Opinion from a Libertarian ViewPoint

Posts Tagged ‘Flatten the Curve’

Brave New Normal – Part 2 – OffGuardian

Posted by M. C. on May 22, 2020

CJ Hopkins

My columns haven’t been very funny recently. This one isn’t going to be any funnier. Sorry. Fascism makes me cranky.

I don’t mean the kind of fascism the corporate media and the fake Resistance have been desperately hyping for the last four years. God help me, but I’m not terribly worried about a few hundred white-supremacist morons marching around with tiki torches hollering Nazi slogans at each other, or Jewish-Mexican-American law clerks flashing “OK” signs on TV, or smirking schoolkids in MAGA hats.

I’m talking about actual, bona fide fascism, or totalitarianism, if you want to get technical. The kind where governments declare a global “state of emergency” on account of a virus with a 0.2% to 0.6% lethality (and that causes mild, flu-like symptoms, or absolutely no symptoms whatsoever, in over 97% of those infected), locks everyone down inside their homes, suspends their constitutional rights, terrorizes them with propaganda, and unleashes uniformed goon squads on anyone who doesn’t comply with their despotic decrees.

I’m talking about the kind of totalitarianism where the police track you down with your smartphone data and then come to your house to personally harass you for attending a political protest, or attack you for challenging their illegitimate authority, and then charge you with “assault” for fighting back, and then get the media to publish a story accusing you of having “set up” the cops.

I’m talking about the kind of totalitarianism where the secret police are given carte blanche to monitor everyone’s Internet activity, and to scan you with their “surveillance helmets,” and dictate how close you can sit to your friends, and menace you with drones and robot dogs, and violently pry your kids out of your arms and arrest you if you dare to protest.

I’m talking about the kind of totalitarianism that psychologically tortures children with authoritarian loyalty rituals designed to condition them to live in fear, and respond to absurd Pavlovian stimuli, and that encourages the masses to turn off their brains and mechanically repeat propaganda slogans, like “wear a mask” and “flatten the curve,” and to report their neighbors to the police for having an “illegal” private party … and to otherwise reify the manufactured mass hysteria the authorities need to “justify” their totalitarianism.

Yeah, that kind of stuff makes me cranky.

And you know what makes me really cranky? I’ll tell you what makes me really cranky.

It is people who publicly project themselves as “anti-authoritarians” and “anti-fascists,” or who have established their “anti-establishment” brands and “dissident” personas on social media, or even in the corporate media, either zealously cheerleading this totalitarianism or looking away and saying nothing as it is rolled out by the very authorities and media propagandists they pretend to oppose.

I don’t know exactly why, but that stuff makes me particularly cranky.

I’ll provide you with a few examples. Read the rest of this entry »

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When Governments Switched Their Story from Flatten the Curve to Lockdown until Vaccine | Mises Wire

Posted by M. C. on May 9, 2020

This could last eighteen months, or two years, or more. And even then, there will need to be “COVID passports” and official freedom-to-work documents issued by governments. The future is one in which every move must be controlled and monitored to prevent the spread of this disease.

“Immunity passports” in the context of COVID-19

Travel papers and your DNA please.

In the early days of the COVID-19 panic—back in mid-March—articles began to appear pushing the idea of “flattening the curve” (the Washington Post ran an article called “Flatten the Curve” on March 14). This idea was premised on spreading out the total number of COVID-19 infections over time, so as to not overburden the healthcare infrastructure. A March 11 article for Statnews, summed it up:

“I think the whole notion of flattening the curve is to slow things down so that this doesn’t hit us like a brick wall,” said Michael Mina, associate medical director of clinical microbiology at Boston’s Brigham and Women’s Hospital. “It’s really all borne out of the risk of our health care infrastructure pulling apart at the seams if the virus spreads too quickly and too many people start showing up at the emergency room at any given time.”

In those days, it was still considered madness to suggest outlawing jobs for millions of Americans or “shutting down” entire national economies in an effort to flatten the curve. Thus, the article lists far more moderate mitigation strategies:

By taking certain steps—canceling large public gatherings, for instance, and encouraging some people to restrict their contact with others—governments have a shot at stamping out new chains of transmission, while also trying to mitigate the damage of the spread that isn’t under control.

What we got, of course, was something much more far reaching, radical, and disastrous for both the economy and for long-term health problems.

For the next two weeks or so, governments mostly sold the idea of forced social distancing as a measure to flatten the curve and the phrase began appearing everywhere in social media, media publications and government announcements.

Many people found this message reasonable enough, especially when coupled with claims that hospitals and governments would seek to buy up large numbers of ventilators and expand capacity with temporary hospitals. This flatten-the-curve narrative persisted for two weeks or so, but at some point in late March and early April, the narrative switched to something new.

April 2: Fauci Says Nation Can only “Relax” Social Distancing Measures After There are Zero New Cases.

The new narrative was this: the death toll will simply be too gruesome and unbearable to allow people to continue on with some semblance of an ordinary life. So, we must keep society locked down indefinitely until a vaccine is found or until there can be enough testing and tracking of infections among the entire population. Until then, only minimal “essential” activities will be allowed. This could last eighteen months, or two years, or more. And even then, there will need to be “COVID passports” and official freedom-to-work documents issued by governments. The future is one in which every move must be controlled and monitored to prevent the spread of this disease.

Thus, on April 2, Anthony Fauci, one of the lead bureaucrats on the White House’s COVID-19 advisory commission insisted that mandatory social distancing could not be eased until further notice:

If we get to the part of the curve where it goes down to essentially no new cases, no deaths for a period of time, I think it makes sense that you have to relax social distancing,” [Fauci] added. “The one thing we hope to have in place, and I believe we will have in place, is a much more robust system to be able to identify someone who is infected, isolate them, and then do contact tracing.” [emphasis added.]

Similarly, former presidential advisor and physician Ezekiel Emmanuel flatly stated that there is “no choice” but to stay locked down indefinitely:

Realistically, COVID-19 will be here for the next 18 months or more. We will not be able to return to normalcy until we find a vaccine or effective medications. I know that’s dreadful news to hear. How are people supposed to find work if this goes on in some form for a year and a half? Is all that economic pain worth trying to stop COVID-19? The truth is we have no choice. [emphasis added.]

This messaging was used at the state level as well. On April 9, the Hawaii Department of Education, echoing Fauci, announced that all “public schools are expected to stay shut until COVID-19 is no longer spreading in the community, defined as four weeks with no new cases.”

Needless to say, such a situation is unlikely to happen any time that’s soon enough to save Hawaii from an economic implosion.

Similarly, in Colorado, during an April 1 briefing, Governor Jared Polis stated that when it comes to COVID-19 his policy is “stamping this out,” and claimed that mandatory social distancing could not be eased until total cases were falling.

This switcheroo on the reason for the lockdowns was a great victory for the World Health Organization (WHO) and advocates for widespread state controls on the economy and daily life. Already by early March, some WHO officials had come out in favor of the Chinese approach of draconian lockdowns imposed by the Chinese police state and surveillance state. As noted by Statnews, Mike Ryan, the head of the WHO’s health emergencies program, embraced the Chinese “containment” strategy and denounced flatten-the-curve style “mitigation” strategies as “counterproductive.”

Perhaps not surprisingly, by early April we had leading national figures in the US insisting that China-style lockdowns were the only way to deal with the disease. “Flatten the curve” was still used as a slogan, but its meaning had changed.

Another Switch in Early May:  Back to the Old Idea of “Flatten the Curve”

By early May, it was clear that the “containment” strategy was failing, since, in the United States at least, few elected officials were prepared to stomach the idea of keeping their economies locked down until a vaccine appeared or until new cases disappeared completely. After all, as unemployment numbers skyrocketed and state and local government budgets cratered, “lockdown until vaccine” didn’t seem like such a viable strategy anymore.

Indeed, two weeks earlier, the Hawaii Department of Education had already abandoned its declaration about the need for no new cases, with the department director backpedaling furiously and stating:

“We would expect to be living with COVID-19 for a long time, and to have to wait for the last case to have occurred and another 28 days probably is not going to happen, so I believe that was really a placeholder.”

By late April, numerous states’ governors and municipal officials were discussing ways to scale back their lockdowns. Many governors and mayors nonetheless continued to claim that they would not allow any easing of the lockdowns until cases began to decline, or until testing became widespread. Neither of those things has happened, yet governments have already begun to significantly loosen lockdowns. In many states, total deaths have plateaued but show no sign of disappearing.

The Sweden Model Is the Future

“Flatten the curve” remains a popular goal among policymakers, but now we’re back to the old definition: fear remains that hospitals and healthcare personnel will be overwhelmed. The preferred political solution lies in both continuing to encourage social distancing and in prohibiting larger gatherings. But the idea that everyone will sit at home until a vaccine is found has at the moment fallen out of favor except in the most dogmatically leftist areas.1 Hard-left activist Matthew Yglesias, for example, complained this week that flattening the curve “isn’t good enough.”

Indeed, the Chinese-style containment strategy has failed so completely that even the WHO has abandoned it. The WHO now endorses the Swedish model, which is based on increasing healthcare capacity while relying primarily on voluntary social distancing. The Financial Times reported on April 29:

The World Health Organization has defended Sweden’s approach to tackling Covid-19, saying it has implemented “strong measures” to tackle the virus….

The director of the WHO’s health emergencies programme said on Wednesday there was a perception that Sweden had not done enough to contain coronavirus, but “nothing could be further from the truth”. Sweden has put in place a “very strong public health policy”, Mike Ryan said, but unlike many other countries has chosen to rely on its “relationship with its citizenry” and trust them to self-regulate.

Its healthcare system has not been overwhelmed, he said, adding that its approach could be a “model” for other countries when lockdowns begin to relax.

In other words, the containment strategy favored by Fauci and Emanuel is dead (for now).  Although it has not happened by design, the US is moving toward a Sweden model.

Nonetheless, one is still likely to encounter rabid “COVID warriors” on social media, who think that interminable lockdowns will (somehow) significantly reduce the overall total deaths from COVID-19. But it increasingly seems that such a scenario is wishful thinking.

In a new article posted at The Lancet on Tuesday, Swedish infectious disease clinician Johan Giesecke writes on how lockdowns don’t really reduce overall total deaths, and says that when it’s all over, nonlockdown jurisdictions are likely to have similar death rates to lockdown areas:

It has become clear that a hard lockdown does not protect old and frail people living in care homes—a population the lockdown was designed to protect.

Neither does it decrease mortality from COVID-19, which is evident when comparing the UK’s experience with that of other European countries.

PCR testing and some straightforward assumptions indicate that, as of April 29, 2020, more than half a million people in Stockholm county, Sweden, which is about 20–25% of the population, have been infected (Hansson D, Swedish Public Health Agency, personal communication). 98–99% of these people are probably unaware or uncertain of having had the infection; they either had symptoms that were severe, but not severe enough for them to go to a hospital and get tested, or no symptoms at all. Serology testing is now supporting these assumptions.

These facts have led me to the following conclusions. Everyone will be exposed to severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus, and most people will become infected. COVID-19 is spreading like wildfire in all countries, but we do not see it—it almost always spreads from younger people with no or weak symptoms to other people who will also have mild symptoms. This is the real pandemic, but it goes on beneath the surface, and is probably at its peak now in many European countries. There is very little we can do to prevent this spread: a lockdown might delay severe cases for a while, but once restrictions are eased, cases will reappear. I expect that when we count the number of deaths from COVID-19 in each country in 1 year from now, the figures will be similar, regardless of measures taken.

Will Giesecke be proven correct? We’ll find out.

Be seeing you



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God Help Us All: Dr. Fauci Knows Exactly What He’s Doing – American Thinker

Posted by M. C. on April 9, 2020

Dr. Fauci, in particular, is guaranteed never to miss a penny of his very nice salary since he’s the most “essential” bureaucrat of all.  His three decades of no experience whatsoever outside the federal bureaucracy means that neither his record of wildly exaggerating the threat of AIDS nor the disastrous job he did crafting a response negatively affected his career.  In fact, results matter so little for “essential” people like Dr. Fauci that he still openly brags about his risibly false prediction that “AIDS would not stay confined to the populations where it first appeared” and become “a disaster for society.”

By Michael Thau

Last Thursday, the scientific mastermind behind the economic carnage and spirit-crushing isolation now constituting the two main pillars of America’s ingenious new public health strategy delivered some bad news.  Dr. Fauci says we’ll have to keep living like this until the virus is eradicated.

Even if “virus” isn’t his nickname for the American people, following his advice still means a long, grueling haul.  The economic shutdown and social confinement oppressing us have to continue for at least the minimum estimated 18 months it will take to develop a vaccine for COVID-19.  Longer, since the stipulation that our rights don’t get restored until new infections cease means we have to manufacture and distribute enough to inoculate 60% of the population.  All told, we’re talking God only knows how many years.

No remotely similar brutal experiment in tough love has ever been tried.  So it’s anyone’s guess how bad things will get.  The Great Depression saw just three consecutive years averaging around a 9% decline in GDP.  Unemployment peaked at 25%.  Much worse is already projected in just the coming months.

But even if our hardship snowballs into a catastrophe rivaling the crash of ’29, we’re at least likely to avoid its infamous breadlines.  Impoverished people lining up for food would wreak havoc on Dr. Fauci’s social distancing scheme.  So he’s likely to insist that any rations be delivered.  The upside to house arrest during an economic meltdown is not having to wear the malodorous rags to which your clothes will be reduced in public.

Nor, thankfully, will you have to worry about how Dr. Fauci is faring.  Rest assured: his high-level position in the federal bureaucracy provides ample insulation from any hardship inflicted on you.  He’s already acquired a security detail because some ingrates reacted to a suspension of our most basic rights, which makes the taxes George III imposed on our founding fathers look utterly minor, by subjecting poor Dr. Fauci to the same threats and insults literally every public figure gets.  If things get bad, his new bodyguards will make sure he enjoys the decent food he’s bound to have first dibs on undisturbed.  That’s probably why he remains so disturbingly cheerful whenever he has to push our faces a little farther into the dirt for our own good.

You needn’t worry about Dr. Fauci missing any paychecks as so many Americans already have, either.  Unlike us, in times of crisis, bureaucrats get to declare themselves “essential.”  No matter how much misery they rain down, we never have to worry they won’t be compensated.

Dr. Fauci, in particular, is guaranteed never to miss a penny of his very nice salary since he’s the most “essential” bureaucrat of all.  His three decades of no experience whatsoever outside the federal bureaucracy means that neither his record of wildly exaggerating the threat of AIDS nor the disastrous job he did crafting a response negatively affected his career.  In fact, results matter so little for “essential” people like Dr. Fauci that he still openly brags about his risibly false prediction that “AIDS would not stay confined to the populations where it first appeared” and become “a disaster for society.”  Dr. Fauci’s bold lack of concern for epidemiological reality is exactly what’s needed to guide us through this crisis.

He’s also understandably proud that, after years of being vilified by AIDS activists for “killing people with red tape,” he eventually realized that “much of their criticism was absolutely valid” and held off on killing any more.  Who said noblesse oblige was dead?

Dr. Fauci’s completely bogus scare-mongering and deadly policy recommendations the last time he directed our efforts against a new pathogen aren’t the only reason we need to blindly follow his advice about this one.  Though curing AIDS was his number-one priority, it was left to scientists in Europe to discover an effective treatment.  But you know what they completely failed to do?  Spend unimaginably large sums of money.  Their successful treatment barely cost a dime compared to the tens of billions of your tax dollars Dr. Fauci pried from Congress to fund his failure.  That’s the true measure of success for any “essential” bureaucrat.

Without Dr. Fauci, who’ll save you the next time some computer model produces scary numbers that its designers explicitly admit depend on “very large uncertainties”?  Who’ll destroy the economy and confine you to house arrest based on the work of people explicitly warning that it’s “not at all certain” such measures will even accomplish anything?

One shudders to think what someone lacking Dr. Fauci’s expertise might have done upon learning that the predicted number of hospitalizations solely responsible for generating the scary death rate he’s putting us through hell to avoid were inflated almost tenfold.  A lesser man might stupidly think eliminating any rationale for the misery he’s inflicting on us means we need to reverse course immediately instead of wisely insisting that his pointlessly destructive policies continue indefinitely.

Besides, despite Dr. Fauci’s lack of candor, the open-endedness of the dystopian nightmare he’s inflicted on us has always been clear.  Though who had time to bother looking carefully at the justification for peremptorily shutting down our businesses and confining us to our homes once we were given an awesome slogan like “flatten the curve” to mindlessly regurgitate?  Not since “Where’s the beef?” appeared to challenge and transform our conceptual framework has American intellectual life been so enlivened.  But if we hadn’t been diverted by the essential task of relentlessly barking “flatten the curve” at each other like trained seals, we might have noticed something.

Normally, this new coronavirus should start disappearing after a few months.  When the percentage of people who’d been infected, recovered, and gained immunity got high enough, there would no longer be enough carriers for it to spread.  So even those who hadn’t acquired biological immunity nonetheless would become protected through herd immunity.

Remember those researchers whose computer model is motivating Dr. Fauci’s restrictions?  You know, the ones who said their projections could be totally wrong, and, even if not, the certain misery Dr. Fauci is inflicting on us still might not accomplish anything?  Well, they’ve also repeatedly said one consequence of successfully slowing down the infection rate is preventing herd immunity.  Hence, they warned that restoring our rights before herd immunity is artificially created through vaccination would put us right back where we started, rendering the hardship caused by suspending them in the first place pointless.

Another related consequence Dr. Fauci has been careful not to mention is that, because we’re making the virus linger for many years instead of mere months, despite slowing down how fast it spreads, the restrictions strangling our lives won’t decrease the number of people ultimately infected.  We’re only decreasing your chances of becoming infected now.  Your overall chances of getting the virus at some point aren’t any lower than if we’d let the infection rate remain high and not vastly increased how long the virus will be active by treating it like the severe flu Dr. Fauci admits it’s likely to clinically resemble when addressing his peers

But perhaps your unaware that on March 26, Dr. Fauci himself said in the New England Journal of Medicine that “the overall clinical consequences of Covid-19 may ultimately be more akin to those of a severe seasonal influenza (which has a case fatality rate of approximately 0.1%).”

So, don’t let what Dr. Fauci tells the inessential people he’s inflicting misery on fool you.  He’s known from the beginning that the measures he allowed us to believe might be short-lived make sense only if they’re maintained for at least several years and that they weren’t going to reduce anyone’s chances of catching COVID-19.  He’s fully aware that the projections about hospitalization rates justifying their implementation proved to be completely bogus and that we’re barreling toward an economic catastrophe because of a virus akin to a seasonal flu.

Dr. Fauci may have completely bungled our response to AIDS through incompetence.  But this time, he knows exactly what he’s doing.

God help us all.

Be seeing you




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