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

NEXT: Glenn Greenwald on Biden, Free Speech, and Leaving The Intercept

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  1. President-elect Joe Biden’s crappy Cabinet picks

    If only we had near 5 decades of evidence to guess as to what his administration would become.

    1. Ah well, these things are unknowable!

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        1. Easier way to work from home: get canned because of covid, go on unemployment (with an additional $600 per week thrown in by the Federal government), vote for Democrats to keep giving you children’s money while keeping said children from getting an education (and thus being poorer for their entire lives.

      1. Either that or he wanted to let people know he thought it was a good show and added another comment.

        1. Glad to see that the obsession over sockpuppets goes on unabated, even with Tulpa’s apparent abscence.

        2. You can tell yourself that if it’s what you want to believe.

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  2. The lockdowns are a hoax. Stop watching the fake news. I just went outside and nothing happened.

    1. Nothing happened because you didn’t drop your draws.

    2. Meaning you got your one hour of outdoor exercise and 23 in solitary.

    3. Mr. Strazele is being facetious because he knows martial law is the only way we can beat the black death of the 21st century.

      1. I just avoid the riots.

    4. Except for killing grandma, right?

  3. Agenda 21 / Agenda 2030 / The Great Reset. Whatever the fuck you want to call it, these fuckwads really want to try to condition us to our new and unimproved no freedom way of life, in the hopes that when they try to make it permanent most people won’t complain so much.

    And it’s been what they’ve been planning to do for decades.

  4. A vote for Biden or anyone other than Trump was a vote for more lockdowns and worse government. You only have yourselves to blame now.

    Democrats manage to fuck everything up and liberaltarians march right along.

    1. You can’t be serious.

      1. Mr. sarcasmic may not be able to form a rebuttal, but he knows that mock indignation is just as good as a cleverly worded argument.

        1. Your what hurts?

          1. Despite clearly being upset by any and all criticism Mr. sarcasmic was kind enough this time to provide a perfect example and that’s appreciated.

      2. Sarc used to be near the median IQ on these boards, but then he became broken. But he can still Orange Man Bad and be a hypocrite with the best of ‘me, so he just mostly sticks with that now a days.

        1. Nice story. Tell me another.

          1. Genius retort. You must be very smart.

          2. Here’s two:

            After admitting to voting for John McCain, you should really stfu about people who vote for Trump.

            In the same thread that you admitted to voting for McCain, you forgot to change to one of your socks before responding to yourself, and now there’s proof that you do that.

            1. Haha: here’s sarc forgetting to switch to a sock before talking to himself!


              You never get to lie about talking to your socks again without looking dumb!

    2. Um Trump is not your “No Lockdowns Rock”. If he were, then we have had the last 8 months of lockdowns to prove it a fraud.

      1. I thoroughly enjoy watching the Biden voters such as yourself try to justify your vote even though your buyer’s remorse is obvious.

        Ruminate on the word “federalism” and you’ll hopefully eventually get what the mockery you endure is about.

        1. Yeah,. buddy. Anyone who says anything remotely critical of Trump voted for Biden. This shit is getting really old.

    3. Wow I’m sorry you wasted your vote for bigger government but that’s what you get voting R or D. I voted for less. Without that choice I wouldent vote at all. I refuse to sanction a ruler with my vote unless he or she rules less than who came before. Sadly no one has ruled over me less than who came before. Slow death, quicker death it’s still death of liberty.

  5. What if a restaurant wants to hold a protest? And sell food to the hungry protesters?

    1. Protesters don’t pay for things.

      1. Money is racist.

  6. How did we get here, and how can we get out?

    You got here because state constitutions grant governors emergency powers.

    You can get out (in California) by starting a ballot initiative rescinding the governor’s emergency powers.

    Here, however, in the PDR of Maryland, we are well and truly fucked.

  7. Unreason forgets to include stolen elections by democrats in the list of things a virus hysteria hoax gets America.


    “Well certainly there are those who are more responsible than others, and they will be held accountable. But again, truth be told…if you’re looking for the guilty, you need only look into a mirror.

    I know why you did it. I know you were afraid. Who wouldn’t be? War. Terror. Disease. There were a myriad of problems which conspired to corrupt your reason and rob you of your common sense. Fear got the best of you and in your panic, you turned to the now High Chancellor Adam Sutler. He promised you order. He promised you peace. And all he demanded in return was your silent, obedient consent.”

    – V speech to London, V for Vendetta


    American billionaires haven’t been just immune to the pandemic, they have been thriving in it, drastically increasing their collective wealth. An analysis by Chuck Collins at the Institute for Policy Studies found that American billionaires have been their wealth grow by $1 trillion since March of this year – more than 34 percent. That was not the case during the 2008 financial crisis when it took Forbes’ 400 richest people three years to recoup their losses from the Great Recession. Collins’ findings highlight a wealth gain by a mere 650 individuals that, as Statista’s Niall McCarthy notes, seems obscene at a time when nearly 7 million Americans are at risk of eviction when moratoriums expire at the end of the year.


    1. Biden allegedly got 80 million votes, which is more than Obama received at his peak, in 2008 – and Biden did this despite losing minority voters to Donald Trump and trailing Trump in voter enthusiasm.
    2. Biden broke 60 years of precedent by winning nationally despite losing prodigiously in bellwether states and counties. The last time this happened was when the mafia got out the vote for John F. Kennedy in 1960.
    3. Trump had extraordinary coattails, so much so that even the New York Times admitted that the “Democrats Suffered Crushing Down-Ballot Losses Across America.” Think about that: Biden had no coattails and no enthusiasm, yet he allegedly won a record number of votes. Smells fetid to me.
    4. Biden barely made it through the primaries, while Trump soared, with Trump’s performance being a historically sure sign of voter enthusiasm and probable victory – yet Biden, again, allegedly scored an equally historically strong victory.
    5. Trump exceeded his original vote count by the largest margin for any incumbent in American history. He got 10 million more votes than before; by contrast, Obama, in 2012, got 3.5 million fewer votes than in 2008.
    6. Trump’s support among blacks grew by 50%, while Biden’s fell below the important 90%-mark that Democrat candidates need to secure victory.
    7. In the Rust Belt, Biden lost black support everywhere except in Detroit, Philadelphia, and Milwaukee. In those cities, every single black person apparently voted for Biden.
    8. While pollsters can and do manipulate polling outcomes, non-polling metrics (historical norms such as the economy, enthusiasm, etc.) have never been wrong – only we’re being told that this year was the exception.
    9. The fact that Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Arizona, Nevada, and Georgia simultaneously pretended to halt ballot counting while continuing to count is evidence of election fraud collusion.
    10. Optical scanners were set to accept unverified, un-validated ballots.
    11. The scanners were almost certainly programmed to fail to keep audit records.
    12. In the contested states, the voting machines were alleged to have processed hundreds of thousands of ballots within a short time, which is a physical impossibility.
    13. In Pennsylvania, statistically impossible numbers of late-arriving mail-in votes went to Biden.
    14. Dominion and ES&S voting machines were created to have back doors and specific functions to manipulate votes either at the machine or over the internet.
    15. Fox News’s behavior on election night (refusing to call pro-Trump outcomes while prematurely calling Arizona for Biden) was so abnormal that Vegas oddsmakers instantly assumed that the fix was in.
    16. The allegedly late-arriving mailed-in ballots increased Biden’s equally alleged lead with statistically impossible perfection and stability.
    17. There were anomalies in Virginia that suggested that computers were subtracting votes from Trump and, sometimes, giving them to Biden.
    18. One analysis shows that voting machines in Michigan systematically removed votes from Trump and handed them to Biden. I saw a rebuttal (which I cannot locate now) that purported to debunk this but did so by using a different scale on the X-axis, which I found inherently suspicious.
    19. Over 100,000 Pennsylvania absentee ballots were returned either a day after they were mailed out, on the day they were mailed out, or on the day before they were mailed out.
    20. In all the contested areas, and at Dominion’s website, Democrats have been systematically failing to create or have destroyed all data that could be used to demonstrate fraud. This creates the legal presumption that the data do, in fact, show fraud.


    Personally, I call those plans the approach of fascism. And for those who doubt that it could not happen in America should heed the words of the late sagacious comedian George Carlin, who once quipped that “when fascism comes to America, it will not be in brown and black shirts. It will not be with jackboots. It will be Nike sneakers and smiley shirts.” Had Carlin been alive today to see the tremendous mess we’ve inherited, he would most likely have included a syringe in the neo-fascist’s toolkit.

  12. “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.”

    And only if the theme of the protest is on the approved list. Protesting against lockdowns, or any other state government policies, is NOT permitted.

  13. I mean its so Captain Obvious I can’t believe it.

    The moment 15 days to flatten curve in March revealed we all were not going to die meaning this “alleged emergency” was not a reason to suspend the constitution the courts should have said times up.

    Actually the constitution does not have a suspend the constitution clause. I firmly believe that was intentional.

    Now you have psycho Governors claiming that racism is a national emergency. We’ll be under national emergency until someone maybe SCOTUS stops it

  14. How did we get here, and how can we get out?

    It’s going to be a challenge returning the US back to normal to set up Kamala/Biden for success. The Democrats seem to be successfully ramping down the “Unarmed Black Man Killed by Police” campaign, but making Covid go away isn’t going to be so easy. Someone is going to have to pay for Covid politically, and Trump is most likely going to be long gone when the full consequences of the lockdowns are felt.

    Mass punishment of incumbents in the next election would be a move in the right direction. While unlikely, one can still hope.

  15. “Lockdowns and Leviathan
    How pandemics joined war, terrorism, crime, and economic depression in the toolbox for ratcheting up government”

    It’s December, and it’s just now dawning on the Reason editorial staff that the Wu-flu is an excuse for increased government control over our lives?
    Any publication claiming to favor libertarian principles should have been screaming bloody murder for at least 9 months by now, and supposedly libertarian legal organizations should have dropped all other activities and jumped on this issue the instant some tin-pot dictator of a governor shut down so much as one bar.

    1. Second I agree. With the exception of the Misis Institute Libertarians went almost invisible last March. I wanted the LP Convention to continue in Austin. Screw hotels, sleep in your freakin car. Hold it in the streets in front of the State capitol where the homeless live and hand out food to them during the nomination process. Nominate the candidate and go home. They risked being removed entirely from the process. And they still tried kicking us off the ballot.
      Wasted oportunity.

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