We Need Economists, Civil Libertarians, and Epidemiologists in the COVID-19 Discussion

The tradeoffs among considerations of health, prosperity, and liberty are catching up with us even if we don't want to acknowledge them.


At the supermarket last week, amidst too many empty shelves, the manager looked at me through a plexiglass sneeze barrier and groused, "they need to open things up. I'd rather get the sniffles than face an angry mob."

COVID-19 is more than the "sniffles"—so far, over a quarter-million people have died globally during the pandemic, according to the Johns Hopkins University Coronavirus Resource Center. But it's also not the only risk human beings face, even if many policymakers seem consumed with it to the exclusion of all else. There are also the economic repercussions of harsh enforcement of lockdown measures to consider. And we should also include in there the danger to life and liberty inherent in mandated shutdown orders that are enforced by police and jails.

To focus on the virus alone to the exclusion of other threats is to court disaster. Well, not just to court it—disaster is here.

For the week ending May 2, another 3.2 million Americans filed unemployment claims, bringing the total number to over 33 million for the seven weeks since pandemic-related lockdowns began. On a similar note, the European Union predicts its economy will contract by 7.5 percent in 2020 because of the pandemic and related lockdown measures. And "the global economy likely shrank an annualized 12.6 percent in first quarter 2020 relative to fourth quarter 2019 and will weaken a further 8.6 percent in the second quarter," according to the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas.

If numbers bore you, we can just go with the International Monetary Fund's pithy description: "worst economic downturn since the Great Depression" because of the pandemic and related lockdowns. Or there's the United Nations' equally catchy forecast of "multiple famines of biblical proportions"—not entirely due to the pandemic, but certainly made much worse by the disruptions it has created.

Enforcing lockdowns inflicts a cost on our freedom, too.

"As countries around the world institute extraordinary measures to fight the pandemic, both dictatorships and democracies are curtailing civil liberties on a massive scale," Florian Bieber of Austria's University of Graz observed in Foreign Policy.

That has meant opportunistic muzzling of dissent and arrests of critics, as documented by monitors including Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch. But it has also meant moronic enforcement of stay-at-home orders, such as protecting people from infection by beating them (the predictable go-to for many law-enforcers around the world). Less brutal but just as stupid are arrests for playing with family members in public parks, and jailings for hanging out with friends and opening businesses without government permission—heavy-handed moves that increase the danger of transmitting disease through contact with cops and incarceration in crowded cells.

Which is to say, focusing narrowly on the danger of the virus has made billions of human beings poorer than they were before, and less free than they have every right to be. And, as the phrase "multiple famines of biblical proportions" implies, there are add-on costs in terms of human life and welfare to being impoverished and under the boot.

"In some cases, people are dying because of the inappropriate application of measures that have been supposedly put in place to save them," United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet concedes.

That's probably a little more analysis than the local supermarket manager had in mind when he talked about balancing fear of "sniffles" against that of an "angry mob," but he did a fair job of recognizing that there are tradeoffs in dealing with the pandemic. He knows that his customers are hurting because of the measures taken to battle the virus, that their paychecks are drying up, and that it's difficult to fully stock shelves because some items are in short supply.

That's not to say he and I would necessarily agree on the proper balance between the competing dangers. Like I said, I think there's more to COVID-19 than "sniffles." But if one of us enforces his judgment on the other with a nightstick, that disagreement becomes a lot more costly than if we're free to make our own assessments about the proper balance of risks—especially since we don't know each other's risk tolerances and abilities to weather one danger relative to another.

Noah Feldman, professor of law at Harvard, frames the ability to conceive of tradeoffs in handling the pandemic in terms of the different ways epidemiologists and economists think.

"Unlike epidemiologists, who identify a biological enemy and try to defeat it without thinking much about the costs, economists live on trade-offs," he wrote for Bloomberg. "It's an article of faith for economists that there is no such thing as an absolute value—not even the value of human life. Instead, most economists embrace the hardheaded reality that helping one person often leaves another less well-off."

If you add a civil libertarian (or perhaps just a jaded defense attorney, who knows that "law enforcement" is synonymous with busted heads) to that mix, you might get an even better-balanced discussion of the tradeoffs in various approaches to dealing with the pandemic. That would make for a much more serious discussion about the danger of a new, deadly, and highly contagious virus, balanced with the risk of poverty and despair from shutting down societies in order to battle that virus, and considering the peril inherent in turning the world into a vast prison in order to enforce a shutdown.

Maybe that's a discussion we could have soon. Because the tradeoffs among considerations of health, prosperity, and liberty are catching up with us even if we don't want to acknowledge them.

NEXT: Sen. Josh Hawley's Plan To Abolish the World Trade Organization Is Based on Fake Economics and False History

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  1. actually you can keep the insane science bitches who are patently living out a masturbatory fantasy out of the meeting thanks.

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  2. I’m a bit tired of the utilitarian argument. There is no set of “true” data for a group that should take away my constitutional rights. Show me where I’m a danger. With evidence. Then take my rights. Nobody has even attempted the freedom approach or due process.

    The technocracy is here. And it’s run by morons.

    1. And with a couple of exceptions, most of Reason is behind this bullshit 100%.

      Reason “libertarianism” means complete, total, unrestricted freedom for foreigners, and no freedom at all for Americans.

      Their core fundamental belief is that America comes last, if it even appears anywhere on the list at all.

      1. You don’t know what the fuck you’re talking about. Just because I’ll wear a mask when asked and keep my distance from germ factories doesn’t mean I’m not a libertarian, you can fuck right off.

        1. If you want to spend your sorry life as a frightened little pussy, that’s totally your right. But if you’re one of the lowlifes that wants to force your pussy ways on all the rest of us, you can fuck right off and die.

        2. “Just because I’ll put a leash on when asked even though it makes no fucking sense and protects no one, even me, doesn’t mean I’m a pants-shitting pansy who can’t accurately assess risk.” Oh, wait. It does.

        3. You fall to be a libertarian because you endorse forcing people at gunpoint to comply with nonsensical government edicts.

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      3. That’s not even remotely true. Sure, their open borders shtick gets a bit old, but there is absolutely no evidence that “Reason “libertarianism” means complete, total, unrestricted freedom for foreigners, and no freedom at all for Americans.

        Their core fundamental belief is that America comes last, if it even appears anywhere on the list at all.”

    2. Show me where I’m a danger. With evidence. Then take my rights I’ll decide what’s right for me.


      1. Thanks. I approve of this correction.

    3. One thing is certain – nobody at Reason is needed

      1. Come on, they are all top men and progressive utilitarians for the entire globe.

        1. The i will not dispute, though I’m not sure there are any tops in the bunch.
          Maybe ENB

    4. “The technocracy is here. And it’s run by morons.”

      This statement has been approved by the Department of Redundancy Department.

    5. Wrong!!!! You have rights. It is in a crisis that your rights are the most valuable. Look at the vast damage that state governors and Trump have managed to inflict on the populace. And now they are debating even more money debasement to keep their election chances alive.

  3. Most of all, we need open borders advocates. A deadly pandemic, accompanied by the highest unemployment rate since the Great Depression, is exactly the right time to promote our benefactor Charles Koch’s immigration agenda.


    1. Sorry man, Mike BLoomberg beat you to it:
      As long as the favellas don’t go into his or the Obamas vacation homes on the Cape, Hamptons or Pelosi’s spread in Aspen…Yes in your backyard, but not in my vacation spread backyard. Okay, lets bring in a few billion.

  4. over a quarter-million people have died globally during the pandemic

    QUIT SAYING THIS. IF, and that is a mighty big if, the numbers are not inflated, it is still 90-95% elderly and sick people that have died. This virus is not killing YOUNG people, it is not killing HEALTHY people. When the average age of the people who die is indistinguishable statistically from average life expectancy, there is a BIG GIANT PROBLEM with comparing it to influenza, malaria, black plague, or any other true pandemic that kill the young and old and healthy and sick alike.

    A highly contagious virus that kills young people, particularly women, would be an actual existential threat to humans and/or sovereign nations. Smallpox, black plague and the like. This is not one of those and it does not deserve to be used as an excuse to curtail ANY civil liberties in this constitutional republic. Those at risk can quarantine themselves, or get about the business of dying. Their health is not my responsibility.

    1. A quarter million global deaths is a mortality rate of 0.004%. It’s a non-event.

      1. Duh, that’s why the quote the global death toll instead of the dead in the United States.

        It’s a bigger, scarier number with far less context or meaning.

        In short, it’s the kind of number you cite when you’re actively lying.

    2. I don’t think you understand the reasoning behind the restrictions. If a young person gets seriously injured and it takes 10 hours for an ambulance to get there because the emergency rooms are completely overwhelmed by COVID cases, that person could die. Those are the lives they’re trying to save with the stay at home orders, not the people who catch the virus.

      1. Most accidents occur in the home. So that makes no sense.

      2. The original purpose of the shutdowns was to prevent hospital overloading. Now, hospitals are furloughing workers and contemplating shutting their doors completely because the media scared everyone into avoiding emergency departments and urgent care even in an emergency. The clusterfuckery of this whole thing beggers belief.

  5. The has little to do with the input of experts (economists or otherwise) and everything to do with the qualitative preferences of individuals on questions like safety.

    When scientists and economists tell us that eating ice cream made with locally grown strawberries has a smaller carbon footprint than foreign grown cocoa beans, that tells us absolutely nothing about whether we care more about the environment than we do about our qualitative preference for chocolate ice cream over strawberry.

    Those who care more about the risk of lock-downs to their financial well being than they do about the risks to their health have little to learn from epidemiologists about whether they should care more about their health. Safety may be a universal value, but the relative value of safety compared to other issues like cost and even fun are not universal. Yes, some people do more dangerous things than others because it’s fun–and there isn’t anything irrational about that. And some people care more about their financial well being than they do about their health.

    Listening to an expert explain why it’s unsafe to run back into a burning building to save your child is absurd. Some people care about other things more than they care about their safety, and if you think that’s irrational, then you need to go look for an introductory logic textbook and see the entry about the appeal to authority again.

    “Not every reliance upon the testimony of authority figures is fallacious. We often rely upon such testimony, and we can do so for very good reason. Their talent, training and experience put them in a position to evaluate and report on evidence not readily available to everyone else. But we must keep in mind that for such an appeal to be justified, certain standards must be met:

    1. The authority is an expert in the area of knowledge under consideration.

    2. The statement of the authority concerns his or her area of mastery.

    3. There is agreement among experts in the area of knowledge under consideration.

    Which one of these economists and epidemiologists understands our individual qualitative preferences for safety and our financial well-being–better than each and every one of us does for ourselves? If you think someone else knows what you want better than you do, you’re probably either in a cult, you’re talking to a connoisseur, or committing an appeal to authority fallacy. The experts may inform your qualitative preferences or inform what you should do given your preferences, but they can never authoritatively replace them.

    This is one of the main reasons why markets are better than central planning by experts–because in a market each individual can represent his or her own preferences as he or she sees fit. Bureaucrats can never do that. All they can do is inflict their own qualitative preferences (typically for safety) on those of us who don’t share them.

    So, your preference for safety is just a qualitative preference, and such preferences have no authoritative basis–regardless of whether they’re informed by science, economics, or any other legitimate intellectual authority. Authoritarianism might properly be defined as the infliction of one group’s qualitative preferences on others using the coercive power of the state.

    The last thing we need right now is more experts from more fields weighing in on the desirability of our preferences. What we need is people to stop believing in false gods–experts who can tell us what our qualitative preferences should be because they know better than we do. What we need is to take the qualitative preferences of average people seriously and as authoritative–which is exactly what they are.

    1. 4. The statement by the expert is supported by evidence supplied freely by said expert and isn’t just a bald assertion of by a self proclaimed authority.

      1. “1. The authority is an expert in the area of knowledge under consideration.

        2. The statement of the authority concerns his or her area of mastery.”

        Yeah, this flunks both tests.

        No one has more expertise on our qualitative preferences for safety better than we do ourselves, and the making statements of authority on the question of my qualitative preferences is outside their area of mastery.

        Even people with room temperature IQs have more expertise on their own qualitative preferences than any expert can. Within the context of markets, they can act on preferences they didn’t even know they had when they’re forced to make tough choices–like between safety and going back to work. How can anyone else claim to know what they want better than they do–before they act?

        1. My point was a real expert will go for persuasion rather than issuing edicts. And yes, anyone claiming to be a expert in the qaulitative preferences (for safety or anything else) who doesn’t live in their own head is a fraud.

    2. Damn that’s a good post. I want to share it other places.

    3. Bingo.

      Experts seem completely either 1) unaware, or 2) in a state of self-imposed ignorance concerning the knowledge problem.

      Epidemiologists know about disease. They don’t know how to plan a society, yet that’s exactly what they’ve convinced politicians, who despite thinking they know how to plan society know no such thing, to do.

    4. D***, you hit the one out of the park!

    5. ” What we need is to take the qualitative preferences of average people seriously and as authoritative–which is exactly what they are.”

      By average I assume you mean the uninformed. The non expert. I don’t feel the need to take their preferences seriously, certainly not as authoritative, and you haven’t convinced me otherwise. I still value expertise.

      1. I have lurked for years off and on and I’ve never posted before. I’m honestly just tired of your nonsense.

        His point is that people can make up their own minds. That’s at the core of libertarianism. Why do you even bother coming here if you can’t agree with perhaps the most important fundamental?

      2. You are free to let people who know you better than you know yourself run your life. Others, however, shouldn’t be expected to follow suit.

      3. mtrueman
        May.8.2020 at 10:54 pm

        Didn’t bother reading the drivel:
        Never been otherwise.

      4. Haha. Oh, those silly, deplorable unwashed masses. They really do need to be told what to do, m!

    6. lots of typing to be dead wrong. it is not you risking your life, it is you risking mine. you will be the guy going the wrong way in the grocery ailse or jammed up at the checkout counter.

      1. “…it is not you risking your life, it is you risking mine…”

        I certainly wish someone would, and perhaps cause your death; your parents would be proud and the world would be a far better place.
        Regardless, you cowardly piece of lefty shit, it’s *YOUR* job to look after your health, not mine.
        Poor widdle timmy. Have your mommy check under the bed for boogie men before she tucks you in. And terrified of the sniffles? Lock *YOUR* ass inside asnquit whining.

      2. LOL. The “wrong way in the grocery aisle”? What’s the right way? Do the germs know? Have you explained to the mean germs that they can travel in just one direction? Your life is your problem, you pussy, and the fact that other people breathe isn’t a risk to you. Even medical professionals don’t wear masks for your protection. The doctors and nurses in trauma bays mask and gown for their own protection. They don’t put masks on the patients. Medical examiners wear masks when they do autopsies. Whose protection do you think that’s for? Get off your fucking knees.

      3. “it is not you risking your life, it is you risking mine.”

        The most obvious problem with this argument is that it ignores the fact that no one is compelling your to stop isolating yourself if that’s what you want to do.

        The other problem with this line of thought is that everything we do or don’t do brings an elevated risk or outright harm to somebody else in some way. You increase the risk of other people getting into a car accident with you every time you pull out of the driveway. Does that mean people shouldn’t be allowed to drive to work?

        If the proper formulation of this were that we should be free to do anything we want so long as we don’t put anyone else at risk, then we wouldn’t be allowed to do anything. The proper formulation is that we should be free to do anything we please so long as we don’t violate anyone’s rights, and there isn’t anything about letting other people open their businesses and go to work that violates your right to isolate yourself if that’s what you want to do.

      4. Oh FFS, Tim! Your obesity is your responsibility, not mine. Your hypertension is your responsibility, not mine. Your diabetes is your responsibility, not mine. Your COPD is your responsibility, not mine. If you are too fragile to risk even the slightest exposure to a light viral load, take steps to keep yourself safe while you reduce your comorbities and a vaccine is developed and deployed. The entire world’s population does not have to go into deep freeze to keep Tim safe from all possible harm!

    7. Haha. Ok, John Galt.

      That’s not an insult, by the way.

      If only it was 60 pages longer.

      That’s not an…….. never mind. Good post!

  6. The problem is that people are listening to infectious disease experts about the spread of an infectious disease. Those experts are concerned with rates of infection, rates of death, etc., and showing almost complete disregard to what portion of the population is actually vulnerable to the disease, i.e. the portion of the population that is already vulnerable to any other disease. The fact in bold should lead to much different advisories than if the disease killed indiscriminately, but the infectious disease experts do not see that as their responsibility, how the disease affects individuals is a matter for physicians.

    1. That was meant to be a reply to Ken’s post. It stands on its own, but loses some context.

      1. Indeed!

        The experts always seem to have a qualitative preference for safety that far exceeds what average people really want–and that probably has to do with the risk for them when things go badly and people die because of it.

        Just about everywhere in the country, it is against the law for the government to take cost into consideration when they’re evaluating competing bids to, say, design and build a bridge. That’s because they don’t ever want anyone to be able to accuse them of saving money at the cost of people’s lives. If the bridge fails and people get hurt, . . .

        That’s just one example, but they are highly risk adverse and prefer safety to financial cost. It seems to be baked into their position in society.

        30.3 million have officially filed for unemployment, and stats from ADP suggest that payrolls are dropping by as much as an additional 20 million.

        George H. W. Bush once said something to the effect that, “Unemployment is around 10%–unless you’re the one that’s unemployed. Then the unemployment rate is 100%.” And that gets it right. There isn’t anything experts can tell people who cared more about their jobs than they did about the virus, lost their jobs, and won’t get them back that will make them glad they lost their jobs. Each of us should be free to make these choices for ourselves–regardless of what the experts say.

        I don’t care if they’re pro-shut down or anti-shut down–the problem is people who think the qualitative preferences of experts should matter to those who don’t care what the experts say.

        1. the problem is people who think the qualitative preferences of experts should matter

          Yes, particularly when their area of expertise is focused on the macro. They have little concern for how advice will affect the individual. Advice that will actually put a married, 30 year-old, father of 3 out of a job, which could potentially set his economic progress back by years to potentially save the life of an 80 year-old widow who has no economic future is not just a false choice, it is immoral and repugnant.

          1. They can’t consider the position of 300 million individual Americans. It would require god like powers.

            I think this is what makes them trend utilitarian, as well. They look at things from a top down perspective because that’s the only perspective that they have available. When all you have a utilitarian hammer, every problem looks like nail.

            And who get reelected because they tell the truth–that there’s no way the job of making qualitative judgement for other people can be done well?

            1. I think this is what makes them trend utilitarian, as well.

              In typical governmental fashion, they are really, really bad at it. Risking the prosperity of the productive, tax producing population to save the non-working, entitlement receiving end of lifers is a decidedly a bad utilitarian choice.

              Experts, my ass.

          2. I absolutely agree. And I am 71 and on the edge of one who is vulnerable. As much as I love my life – and I have a fun and successful life – It shouldn’t count as much as the 40-year future of a young person’s economic and family life.

            1. Your preferences are important to you–and that should be good enough for anybody, regardless of what politicians or experts say.

              You and what you want and your preferences and your choices are important and should be important, and there isn’t anything experts can say that can or should change that.

              So long as you’re not violating anybody’s rights, you should be free to do as you please, and if you aren’t forcing anybody to leave their homes against their will or stay away from their jobs either, then you’re aren’t violating anybody’s rights.

    2. have you seen NYC stats? CT, NJ?

      that can happen anywhere there is virus and close encounters, say a summer baseball game.

      the fact that it only happened in NYC is because everyone else rushed into SD fairly early , before a bunch of spreader’s showed up. what was going on in 45 other states in Feb. Well Mardi Gras. no college football, st. patty’s, baseball, concerts , travel. we were so lucky that Covid struck most of USA in mid-winter. do you know where it was huuuuge? Aspen and Vail. Like basketball a limited number of people so not NYC scale infections. SXSW was canceled. Imagine 400k people in one city block for a week. Texas would look like Lombardy.
      we got lucky.

      1. People who go to SXSW are not overwhelmingly in their 70s and 80s with serious health issues.

        1. There actually are a lot of 50-65 going. For one thing, the cost is so high you have to have a munch of expendable money to go. It really is a mix of young no kids money and retired reliving hippie days money. The real key was the international travelers.

      2. Florida has a similar population, tons and tons of old folks, and a small fraction of the cases and deaths NY has. Can you explain why a state with a very similar population and a much larger at-risk population avoided the catastrophe of NY?

        1. Hey, cowardly lefty shits PICK cherries; they don’t examine them.

      3. Houston had a week and a half of a filled NFL stadium at the Rodeo in the first of March but has a very low death rate.

  7. Take my anecdotal evidence as you will.

    I’m a funeral director in the DC Metro Area. I work for a relatively busy firm, and I have a large network of colleagues in the area, as well as regular contact with the local Medical Examiners as well as nurses from the various hospitals, nursing homes, and hospice providers.

    At my firm, every CV-19 death we’ve had – with a single exception – was a person over 70, with most being well over 70. All of them – no exceptions – have had at lease one comorbidity. I’m hearing the same from my colleagues at other local funeral homes. Similar stories as well from actual medical people.

    Additionally, if you’re familiar with the term, the stats are being juked. When an 83-year-old woman who’s been suffering from Alzheimer’s for 7 years, and has been on dialysis for 2 dies in her nursing home and tested positive, her death is recorded as a CV-19 death. If a 77-year-old man with pancreatic cancer tests negative, but is displaying the correct symptoms, he’s recorded as a CV-19 death. The tests are so wildly inaccurate that the suspicion of infection is enough. And no, I’m not crass enough to list actual cases.

    Of course there are healthy young people who have died due to CV-19, however they’re outliers. This virus primarily attacks the old, the obese, those with cardiopulmonary issues, and those with diabetes, and even the majority of the high-risk groups will exhibit mild to moderate symptoms.

    It is plainly obvious to most people in my position that the threat of CV-19 was completely overblown. Weeks ago when the exponential growth of infection and death rates failed to materialize, normalcy should have been reinstated (and frankly, the draconian lockdowns should never have been on the table).

    Years from now I’ll fondly remember blasting up the GW Parkway at 80mph with the top down and no other cars in sight though……

    1. When I worked in a hospital, we were extremely sensitive to nursing homes sending us cases just as the elderly patient was dying–just because they didn’t want those deaths recorded as happening at their facility. Too many people die in a year at your facility, and the regulators will go over your facility and its records with a fine tooth comb. So, I appreciate your anecdotal evidence, and I’ll second that nursing homes may have a perverse incentive to classify deaths as COVID-19 related.

    2. there are healthy young people who have died due to CV-19, however they’re outliers

      If confinement in an enclosed space can impact the severity of a viral infection, social isolation could be a factor.

      1. The worldwide numbers don’t bear that out, particularly in Sweden.

        Further, it would be odd that the severity of the infection would be impacted by being in an enclosed space. Unless you’re referring to the negative health impacts of breathing recycled air, not being out in the sunshine, and being sedentary.

        1. Note that per the above link, more people over 80 have died from CV-19 than all other age groups combined.

          1. Kind of makes you wonder if CV-19 wasn’t just a cofounder.

        2. I may be misunderstanding the impact of viral load on the severity of an individual’s reaction to infection. It seems intuitive that taking in your own infected breath is going to increase the amount of virus that would otherwise be in your system, but considering the exponential growth of viruses in the lungs after a few days of infection, it may be moot.

        3. So to put the numbers in a percentage of total deaths:
          Age: percentage of total deaths.
          90+: 23.4%
          80-90: 40.6%
          70-79: 22.9%
          60-69: 7.4%
          50-59: 3.2%
          40-49: 0.9%
          30-39: 0.4%
          20-29: 0.2%
          10-19: 0%
          0-9: 0.03%

          Looks to me like deaths of young healthy people are outliers.

    3. “At my firm, every CV-19 death we’ve had – with a single exception – was a person over 70, with most being well over 70. All of them – no exceptions – have had at lease one comorbidity. I’m hearing the same from my colleagues at other local funeral homes. Similar stories as well from actual medical people.”

      There is further evidence that the numbers are bent:
      NYC’s death toll represents, by far, the largest plurality in the nation.
      Any decent statistician would toss that number aside until it is explained in detail.

      1. But why are THEIR stats so out of line with literally everybody else’s?

        1. Our newest cowardly piece of lefty shit doesn’t care; there’s cherries to be picked.

        2. New York City is population-dense. No other part of the country is even close to their population per square mile. They’re reliant on public transportation, and there’s a ton of international travel there. The greater NYC area is substantially different than the rest of the country, and the level of cases and deaths there will not be mimicked anywhere else in the US.

  8. We should stop comparing this to the flu, it is not an influenza virus, this is a cold virus and as such it is doubtful they will ever have an effective vaccination. It also will probably not go away with the summer, the numbers will go down as we get out in the sun and stop cowering in lock down, but it will be out there waiting for us and if you have not already been exposed to it you will. That being said once all the dust has cleared we will find the fatality ratio to infection will be much lower than the flu it is just the number of people who had the virus will be much higher. The common cold is the most common disease in the world with the average human being exposed multiple times a year. The questions that need to be answered is why some people react so much worse to the virus than others, was is a different strain, was it something about the person. I know elderly are more susceptible but it does not kill all elderly so what was different about those, why this person with high blood pressure and not this one. I know they are in full on panic mode now but these are the questions they need to be asking. If, as I believe, we are going to have to live with this virus for years to come then we need to think long term about how we can fight it even if we never fully get rid of it.

    On another note, read that a high percentage of those in New York who are showing up at Hospitals are unemployed or retired and had not left lock down…my question is there another vector here, rodents maybe? Would explain why New York has been hit so hard and if rats can carry it then probably squirrels as well and then it’s is game over, it is everywhere.

    1. Some people don’t smoke and get lung cancer. some do smoke and don’t get lung cancer. But the odds…

      The good thing about this virus is the vulnerable are very, very easily identified. Even more than age, the most determinant factor is underlying health conditions. NYC studies show that 97.5% of deaths were such.

      Sometimes common sense is the best answer: Keep everything open full blast and let those who are vulnerable stay home. No sweat.

      There…problem solved.

    2. “…this is a cold virus and as such it is doubtful they will ever have an effective vaccination…”

      The pop-up vid in the lower right is now pitching a ‘virus mutation!!!!’, as if this is something new and ALARMING!
      Paging JFree to whine that he might get sick and demand the rest of us give up earning a living so he doesn’t sniffle!

      1. People who whine about viruses mutating don’t know that they generally mutate into weaker forms. A virus that is so virulent that it kills off its hosts won’t last long, either.

    3. they are looking at sewers in SF or West Coast somewhere. involving civil engineers. there has been CV found in feces.

      1. Fuck off, slaver.

  9. We need more articles like this. Sadly, our partisan culture-wars has infected this debate. What drives me nuts is that social justice activists have made an industry of pointing out how poverty is “structural violence”. Well, we are on the cusp of widespread poverty and so will they recognize that structural violence will be creeping into most peoples’ lives?

    I believe most people on the left are using motivated reasoning to automatically jump on the conclusion that if Trump and his supporters want to open the economy they are heartless granny-killers. But come Fall, when banks go down because no one can pay off their debts and whole industries file for bankruptcy we will see the professional classes get laid off. Right now many can work from home and receive paychecks and if not, get unemployment checks. But what happens when the deficit goes into the $5 billion range? I believe they will regret creating this narrative that they we have to shut down the economy or else. By shaming people for wanting to work they are boxing themselves in so that they own the coming economic disaster. It didn’t have to be this way. Trump and his supporters embarrass themselves every day without professional scolds shaming regular people for wanting to work.

    1. they table CDC report, minimize constantly, lie often, set out guidelines and then encourage states to violate those guidelines, shill for cholorquine and then they punish any scientist that talks truth to power.

      what would you have us do?

      1. You personally?
        Don’t much care how

    2. and really now your talking about debts and deficits. i haven’t heard a peep from tea party types in 3-1/2 years.

      1. tim koss
        May.9.2020 at 3:22 am
        “and really now your talking about debts and deficits. i haven’t heard a peep from tea party types in 3-1/2 years.”

        Strange, lefty shitbag here goes from discussing a lockdown to claiming concern for the economy!
        Stupidity in the hopes we don’t notice?
        Pretty sure our newest lefty asshole gets the nod for all three.

  10. I get the point. However, I’d also point out that this is not a thing that contracts or property rights is particularly capable of addressing intelligently. You blowing possibly-deadly COVID particles all over my face seems prima facie to be a violation of my self-ownership, but how do I know it’s you who sickened me and not the tens of thousands of other people who were in my vicinity on an average urbanite’s day? You cannot form a contract with me to compensate me for putting me at risk, because the very act of negotiating the contract is a mode of infection!

    Government officials should come forward and say, “This is our epidemiological model. This is our economic model. And this is the model that we’re using as a very rough, highly aggregated, and probably inartful representation of personal utility. As you can see, a 90% chance of one person dying is worth this much. If you don’t like it, take it out on us at the next election.”

    But of course that’s never done, both because government benefits from keeping people in the dark, and because people don’t have a consistent valuation of their own lives. People will buy insurance and a lottery ticket, wear their seatbelt but still drive down a packed freeway at 90MPH like a coked-up maniac. And of course, most people value their own life more than their neighbor’s. It’s maddening, but maybe it’s just being human.

    1. “…You blowing possibly-deadly COVID particles all over my face seems prima facie to be a violation of my self-ownership, but how do I know it’s you who sickened me and not the tens of thousands of other people who were in my vicinity on an average urbanite’s day?..”

      You are full of shit.
      It is not my job to keep you safe from infection. If you have reason top be concerned, lock YOUR ass away from anyone who might infect you.
      Fuck off, slaver.

      1. your mom is downstairs yelling, ‘lunch is ready’. i can hear her from here.

        1. Fuck off, cowardly piece of lefty shit.

    2. See? Same paranoid prohibitionist nationalsocialist sockpuppet, this time worried sick that TANSTAAFL Tuccille’s readers are having a good time reading a libertarian article. Republican National Socialism can sense the economy falling out from under its feet, just like it did in the summer of 1932, and in May 1945. There go those gubmint jobs, that hand in the till and the chance to have redneck cops shoot Obama’s cocaine negroes. Cry me a river… THAT’s entertainment!

      1. Hank, whatever you’re smoking? I don’t want any.

    3. you have to put in terms they understand ;

      the right of your fist stops at my face.

      1. Fuck off, slaver.

    4. So stay home.

  11. Economists?…or *Astrology for Dudes*. While we are at it, why not bring in DeBlasio, Bloomberg and Jerry Brown for the excellent central planning on the New York City Housing Authority, The MTA (NYC Subway), BART and the choo choo train.

  12. You know what I would like to see? More acknowledgement of the importance of quality of life. Nobody talks about that. It’s about the devastation of the virus or the economic devastation associated with the shutdown (although journalists prefer to attribute economic costs to the virus, as if the virus itself told people to stay home – if anything, the virus would want us all out hugging and kissing and licking doorknobs).

    I am an attorney who does not make nearly what you imagine attorneys make (I practice immigration law). I am still getting paid because I can theoretically work from home. I’ve been trapped in my apartment now for almost 8 weeks, and I am losing it. This is not living. Talking about “saving lives” is also misleading. Maybe you delay deaths, but no life is ever truly saved. Like it or not, we will all die of something. That is not an endorsement of careless behavior, but a risk-free existence does not exist. I’m slowly going insane. I’ve never been more depressed or felt more hopeless. 37 million Americans live alone. This is not a life. This is a mere existence, and no, I’m not sure that’s preferable to death.

    We don’t know what the goal is – we can’t agree on one or even pretend to try. Therefore all I can see in the future is more of this. More isolation, economic and social devastation, more suicide, more substance abuse, more human misery. Because being locked up alone is misery. I keep thinking of the line from Shawshank: Get busy living, or get busy dying.

    I’d take my (95%) chance of surviving the coronavirus to be able to fully live once again. How we spend our time on this earth matters as much as how we shuffle off this mortal coil. Man cannot live by Netflix alone.

    1. News for you: if you do not have underlying health issues, your chance of surviving is closer to 99.5%. If you do have health issues, you should stay home and hope for the best.

      If a restaurant dare to be open (I found one this weekend) I patronize it, without a mask. When people criticize me for not wearing a mask because I’m ‘putting others in danger,’ I tell them that I am actually helping to save them, because the quicker we get the herd immunity, the better chance we have of staving off the second wave in the fall/winter. For the record, I am 71 with no underlying health issues. I’m really good with math and statistics, and I calculate my chances of dying at 1/200. I’m not going to live my life in fear.

      1. Well, youngster, I would too, except that any business in our locale which allowed a non-masked patron to enter risks losing its business license.
        Further, if anyone griped, I’ve had pointed out that if that person has real concerns, it it *their job*, not mine, to protect their health.

      2. If they criticize you for “putting others in danger” by not wearing a mask, ask them if they know why the fuck medical examiners wear masks when they do autopsies. It’s not to protect the meat on the slab.

    2. try joining the kids in cages and then get back to me on how your assess your discomfort.

      1. “try joining the kids in cages and then get back to me on how your assess your discomfort.”

        Try making a cogent point and get back to us. Until then, fuck off, slaver.

      2. Ooooh, the Straw Man fallacy! Your statement doesn’t even belong in this conversation.

        1. Poor widdle Timmy is afraid of the boogie-men under his bed. HE doesn’t belong in this conversation.

      3. Yet another demand from the leftist dipshit that people be protected from the direct consequences of their own freely chosen actions.

  13. What we need more of is smart and rational arguments, civil dialogue, and people trying to get things right — and what we need less of is virtue signalling, emotions, and politically calculated arguments.

    It doesn’t matter if it comes from epidemiologists, economists, civil libertarians, or just regular people.

  14. Is virusmania replacing climatejihad, as the road to hyperinflation?

    1. Sure looks that way.

  15. This article is well stated if you accept that any form lockdown is actually going save lives. It is highly unlikely that’s the case. In my view the lockdowns are going to cause more death from covid over 12-18 months, all while screwing the economy and millions of Americans at the same time.

  16. At the beginning of this crisis we were told that we needed to flatten the curve so hospitals would not be overwhelmed. We could not reduce the number of infections but we could lengthen the time and keep the surge from overwhelming hospitals. We flattened the curve. A large percentage of the population has been infected and are now immune. It seems this has been politicized and now coming out of hiding is considered a crime against humanity unless President Trump advises to stay at home and then it would be he is creating poverty and we all need to get back to work. Considering the options it seems there really is only one. We can start going back to work and face this now or stay in hiding and face it later when poverty has become an even deadlier enemy and we still face getting infected. The predicted second wave will only be deadly if we stay in hiding and there are more people to infect.
    The world has never reacted to a pandemic as we have this time and it is all experimental and guess work. It seems we have 2 choices. We can get back to work before the businesses collapse and jobs go away or we can try to hide for the next year hoping a vaccine is developed and be living in poverty and possibly the streets when it is. You can either face it sooner or later.

    1. Pretty sure that the claim that we ‘flattened the curve’ is close to Jerry claiming his rock keeps tigers away.
      Pretty sure there was an NYC hospital or two which got overloaded, but I’m also pretty sure that was the case nowhere else.
      Further, by now, wearing the mantle of power, it seems that the tin-pot-dictator-wannabes are shoving the goal posts to prove how enlightened and powerful they are!

    2. a large number of teh population is NOT infected. NYC projects around 25%, the rest of the states between 2-5%. noblody knows BTW becuse ther is no “hands off”, limited government, private sector guys testing for statistical purposes, so imagine what happens nationwide if 20% get infected this summer. similar overwhelming of hospitals as NYC.

      which is almost acceptable if we had any confidence that the governmental entity most well placed to respond are FEMA and HHS but they have decided to check out.

      1. Stuff your PANIC flag up your ass, stick first, and sit on it, cowardly piece of lefty shit.

      2. I can’t see your point through all your typos. Are you drunk?

  17. amish, newly christained libertarian was on maher saying the government is standing in the way of defeating Covid or at least the economic fallout. IOW ususal libertarian hogwash, that closing hair salons wrecked our economy.

    and BTW near as i can tell Trump Admin hasn’t lifted a finger to help wiht pandemic or eco fallout. where is the private sector to the rescue. arguing wiht itself that the $2 raise it gave grocery workers needs to end next week.

    with 30M or more out of work, the private sector composed of 2 larger companies in every category will cut wages.

    yippee libertarianism. didn’t work in 1492, 1776 or 2020.

    1. tim koss
      May.9.2020 at 2:54 am
      “amish, newly christained libertarian was on maher saying the government is standing in the way of defeating Covid or at least the economic fallout. IOW ususal libertarian hogwash, that closing hair salons wrecked our economy….”
      Asshole koss is here with his newest strawman, hoping no one will notice.

      “yippee libertarianism. didn’t work in 1492, 1776 or 2020.”
      Yippee lefty scum, destroying freedom and spreading poverty everywhere and always.
      Fuck off, slaver.

      1. Ignore him. He’s not even good at trolling.

  18. Every day we see the death toll from the virus rise.

    I’d like to see how many lives are being saved by the measures were taking to minimize the spread of covid19.

    There must be fewer murders and fewer accidental deaths. How many fewer I’d like to know.

    1. I’d like to know how many people are going to die because their cancers went undiscovered while their “patient advocates” shit their pants along with people like you and agreed to close down the hospitals and screening centers. Every day we see the death toll from *every* fucking cause of death rise, including medical mistakes. Those kill a quarter million Americans every year. What the fuck is so special about Kungflu? Not one thing. And why don’t you explain how anyone’s supposed to measure the number of people who *don’t* die from some hypothetical bullshit germ that 99.8% of people survive anyway. By your standard no one should ever leave his home again, because keeping people immobilized will save lives. Fuck you.

      1. I don’t know about the shithole where you live, but anyone I know who wants to can see a doctor.

        1. Did you kill off all the jooze, Misek?

          1. You’re a retard, scaredy bigot.

            1. That’s rich, coming from bigoted scum like you.

  19. This Lockdown situation is going worst for people.

  20. Maybe that’s a discussion we could have soon. Because the trade-offs among considerations of health, prosperity, and liberty are catching up with us even if we don’t want to acknowledge them.

    I am reading some of these comments and saying, ‘Wow. Really?’ Look, the Wuhan coronavirus is a major fucking problem. And we know much more today (May 9) than we did on March 19, which is roughly when many of these restrictions started in earnest.

    In the absence of good, reliable data, what is a policymaker to do? In March, we didn’t know shit about this virus. Only that it was a) highly contagious, b) lethal to some people, c) had no treatment, and d) had no vaccine. Put yourself in that position as a policymaker. That is what you had to deal with – very ambiguous information. The decision in those circumstance is actually a pretty easy call: You act to preserve life.

    Now, here is where I think policymakers went a little off the rails. In placing restrictions, they did not make them limited, temporary, and time-bound. And I want to emphasize the limited aspect here, because that is where policymakers bollixed the call, IMO. They went too far. But again, in the face of uncertainty, do you make a mistake on the side of preserving life, or preserving unrestricted liberty. Newsflash: You have to be alive to enjoy unrestricted liberty.

    Fast forward to today. Now we know much more. Outside of NY, NJ, IL, MA, PA, MI and a few others – the wuhan coronavirus has mostly abated, and I believe they should open up – guardedly. The CDC has provided the states with specific, measurable benchmarks to use in helping decide when to open up. For most of the country, they are there. They are starting the process of re-opening and gosh, I hope they do it quickly and the workers get back to work. More than anything, I want people working. Not so much for the money, but for the sense of self-worth that works gives psychologically.

    Policymakers now need to move quickly to restore our civil liberties. For instance, it is possible to conduct religious services in a socially distant manner. Yet we cannot in the People’s Republic of NJ. This is wrong. I would say to Phailing Phil Murphy (Head Commissar of NJ): Allow synagogues and churches to open. Implementing restrictions on what products (services are a different matter) a consumer can buy is just dumb (I am looking at you Gretchen!).

    I am glad that AG Barr is making noises about states restoring our civil liberties, pronto. We’re now at the point where draconian restrictions made in the face of uncertainty really can no longer be justified. That will prompt governors to act.

    In sum, outside of the top 10 state hot spots, it is definitely time to reopen.

    Finally, I also want to comment on COVID-19 itself. This is not just the common cold. And it is not just a bad case of influenza. When you die from this, it is not pretty. This is a very bad way to go, having observed a family member who died from COVID-19. Do you know what happens? Let me explain. The fever starts. and it feels like a cold. And it gets progressively worse. Then you develop breathing problems. You start with an O2 tank, progress to a face mask pumping in oxygen. Because of what happens in COVID-19, your lungs cannot transfer O2 to your blood. You slowly suffocate.

    Now just stop for a minute and think about that. You..slowly.. suffocate. For the patient, they know the end is coming. Imagine the thoughts that must go through their minds as they progressively get worse and worse. Promises not kept. Regrets in life. Things left undone, and words left unsaid. Knowing you cannot change them now. And that you are going to die. Toward the end, you gasp for air, barely conscious, unable to speak. It literally looks like a fish out of water. If you are lucky, it goes quick…only a week or so. Only. All too often, people linger. And it is awful to see. I will never forget it.

    No, this is not an old man’s friend. This is a ghastly way to die. This is not just a bad cold, or bad flu. Please stop minimizing this as just the flu. It is disrespectful to those who have died (by minimizing and glossing over their suffering), and to those who mourne them.

    I pray to God we find a useful therapeutic treatment immediately.

    1. IF you die from Kungflu, it probably sucks. But 99.8% of people who get it don’t die from it, and most people who get it don’t even know they have it. You’re making an emotion-driven argument out of the fact that dying sucks, but you haven’t described anything new: death from nearly every cause looks just like that. Death from hypovolemic shock looks like that. Most ways to die are “ghastly.” Corona doesn’t have a single unique fucking thing about it, including how uncomfortable it is to die from, except that people have latched onto it as a reason to shit themselves and turn control of their lives over to someone else. So here I am: Watch me minimize this bullshit weak-ass germ. And no one’s suffering gives him the right to destroy anyone else’s life and freedom.

    2. “…Look, the Wuhan coronavirus is a major fucking problem…”

      No, it isn’t.
      Go whine with JFree, coward.

      1. Sevo, look around you. Regardless of whether you or I think the economy should or should not be shut down in response to an unknown lethal pathogen…it is partially shut down. That is reality. It is a major fucking problem for the country.

        Now the question is…how do we do that safely and quickly?

        1. Ugh…edit button please!

          Now the question is…how do we reopen safely and quickly?

          1. Remove all restrictions NOW!
            And quit whining that you might catch a cold.

          2. BTW, snowflake, want absolute safety? Go crawl under your bed after your mommy checked it for boogie-men.
            And either grow up and act like an adult, or kindly fuck off and die.

            1. Sevo…you and I see eye to eye on a lot more than we don’t. Cut me just a wee bit of slack, please.

              We agree on lifting restrictions, I am more cautious. And truthfully Sevo, my perception is governed by my own situation: I am in the People’s Republic of NJ (Covid-19 is bad here), I have lost a family member to Covid-19, and I have been in self-isolation on doctors orders for well over two months now. These things impact how I perceive what is happening, and what our response to it should be.

        2. People had already taken all the necessary precautions prior to the shutdown of the economy, voluntarily. Government accomplished nothing other than wrecking the economy. And the way to “reopen the country” is simply to drop all government mandates and instead give people truthful information about risks and means of protecting themselves.

          1. People had already taken all the necessary precautions prior to the shutdown of the economy, voluntarily.

            Clearly not. We had logarithmic growth in cases. I believe that was because we did not know the contagion of the Wuhan coronavirus. Once people knew, then yes…they voluntarily self-distanced. People are not stupid (with some notable exceptions).

            And the way to “reopen the country” is simply to drop all government mandates and instead give people truthful information about risks and means of protecting themselves.

            Yes! I am a true believer that people can make choices for themselves, if they have all the information they need to make an informed decision.

            1. I believe that was because we did not know the contagion of the Wuhan coronavirus. Once people knew, then yes…they voluntarily self-distanced.

              What I am saying is: People voluntarily took effective measures against the virus before government mandated those and additional measures; therefore, government action was unnecessary. That’s what actual data shows. Please don’t play word games over words like “necessary”.

              Clearly not. We had logarithmic growth in cases

              Are you trying to be funny?


                Lockdowns don’t work. The data is overwhelming. Voluntary measures created the decline before lockdowns could have been effective.

                1. I agree with you. Why are you telling me?

    3. 1. Distinguishing “essential” from “non-essential” businesses never made sense. You’re more likely to contract the virus in a Walmart than a business with one or two customers, and this was especially true in the early days of the pandemic when there was a lot of panic-buying and stores didn’t restrict the number of people entering the store at once. This has nothing to do with the science behind the virus, its about what is or isn’t good policy. As a policy, it didn’t have any practical purpose, but instead was trying to establish a moral norm, and using government force to do it.
      2. Lots of policy-makers in many countries understood this, but caved under pressure because the media was selling panic, and telling people the only thing that would stop the virus was authoritarian lockdowns like in China. In fact, South Korea, which handled the situation successfully, never did lockdowns. The UK didn’t want lockdowns at first. The Netherlands and Sweden avoided full lockdown policies, notably Sweden, which made social distancing voluntary; the Netherlands legally requires it but doesn’t shut down non-essential businesses.
      3. About the panic porn sold by the media: we were constantly told that this was such an unknown virus and we didn’t know anything about it. By March, we already learned everything we needed to know about it. It hit vulnerable populations, meaning that deaths were because of co-morbidities, and most people were asymptomatic and so the mortality rate was exaggerated. It was a respiratory virus, meaning it spread the same way as other respiratory virus. It was bound to spread faster just because there was no herd immunity to it yet. We’d identified causes of deaths, courses of treatments, and the need for respirators. In other words: contrary to what the media was saying, we knew just about everything we needed to know about the virus. We haven’t learned anything new since then.
      4. The reason politicians were driven into panic-mode is because they started out by downplaying it — telling people to visit Chinese New Years Parades and get into packed crowds — and that anybody who didn’t was a racist. When the virus started leading to deaths, politicians then scrambled to cover their butts and show they were serious, and that’s why we got lockdowns. The initial downplaying of the virus was wrong, and the current lockdowns are also wrong. Both were also obvious since March. We should have started with information campaigns for voluntary social distancing back in February, protected elderly care homes, and cancelled gatherings of large crowds.
      5. Stop covering for politicians butts.
      6. What you’re describing is a severe case of pneumonia. People who die from the flu also die from severe pneumonia. This is why the CDC uses pneumonia deaths as flu deaths in their estimates. I’m not saying influenza and covid-19 are exactly the same, but there are points where comparisons are proper to do, and criticizing every comparison isn’t helpful.

    4. People were protecting themselves and others voluntarily long before policymakers made any policies. Public policy on COVID-19 has been completely ineffective; it didn’t accomplish anything, it didn’t save any lives. All it did is wreck the economy, for no good reason at all.

  21. “COVID-19 is more than the ‘sniffles’—so far, over a quarter-million people have died globally during the pandemic.” You fucking pussy. The “sniffles” is exactly what that number suggests it is. Globally over 800,000 kids under the age of 5 die of pneumonia every year. You want to have a panel of assholes sit around discussing that? 250,000 Americans are killed by medical mistakes every fucking year. Discuss. I swear to fuck, you couldn’t find your balls with both hands, Tucille.

    1. I like the cut of your jib.

  22. We Need Economists, Civil Libertarians, and Epidemiologists in the COVID-19 Discussion

    Spoken like a progressive technocrat.

    You know what libertarians believe? Of course not. So let me tell you: we believe that people should be able to decide which experts to listen to and make their own decisions based on that.

  23. what does it means – “As countries around the world institute extraordinary measures to fight the pandemic, both dictatorships and democracies are curtailing civil liberties on a massive scale,” Florian Bieber of Austria’s University of Graz observed in Foreign Policy.

  24. Six months ago I lost my job and after that I was fortunate enough to stumble upon a great website which literally saved me• I started working for them online and in a short time after I’ve started averaging 15k a month••• The best thing was that cause I am not that computer savvy all I needed was some basic typing skills and internet access to start••• This is where to start….. Read More Details

  25. No, it is a terrible idea to substitute the moronic ideas of one small group of tyrants with the moronic ideas of a slightly bigger group of tyrants that you happen to favor. How about respecting peoples rights first and then give assistance to those in need second?

  26. The fact is, we as humans engage in conduct that creates risk of death to ourselves, and sometimes others, everyday. The question isn’t whether some specified conduct creates such a risk, but rather, whether the risk created is unreasonable/intolerable, thus requiring either abstention or strict regulation. The current situation can’t satisfy this test because the introduction of the coronavirus into our daily risk pool hasn’t significantly increased the typical individual’s likelihood of death. Indeed, for the average person, it’s simply one additional threat with which to contend, and a minor one at that. The numbers bear this out as less than 1% of the world’s population have contracted it, with an even smaller percentage dying. Because the risk is so minimal, the gov’t’s extreme measures, which include civil rights violations and unsustainable economic policies, cannot be justified, nor should they be tolerated.

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