Coronavirus Is the Health of the State

The disease will leave behind a residue of laws, spending, and precedents for future government actions.


HD Download

The coronavirus pandemic threatens a world-wide wave of sickness, but it's the healthiest thing to happen to government power in a very long time. It'll leave the state with a rosy glow, but our freedom will end up more haggard than ever.

For the sake of their survival, "all animals experience fear—human beings, perhaps, most of all," wrote economic historian Robert Higgs. His 1987 book Crisis and Leviathan examines how bad times cause governments to grow in scope and power. "The people who have the effrontery to rule us, who call themselves our government, understand this basic fact of human nature. They exploit it, and they cultivate it. Whether they compose a warfare state or a welfare state, they depend on it to secure popular submission, compliance with official dictates, and, on some occasions, affirmative cooperation with the state's enterprises and adventures."

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

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

And will stimulus spending repair disrupted supply chains and put production lines back in operation a minute sooner than demand for goods and services dictates? Not a chance.

Public health has long been a playing field for fear and calculation, giving us intrusive laws that sit on the books, waiting to be invoked by the next microorganism to catch the public's attention. Those laws include a nearly unlimited power to quarantine people suspected of exposure to infectious diseases.

Coronavirus will leave behind a residue of laws, spending, and precedents for future government actions. That's because of what Higgs calls the "ratchet effect," by which the aftermath of each crisis sees government shrink a little, but never back to its pre-crisis status. "Thus, crisis typically has produced not just a temporarily bigger government but also permanently bigger government," he wrote.

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

Written by J.D. Tucille. Voice-over by Katherine Mangu-Ward. Motion graphics and thumbnail illustration by Lex Villena. You can read the full article that this video is based on here.

Visual credits: 3D Statue Model by jerryfisher (CC BY 4.0), ID 55403234 © Destina156 |, Ashleigh Nushawg School of the Americas Protest (CC BY 2.0) 3D Hand Model by quangdo1700 (CC BY 3.0) Procedural Metal Texture by Zantique (CC-BY)

Soundtrack: "11" by Lex Villena

NEXT: Biohackers Are on a Secret Hunt for the Coronavirus Vaccine

HD Download

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  1. A brief look at the news printed and on-line news content probably shows a ratio of at least 1:10, perhaps 1:20 between news of the actual disease and THE SCREAMING PANIC WHATTHEFUCKAREWEEVERGOINGTODO??????!!!!! ‘coverage’.
    A modest proposal: the panic is far more dangerous than the disease has been shown to be.

    1. We need government action to tamp down this panic, or more better, to steer it in the right direction. Since all proper construction begins with the foundation, we need to bulk up government, so, if nothing else, the next crisis will have a government ready to continue bulking up.

      1. A local ‘journalist’ tried to spin Rahm’s ‘never let a crises go to waste’ bullshit into a positive; this crises will make people want more government intrusion into their lives!
        At least he thought it positive.

    2. the panic is far more dangerous than the disease has been shown to be.

      I find it very hard to escape that conclusion.

      1. How have you been endangered by this ‘panic?’ How many victims has it claimed?

        1. Ask a waitress, dooshbag.

  2. Perhaps a constitutional amendment: any laws, and associated regulations etc created during a national emergency expire in 12 months, and cannot be renewed under any circumstances.

    1. They’ll just change a word or two and pass anew. Renew? What’s that mean to a bureaucrat?

    2. Perhaps all laws that limit freedom, impose a requirement or regulation, add or increase a tax, etc. should expire automatically expire within a reasonable time period. Then, at that time, if such law still makes sense, congress can act to pass it again. But the default is expiration. With or without an ‘emergency’.

  3. How irresponsible, reckless, selfish, anti-social cranks are to be addressed in this context.

    For starters, anyway.

    1. But keep the borders open, right rev? Twisted that Americans are prisoners in their own country and foreigners are free to come and go. Well they would except Trump stopped that nonsense and was criticized for doing it early, then criticized for not doing it earlier. Honestly the left just hates ordinary Americans but loves the foreigners and freaks.

    2. B+

      Your shtick isn’t as entertaining as OBL’s.

      1. He does stay in character tho!

  4. They’re doing redonkulus things now. Night curfews? If the idea was to keep people from crowding into bars, restaurants, theaters, etc., then close them, don’t pussyfoot around regarding time of day; and if they’re already closed, why keep individuals off the streets? Instead they’re accomplishing 2 things: (a) giving the appearance of caring about/for the people, and (b) showing who’s boss.

    Even the utility of closing medium-size venues like restaurants is virtually nil, because the closings would need to last longer than people will put up with. Most people can take a vacation of 2-4 weeks, but this is going to require 2-4 months, or more. Shorter term slowing of the disease’s spread means the virus will still be out there, ready to break out; it’s like the way forest fire suppression, beyond a certain point, just builds up fuel.

  5. Convenient applications and websites were created in connection with these events. They contain not only useful information but also special maps. They show centers of coronavirus spreading all over the world:

  6. Reason getting very 1791l in their production values.

  7. Maybe not. If the “crisis” and Donald Trump knock down some of the state’s inefficient ways, like he seems to be doing with the FDA and the CDC, that would be a good result. It might even be worth it.

  8. “It’ll leave the state with a rosy glow, but our freedom will end up more haggard than ever.”

    Watch as DC and the states engage in the largest power grab we’ve seen in a long time in the name of “public health”. Some of them are already calling for it.

  9. I have to say I find the events of the last couple of weeks increasingly terrifying. I’m not the slightest bit worried about dying from this flu. If this thing pans out as advertised it will indeed be a severe flu season. But not even close to the bubonic plague or the flu of 1918. It’s pretty clear that a lot of parties will benefit from the full scale panic that this is evolving into. The media never saw a crisis it didn’t love. The Democrats see this as a golden opportunity to smear Trump yet again. TOP MEN and WOMEN get TV time and are treated as heroes by their sycophants in the press. Politicians of all stripes play along while grabbing power that would not be tolerated under any other circumstance. Anyone expressing a contrary viewpoint is immediately shouted down and labeled a heretic. This frenzied reaction to a bad flu is worse than GWs WMD bullshit and the incessant shrieking of the climate change zealots combined.

    1. Learn from the Spanish Flu in 1918:

      In September 1918, Philadelphia held a planned Liberty Loan Parade to promote the government bonds that were being issued to pay for World War I.

      But the parade took place when the pandemic commonly called the Spanish flu — the H1N1 virus — arrived in the city of 1.7 million people.

      The virus spread to Philadelphia on September 19, 1918, through the Philadelphia Navy Yard, UPenn states. In a matter of days, 600 sailors had the virus.

      Yet Philadelphia didn’t cancel its Liberty Loan Parade, scheduled for just a little more than a week later. Meant to be a patriotic wartime effort, the parade went on as scheduled on September 28, bringing 200,000 Philadelphians together.
      By October 1, there were 635 new cases in Philadelphia, according to UPenn.

      Philadelphia was one of the hardest-hit US cities. More than 12,000 people died in six weeks, with about 47,000 reported cases, according to UPenn. By the six-month mark, about 16,000 had died and there were more than half a million cases.

      St. Louis, for example, canceled its parade while Philadelphia did not. In the end, the death toll in St. Louis (pop 687,000 in 1918) did not rise above 700, according to the CDC.

      “This deadly example shows the benefit of canceling mass gatherings and employing social distancing measures during pandemics,” the CDC said.

      Philly ~ 1% dead
      St Louis ~ 0.1% dead

    2. Search FATF Week in Paris, and look at what they do… and when they proposed it.

    3. If this isn’t as bad or worse than the Spanish Flu, it will ONLY be because we took all these actions.

      How do people not understand this shit at this point? Exponential growth curves yo!

  10. FATF was meeting in France when the market tanked. This happens all the time, since all they do is cause market crashes and tank the economy. The looter media struggles to ignore them, then pitches in to help dissemble and distract attention elsewhere. Look at the dates of FATF week and compare those with the stock breaks on S&P 500 charts–then look at the bloodsucking crap they publish. It’s a con job to move attention away from FATF asset-forfeiture prohibitionism.

  11. This is why everyone must be eternally vigilant in protection of freedom! There is no other option.

    The fact is sometimes drastic actions have to be taken to prevent even bigger disasters. That’s just reality. That’s why every “free” government from Republican Rome to the USA has had emergency powers of one type or another.

    The only protection is to put pressure on the pols to get rid of the shit after the emergency passes. There is no other option. The same is true in normal times too!

  12. baaghi 3 full movie download: Tiger Shroff is the biggest hit movie of 2020. baaghi 3 movie which is released on 6 March. Special role of Tiger Shroff. Tiger Shroff is a good artist and dancer. His movie is full of Action and Romance.

  13. Pass your next certififcation exam fast through Certs Official to learn more and get 100% result.

  14. I’m convinced that the government’s response to the COVID-19 virus doesn’t represent the American people and will be among the biggest disasters this country has ever faced, if not the biggest.

  15. Current evidence on other coronavirus strains shows that while coronaviruses appear to be stable at low and freezing temperatures for a certain period, food hygiene and good food safety practices can prevent their transmission through food.
    Don’t hesitate to Visit us if you ever need our service.

  16. Upvote article.

  17. I’m not some old codger blind to the deficiencies of the game in the “old days”, there were many, but compared to todays sparkling, corporately packaged premier league, aided and abetted by soulless identikit stadiums with compliant sat down supporters creating the atmospheric equivalent of a loud cough it was f*****g ace HEREClick For Full Details.

  18. I have been working from home for 4 years now and I love it. I don’t have a boss standing over my shoulder and I make my own hours. The tips below are very informative and anyone currently working from home or planning to in the future could use these.Make 5000 bucks every month… Start doing online computer-based work through our website…………………………

Please to post comments