Tuesday, April 21, 2020

Ron Paul: 'What If The Lockdown Was A Mistake?'

Ron Paul 

From California to New Jersey, Americans are protesting in the streets. They are demanding an end to house arrest orders given by government officials over a virus outbreak that even according to the latest US government numbers will claim fewer lives than the seasonal flu outbreak of 2017-2018.
Across the US, millions of businesses have been shut down by “executive order” and the unemployment rate has skyrocketed to levels not seen since the Great Depression.

Americans, who have seen their real wages decline thanks to Federal Reserve monetary malpractice, are finding themselves thrust into poverty and standing in breadlines. It is like a horror movie, but it’s real.
Last week the UN Secretary General warned that a global recession resulting from the worldwide coronavirus lockdown could cause “hundreds of thousands of additional child deaths per year.” As of this writing, less than 170,000 have been reported to have died from the coronavirus worldwide.

Many Americans have also died this past month because they were not able to get the medical care they needed. Cancer treatments have been indefinitely postponed. Life-saving surgeries have been put off to make room for coronavirus cases. Meanwhile hospitals are laying off thousands because the expected coronavirus cases have not come and the hospitals are partially empty.

Countries like Sweden that did not lock down their economy and place the population under house arrest are faring no worse than countries that did. Sweden’s deaths-per-million from coronavirus is lower than in many lockdown countries.

Likewise, US states that did not arrest citizens for merely walking on the beach are not doing worse than those that did. South Dakota governor Kristi Noem said last week, “we've been able to keep our businesses open and allow people to take on some personal responsibility." South Dakota has recorded a total of seven coronavirus deaths.

Kentucky, a strict lockdown state, is five times more populated than South Dakota, yet it has some 20 times more coronavirus deaths. If lockdown and house arrest are the answer, shouldn’t those numbers be reversed, with South Dakota seeing mass death while Kentucky dodges the coronavirus bullet?

When Anthony Fauci first warned that two million would die, there was a race among federal, state, and local officials to see who could rip up the Constitution fastest. Then Fauci told us if we do what he says only a quarter of a million would die. They locked America down even harder. Then, with little more than a shrug of the shoulders, they announced that a maximum of 60,000 would die, but maybe less. That is certainly terrible, but it’s just a high-average flu season. 
Imagine if we had used even a fraction of the resources spent to lock down the entire population and focused on providing assistance and protection to the most vulnerable – the elderly and those with serious medical conditions. We could have protected these people and still had an economy to go back to when the virus had run its course. And it wouldn’t have cost us six trillion dollars either.
Governments have no right or authority to tell us what business or other activity is “essential.” Only in totalitarian states does the government claim this authority. We should encourage all those who are standing up peacefully and demanding an accounting from their elected leaders. They should not be able to get away with this.

Why The Shutdown Must End

The shutdown of the American economy should end as soon as possible. We have reached the point where fear and panic have precluded logic and facts. The damage from our overreaction to the Covid-19 pandemic is likely to prove greater than the death toll from the disease itself. The virus is not containable, and our attempt to achieve the unachievable grows more costly every day.

Covid-19 is not proving as deadly as first imagined. Last March 16, a group of researchers at Imperial College in London predicted 510,000 deaths in the UK and 2.2 million in the US. Within ten days, these early estimates were revised downward by more than an order of magnitude. As I write, the best estimate of ultimate deaths from Covid-19 in the US is about 60,000, the same as the 61,000 people who died from influenza during the winter of 2017-2018. Yet we continue to suffer from a shutdown whose imposition was justified by a fallacious model prediction.

The spread of the coronavirus is both inevitable and necessary. It is necessary because, in the absence of a vaccine, the only way to counteract the disease is to build immunity in the population. A person who contracts the infection and recovers is immune. They can no longer become ill or spread the disease. Infection and recovery is the most effective vaccination possible.

Last March 3, the World Health Organization estimated the mortality rate from Covid-19 to be 3.4 percent. We now know that this early estimate was much too high because testing was limited to individuals exhibiting severe symptoms. 
Subsequently, more extensive testing has found that half the infected population is entirely asymptomatic, and that the corresponding mortality rate is in the neighborhood of 0.1 percent. Thus 99.9 percent of the people who get the disease further the goal of building immunity in the population. Although this is an inconvenience for those who are affected, these infections accomplish an ultimate good.
The whole idea behind shutdowns and quarantines is not to reduce cumulative mortality, but to “flatten the curve” so that our health care facilities are not overwhelmed. 
Individuals who need intensive care may be saved by this strategy but the net mortality reduction is likely to be small. Shutdowns and quarantines will prolong the course of the pandemic. When social distancing ends, as it must eventually, the disease will simply resume its inevitable course through the population. 
Flattening the curve does not reduce the area under the curve.
Where did we get the idea that some businesses and occupations are “non-essential?”

In a market economy, every job is essential. And every job is certainly essential to the person who depends on it for their livelihood. In the midst of a pandemic it’s sensible to ban mass gatherings of hundreds and thousands of people. But local governments are now imposing restrictions that make little sense. Parks and golf courses have been closed. The imposition of evening curfews is baffling. 

Every government official with totalitarian instincts now has the moral justification to impose arbitrary and senseless curtailments on freedom of movement and association.

Ironically, in the midst of a supposed epidemic, hospitals all over the nation are closing down for a lack of patients. Why? Because government officials ordered them to cancel all elective medical procedures so they could be prepared to receive a crush of Covid-19 patients that never arrived. In the last four weeks, we’ve lost 22 million jobs. In our panic over the Covid-19 pandemic, we seem to have forgotten that a robust economy supports health care, education, fire and police protection, and the construction and maintenance of critical infrastructure that maintains human civilization. The toll from the artificial induction of poverty may ultimately exceed lives lost to the disease.

In 2011, researchers at Columbia University found that poverty contributes to 133,000 premature deaths annually in the US. Our stop-gap solution, massive government spending, is no panacea. Prosperity comes from production, not spending, borrowing, and taxing. If we don’t reverse course in a matter of days, we’re on our way to national suicide.

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