Lockdowns and Leviathan

How pandemics joined war, terrorism, crime, and economic depression in the toolbox for ratcheting up government


As of today, the 10 million residents of Los Angeles County can no longer legally congregate with people outside of their immediate family, unless it's for the purposes of outdoor protest or religious gathering. Playgrounds—you know, those places in California's abundantly pleasant outdoors where children, who are disproportionately unlikely to contract, transmit, or suffer from COVID-19, can feel like human beings for brief respites—are once again banned, unless they are attached to schools (which are almost all shut) or day care centers. Restaurants cannot accept even outdoor customers.

All this despite the fact that L.A. County's seven-day positive-test rate for the novel coronavirus is at just 6.9 percent, which would rank around 38th in the country if the County of Angels was a state. The overall positivity rate in California is even lower, though that hasn't stopped Gov. Gavin Newsom and the state's largely Democratic political class from enacting some of the harshest clampdowns in the United States.

How did we get here, and how can we get out? Such forms the bulk of the debate on today's Reason Roundtable. Also up for discussion: media hysteria, President-elect Joe Biden's crappy Cabinet picks, and what Unorthodox can teach us about voice, exit, and coronavirus.

Speaking of plagues: Right the hell now is your final opportunity to submit questions for Roundtable podcasters Nick Gillespie, Peter Suderman, Matt Welch, and Katherine Mangu-Ward, to be addressed during our annual Webathon, which starts presently. Please email stumpers to before December 1. You'll be glad you did!

Audio production by Ian Keyser and Regan Taylor.

Music: "government funded weed" by Black Ant.

Relevant links from the show:

"Anthony Fauci: 'Close the Bars and Keep the Schools Open,'" by Robby Soave

"Americans Are Starting a Staggering Number of Businesses During the COVID-19 Pandemic," by Eric Boehm

"Pandemic Rules Are Only for the Little People," by J.D. Tuccille

"Paul Krugman Thinks Holding Religious Services During the COVID-19 Pandemic Is Like 'Dumping Neurotoxins Into Public Reservoirs,'" by Jacob Sullum

"SCOTUS Blocks New York's COVID-19 Restrictions on Houses of Worship, Saying They Are Not 'Narrowly Tailored,'" by Jacob Sullum

"Denver Mayor Michael Hancock Urged People Not To Travel for Thanksgiving Shortly Before Boarding His Flight," by Christian Britschgi

"Masks Have Helped To Blunt the COVID-19 Pandemic in Kansas," by Ronald Bailey

"Senseless Restrictions on Outdoor Activities Undermine the Goal of Curbing COVID-19," by Jacob Sullum

"Americans Are Nowhere Near Herd Immunity to COVID-19," by Ronald Bailey

"Glenn Greenwald on Biden, Free Speech, and Leaving The Intercept," by Nick Gillespie

"Will Obama Torture Apologists Make a Triumphant Return to Joe Biden's White House?" by Scott Shackford

"Joe Biden's Secretary of State Pick Has Been an Avid Backer of American Military Intervention," by Christian Britschgi

"If Joe Biden Is Serious About Criminal Justice Reform, He Won't Pick Merrick Garland for Attorney General," by Damon Root

What are we consuming this week?

Matt Welch

Katherine Mangu-Ward

Peter Suderman

Nick Gillespie