A conspiracy of silence by health officials, economists, politicians, and journalists hides what has become criminally obvious: The anti-coronavirus lockdown of the past five months is the single most devastating policy choice since World War 2. The COVID-19 lockdown dystopia has been very good for ruling class interests, of course, as it has amounted to what one prominent financial analyst has called “the greatest roll up of power in history.” Putting aside the ominous possibility that the COVID-19 roll up of power constitutes one of the greatest crimes against humanity short of war or genocide, we will more generously explore the possibility that it was “merely” the greatest act of criminal incompetence in modern history.
According to an analysis recently published here at Revolver, the coronavirus lockdowns may have saved up to 750,000 life years, but in return they destroyed 18.7 million life-years, thanks to the long-term toll of poverty, health problems, suicides, substance abuse, and more that are inflicted on the people through a weaker economy and long-term career turmoil.
A groundbreaking new study commissioned by Revolver News concludes that COVID-19 lockdowns are ten times more deadly than the actual COVID-19 virus in terms of years of life lost by American citizens.
Up until this point there had been no simple, rigorous analysis that accurately and definitively conveys the true costs of the COVID-19 lockdowns. Accordingly, Revolver News set out to commission a study to do precisely that: to finally quantify the net damage of the lockdowns in terms of a metric known as “life-years.” Simply put, we have drawn upon existing economic studies on the health effects of unemployment to calculate an estimate of how many years of life will have been lost due to the lockdowns in the United States, and have weighed this against an estimate of how many years of life will have been saved by the lockdowns. The results are nothing short of staggering, and suggest that the lockdowns will end up costing Americans over 10 times as many years of life as they will save from the virus itself.
In some ways, even Revolver’s recent calculation of lockdown damage pulls its punches. The calculation looked only at the economic toll of lockdowns, but not the very real psychological one. Months of being locked inside, subjected to a hysterical media, almost certainly caused more harm to mental health than a normal recession would. Evidence of that is already piling up:
The amount of Americans reporting anxiety symptoms is triple the number of this time last year. The CDC reported that 11% of adults surveyed had seriously considered suicide in the past 30 days. The study showed “19% of Hispanics reported suicidal ideation” and “15% of blacks reported suicidal thoughts.” As it relates to young adults, Dr. Robert Redfield, director of the CDC, said, “We’re seeing, sadly, far greater suicides now than we are deaths from [Covid-19].”
Cook County, Illinois Board President Toni Preckwinkle reported that “more African Americans” in her county “have died by suicide this year than during all of 2019.” Most notably, there is an increase of suicide amongst young people. Preckwinkle somberly shared, “2020 is on pace to be the worst year for suicides in the black community in a decade.” [Forbes]
Revolver’s calculation entertained the idea that America’s lockdown may, at least, have saved people from dying of coronavirus, but even that is far from certain. Per capita, the U.S. has slightly fewer deaths than Sweden, the leader in hands-off responses to the virus. But in Sweden, the coronavirus pandemic is essentially over, with just a few hundred cases a day and almost non-existent deaths. In America, hundreds are still dying every day. No matter what policy the country chooses from this moment, it appears very likely that when all is said and done the U.S. will have more deaths per-capita than Sweden. It is entirely possible that, through mechanisms that are not yet fully understood, the wave of lockdowns in March and April 2020 substantially increased the spread of coronavirus and caused more deaths than would otherwise have occurred.
Let that sink in for a moment: In the past five months, we gutted the economy, ruined millions of lives, and devastated core civil liberties, in order to implement policies that very well may have made coronavirus worse.
All of this is disturbing enough. And few people in power in America seem to have learned anything. In France, leaders have vowed that no new lockdowns will be forthcoming even if a second virus wave materializes. President Emmanuel Macron said that students would return to school, in-person, on September 1, virus or no virus, and that is exactly what happened. Only cursory research is needed to confirm this is the correct policy. Children are at virtually no risk from coronavirus, and they do little to spread it. The science is settled, as the left might say (except in this case, it actually is).
In America, though, hysteria persists. Chicago public schools will start the year online. So will most schools in Los Angeles, and elsewhere. In Arizona, teachers halted a planned reopening by faking sick, and authorities acquiesced. There is absolutely no debate to be had here: This is awful policy. And yet it persists, just like strict regulations on restaurants, retail stores, and other parts of daily life.
What makes these blunders all the greater is how long it has been evident they were mistakes. To panic in the face of the unknown in early March was perhaps defensible. But coronavirus deaths in Sweden peaked on April 15, and rapidly declined from there. The country’s hospitals were never overwhelmed, and never came close. Outside of a few parts of Italy, and at dysfunctional hospitals in Queens, that was the case everywhere.
At that point, it was not merely clear, but breathtakingly obvious that lockdowns needed to end. Preventing a catastrophic collapse of the healthcare system was the only valid justification for such severe restrictions. The battle cry for all of February and March was “flatten the curve,” and it was a good battle cry, because it was based on a reasonable goal: It accepted that coronavirus’s spread was inevitable, but that it should be slowed down to a pace the health care apparatus could keep up with. Instead, the ruling class embraced a transparently ridiculous goal: That American life should be totally upended and brought to a halt, until the coronavirus was completely destroyed. How on earth was that sustainable? A few months of shutdowns required unprecedented borrowing by the federal government. The virus itself has proven impossible to contain, flaring up the moment restrictions ease anywhere it has not already run rampant.
In any sane society, this would have forced a reassessment. But in the United States, delusions have piled on top of delusions. Even in April, The New York Times was touting the need for contact tracers to contain the virus. All summer, contact tracing was hyped as a crucial necessity before Americans could even think of resuming ordinary life.
Two weeks ago, New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy admitted what anybody should have known from the beginning: “Contact tracing” a respiratory disease that spreads easily and barely affects most of the infected is hopeless:
Murphy said more than half of the people contacted through contact tracing have refused to provide information and “this is highly disturbing, to say the least.”
Murphy suggested that the lack of participation in providing information to contact tracers may have slowed efforts to track the virus and ultimately quarantine people to reduce the spread.
The number of people not picking up the call is 19 percent, and the number of people not providing contacts is 52 percent, said Health Commissioner Judith Persichilli. [Patch.com]
In other words, contact tracing was a useless waste of money. New Jersey’s daily load of new cases has dropped from thousands to just a few hundred, not because of contact tracing or lockdowns, but simply because the virus is burning itself out. That is what is happening everywhere. Coronavirus is not being beaten. It is simply becoming a victim of its own success.
In health terms, this is unambiguously a good thing. A major pandemic proved far less deadly than it could have been. Far fewer people will die than were first feared. But then, our attention must turn to the destructive, over-the-top response, which may not have simply hurt the economy, but inaugurated a larger collapse that could mark the end of America’s status as premier global superpower.
How did a disaster of this magnitude happen? The most obvious reason is politics: Very early on, a harsh, even hysterical response to coronavirus became mixed up with the long-running quest to destroy Donald Trump. Defending the extreme reactions of figures like Andrew Cuomo and attacking Trump’s desire to reopen the country and revive the economy became the raison d’être of the fake news media. In the Trump era politics has penetrated everything, so other institutions stepped up as well. Big tech suppressed anti-lockdown videos on YouTube. Academics rushed out research impugning hydroxychloroquine, because the president had mentioned it. Health officials endorsed mass protests, because to not do so would have infringed on another establishment political imperative.
But politics alone doesn’t explain what happened. The catastrophic decisions that were made reflect the reality of who holds power in American society. Our wealthiest citizens are tech oligarchs, who had nothing to fear from the “market disruption” of lockdowns. In fact, they benefited immensely. As restaurants and physical retail fell apart, tech filled the gap, and the ownership class grew billions of dollars richer. Meanwhile, a larger and larger slice of the American populace has become divorced from ordinary economic reality. The labor force participation rate has never recovered to where it was before the 2008 financial crisis. About 24 million Americans work for the government at some level, and therefore face far less economic pressure than the private sector. In the private sector, white-collar professionals and journalists had the most leeway to work from home. A critical mass of privileged people, then, was in a position to demand long-term lockdowns, and vilify the less powerful people who dissented.
We’ve seen the same pattern on other issues, like immigration or foreign wars: The people setting the policy reaped the benefits (cheaper workers, fat defense contracts and think-tank sinecures) while avoiding the consequences (lower wages, violent death). The great madness of 2020 isn’t anything new. It’s simply the climax to a half-century of destructive American policymaking, with top and the bottom uniting to destroy the middle.
Almost every powerful force in American life is implicated in what has happened. To reveal the truth would undermine the power they have steadily amassed to themselves. So instead, they want to hide the truth, through lies, censorship, and by changing the topic. This cannot be accepted or allowed. The 2020 lockdowns show that our ruling class has lost all of its legitimacy and every claim it could possibly have to competence or protecting the “greater good.” It’s time that they be systematically removed from power and be replaced by talented, fearless, patriotic stewards worthy of this great country.
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