Coronavirus

Is Anthony Fauci Right That Federalism Undermined the U.S. Response to COVID-19?

Centralization makes sense only if you ignore differences in local conditions—and trust the feds to make the right choices.

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Anthony Fauci, an infectious disease expert who has played a leading role in advising the Trump administration on COVID-19, thinks federalism has undermined America's response to the pandemic. "The states are very often given a considerable amount of leeway in doing things the way they want to do it, as opposed to in response to federal mandates, which are relatively rarely given," Fauci, who has directed the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases since 1984, recently told BBC Radio 4. "What we've had was a considerable disparity, with states doing things differently in a nonconsistent way….There have been a lot of factors that have led to the fact that, unfortunately for us, the United States has been the hardest-hit country in the world, but I believe that disparity among how states do things has been a major weakness in our response."

The "leeway" that bothers Fauci is required by the Constitution, which gives states the primary responsibility for dealing with public health threats under a broad "police power" that the federal government was never given. So his beef is not simply with the way COVID-19 policy happened to play out in the United States. It is an objection to the basic structure of our constitutional design, which limits the federal government to specifically enumerated powers that do not include a general mandate to fight communicable diseases or protect public health. Although Congress has invoked its authority over interstate and international commerce to justify certain disease control measures, the power to deal with epidemics lies mainly with the states, as the Supreme Court has repeatedly recognized.

That point aside, is Fauci right that federalism has proven to be "a major weakness in our response"? A centralized response to COVID-19 might have been better in some respects, assuming that the federal government was wise, knowledgeable, and competent enough to settle on an ideal policy for the entire country. But that assumption is manifestly wrong.

In the areas where the federal government has taken the lead, including vaccine approval, the deployment of virus tests, and advice on face masks, its performance has been characterized by striking incompetence, bureaucratic intransigence, bewildering inconsistency, and lethal foot dragging. Given that track record, trusting the feds to decide every detail of COVID-19 control measures seems ill-advised, even if the Constitution permitted it.

While state and local officials are not necessarily smarter or more competent than national politicians and federal bureaucrats, they are more familiar with the local conditions that should inform COVID-19 policies and more accountable to the people affected by their decisions. In a huge country that includes sparsely populated, largely rural states as well as states with highly concentrated urban centers, a one-size-fits-all policy formulated in Washington, D.C., makes little sense. U.S. jurisdictions also differ widely in the extent and speed of virus transmission, the capacity and quality of their health care systems, and demographics that affect the infection fatality rate, which varies dramatically across the country. Such factors are clearly relevant in weighing the costs and benefits of interventions aimed at curtailing the epidemic.

The proliferation of "nonconsistent" policies that result in "disparity" among states also creates an opportunity for learning from the successes and failures of different approaches. Are states that imposed lockdowns early and relaxed them gradually doing better than states that acted later, lifted restrictions faster, or never imposed general lockdowns at all? Does allowing businesses such as restaurants to operate with COVID-19 safeguards create an intolerable risk? Do bans on outdoor activities make any sense at all? Do mask mandates make an important difference? What is the best way to protect high-risk groups, such as nursing home residents and prisoners? It would be much harder even to try answering questions like these without the jurisdictional variation that Fauci decries.

However you come down on those issues, the risk of centralization should be clear. If you believe that lockdowns played an important role in reducing COVID-19 deaths, would you want to trust a president who is leery of that policy and asserts "total" authority to reopen the economy? If you think face masks are a vital tool for reducing virus transmission, would you want a president who disagrees to decide whether they should be legally required? If you think some states have failed abysmally at protecting prisoners and nursing home residents, are you confident that a federal policy would be better?

Incidentally, the U.S. is not, as Fauci claimed, "the hardest-hit country in the world." While our COVID-19 numbers are certainly nothing to brag about, the United States currently ranks 14th in deaths per capita, according to Worldometer's tallies. Developed countries such as the United Kingdom, Italy, Spain, and Belgium—all of which imposed sweeping restrictions on social and economic activity at the national level—are doing worse by that measure. The U.K., where Fauci's interview slamming federalism was broadcast, has imposed national lockdowns repeatedly, but its death rate is still somewhat higher than the U.S. rate. Sweden, which eschewed such measures, ranks 27th in per capita COVID-19 deaths, much higher than its Scandinavian neighbors but lower than many other European countries.

Many things went wrong with the U.S. response to COVID-19. But the most conspicuous failures happened at the federal level, where Fauci seems to think all the important decisions should have been made. The wisdom of that approach is by no means obvious from interstate or international comparisons. Centralization makes sense only if you ignore relevant differences in local circumstances and if you trust the federal government to make the right choices. If it errs, whether by failing to take steps that would have substantially reduced the death toll or by imposing restrictions that cost much more than they are worth, all of us have to live with the consequences.

NEXT: Surrendering on COVID Spending Is a Predictable, Fitting End for Trump’s Tenure

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        1. Fauci is like Sharpton. The second the “problem” loses its newsworthiness is the second he loses his cover on InStyle magazine. He’s been wrong on everything, and yet we still have to listen to his Idea o’ the Day. PS We have a vaccine, no thanks to him.

          1. So much for Fauci’s comments about avoiding the political fray. His face hit the sunlight of fame and now he craves it. He is addicted and must renew it every time it fades. There is nothing more political than denouncing federalism, even if you couch it in “science”. Consulting Fauci about constitutional questions is basically like consulting AOC… about anything.

            Yep, communist dictatorship is far superior at making decisions and enforcing them. So what? We decided against that centuries ago.

            Science and the data recognizes the massive swings in societal structure and is grounds for differentiation. It’s just that because of the weakness of bureaucracy, it cannot come up with a comprehensive plan other than one size fits all. But it does fit with Fauci’s personal political beliefs. Fauci may or may not be a worthy scientist when you close the political curtains and take him out of the limelight. But he’s all too willing to bullshit everyone to push his political narrative.

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  2. Isn’t the Hippocratic Oath a super-precedent with respect to Constitutional law?

    1. The “It is for you own good” clause certainly trumps the Constitution.

      1. Government subsidized, mandatory broccoli purchases when?
        I love steamed broccoli on the side of my meals.

        1. It will be illegal to put cheese, butter, or more than eight grains of salt on it.

          1. Taco Bell isn’t what it used to be.

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  3. I don’t know, California went full lockdown full mask mandate full hypocritical anti-business governor (Newsom was lauded for his early work slowing the spread) and is now the worst state.

    1. It’s almost like they were simply delaying the inevitable, just like everybody said. Slowing their spread right into flu season was the dumbest thing they could do, so of course that’s what they did.

      And OF COURSE Inslee had to follow along like a damned puppy dog.

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      2. Inslee has never done anything good. Ever.

      3. Flu deaths are way down though, so Silver Lining?

        1. Most likely they are not – they are being counted as Wuhan Virus deaths.

        2. The vast majority of the dead were those teetering on the edge and it’s just a matter of timing as to which got to them first.

    2. Duh. Still Trump’s fault.

    3. Maybe he is just making sure there is no line at the French Laundry.
      He is Governor so….

  4. Something that cannot be emphasized more, and that I believe the Reason writers should really start recognizing, is that the fatality numbers are people who died with, not necessarily from, the pandemic virus.

    1. also during

      1. They count anyone who dies while testing positive. Not anyone who dies. Someone could jump off a building, and if the red spot tests positive it’s counted as a pandemic death.

        1. Sarcasmic, you are absolutely correct.

          The death data is very dirty right now and will require a lot of sifting before we really know the extent of what we have dealt with (it will be bad). This is not a conspiracy theory, it is a fact of data collection. You have to collect the data first, then understand what it means. Thus the “art of medicine.”

          1. Stating the obvious, but collecting the data correctly is absolute. Otherwise the data is dirty, as you said, and getting to the real story becomes a treasure hunt.
            It is almost as if all other causes of death have dropped dramatically to make room for Covid deaths to be number one and keep the dream (nightmare) alive.

            1. My favorite part is their public display of Doublethink:

              The flu is down this year because everyone is wearing masks and social distancing.

              Covid-19 is out of control because people aren’t wearing masks and social distancing like their betters tell them.

              Lovely.

              1. We’re at war with Eastasia. We’ve always been at war with Eastasia.

              2. MORE people are wearing masks and social distancing, so the flu rate is down. COVID-19 is much more contagious than flu, so the degree to which mask wearing and social distancing happens has not been high enough to keep its spread down. It’s pretty fucking simple.

                People contort themselves to make statements seem intellectually dishonest when the goal of folks like Dr. Fauci is simply to limit the number of people hospitalized for the disease. It took me a long time to come up with a working hypothesis around why people are so reluctant to accept the science. My best guess is a reluctance to suffer inconvenience. I can’t think of a reason that better explains the tortured reasoning behind not wearing masks and distancing by people who want to open the economy. The Venn Diagram of those who want to wear masks and those who want the economy open should be a single overlapping circle. Being unwilling to suffer inconvenience is the only thing that makes sense. I wish people would just own the fact that they don’t like masks rather than pretend their minor neurosis is some kind of philosophical statement.

                1. Mask compliance is very high across the country. Like over 95%.

                2. Flu rate is down because they aren’t testing for the flu. Its being counted as Wuhan virus.

                3. It took you a long time to come up with that? I don’t know why given that it’s the spin that CNN and MSNBC put on it daily.

                  Of course the idea that despite very high compliance, it’s worse than ever escapes your ability to hypothesize, as does the idea that Fauci et al have gotten damn near everything wrong. It’s not the science that people question, it’s the scientists.

                  And my guess is that your position on “opening the economy” means you neither have a business or a family to support…. or you’re just a snowflake depending on money arriving in your account from the universe and magic and stuff.

              3. LOL that is great. I gotta use that.

          2. The death data is very dirty right now

            Agreed… The only thing that seem certain is that there has been *some* excess death in 2020 above and beyond what one would expect from a growing and ageing population. My very slap-dash look at CDC deaths though November looks like maybe 120-150k “extra” this year. Which is a lot, but it’s not like the highly questionable number of 330k COVID deaths is wholly incremental. A whole bunch of those deaths were going to happen anyway.

            After we do the sifting through and figure out that number (and also remove the other avoidable deaths from suicide, substance abuse, and delayed medical attention) we’ll have a better idea of how many people would not have died but for COVID, which is the number that everyone really should be interested in when we look back at this.

            1. Its also possibly those deaths are just pull ahead – people who would have died this winter from the flu.

        2. It’s misleading from a news perspective, but it sort of makes sense from a health care one.

          If you have a patient who is in desperate need of dialysis, for instance, but also test positive for Covid, are they going to the kidney ward or the Covid ward for their treatment?

        3. Suicides are up because of lock downs.

    2. There are about 400k excess deaths from all causes this year. If Covid didn’t cause them, what did?

      1. There are about 400k excess deaths from all causes this year.

        Citation? Because even the most liberal reading of CDC data through November doesn’t even get to 200k extra.

        1. It’s CDC data I’m referring to. Where do you get 200k from? Just go to their website and check the charts for all cause mortality.

      2. Source? Last info I saw showed total deaths in the US are down from the past several years in spite of wuflu.

        1. Absolute rubbish. You clearly have not consulted the actual charts.

  5. NOW IS THE TIME TO DO AS YOU ARE TOLD!

    1. IT IS NEVER THAT TIME!

    2. That power belonged to my parents and ended when I moved out.

  6. The USA has the worth death rate of any nation in the world. If it’s not federalism, then what else could it be? Trump?

    1. For the record: the above isn’t true.

    2. Obesity and a sedentary lifestyle.
      The American golem is a life unworthy of life.

      1. Metabolic syndrome which puts one’s inflammatory state on a hair trigger. Shitty grains (redundant), industrial seed oils, and a bunch of sugar are the enemies of good health.

    3. 14th in death pet capita, and not even top for IFR.

    4. A general openness and freedom still exists here along with an FU, you’re not the boss of me attitude.

  7. “It is an objection to the basic structure of our constitutional design, which limits the federal government to specifically enumerated powers that do not include a general mandate to fight communicable diseases or protect public health.”

    Yes, and….your point is?

    1. Fauci is a socialist/communist. F that guy.

      1. …To the same degree that a battalion commander is a communist. There are situations- even in a free society (war, pandemic, natural disaster)- when top-down leadership is absolutely required for a successful mission. Fear and ignorance prevent a lot of people from understanding that. I blame the American educational system. It has done a poor job of producing critical thinkers. Right wing media has done a good job of stoking fear of the unknown. Stupid scared people are the biggest threat to our country. A democracy requires an informed electorate with the ability to see through bullshit. 70% of Republicans think the election was stolen from Trump. That pretty much says it all. Your comment merely adds one more data point.

        1. lmao… “successful mission”? “when top-down leadership is absolutely required” … “Stupid scared people are the biggest threat” … “A democracy” … “Fear and ignorance”.

          This is funner than watching a dog chase his own tail.

          The “threat to our country” being a Constitutional Union of Republican States (NOT Democracy) IS “when top-down leadership is absolutely required” by “Stupid scared people” out of their “Fear and IGNORANCE” of the very foundation of this country that put Individual Liberty and Justice above “top-down leadership”.

  8. Fauci’s streak of being wrong about everything is pretty impressive. Yesterday he said the worst is still to come. A month ago he said Thanksgiving would drive us over the edge. He warned against having Christmas.

    Yet the curves remain unchanged.

    1. He should join the ecophobiacs.

    2. At least he was right in March when he said there is no reason to wear a mask.

      1. Very early on he mentioned asymptomatic spread wasn’t really a thing, as well.

        But since he’s reversed on both and is now wrong, he gets no credit.

    3. He’d fit right in with the Climastrologists.

    4. Most of these doctors have lied and stoked fear because they’re condescending elitists who think you won’t follow the common sense guidelines if you aren’t scared shitless like the ignorant peasant you are.

      Ironically, we’re educated just enough to react poorly to such messaging because of how insulting it is. If the federal response was more honest, people would follow guidelines better.

      It’s kind of like Holocaust denial. The theories are batshit insane and easy to disprove, yet some countries criminalize denial, thus creating the impetus to further deny the event because “look at who you are not allowed to criticize, they know, they’re hiding it” etc.

      There is also a dangerous AIDS-like stigma about Covid now. People wish death upon one another. If someone gets the coof, the automatic response is “must have been an anti-masker.” Nobody can accept that the guidelines are perfectly imperfect. Masks don’t eliminate the possibility of transmission. Social distance helps but it isn’t perfect either. You can do everything and still get sick. You can break all the rules and not get sick. The “jUst fOllOw thE scIEncE” crowd is ironically not following the science by using confirmation bias instead of facts. Smokers used to use such logic to justify their habits. “My grandpappy smoked until he was 100 and he never got cancer!”

      Projection is a very common tactic of the insecure and demoralized populations.

  9. As far as Fauci’s concerned, this is strictly a medical issue; one-dimensional only.
    And as far as he’s concerned, there are no down-sides to that focus; he’s lost not a penny of income, travels as he pleases, and I’m sure had no problems getting TP and paper towels.
    It is NOT strictly a medical problem.

    1. From a medical perspective, shouldn’t we also ban alcohol, fast food, and driving over 35 MPH?

      1. Some of us remember the early days of AIDS. When some people thought that closing down gay bathhouses might be an appropriate measure. If only to limit the ability of infected to have so many fluid exchanges in one night.

        But all the right thinking people said that would be an affront to liberty.

        1. Gay men raw dogging each other’s rectums anonymously is as sacred a screamer to the left as government funded physician assisted infanticide.

          Outside of those things, everything else is up to the discretion of progressive leaders and their academic apostles.

      2. From a medical perspective the only ethical choice at this point is to abort all pregnancies to minimize future deaths.

        1. They’re working on it.

    2. Sevo, you are correct. As a physician you have to treat the whole person in real life (I don’t mean crystals and hippie crap). And in real life, there are trade-offs to everything.

      Often, educated people can be really stupid because they can’t see past their specific education.

      1. People like you (and me) get labeled ‘deniers’, you know…

        1. Science deniers. A new category.

      2. A great book that describes one doctor’s experience of treating the patient and not just extending life is: Being Mortal by Atul Gawande. Both Atul and his father are gerontologists who learned to ask what was important to the patient to continue doing as they declined due to age. They adjusted the treatment to the goals of the patient, which in some cases was not the path that gave a longer life, but better quality of life as expressed by the patient. Fauci would definitely be in the group they decried as mere body mechanics.

      3. “As a physician you have to treat the whole person in real life”

        Physicians have their place, but isn’t it epidemiologists whom we call upon to deal with viruses like covid 19? They deal with populations of people rather than individuals.

  10. Many things went wrong with the U.S. response to COVID-19. But the most conspicuous failures happened at the federal level

    Sullum is gaslighting us.

    By far the worst thing that happened in the pandemic were the lockdowns that sent COVID-positive patients into nursing homes. The facemask thing is a non-starter as Fauci himself said they were not effective and the whole testing thing is moot for a virus that has no discernable symptoms in 70% of the infected.

    The real failures at the federal level were the courts who didn’t strike down state and local mandates that placed unconstitutional restrictions on the majority of the population who were not at risk. Emergency powers to quarantine the sick may be a necessity, but what we saw happen to healthy people in the US over the last 9 months has been a tragic blow to liberty.

    1. Sullum has not been remotely honest throughout this whole panicdemic.

    2. And what’s worse, is that I don’t see how we get out of this massive hole of government control.

      1. According to the last election – Most (??American’s??) could care less about any Individual Freedom and want to be in the massive hole of government control

        ….and since they don’t believe the nation is a Constitutional Republic but is instead a Democracy it’s only a ‘majority’ vote into the massive hole of a tyrannical government dictatorship for all of us.

        Sell your souls to the [WE] foundation; because you don’t own you.. [WE] own you.

      2. I don’t see how we get out of this massive hole of government control.

        Mission accomplished!!!

  11. Fauci is a statist asshole whose only goal is power over others. And he’s probably a eugenicist, like his bioethicist wife.

    1. Technically, the medical term is “anus”, not “asshole”.

      1. Medically speaking anus is an anatomic term, while asshole refers to a personality type.

      2. he hates us cause he(‘s an) anus

        1. Like Sheriff Lobo’s deputy?

  12. If only of course Fauci could stay the course and not change his mind every time he talks to someone else.

    Anyway the US has not been hardest hit per capita. And we already know the shithole countries lie about it.

    Also Cali was early in mask wearing and social distancing, and they still got it bad. So no federalism is not the problem. Lazy bureaucrats who can’t stay on a single message are the problem.

  13. “Is Anthony Fauci Right….?”

    No, I don’t trust him on anything. I doubt he even has a family. They probably found him wandering SF muttering to himself and smelling like piss.

    1. I think you’re confusing him with Bernie Sanders. They found him ima piss soaked NYC alley screaming his ‘ideas’ at a garbage can.

      1. Only if that garbage can is giving his wife money.

  14. I, state your name, do solemnly swear to uphold and defend the constitution of the United States of America, against any enemy foreign or domestic, and swear allegiance to the same…
    I stated these words on 10 May, 1995 at Spokane, WA MEPPS, and as far as I can tell no one has ever relieved me of that oath. Unfortunately, it seems many Americans have no love for the Constitution or the idea of freedom.

    1. Sad to see soldiermedic 76. But you are right = Unfortunately, it seems many Americans have no love for the Constitution or the idea of freedom.

      1. Nancy Pelosi just gave me $600!
        Who cares about reading some parchment?

        1. The best thing we can do for the country is to continue to vote for more free money in exchange for our freedoms.

        2. That 600 bucks cost you 8k.

          1. That’s why they upped it to $2k. Now you are 25% efficient rather than 7.5%.

      2. Freedom is unpredictable. You never know what people might do or come up with when they’re left to their own devices. That’s why so many feel that we need to be controlled. Control eliminates unpredictability. They feel that we need central planning because without a central plan you don’t know who will do what. So what if freedom has the best outcomes? You don’t know what the outcomes will be, and that uncertainty is why people hate freedom and the constraints put upon government by the Constitution. It’s stupid, but that’s the way it is. The American experiment with liberty is dead.

      3. that shouldn’t be a recent revelation. There has been a disconnect between perception of freedom and how the constitution protects it and the publics understanding of its relevance to their lives.
        We are living in the age of bread and circuses and from what i’m seeing its only going to get worse. At least we can encourage the tech oligopolies to get bigger to better serve us with their economies of scale. ….. its already proved its worth when we see how they used their economy of scale of news censorship.

  15. Anthony Fauci, an infectious disease expert who has played a leading role in advising the Trump administration on COVID-19

    Well, see, there’s your problem right there, he’s part of the Trump administration so you knows he’s an incompetent nitwit who doesn’t know a damn thing. Biden needs to fire his dumb ass on Day One. Same as every other member of the Trump Administration, fire every single one of them. Anybody in government who worked for Trump gets the boot. All 3 million of them.

    1. Anybody in government who worked for Trump gets the boot.
      That would not be very many people. A lot of people worked under him, but not necessarily for him.

    2. Fauci is civil service the President can’t fire him.

    3. Anthony Fauci, an infectious disease expert

      Like an infectious disease, he is, infecting many with his pomposity.

      1. He did so well with AIDS, though.

        Right?

  16. “In the areas where the federal government has taken the lead… its performance has been characterized by striking incompetence, bureaucratic intransigence, bewildering inconsistency, and lethal foot dragging.” YES! It has! But the federal government is prominently controlled by a party whose default premise is the government is the problem. Couple that with an executive branch that is dismissive, and willfully undercuts science and data driven responses to the pandemic and what you get is what we have now. A freaking mess. One can argue about the policy details, but delivering competent governance is something that should be a core principle of any political party. The Republican Party has done a purposeful job of undercutting that competence at every level and in every manner. The response to Hurricane Katrina was a foreshadowing of that philosophy of gross incompetence under Bush. “Brownie, you’re doing a heckuva job” was just the same as Trump claiming early in the pandemic everything was under control and that the virus would disappear by summer with warm weather. He said that at the same time the virus was spreading in countries in southeast Asia where the temperatures are at a warm temperature.
    The only way that one can describe this administration is a leadership failure on a massive scale. Trump, as the titular leader has to own the problem, instead it owned him. And the Republican Party hides behind federalism to mask, indeed to condone, that failure.

    1. “but delivering competent governance is something that should be a core principle of any political party”
      So you agree the Democratic governors like Coumo and Whitmer have to go?

    2. You forgot that Trump has no constitutional authority to do much about the virus beyond closing travel from hot spots, initiating a crash program to develop vaccines, dispatch hospital ships to hit spots, and try to boost morale by promising that this will end, the sooner the better. All of which he did wonderfully.

      But suffering from dementia, like Plugs, you cannot be expected to know what has been happening these past 10 months.

    3. If only we had Cuomo, Newsom or Whitmer in charge? Did you know in the history of the world no man has successfully stopped a virus from doing what a virus does unless there is a vaccine? President Trump is responsible for the fastest development of a vaccine in history by simply keeping the government out of the way and providing funds and resources. We could have been where we are now last spring if not for the restriction of flights and the lock down.

      1. Public Health authorities have used the tools of quarantines and contact tracing for decades, centuries even. The efficacy of a quarantine requires detailed knowledge of the route of transmission of the disease, its basic reproduction number and the willingness of people to adhere to the guidelines. The quarantine approach can work very well with viruses having a low R0 and limited routes of transmission. The approach largely worked with the HIV epidemic in the absence of a vaccine. The emergence of anti-retroviral therapy then converted HIV infection from a lethal transmissable disease to a chronic disease. Ebola waxes and wanes without becoming a continent wide pandemic in Africa. No vaccine or even treatments. Both viruses have low transmissability, infection requiring exchange of contaminated body fluid. COVID has a significantly higher Ro and it is carried on the breeze.

        The willingness to engage in personal and commercial restrictions has a lot of variability. In my home state, NC, the counties with the highest rates of infection and deaths are those that dismissed the use of personal restrictions. I do not think it a coincidence that the Upper Midwest experienced the worst incidence for disease following the Sturgis rally. That was a Super Spreader event, without a doubt.

        A good vaccine will break the back of a disease outbreak. But so will standard epidemiological practices.

        Trump had little to do with the speed of vaccine development. Vaccine development would have went fast no matter who the President was at the time. The speed of the process is related to the maturity of the technology used. President Ford and President Obama did the same with the Swine Flu. The federal government is not “getting out of the way” when it is ultimately paying for the effort. Trumps administration was placing bets on Novavax by giving them a billion when they had no experience or success at getting a product to market. They stifled the Pfizer-Intech rollout which did not take government money by the way.

        The innovation has been largely on the clinical trial side and that was enabled by a high case rate of COVID in the US. That and the fact that the clinical trial designs were as adaptive as one can get. The FDA, by the way, was meaningfully helpful in getting those designs to work out properly. None of this gets done in a vacuum.

        No, Trump screwed it up pretty badly. His own case history of hydrochloroquine advocacy, miracle mineral solution, UV lights, lack of mask advocacy and general dismissiveness of the pandemic put this country in a bad situation. And when he and his close advisors were found infected – after weekly testing – they promptly got the best treatment, the steroids, antibodies and Remsidvir. And after that not another word about miracle mineral solution or hydrochloroquine.

    4. The Republican Party has done a purposeful job of undercutting that competence at every level and in every manner.

      History started before the year 2000… You might want to look a bit further back.

      Governmental incompetence grows proportionately with it’s size and scope, unless of course you define “competence” as “the ability to tyrannically control the population”

      1. The word purposeful matters. Since Goldwater, to Reagan, the second Bush and now Trump, Republican Presidents have uniformly worked to degrade government competency. In the name of smaller is better? Really? Living in a small town and being active in county – wide politics I can assure you that smaller is not better. Any organization – business, non-profit, religion – constantly seek to grow in size and scale to capture more market share. Some do it well, others do not. But what organization purposefully undermines their business processes? That is a recipe for failure. Likewise for government. The deliverable for government is best seen during a crisis. This government has failed that test. Best example – the lack of adequate testing resources. Where was the warp speed to deploy those tests? Instead, the administration actively dissuaded broad scale testing because it wanted the numbers low. Likewise the rollout for the vaccines. Pfizer has to negotiate with the Trump administration for supplies to service their vaccine manufacture. Why? Trump is quick to declare an intention to put US military in cities to quell “riots” but where is the intention to use the military to move and administer the vaccines? Trump and his enablers have shown how toxic the Republican Party creed has become. When a political party cannot govern well enough to perform a core function of government – assuring public health – then that political party should not govern at all.

  17. Like I am going to believe a guy who throws a ball like a little girl. And also lies to the American people on the effectiveness of masks and herd immunity rates.

    “When polls said only about half of all Americans would take a vaccine, I was saying herd immunity would take 70 to 75 percent,” Fauci told the Times. “Then, when newer surveys said 60 percent or more would take it, I thought, ‘I can nudge this up a bit,’ so I went to 80, 85.”

    1. The best part is that he says he totally miscalculated the distance from the mound to the plate.

  18. You really want to bring up Sweden Sullum? It’s been a disaster, and that is their own evaluation of efficacy of their pandemic approach.

    “Sweden’s death rate of over 80 per 100,000 people is among Europe’s highest and is around 10 times as great as those of Norway and Finland, and over four times Denmark’s. COVID-19 hospitalizations are now rising faster there than in most European countries, and Sweden is caring for more patients in hospital now than it did at the height of its first wave. By Dec. 21, Sweden had surpassed the United States and all major European countries in its daily confirmed cases per million. Things have gotten so out of control in Sweden that neighboring Norway, for the first time since World War II, put troops on the border to prevent Swedes from crossing over.”

    “The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development’s Nov. 19 report concluded that Sweden fared worst among 35 European countries in multiple coronavirus management metrics including lowering the spread of infection, reducing people’s mobility, and discharging patients from intensive care units.”

    https://foreignpolicy.com/2020/12/22/sweden-coronavirus-covid-response/

    And their comparison to their Nordic neighbors is the one that matters. They are similar in many ways…other than using a herd immunity approach. And now Norway is closing their border to Sweden.

    1. And now they ARE starting their own similar restrictions:

      “This new law will also enable the government to temporarily shutdown several businesses, shopping malls, leisure and entertainment venues and public transports. “Those who violate restrictions that limit access to public places can be sentenced to a monetary fine,” Health Minister Lena Hallengren said in a press conference.”

      https://www.wionews.com/world/sweden-imposes-stricter-covid-19-regulations-amid-fear-of-new-variant-352966

      So Sweden itself recognizes its failure…you’re still holding out hope, like Scott Atlas and Tucille, that herd immunity was the way to go. Sweden’s architect of that failed approach, Anders Tegnell, was banished to the sidelines. So to should you be.

      1. This is a load of crap about Sweden. Sure Sweden did worse than rural Norway that has very odd geography – Fjords, island like in some ways, easy to isolate. You are cherry picking to make them sound bad. How do they relate to Spain, Italy, Belgium, UK? How many deaths did they report yesterday? None. Today. None.
        Sweden’s leaders just panicked when cases started to rise. Numbers fell/are falling pretty quickly too though. Sweden is still a good model of reasonable reaction and responses. Fools like Jackass Ace are afraid and want you to be afraid.

        1. Jackass has wet dreams about leftist authoritarianism.

      2. Sweden has had 877 deaths per million, 27th worst in the world, better than the US at 1033 and UK at 1045. Sweden has a large immigrant population compared to Norway, Finland, and Denmark. And those folks are not as disciplined as the Norse folk, hence the spread.

    2. “And now Norway is closing their border to Sweden.”

      That’s terrible. As a Koch / Reason libertarian, I believe closing borders is never the correct response.

      #OpenBorders
      #(EspeciallyDuringAPandemic)

    3. Complete bullshit. Cherry pick the data to make you feel warm and fuzzy. You could do the research, but you’re just too lazy.

  19. Incidentally, the U.S. is not, as Fauci claimed, “the hardest-hit country in the world.” While our COVID-19 numbers are certainly nothing to brag about, the United States currently ranks 14th in deaths per capita, according to Worldometer’s tallies. Developed countries such as the United Kingdom, Italy, Spain, and Belgium—all of which imposed sweeping restrictions on social and economic activity at the national level—are doing worse by that measure. The U.K., where Fauci’s interview slamming federalism was broadcast, has imposed national lockdowns repeatedly, but its death rate is still somewhat higher than the U.S. rate. Sweden, which eschewed such measures, ranks 27th in per capita COVID-19 deaths, much higher than its Scandinavian neighbors but lower than many other European countries.

    You’d almost think from that data that the various government responses made no difference at all and we crippled our economy for no benefit.

  20. An alternative interpretation to the ‘federalism failed’ horseshit that Sullum expects us to lap up is this: We have governors of varying degrees of incompetence. The most incompetent were NJ, NY, IL, MI and CA. Those governors managed to kill their people at a higher rate while simultaneously destroying their economies.

    1. If only the federal government could have acted more quickly and forcefully under a Biden administration. How many people could have been locked in their homes and apartments earlier to save their lives from the Trump virus?

      1. SleepyJoe will act swiftly and decisively to crush any hopes of freedom.

  21. I’m pretty sure fauci lying out of his ass since the late 80s did more to undermine his credibility

  22. Fauci is full of crap and is using any excuse he can to explain his failures. If federalism failed, then why do the states that implemented every solution from Fauci and the rest of the fed govt COVID bureaucrats have the highest infection and death rates? CA in particular has had the longest and most restrictive limitations since March, but has the highest number of infections and the 2nd or 3rd highest death rate. People aren’t even allowed to take a walk or ride a bike and get fresh air without a mask in CA. But the numbers just keep going up.

    In PA Gov. Wolf shut down indoor dining for the entire state until after New Year, but outside of Philly and Pittsburgh and a few other cities, there are large swaths of the state with very low population density. Meanwhile NJ, right in the middle of NY and PA is open for indoor dining. The restaurant owners in Philly are complaining that people are just going over the bridge to restaurants in NJ. So the restrictions aren’t stopping people from going to restaurants. It’s just stopping them from spending their money locally. And now the govt has decided to extend the restrictions in Philly to Jan 15 even though the rate of new daily cases is decreasing because they anticipate a rise after the holidays. The ever moving goal post. Even when the numbers go down, the rules just change mid game.

    1. They are scienceing as hard as they can.

  23. There is one function that could only be done centrally. That is the screening done at airports, the determination as to which countries needed to be screened, the testing of those travelers, and the communication of and advice about results.

    The US was easily the most incompetent significant country. Especially considering that there was no Schengen area where it quickly becomes impossible to do anything. I cannot see one thing the US did that was anything BUT incompetent and deceitful – from the bureaucratic to the political.

    1. Yeah. If only that bastard Trump had restricted travel from known hotspots!!

      Oh, wait….

  24. Remember kids: If central planning fails, you must not have planned centrally enough.

    1. You haven’t seen central planning until you see SleepyJoe central planning!
      He will central plan our asses to the promised land!

  25. Anthony Fauci, an infectious disease expert who has played a leading role in advising the Trump administration on COVID-19, has been lying about the Communist Chinese Virus all along, and should NEVER be listened to, or reported on.

  26. “Centralization makes sense only if you ignore differences in local conditions—and trust the feds to make the right choices.”

    If we learned anything from 2020 it’s that one-size-fits-all big government does not work. Because local conditions DO MATTER and government is full of idiots whose interests are not aligned to the people they are supposed to serve.

    Many politicians looked at this as a power play, a political opportunity. Infectious disease ‘experts’ were not immune from this, plus their thinking was so narrow-minded they did great damage. Neither of these groups knew the first thing about being a leader and way too few were interested in persuasion, providing useful information, setting a good example, or collaborating with the people they are supposed to serve. Predominantly, what we saw was orders and tyranny. When we did see collaboration such as with operation Warp Speed, the production and distribution of ventilators and PPE we saw great success, but it was largely uncovered by the media, who are almost universally socialists and communists.

  27. Sullum wants to debate which level of government should be controlling our lives and our responses to a dangerous virus. The flaw in his approach is his basic premise.

  28. Fauci is just one more among a constellation of good people who sincerely believe they are doing what’s best for the ignorant masses. Yet we have a disease which is, per the CDC, not worse than common flu in terms of death rate. Even in the face of such known facts, people ‘doing what must be done to save the unwashed masses’ go about doing all the things that make this coronavirus panic worse rather than better. Destroy the economy to save . . . people who weren’t going to die anyway. Keep kids who weren’t going to get sick out of school so . . . they won’t get sick.

    1. “Of all tyrannies, a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It would be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron’s cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end for they do so with the approval of their own conscience.”

      C S Lewis

  29. There are many good people that work in the federal bureaucracy but the “bureaucracy” (or system) is amoral – not always good or bad. Good people in a bad system.

    In American history the federal government has imposed racial segregation, denied women the right to vote, adopted torture techniques from the Spanish Inquisition (legalized by the U.S. Department of Justice) and even masqueraded as foreign enemies (Gulf of Tonkin during the Vietnam War). The Founding Fathers trusted no government agency nor any court.

    The best plan is strong “checks & balances” with maximum transparency. As Reagan famously quoted “trust but verify”.

    1. Women not voting was a state issue.

  30. The problem with Fauci’s hypothesis is it assumes the federal government, if given authority over the whole country, would make the right decisions and there certainly is no guarantee of that. Fauci’s own suggestions have been all over the place. No masks. Masks. Maybe masks. Close the schools, no open them. Herd immunity at 60%, no 70%, wait, make that 75-80%. Just look at the differences between states like California (strict) and Florida (lax). California is more in line with Fauci’s recommendations yet they have higher infection rates than Florida or Texas. Do we really want the federal government forcing Florida to back track on its success and mimic California because the oft-wrong government experts say so? Not me.

    1. In any other field of life this jerk off is FIRED.

      But somehow he not only manages to still hold onto to a job he’s still out there babbling and ADMITTING HE’S LYING.

      1. He provides moral support for those who want to control others. That’s why the authoritarians love him. He clears their consciences.

        “Of all tyrannies, a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It would be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron’s cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end for they do so with the approval of their own conscience.”

  31. Of course Faux-cheeto wants a powerful, central state. He is an egotistical technocrat, used to thinking he knows more that others (and knows what other people should do).

  32. Trump hat undermined our response more than anything. When Trump tried to limit foreign national from entering the country, he was called xenophobic an racist.

  33. Consult Infectious Disease. You get an ID consult with detailed report and recommendations. That is what you got here from one of the top immunology ID people on the planet.

    What most of you want is some sort of shepherd. A ruler with all the answers to ease the pain. Pencil neck geeky Fauci is the target of your hatred.

    1. “What most of you want is some sort of shepherd…”

      You can’t read too well; what most of us want is to be left alone by the government.

      1. The NAIAD does not have the ability to make nor enforce law.

        Talk with your governor, local authority, or the feds about that.

        1. Fauci provides cover for those fascists.

  34. The function of government is to defend liberty, period. It’s not here to keep us from getting sick. Anything government did was the wrong thing.

    1. You’ve just defined “being alive” away as not constituent of liberty. You must have an incredibly narrow definition of liberty.

      1. Freedom from the initiatory use of force.

        1. Like I said, not only a narrow definition of liberty, maybe the narrowest. Outside of North Korea-like situations anyway.

          Why on earth would I want to subscribe to an ethical system that gives me as few rights as possible? I want more rights, not fewer.

          1. Because when you get into the world of positive rights, you usually start initiating force against X in order to provide that right for Y.

          2. Rights given aren’t rights but privileges.

          3. Why on earth would I want to subscribe to an ethical system that gives me as few rights as possible? I want more rights, not fewer.

            Our freedom and rights (the real ones) exist independently of government. The way to maximize freedoms and rights is to eliminate government altogether, though I’m sure that’s not what you are advocating for. We trade some freedom in exchange for the government trying to ensure some modicum of security for the most sacred of our rights.

            N.B. – If you’d like to learn more, please consult the Declaration of Independence

            1. I get it. Among many competing political philosophies, yours offers the fewest numbers of rights.

              Any right that means anything is an imposition on other people. A right to life is an exhortation to others not to murder you. A right to property goes far beyond and is very much a positive right to exclude others from access to land or stuff that only belongs to you via legal fictions.

              You’re not describing necessary outputs from a set of immutable principles of freedom, you’re explicitly offering a shitty package of rights and telling people it’s good for them.

              1. We only have one right which is to liberty. Murder violates that right. Theft or robbery violates that right. Under your version of property rights it would be legal to force a person to give you one of their kidneys. No matter how you phrase it initiating force is immoral and your support of it makes you immoral.

  35. If Fauci said it, there is a better than 50% chance that he is lying to manipulate a gullible public that has been admonished to “follow the science.”

    No rational person should take anything he says at face value as being anything but deception to forward his social engineering & political objectives.

    The man is trash.

  36. Fauci is a Gates and pharma stooge. Useless as anything else. Would never believe anything this bum says. Should be fired and sent to Cuba. The perfect intellectual retard.

  37. I don’t think Fauci is all that bright.

    Smart, ethical people don’t resort to lies.

    Change my mind.

    1. You are a fake. You are not even Canadian. Change my mind.

      1. Echo reverts to a lie, proving Rufus’ point. What a fool to so lack self awareness!

  38. Typical bureaucrat, the hoi polloi cannot be trusted to do the right thing. Give me the power and I will take care of you. Bah!

    1. Exactly! He is just a petty bureaucrat who now has a bunch of power. His recent answer on herd immunity proved that. It keeps getting higher so that he can exercise influence and stay in the press.

    2. They obviously can’t be trusted to do the right thing. How many hundreds of thousands have to die before that becomes just an observed fact?

      If you want individual liberty you have to demonstrate some amount of individual responsibility.

      Not “my body my choice!” for having deliberate poor hygiene to own the libs. Be the change you want to see.

      1. See the problem with your approach is who says what the right thing is? Top men I suppose? Like Fauci who is now a proven liar?

        1. The problem: a global pandemic.

          The people who know how to deal with the problem: Unknowable. Could be top virus experts, could be second-tier reality TV personalities. Who can say?

          1. Could be individuals.

            1. Are there problems you can conceive of that are not optimally handled by individuals acting independently with little information?

              1. Any initiation of force not requiring immediate self defense. In such situations the government is charged with the defense of liberty.

          2. The people who know how to deal with the problem: Unknowable. Could be top virus experts, could be second-tier reality TV personalities. Who can say?

            And yet you would give one person power to set the rules for all. Self awareness fail.

  39. Federal mandates lack a legal basis and are crude and nonresponsive to local needs.

    To the left, however, they are irresistible because they embody multiple leftist core beliefs – superior knowledge available only to them, social engineering dictated by the elite. Most prominent is the totalitarian will to power and conformity implicit in a single solution forced on all.
    Individual states have always been laboratories for social policy, one reason the Constitution goes to such lengths to protect them from federal interference. The left’s love of diversity is once again incinerated by their lust for overarching power.

    1. Laboratories of pandemic response. Lol. Yeah the problem with that is we can’t keep the stupid confined to their states.

  40. Sure. And look at all the different responses around the world. If only there was some sort of One World Government or something. A New World Order, if you will. Utopia on Earth at last!

  41. It must be tough being a libertarian publication in the middle of a global pandemic. A problem whose solutions are centralized authority and curtailing normal individual liberties? Solutions so basic and obvious that you can’t argue with them without being a lunatic or a monster?

    “We gonna go with optimism so naive and blind we can barely keep our faces straight?”

    “Of course, and make sure to completely ignore the fact that all the commenters are science deniers.”

    1. Actually the solution is protect the old and infirm and everyone else who have a 99.9% survival rate go back to work.

      1. No it isn’t. That is what we’ve been doing, but it hasn’t worked in practice, obviously, and it isn’t what anyone who knows what the hell he’s talking about would support.

        Old people are completely unprotected in that scenario. Exhibit A: all the nursing homes that are cut off from visitors but that nevertheless are seeing their populations eradicated.

        Not to mention you don’t have a right to ask anyone to expose himself to a deadly disease no matter what the supposed risk. And science is only just beginning to understand the long-term risks of infection. Your idea of a freedom-centric approach is to give employers free rein to force workers to expose themselves to a disease?

        What if it were AIDS dude? AIDS is much, much less deadly than this.

        You haven’t lived through anything like this. Libertarianism isn’t the solution to much, let alone a crisis that absolutely demands coordinated collective action including restricted liberties. Suck it up or be responsible for people dying.

        1. How dishonest can you get?

          “Your idea of a freedom-centric approach is to give employers free rein to force workers to expose themselves to a disease?”

          No. His idea is to give people—employers and employees alike—the freedom to decide whether to work.

          Both choices have risks, so rather than forcing those risks on the unwilling, his solution allows individuals to choose which set of risks they prefer.

          1. Meaning the choice between risking infection or losing your house? Some choice. You’ll understand why people gravitate to political approaches that simply don’t force such choices on people because government is flexible enough to buttress the economy when necessary.

            1. The government doesn’t buttress shit. You understand the government doesn’t make money they take money? Those $2,000 checks are coming out of our pockets, our children’s pockets, our grandchildren’s pockets, our great grandchildren’s pockets and our great great grandchildren’s pockets.

        2. Tony: “It must be tough being a libertarian publication in the middle of a global pandemic. A problem whose solutions are centralized authority and curtailing normal individual liberties?”

          Tony: “Exhibit A: all the nursing homes that are cut off from visitors but that nevertheless are seeing their populations eradicated.”

          Read that again, slowly.

          1. Yeah isn’t it interesting how people trying to sell a low-interference solution nevertheless require all vulnerable people to be locked up indefinitely. That’s a third of the population of the US pretty much.

            1. Complaining about lock downs for senior citizens and proposing lockdowns for everyone simultaneously is mendacious.

            2. No just until the vaccine kicks in.

    2. ENSLAVEMENT is always the “Solution” to everything for left-leaning tyrants like yourself.

    3. Shut up, you racist bigot! All you Trumptards think of is excuses to close the border and deny non-white cisgender people their basic human right to come into the United States whenever they want to, or to stop the peaceful protests of Black Lives Matter!

    4. Just because you have a good idea, doesn’t mean that forcing it on others is a good idea. In fact, forcing good ideas on others can be a very bad idea. It’s a balancing act between what good you’re accomplishing vs. how much systemic violence you’re thrusting upon otherwise peaceful people and their reaction to that.

      See: prohibition, nation building, giving your mom a Christmas present (the worst of tyrannies), etc.

      1. The same goes for the “good idea” of rugged individualism. You can say you’re not forcing it on people all day long, but it’s still a policy choice with consequences. Libertarians don’t get a unique gold star that says their policy choices are a default or the most freedomy or whatever. It’s a specific set of impositions that free people are free to reject if they result in too much death and misery.

        1. summary —
          “A Person? I see no Person. [WE] mobs is all I see.”
          “[WE] mobs RULE!”

        2. You can only choose to abdicate your own freedoms, not other’s freedoms for them.

          By all means, give your freedom away if you’re scared.

        3. Not initiating force against others is an imposition?

  42. “a one-size-fits-all policy formulated in Washington, D.C., makes little sense.”…….
    In relation to anything …ever!

  43. Yes; Federalism Undermined the U.S. Response to COVID-19; In order to retain Individual Rights…

    Complaining about “Individual Rights” being upheld is what makes Fauci such a treasonous crook P.O.S. and his threat to the peoples liberty.

  44. Dr Anthony Fauci is more of a problem that Federalism is. Dr Anthony Fauci overtly lied and is lying to the public. The rood of our difficulties falls on the CDC and the FDA. Both have large ineffective bureaucracies that were somewhat politicized due to a penchant to do what ever it could against Trump.

    While I’m glad that Trump will be leaving office, I’m saddened that he is being replaced with the likes of Biden. I’m mostly distressed that government bureaucracies are so partisan and easily manipulated. However the Corporate Media tops my list is repulsive characters.

    1. SleepyJoe will soon replace Corporate Media as the most repulsive character.

  45. Federalism is not as effective as secession since states cannot easily control their borders as long as they’re in the union. So if you have two neighboring states, one with a strict lockdown and the other with no lockdown, the people from the no lockdown state can still travel to the lockdown state with the virus. We need to actually split up into separate countries.

  46. There’s a problem with the reasoning in this article. Yes, the state governments are closer to the people and states tend to know what will work for the people in the state better than the distant Federal government. So it would be great to let the state governments deal with distributing the vaccine, IF we could be sure that the state governments were all really going to take the task seriously. But we cannot be sure of that. So many of the people in some state governments are determined to pretend that the whole thing is a hoax, or to pretend that doing nothing (which they call “the strategy of herd immunity”) is a reasonable approach, or to assume that any drug whose name Trump manages to pronounce correctly acquires curative power when he does, or to try to solve the problem by praying, that we won’t be able to solve the problem at all if we leave it up to these delusional turkeys.

    If we’re gonna leave this up to the individual states, then we should, at least, impose some kind of penalty upon state governments which refuse to take a realistic, reasonable approach to it. But that is a very knotty problem, legally and constitutionally and practically. What are we gonna do– send Federal troops into non-compliant states and arrest the state legislators and governors?

    So it really seems to me that as long as we have states controlled by a party whose standard operating procedure consists entirely of wishful thinking and fantasy and denial, leaving distribution up to state governments won’t do the job here. It would be different, of course, if we had serious people in charge in all the states.

    Shorter version: when citizens behave like children, they need a nanny, even if the nanny is a state nanny or a nanny state.

    1. Even Shorter version — When a “nanny state” exists citizens begin behaving like children.

      Now compare that to reality — Do you think the growing nanny state has resulted in more of today’s citizens acting like “grown ups”?

      Your proposition is *ssbackwards.

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