There’s a reason no government has done a cost-benefit analysis: The policy failed.
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott announced last week that his state is ending its mask mandate and business capacity limits. While Democrats and many public-health officials denounced the move, ample data now exist to demonstrate that the benefits of stringent measures aren’t worth the costs.
This wasn’t always the case. A year ago I publicly advocated lockdowns because they seemed prudent given how little was known at the time about the virus and its effects. But locking society down has become the default option of governments all over the world, regardless of cost.
More than a year after the pandemic began, vaccination is under way in both Europe and the U.S. Yet stringent restrictions are still in place on both sides of the Atlantic. Germany, Ireland and the U.K. are still in lockdown, while France is two months into a 6 p.m. curfew that the French government says will last for at least four more weeks. In many U.S. states, in-person schooling is still rare.
Incorrect projections by the Imperial College Covid-19 Response Team in London projected that more than two million Americans could die in a few months. A lockdown would cut transmission, and while it couldn’t prevent all infections, it would keep hospitals from being overwhelmed. It would “flatten the curve.”
We have since learned that the virus never spreads exponentially for very long, even without stringent restrictions. The epidemic always recedes well before herd immunity has been reached. As I argue in a report for the Center for the Study of Partisanship and Ideology, people get scared and change their behavior as hospitalizations and deaths increase. This, in turn, reduces transmission.
I’ve looked at more than 100 regions and countries. None have seen exponential growth of the pandemic continue until herd immunity was reached, regardless of whether a government lockdown or other stringent measure was imposed. People eventually revert to more-relaxed behavior. When they do, the virus starts spreading again. That’s why we see the “inverted U-shape” of cases and deaths everywhere.
Sweden was the first to learn this lesson, but many other countries have confirmed it. Initially held up as a disaster by many in the pro-lockdown crowd, Sweden has ended up with a per capita death rate indistinguishable from that of the European Union. In the U.S., Georgia’s hands-off policies were once called an “experiment in human sacrifice” by the Atlantic. But like Sweden, Georgia today has a per capita death rate that is effectively the same as the rest of the country.
But policy may not matter as much as people assumed it did. Lockdowns can destroy the economy, but it’s starting to look as if they have minimal effect on the spread of Covid-19.
After a year of observation and data collection, the case for lockdowns has grown much weaker. Nobody denies overwhelmed hospitals are bad, but so is depriving people of a normal life, including kids who can’t attend school or socialize during precious years of their lives. Since everyone hasn’t been vaccinated, many wouldn’t yet be living normally even without restrictions. But government mandates can make things worse by taking away people’s ability to socialize and make a living.
The coronavirus lockdowns constitute the most extensive attacks on individual freedom in the West since World War II. Yet not a single government has published a cost-benefit analysis to justify lockdown policies—something policy makers are often required to do while making far less consequential decisions. If my arguments are wrong and lockdown policies are cost-effective, a government document should be able to demonstrate that. No government has produced such a document, perhaps because officials know what it would show.
Mr. Lemoine is a doctoral candidate in philosophy at Cornell University and a fellow at the Center for the Study of Partisanship and Ideology.
SOURCE: Wall Street Journal – https://www.wsj.com/articles/the-lockdowns-werent-worth-it-11615485413
States with strictest lockdowns ruined livelihoods
At a time when politics has become vicious and national, Americans would benefit from looking at leaders’ competing visions at the state level. Who is actually making people’s lives better or worse, and how? The public may be starting to do so as Govs. Ron DeSantis, Gavin Newsom, and Andrew Cuomo have attracted national attention for — well — a variety of reasons. But their controversies only scratch the surface. One of the important and underappreciated stories of the last year is how pro-lockdown states ruined the livelihoods of millions of Americans without any lives saved to show for their heavy-handed interventions.
Most states with the strictest COVID lockdowns destroyed millions of jobs for their citizens, while those with modest, targeted rules are largely experiencing low levels of unemployment even for normal times.
The five states with the strictest lockdowns over the last year — Hawaii, California, Massachusetts, New Jersey and New York — have an average unemployment rate of 8.06 percent. In the five states with the lightest restrictions, unemployment sits at just 3.48 percent — lower than the 3.5 percent national rate before the pandemic hit the US.
Eight of the 10 highest unemployment states, meanwhile, had unitary Democratic state governments in 2020, and the other two had divided party government. Six of the states with the 10 lowest unemployment rates had unitary Republican state government, while the other four had divided government.
Based on the relationship above, if the 15 states with the strictest lockdowns eased their policies to the level of the average state, they would have about 865,000 more people employed today. And progressives should understand — maybe they already do — that these restrictions are not putting investment bankers and corporate lawyers out of work, but rather low-wage workers in greatest need.
According to the government, the unemployment rate for Americans with a college degree was 3.7 percent in March, 6.7 percent for those with just a high school diploma, and 8.2 percent for those with less than that. According to the Economic Policy Institute, the US lost 11 million jobs last year with an hourly wage below $19.48 while gaining a million jobs with an hourly wage above $31.39.
At the same time, ample scientific evidence points to the fact that lockdowns did not save lives, regardless of the media force-feeding its preferred narrative to the public. There was no correlation at all between the aforementioned lockdown stringency index and total COVID deaths, compiled by Worldometer, through the beginning of March. The strictest states have an average COVID mortality of 1,423 per million and the laxest states of 1,449, while the average state was higher than both at 1,482.
A study by five University of Chicago scholars published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Scientists of the United States of America stated that: “We do not find detectable effects of [Shelter-In-Place] policies on disease spread or deaths.”
A medRxiv study by several other professors concluded bluntly that “Claimed benefits of lockdown appear grossly exaggerated.”And a peer-reviewed study by European epidemiologists in the journal Frontiers in Public Health found that “Stringency of the measures settled to fight pandemia, including lockdown, did not appear to be linked with death rate.”As the saying goes, “follow the science.”
There have been several vital non-medical and medical interventions that saved lives from COVID — rapid vaccine development first among them. Yet, there is simply no strong evidence that strict, lengthy lockdowns saved lives, while there is strong evidence that they destroyed livelihoods.Progressive politicians across the country assumed unique powers in the last year, took away personal freedoms, and destroyed livelihoods without saving lives, but they’ve still yet to admit their historic failures or be held accountable for committing them.
Progressive politicians across the country assumed unique powers in the last year, took away personal freedoms, and destroyed livelihoods, but they’ve still yet to admit their historic failures or be held accountable for committing them.
The public should ask why progressives should attempt to bring major change to the nation, let alone govern any state government, when they have failed families so starkly across the country.
SOURCE: NY POST – https://nypost.com/2021/05/01/strict-states-ruined-livelihoods/