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Some Covid Links

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(Don Boudreaux)


Those of you who believe that lockdowns – and the attitude that calls for, or merely tolerates, them – will be confined to dealing with physical pathogens might wish to consult this new essay by Stephen L. Miller. A slice:

The possibility of climate lockdowns is already being floated by some of our greatest thinkers. They see a confluence of global crises as an opportunity. The perfect storm caused by COVID-19 and the resulting global economic meltdown offers a chance to take what they see as bold and dramatic action to save the planet. The Biden administration will certainly use the consequences of COVID to push through some green legislation, but just as before, it will not be enough in the eyes of progressives. There must always be more.

Mariana Mazzucato, an author and a professor in innovative economics at the University of London, raised the prospect of climate lockdowns in MarketWatch last September:

‘Under a “climate lockdown”, governments would limit private-vehicle use, ban consumption of red meat, and impose extreme energy-saving measures, while fossil-fuel companies would have to stop drilling. To avoid such a scenario, we must overhaul our economic structures and do capitalism differently.’

Wall Street Journal columnist Holman Jenkins continues to write sensibly about Covid-19. A slice:

Covid was out of the bag globally before Beijing even knew it existed. And U.S. testing could hardly have isolated early Covid sufferers when 59% of spreaders have no symptoms and most of the sick have symptoms indistinguishable from the colds and flus millions suffer every day.

The new coronavirus was an efficient spreader and was not going to be stopped, as much as politics resists the idea of realities that can’t be changed by politics.

Robby Soave rightly decries the refusal of many government officials to talk realistically about Covid-19.

Alexander McKibben is understandably appalled at some of the sources of inspiration for pro-lockdowners.

“THE Christian apologist C S Lewis’s 1945 novel,That Hideous Strength, would seem to have been more prophetic of thehealth and safety’ regime now in charge of Britain than George Orwell’s 1949 dystopian novel, 1984, with its all-embracing totalitarian rule.” – so begins this short essay by Julian Mann.

Jeffrey Tucker writes again on the oxymoronic term “social distancing.”

Phil Magness at Facebook:

A few months back I criticized the tendency of social scientists who knew better to look the other way when the New York Times, Fauci, and top journals such as Nature and the Lancet violated basic rules of causal inference to claim that the simple eyeballing of trends off of a cherrypicked time series “proved” that lockdowns worked.

After much prodding about this silence, the answer I received from several people entailed variations of the following: “I’m silent about the NYT et al because I can’t do anything when those institutions err on causal inference. I only choose to speak out when institutions that I know well and care about – namely those in the free-market space – make similar errors of causal inference.” This was in a reference to their own involvement in a series of pile-ons that followed from instances of causal-inference-by-eyeballing in tweets and similar informal commentary by free-market commentators, some of it even intended as a joke.

I bring this up because there’s something very interesting happening in the UK press over the last few weeks. A number of prominent writers who explicitly work the free-market space (including IEA, ASI, and free-market aligned journalism outlets) have come out strongly in favor of the UK’s lockdown 3.0, and to justify this stance they’ve taken to doing the old “lockdowns work because of my causal-inference-from-eyeballing-it-off-of-a-time-series” trick, typically noting that UK cases have fallen off during the current lockdown.

The response thus far from social scientists who previously claimed they would only be spurred into commentary when such mistakes were made by market-aligned institutions and writers that they care about?


Speaking of Facebook, its behavior is appalling. (HT Betsy Albaugh)


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