I recently heard young liberals proposing a ridiculous authoritarian plan to protect us all from COVID-19. Eventually, one of them sighed and said “But there will be some people out there who will oppose this idea and start citing their Constitutional rights or some other nonsense.”
The shutdown of the economies of various countries was based on centralist thinking. Leftists believe that the solution to every problem is coercion. When coercion makes problems worse, they increase the depth and breadth of the coercion.
Advocates of liberty try to debate leftists through honest dialogue. They try to persuade leftists based on evidence that cooperation is more successful than coercion. But it is a futile strategy. Leftists do not use logic and do not speak honestly. Leftists do not admit it, but all they truly seek is control over others. Period.
One would think that a middle ground could be reached. Perhaps the leftists could continue to destroy their blue states and let advocates of liberty mind their own business in the red states. It would make sense to “live and let live” in harmony. But of course it is only control over others that leftists seek.
Free market advocates tend to believe in natural rights – generally consistent with the principles in the U.S. Constitution. Those rights form the foundation on which the greatest nation with the greatest economy was built. It is our institutions of equal treatment under the law and liberty for all that enabled the miracle known as America. The key to the American economy is not that Americans are smarter or harder working -- it is because we have superior institutions.
The U.S. economy has produced or popularized almost every major technological advance in the last 150 years. Try to think of a major economic game-changer that was not either invented in the U.S. or first made widely accessible in the U.S..
Unfortunately, America has abandoned traditional American values and suspended our Constitutional rights over COVID-19. Under the guise of protection from COVID-19 (better described as COVID-1984) various levels of our government have taken over control of our entire economy and our daily lives. The economic results have been devastating.
Most people cannot imagine any better way that the government could have reacted. And that’s an important point. Freedom is powerful because it allows people to demonstrate diverse solutions to the challenges that we face. People observe this wide scale experimentation and select the solutions that best fit their needs.
But Americans were not given the chance to find solutions to their COVID-19 problem as individuals. Government centralized the process.
Personally, I think that young, healthy Americans have been wasting their time and money “staying-at-home”. Elderly and infirmed Americans would probably be wise to take stringent precautions of their choice. We will never know what might have worked because centralized control prevented exploration of alternative solutions.
A society’s production is generated by the actions of individuals. Successful economies let individuals – who understand their situations – decide what is best for themselves. Some will make bad decisions and will fail. But everyone gets the opportunity to observe the many outcomes, to learn and to thrive. For example, over the last 150 years our agricultural system wonderfully innovated its way to such incredible efficiency that now less than 3% of our population can accomplish what used to require more than 50% of our population.
When government imposes a “one size fits all” approach, it usually fails. With centralized decision-making learning will be painfully slow. Imagine if 120 years ago the U.S. government mandated that every inventor trying to be the first to fly an airplane had to use a specific government-prescribed approach. It would have been a disaster.
Centrally planned economies fail because they restrict experimentation and because merit is judged by a single authority: the central government. So they copy and steal technology from free-market economies.
America did not become the greatest economy on earth by centralized decision-making. Why are we abandoning our approach when we need it most? Clearly, in retrospect, the premise of the shutdown and lockdown – keeping our healthcare system from being overwhelmed – was erroneous. People had their rights revoked and were literally forced to shut down their businesses, stay at home and wait for the government to solve the problems.
As Ayn Rand eloquently hypothesized in Anthem, if the left takes global control everything and everybody will return to the Dark Ages.