The Coronavirus: A Case Study in the Destructiveness of Government Action?

There is a long list of things that government does to make life worse for people, even in nominally free countries. Leading that list is the strongly negative economic effects of government spending and regulation.

But government, by and large, gets a pass because it is assumed to be acting in the best interest of the citizenry, and with the consent of the citizenry. That assumption is wrong because government acts in its own interest — or, rather, in the interests of its principal actors and agents. (There’s a massive literature about this, called public-choice economics.)

Even when politician and bureaucrats believe that they are serving the interests of the citizenry, they must do so by penalizing many for the benefit of some. The benefits bestowed on favored citizens (and, increasingly, non-citizens) are paid for not only by the disfavored but also by many of favored. (There’s no such thing as a free lunch.)

In fact, politicians and bureaucrats advance those interests which are congruent with their own. And they do so in order to retain power, which is arguably their overarching interest.

To seem to be effective, and thus to retain power, it is the instinct of most politicians (and bureaucrats) to do something. And doing something, as noted above, can have worse consequences than doing nothing and letting free people strive together in the service of their own interests.

Which brings me to the coronavirus, or the string of coronaviruses that has developed through mutation and survival of the fittest (i.e., strains that are increasingly resistant to vaccines). It has been assumed that the citizenry would be best served through governmental edicts such as mask-wearing, social distancing, lockdowns, and, ultimately, involuntary vaccinations.

But there is an alternative hypothesis: Such measures have merely delayed the inevitable and made it worse by creating the conditions for the evolution of more contagious and perhaps deadlier strains of the coronavirus. Under that hypothesis, if the first stage of the coronavirus had been allowed to run rampant, herd immunity would have been achieved. The most vulnerable among us would have died or suffered at length before recovering (and then, perhaps, only partially). But that would have happened in any case.

Widespread exposure to the disease would have meant the natural immunization of most of the populace through exposure to the coronavirus and the development of antibodies through that exposure — which, for most of the populace, isn’t lethal or debilitating.

Natural immunization (and thus herd immunity) didn’t happen because of mask-wearing, social distancing, lockdowns, and forced vaccinations (governmentally encouraged, even if nominally private). And so, the coronavirus is becoming deadlier instead of dying out on its own.

In the end, millions of people will suffer and die needlessly because politicians and bureaucrats couldn’t (and can’t) resist the urge to do something — and because they have the power to make something happen.


Related reading: Brian McGlinchey, “Lockdowns, Masks and The Illusion of Government Control Over Covid“, Stark Realities, August 13, 2021