It was September of 1873 when Louisian Senator J.R. West received an urgent telegram from his home state:
“The people are panic-stricken. All that could, have left. The poor are nearly all on our hands; no money in the city treasury. All pecuniary aid will be thankfully received. Fever increasing.
“Samuel Levy, Mayor”
Yellow fever had taken hold of the state.
Its cause at the time was largely unknown, but it was assumed the sick were spreading it. Perhaps even without symptoms.
All the doctors knew was internal hemorrhaging was causing organ failure.
One surefire way to know you had the fever was if you found yourself projectile vomiting a viscous mixture of mucus and blood.
But by that time it was probably too late.
You knew your neighbor was on his last legs -- and that you and the kids should stay away -- if he was wandering around in a state of delirium, talking all kinds of nonsense.
Corpses were hardly recognizable from the living, breathing humans they once were. Coffins lined every major street.
Social isolation, as it is today, was well embraced.
Citizens living in unaffected areas brandished shotguns at roadblocks to fend off potentially infected outsiders.
In Jackson, Mississippi, residents even ripped up all the railroad tracks.
“Indignation,” a local Jacksonian newspaper read, “is at fever heat here, and the people say that if necessary… they will burn every bridge between here and Vicksburg.”
Of course… we now know it wasn’t being spread person-to-person.
It would take over a decade for Americans to realize that the yellow fever was being spread by the skeeter, the mozzie… the mosquito…
In their panic, they couldn’t see what was right in front of their faces.
The Origins of Panic
The word “panic” comes from the Greek trickster-god Pan, who, it was said, sometimes caused humans to erupt in irrational fear.
Pan-demon-ium was the temple of the demons who caused chaos and all kinds of mischief.
(Their claim to fame, after all, was the pan-dem-ic.)
Greek gods were often used by the ancients to describe archetypal (or perennial) patterns of human behavior.
After a three-day grape wine bender, one would often (conveniently), as he nursed his hangover, assume he’d become possessed by Dionysus…
And not that he’d become a drunken fool.
Despite all of the evidence which shows widespread panic is precisely the wrong approach to COVID-19…
Pan still seems to have a stranglehold.
In my own neighborhood, I often see the same masked woman frantically (yes, frantically!!!) pacing around passersby dragging her dog along in mindless zig-zags being sure to stay at least 20 feet (or more) away… lest that last lone droplet land on Lassie and they both sizzle away on the spot in broad daylight like The Wicked Witch of the East in The Wizard of Oz.
Who knows how she handles a trip inside the human-infested supermarkets?
Despite the data, I still see the masked drivers with their windows rolled up.
And Dr. Birx is now recommending all Americans wear masks inside their homes.
Even absent the streets filled with coffins and corpses…
Those possessed seem perpetually geared up to burn every bridge between here and Vicksburg.
When Politicians Panic
If you take a step back, however, you’ll notice a trend.
The most possessed often have the least to lose. Higher stakes tend to help clear the mind of fog.
As you’ll see, according to a UN study, some 285 million people may die of starvation [because] of “an American upper middle class that was making decisions for everyone and for whom lockdowns were merely an inconvenience or vacation.”
With that in mind, I'd like to continue to rap about a world where economically-perched politicians panic…
Where the poorest and most economically unstable pay the price…
And where those trying to inject some common sense back into the equation are drowned out by those too afraid to let the dog walk in peace.
A World where Politicians Panic
Up in Maskachusetts, in the Berkshire Hills, they have a new form of fascism that might well be called “phasism” as their Governor Charlie Baker phases out their freedoms and economic life.
Banning music and theater, Tanglewood concerts, tennis tournaments, baseball games, track meets, and schools and colleges — he has put his knee on the arterial flow of their tourism and services-dependent economy and it can no longer breathe.
For the last couple months, citizens have been hunkering down and hiding out from this mad-phasist Fuhrer with his menacing black mask inscribed “Science will Win” and his new COVID-forever police state.
Imposing a new travel ban and new alcohol prohibition rule early in August while COVID deaths sink to virtually none, the Governor has been rescinding “step 2 of phase 3” of his reopening plan.
He storms at reports of a “recent [beer] kegger in Chatham, that graduation event in Chelmsford, the booze cruise in Boston Harbor, the football camp in South Weymouth, the lifeguard party in Falmouth, the prom in Cohasset,” as the inimitable Howie Carr recounts in the Boston Herald. Like some demented puritan divine, the governor seethes at “troubling clusters” of “private recreational activity.”
Hey, I’m guilty as sin. I still watch unmasked TikTok dancers, and pruriently ponder Doctor Anthony Fauci’s porno YouTube “film clips” of nude happy faces of people dancing in the streets and I travel freely about the country. Although I'm not a resident of his state, I’m trusting you not tell Governor Charlie!
Skulking under my sheets, I write timidly in the knowledge that Baker has scores of thousands of apparatchiks hounding down any secret hoarders of residual capacity to think for themselves without gubernatorial guidance and medical counsel.
I only cherish a futile hope that Baker doesn’t amend his mask order with Doctor Fauci’s proposed mandate for goggles. I can hardly breathe in a mask, and I sure don’t know how I can prophesize in goggles.
But I’m relieved to report that righteous scriveners and saner doctors, academics and statisticians across the land are publishing books debunking this amazing COVID madness. I’ve already people about the Discovery Institute colleagues Jay Richards and Douglas Ax, and statistician William Briggs, and their demonstration in The Price of Panic which will be available in October, that lockdowns do no good whatsoever in suppressing epidemic but do effectively devastate much of the economy. I’ve also talked many times about John Schroeter’s stirring ebook, already available on Amazon: Covid19: A Devil’s Choice.
With cogent authority, these books present all the statistical arguments on the insignificance of COVID compared to earlier, more deadly epidemics that brought no lockdowns or mask edicts.
Once to every man and nation, however, comes a moment to speak truth to power without statistical distractions or utilitarian extenuations.
This Libertarian Star Shines Through
Now John Tamny, the libertarian star of Forbes’ Real Clear Markets, has unleashed a devastating tract, to be published as soon as possible, entitled When Politicians Panicked: The New Coronavirus, Expert Opinion, and a Tragic Lapse of Reason.
Naming names and describing the endless carnival of outrageous overreach, Tamny vividly shows that Governor Baker is just one of many demented governors reveling in power like a Charlie Chaplin Fuhrer during this mass media madness.
Tamny is not much interested in COVID-19 data, except to dismiss the virus drama as just another epidemic event like scores of others over the centuries. He derides the call to continue lockdowns until the arrival of vaccines. He quotes Holman Jenkins of the Wall Street Journal, “There were no vaccines for the ’57 Asian flu [that caused 70,000 US deaths, including many young people (nearly equivalent to COVID-19 deaths adjusted for population)], or the ’68 Hong Kong flu or the 1918 Spanish flu [50 million world deaths]. They were never ‘cured.’ They ended when people decided to accept and adapt to the virus’s existence.”
Nothing offers any answer to the all-cause death data that show COVID to have been a trivial event in medical terms, with some 300,000 lives lost, average age over 80, in the face of some 58 million global all-cause deaths in 2019. COVID deaths, even according to the Imperial College of London, it will be drastically fewer in 2020 than the some 1.4 million new tuberculosis deaths resulting from the lockdowns and COVID hospital distortions.
As Tamny points out, the relative triviality of COVID-19 was blatantly evident as early as March 18, 2020, when Fred Smith, the venerable FedEx founder-CEO, was interviewed by Fox News’ Bret Baier. Smith had extensive operations in the epicenter of the virus in Wuhan, China, and 907 employees there, delivering packages for weeks all over the stricken city.
All employees were tested for the virus and only four tested positive. Of those four, two proved to be false positives. None of the FedEx workers got exceptionally sick and all recovered.
Tamny concluded: “That [Smith’s Wuhan] employees were largely spared the virus’s spread, and that none had died from it, reads as a reasonable market signal going back over two months (and realistically much longer than that) [discrediting] the presumed lethality of COVID-19.” COVID seems chiefly to threaten people already dying and physicians who expose themselves repeatedly to a load-dependent viral attack.
What we have undergone is an egregious and perhaps criminal and certainly unconstitutional power grab by politicians. Whether merely stupid or demagogic or driven by polls or by a nefariously political media, the politicians from Trump on down simply blundered like no others in the history of public policy.
“Proper history,” Tamny writes, “will indicate that what happened in 2020 was a global debacle… The reaction by pols… amounted to the biggest crime against humanity [in two centuries]. When politicians panicked, those with the least suffered in unimaginable ways…
According to a UN study he cites, some 285 million people may die of starvation [because] of “an American upper middle class that was making decisions for everyone and for whom lockdowns were merely an inconvenience or vacation.”
“To blame this on the coronavirus is to excuse ineptitude that is the norm when the combined decentralized knowledge of millions and. billions of humans is ignored in favor of the centralized and highly limited knowledge of very few politicians, and even fewer experts.”
“In robbing us of our freedom to live and work as we wanted…politicians suffocated wealth creation along with the information necessary to save us from the maladies and death brought by the virus. [It was] tragic…The expert standard replaced the market standard…”
Tamny understands economics with an intuitive and uncanny contrarian eye that penetrates beyond all the macroeconomic fantasies of conventional economists. He points out: “If the virus had been lethal, the lockdowns would have made even less sense…The biggest enemy of life is poverty.” Lockdowns simply cause poverty without relieving disease in any way.
“Let’s never again fight disease with the taking of freedom and wealth so essential to knowledge, prosperity, and by extension life itself.”
As AIER’s Jeffrey Tucker declares: “This country needs a serious anti-lockdown movement, one that is not just political but cultural and intellectual, one that is deeply educated on history, philosophy, law, economics, and all sciences, and can rally around traditional American civic postulates concerning individual freedom and the limits of governments, and also around universal principles of human rights. If liberty means anything, it means that we are not locked down.”
Tamny is giving us a heroic book just in time. We have been suffering not from a medical crisis but from a political and economic and institutional crisis. We have undergone a vast breakdown of moral, educational, intellectual and journalistic standards. Tamny tells this story better than anyone else.
All should read his shocking tale.