders without authorization can in no way be seen as hostile if they’re not armed and wearing officially issued matching uniforms

        2. “But I can’t really gauge Turkey and Russian relations. One minute Turkey is shooting down a Russian plane and assassinating an ambassador and then they are buying weapons from Russia.”

          Add to that, about 30-40 Turkish soldiers got killed in a Russian airstrike a few days ago.

          Turkey is accordingly sulking at this, and NATO’s refusal to clear out the Russians, by threatening this refugee release.

      3. the EU is backing Greece on this. And Turkey’s motivation is that they have roughly 2 million destitute Syrian refugees already with more on the way, they’re trying to bring that number down.

    4. Turkey’s claiming the Greeks are shooting illegals and the Greeks are claiming that Turkey’s trying to flood the country with illegals in an attempt to get political leverage.

      One of those claims is true.

    5. Greeks and Turks fighting … shocking.

      But seriously were the Greeks looking to free them or send them back on the rafts they showed up on, quicker then their government plans to do? Its my understanding that most of the EU has turned their back to laws guaranteeing refugees since the fall of Angela Merkel.

      1. A little bit of both from my understanding. The Muslim natives on the islands want the camps moved to the mainland, and no one, Muslim or not, wants the camps to be upgraded to full-on centers. Plenty of people across the nation don’t want more refugees.

  4. this is why i think the government may be overblowing it in order to gain more control. what form that control will be is yet to be determined but something will come form it. one item that would be interesting is returning to the days of Angles Island where all new comers to the U.S. west coast went there for testing before being released into the public Just like Ellis island. i know Reason would never tolerate that but it would be a good start

    1. I disagree– at least at this time. This situation may shift, but in the early weeks of this disease, governments both in the East and the West, including global health organizations fell all over themselves to downplay the disease. It was only when the evidence became impossible to ignore did they switch from the “Nothing to see here” phase to the “well, ok, there is something to see here, but it’s not as bad as you say it is” phase. It now appears they’re moving from that into the “Ok, it is as bad as you say it is, but it doesn’t matter” phase.

      On the other hand, of course it will be used as an excuse to grow government power. Every crisis is. I don’t feel this situation is particularly unique.

    2. President Trump has been telling us, for weeks, that it is contained, that everything is great, and there’s no need to worry.

      He has gagged the CDC and all health experts in the government because he blames them for the stock market tumble, and has put Vice President Pence in charge of making sure only good news about the coronavirus leaves the government.

      If this is “overblowing” it, what the hell is “rational response”?

      1. No one has been gaged crawl back in your cave if hate

  5. This morning, received first-hand knowledge of what’s going on in China in their attempt to mitigate this disease. There’s no fucking way anyone in any western country would ever stand for the draconian measures they’re implementing there. So we’d all better hope this thing isn’t anywhere near the current known CFR.

    1. IMO there really isn’t a single CFR – yet. The deaths right now are overwhelmingly of over-60’s. You can’t really attribute those deaths to a single cause. Covid-19 is just the final stress on an already weakened system.

      Korea is the only country afaics that is being proactive (trying to find cases in the population) rather than reactive (testing those who self-select to go to hospital). So that’s the only country for now where over time the denominator will be accurate enough to determine a fatality rate. Italy is no longer reporting asymptomatic positives (which was 40-50% of positives as of a week ago). Their proactivity lasted almost two weeks.

      Korea is also generally a very young healthy country – unlike say Italy – so for now I think their CFR – 0.5% – 0.6% – is a good example of what the CFR will tend towards over time.

      There isn’t going to be some magic bullet though for the older/sicker. Only the countries that change their focus now to community-spread and/or hospital control are going to ‘succeed’ at lowering the horrible effects on the elderly. That’s the exposure risk for that population. Countries still focused on them diseased furriners over there are just gonna get hit upside the head by domestic outbreaks/clusters. And the statistics everywhere are rapidly turning into crap as govts decide that honesty=inducing panic.

      1. IMO there really isn’t a single CFR – yet. The deaths right now are overwhelmingly of over-60’s. You can’t really attribute those deaths to a single cause. Covid-19 is just the final stress on an already weakened system.

        I don’t think many are denying that. I’m certainly not. If I were, I could post REALLY alarming statistics, like a CFR of over 25%. But most people know that oldest people with co-morbidities are the hardest hit. So that dampens out across different age groups. For instance, I’m understanding the CFR rate for children is something like zero.

        I don’t deny that CFR will dampen out over time (as I tried to be pretty clear about). But in the early stages, I believe there’s every reason to exercise an abundance of caution.

        1. Unless you actually are elderly, the CFR that includes the elderly is pointless. If you are elderly, public health measures that focus on strip searching everyone coming from China/Korea/Italy/etc are also pointless. Unless you are also on the China/Korea/Italy Visitor Welcoming Committee in your town.

          That group, generally at this point, is gonna catch this when they a)go to hospital for something else or b)via community spread. Which is now happening in most countries. The elderly DO go to hospital far more often than other age-groups – esp if they have those co-morbidities – and even outside a pandemic like this are prob 50% of hospital inpatients. So a reactive country is going to test them more frequently too. The CFR can never be accurate in that sort of country. And any calc that includes China or Iran has been crap long enough to have become fossilized crap.

          You’re in a ground-zero location with community spread. Crap CFR data doesn’t help you. You need to head over to the Germany, Korea, Singapore public health websites (the countries that seem to be handling this well) and see what they are telling their doctors, medical system, citizens, etc about what to do.

      2. Germany and France both look like they’re still being honest. Doubt it lasts long in France – but if you read German the site is the equivalent of CDC here.

        1. Just ran across an article re how many people have been tested for Covid19. Had info for three countries:

          Korea – 140,000 people have been tested (now also using drive-thrus to test not just hospitals)
          Japan – 2,700 have been tested
          US – 1,900 have been tested

          You tell me which country probably has a better handle on how widespread the infection rate is.

  6. Unfortunately, responding to an actual epidemic is something that does fall into the proper scope of work for government. One can disagree at how great a threat this particular disease is and if it warrants some of the responses and to keep the damage to our normal state of affairs to a minimum. But diseases, like human enemies sometimes do not give you a choice on whether you have to fight them, no matter how you detest the necessity.

  7. To lighten the mood, joke of the day:

    What do the Cherokee Nation and the Office of the President have in common?

    They’re both races Elizabeth Warren had to drop out of.

    *cue laughtrack*

    1. You’re a credit to lyin’ dog-faced pony soldiers everywhere.

    2. Hello, officer? I’d like to report a murder

    3. That? That right there? That’s funny, I don’t care who you are.

  8. FYI, current reported toll is: 95,748/3286 giving us a CFR of 3.4%. And there’s every reason to believe that China is underreporting those numbers.

    Dr. John Campbell’s latest summary video.

    1. But Ron Bailey assured us yesterday that this was just a bad flu season and nothing to worry about.

      1. I still believe that we’re in the early enough phases that those numbers will dampen out a bit.

        Countries with advanced healthcare systems I’m thinking will see considerably lower rates. I don’t have any feeling on how fast this will spread. I think that the independent actions of millions of individuals may help. I’m sitting at the Toyota dealership right now and a crew of rubber-glove wearing people just came in and wiped everything down with disinfectant wipes. Coffee makers, buttons, touch screens, handles… everything. They said they’re doing this several times a day. The company I work for suspended all overseas corporate travel. They first announced a limited travel ban to just a few Asian countries, then expanded it to a handful of European countries, then said “fuck it” and shut it all down.

        People are staying home, not eating at the buffet etc. You can see it all around. I admit for the US, I’m in Coronavirus ground zero, so maybe it’s more extreme here. But these are the little “panics” that might actually help.

        1. Yes they do. that and the onset of warm weather should go a long ways to ensuring this isn’t a real disaster.

          1. The economics of this are going to be interesting to watch. Whether the threat is real or overblown, the reaction, especially in places like China have been incredibly costly. I expect a major market correction in the next six months, and possibly a recession later in the year or 2021.

            1. Honestly, for as much doom as I’ve said in other posts, i think this isn’t going to sting as bad as we fear. China’s going back to work, ready or not, by the end of the month. Goods’ll be shipped soon after.

              Pneumonia death rate is going to rise, a bunch. But if this doesn’t have something else nasty to it, i think the US and others will just learn to deal with it.

              1. China’s going back to work, ready or not, by the end of the month.

                As I posted above, I now have first-hand knowledge of what’s going on in China. They’re already back at work, but the measures that you have to go through to show up and work in the factory are alarming.

          2. I agree with the notion that this whole fiasco will be in the rearview mirror come summer. Of course, if it becomes endemic, it might start all over again in November, but that’s another matter.

        2. People are staying home, not eating at the buffet etc. You can see it all around. I admit for the US, I’m in Coronavirus ground zero, so maybe it’s more extreme here. But these are the little “panics” that might actually help.

          I would add that information and action, *any* action, is vastly outrunning the disease. IL has 2 confirmed cases and local schools are already curtailing unnecessary after school activities and bracing parents for ‘remote learning days’.

    2. The Chinese numbers are complete bullshit. Subtracting them still yields a CFR of around 2 to 2.5 percent though. Italy’s is in the mid 3s, but Italy has a very high proportion of old people.

      God only knows what’ll happen here. I think it’ll mow down nursing homes like Hell won’t have it. The rest of us? Shrug.

      Three big questions I have:
      1) Does an initial infection from this bug sensitize a patient such that subsequent infections from related strains are much worse?
      2) Does this bug have an immunosuppressive effect on CD4 T cells, as initial research from Chungking (old spelling] University indicated?
      3) What are the lingering respiratory sequelae from a bad case of this? I’ve heard things like permanent fibroses and the like.

      Oh, and 4), this thing can’t hybridize with some worse coronavirus can it? Like the nasty fucker that causes MERS? I mean, the official story is that Covid-19 hopped from bats to that cat-thing to people. It can’t hop from people to camels (suspected reservoir for MERS CoV) and back?

      1. Yeah, I don’t have enough medical knowledge about that stuff. Lot of speculation and reporting on the “effects” that start to feel like conspiracy theory to me. I heard something yesterday that said there were reports that CV-19 attacks the central nervous system. I tend to dismiss that kind of stuff out of hand.

        I see this as “A particularly bad flu season” if we define “a particularly bad flu season” as having over 80 times the death rate of standard flu– oh, and considerably higher R0 numbers.

      2. MERS is bacterial, not viral.

        1. No, MERS virus is another strain of coronavirus closely related to SARS virus.

        2. MERS is bacterial, not viral.”

          Tell the CDC:

          A wide clinical spectrum of MERS-CoV infection has been reported ranging from asymptomatic infection to acute upper respiratory illness, and rapidly progressive pneumonitis, respiratory failure, septic shock and multi-organ failure resulting in death. Most MERS-CoV cases have been reported in adults (median age approximately 50 years, male predominance), although children and adults of all ages have been infected (range 0 to 109 years). Most hospitalized MERS-CoV patients have had chronic co-morbidities. Among confirmed MERS-CoV cases reported to date, the case fatality proportion is approximately 35%.

        3. From the CDC:

          Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) is viral respiratory illness that is new to humans.

        4. MRSA is bacterial?

          1. That one, Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus aureus, is caused by a bacterium. I don’t know the fatality rate from an infection by it. The coronavirus that caused Middle East Respiratory Syndrom, OTOH, had a CFR of 35 percent or so.

            1. ^This one. I knew nothing about the middle east one. Probably started in Aleppo.

              1. What’s an Aleppo?

          2. Well, yeah. MRSA is a type of staph.

            1. just that I conflated them until I bothered to know they were different beings

      3. Virus hybridization is very different from hybridization in animals or plants. It can only occur, to my knowledge, when two related viruses infect the same cell, resulting in genetic recombination. So theoretically if a patient (or animal) managed to come down with both MERS and COVID-19 simultaneously, some novel hybrid coronavirus could emerge. But it would be just as likely to end up a less virulent strain as some kind of supervirus. Heck, given the randomness of the process, it might find itself unable to infect human hosts at all.

        1. Yep, coinfection within whatever camel cells might holds the MERS CoV. Really really unlikely.

          It was a one in a million fear (which means it’s a sure thing, if you’re a Discworld fan), upon seeing Iran’s ridiculously high number of fatal cases from this. They’ve since done enough testing of non-fatal cases that their reported CFR is a lot lower.

      4. Covid-19 hopped from bats to that cat-thing to people

        Well it has also apparently jumped from people to pets now. Someone’s dog here in the US and there was another example in China. Opportunistic little bug.

        1. Keep pitching “the end is near!”, JFree. We can add it to all the rest of your bullshit.
          My prediction: By July, this will be remembered for the panic and the economic harm caused by the panic. NOT for any actual medical emergencies.
          So let’s see it, JFree. Tell us how many millions are gonna die!

    3. not to mention Iran.

  9. >>Politicians are human beings

    most people are *born* human beings … politicians begin to molt in the debate club years

  10. You could, I suppose, rely on the same not-yet-entirely government-dominated health system that deals with influenza outbreaks every year.

    The flu doesn’t require a $4000 test to find out if you need to self-quarantine or if you just need to take a few days off. I think that’s an important difference you’re glossing over.

    Those laws include a nearly unlimited power to quarantine people suspected of exposure to infectious diseases—and then bill them for the confinement, as has happened to Americans returning from Wuhan, China, where COVID-19 appears to have originated.

    Yes, that “bill them for the confinement” bit is part of why congress was talking about whether the gov should be footing the bill.

    I swear, it’s like y’all are out to demonstrate just why you should never trust a libertarian on public health issues.

  11. “My predictions on whether or not the CCP, or the Communist Party of China will reform, step down, or get stronger after the Coronavirus epidemic has slowed down.”
    Will China Become Free After the Coronavirus?

  12. Deadly to my liberty? What liberty? That died with a wimper on 9/12

  13. This guy gets it.
    OK he’s a bit of a conspiracy theorist but he makes some pretty interesting points.
    “The recovered figure is more than ten times the deceased one. This should not make the reader ignore the epidemic, but it is also worth reading the scientific study that shows that the death rate in citizens under 60 is less than 1.3%, 0.2% in young population, and on average it is a maximum of 4% (“The Epidemiological Characteristics of an Outbreak of 2019 Novel Coronavirus Diseases”, February 2020).”
    “Like SARS, coronavirus is pneumonia. But is COVID-19® worthy of the hype with a 1-3% mortality rate? Especially, when most of those who have died were considered “medically high risk”?”
    “According to one report so far, six people who were on the Diamond Princess have now died with 705 of the 3,711 infected = a 19% infection rate within a poorly handled quarantine. We also know at least two of the deceased were in their eighties.
    Given the quarantine began a month ago – either the incubation process takes longer – or – the death rate is far lower than 6-11% as some are now claiming – or the testing or reporting is FUBAR?”
    “According to the World Health Organization (WHO): pneumonia killed 808,694 children under the age of 5 in 2017, accounting for 15% of all deaths of children under five years old. That’s 67,000+ a month! Little kids dying around the world.
    Where were the headlines?”
    Now consider that Aspiration Pneumonia has a mortality rate of 21% overall, 29% hospital-associated, and 30-62% in “older, sicker patients”.
    And, according to the CDC Weekly U.S. Influenza Surveillance Report:
    CDC estimates that so far this season there have been at least 32 million flu illnesses, 310,000 hospitalizations and 18,000 deaths from flu.”

    1. This might even be true, but it’s gonna take confirmation from some site which isn’t a whacko conspiracy-promo-vector.

      1. You can’t blame the site, any site, for your inability or unwillingness to parse the information presented

      2. Most of the info is from WHO and CDC. Doesn’t make it true but they’re purportedly bona fide. And just because something is labeled a conspiracy theory doesn’t make it false. See the Nunes memo.

  14. get a grip Reason

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  16. “Rep. Ted Yoho (R-Fla.)”? Like the Disneyland song “Yo Ho (A Pirate’s Life for Me)”? How appropriate. From the libertarian perspective, that would be the honest campaign song of any politician.

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  19. “That’s because of what Higgs calls the “ratchet effect,” by which each crisis sees government shrink a little, but never back to its pre-crisis status. ”

    And that’s how $1T of annual spending got baked into all future budgets. Obama’s emergency stimulus spending never went away, it got baked into agency budgets up and down the line.

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  21. This is a weird article, with some weird opinions. Of all the things government does, this has to be one of the least objectionable. When I was a kid, there was a government rush to get every school kid in America vaccinated with Salk’s polio vaccine. Good thing, IMO. Coronavirus isn’t polio, but I would rather have the CDC overreact than to guess wrong about a potential global epidemic. Most of the medical folks assessing the risks are not motivated to expand government power. They’re interested in saving lives.

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  24. Quarantines are legitimate function of government (like border patrol) but it’s a power that should reserved for the most grave situations.

    I’m not under any illusion that massive amount of Americans won’t start defying even suggested curfews and quarantines if this thing drags out too long. They live with the war in Afghanistan dragging out for a decade because it doesn’t really affect them. After one month of staying home they’ll start to demand exit plans.

    What do politicians think will happen to America after weeks of self quarantine? That there won’t be looting on unattended stores? Speakeasies won’t pop up? Some kids won’t sneak into empty parking lots and beaches to ride skateboard or smoke a joint? Sure, cops are promising a light approach, but if the media and the busybodies make a fuss about it, they’ll act. Then someone might get shot.

    Some people scoff at the suggestion that we should quarantine the sick elderly and let the rest of us live out a normal life under social distancing. But that option will be on the table sooner or later.

  25. Hey people, when troubles loom and panic stalks the land, that is the time to keep a closer than normal eye on the doings of our elected things, and miscellaneous, faceless officials and bureaucrats who grow fat on the blood of freedoms lost.

  26. Ok, where is Reason’s article about what the appropriate level of response IS? Libertarians can’t claim they should be in office if they are unwilling or unable to say what should be done. Or is the whole thing to keep piously claiming that every single government action ever is wrong?

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