A Pandemic of Fear

“The only thing we have to fear is fear itself-nameless, unreasoning, unjustified terror which paralyzes needed efforts to convert retreat into advance” Franklin Delano Roosevelt Inaugural Address

“Hell is empty, and all the devils are here.” William Shakespeare, The Tempest

We have now clocked 14 months and counting since the “temporary emergency” (two words that send chills up any libertarian spine) lockdown orders to prevent our nation’s hospitals from being unduly stressed by the Covid 19 virus. Without denying Covid’s transmissibility or infectiousness, especially for the elderly and at risk individuals with one or more co-morbidities, I think we can all agree that we have careened from fear to fear over this period of time. Fear over hospitalizations gave way to fear over the infamous death counts displayed 24/7 by mainstream media. As death rates subsided last summer, fear of death gave way to fear over cases accompanied by an almost manic counting of tests administered. And, finally, the obsession with test and case counts has been displaced by how many have gotten their Covid shots. Fear, as FDR intoned in his famous inaugural address, is often unreasoning and unjustified. It elevates the flight or fight syndrome, causes the suspension of disbelief and leads to emotional, panic-driven decisions. At each of these four stages of Covid engendered fear, one could have raised objective counters to the prevailing narrative. To wit, very few hospitals were overcrowded. Most Covid deaths, by the CDC’s own admission are with Covid not from Covid with the latter constituting 6% of the total reported.  The case counts were likely drastically overinflated as a result of faulty and overly sensitive testing methodologies.  And the vaccines may not be a magical cure all preventing transmission or infection, but, if safe and effective, may minimize adverse symptoms should one contract Covid. Big pharma is already mentioning the need for annual booster shots.

Raising any of these counterpoints to the prevailing narrative is unlikely to be countered by rational, calm debate, but most assuredly will get one tagged as being a Trumpian anti-vaxxer, classic ad hominem attacks hardly deserving response. But, to set the record straight, this writer is neither a Trumpian nor an anti-vaxxer. Over time my philosophic journey has evolved from an initial belief that government was a necessary evil to thinking that is mainly evil. Few politicians are for me exemplars of moral courage or intellectual honesty. President Kennedy is one exception in my lifetime as his moral courage to avert nuclear war and dismantle the national security state very well may have cost him his life at the hands of political enemies. Before Kennedy, I have to retreat to Grover Cleveland, who had the courage time after time to uphold the Constitution, earning him the sobriquet of Mr. Veto for his repeated nays to Congressional attempts to create powers not enumerated. And saying that I am anti-vaxxer is a pejorative slight implying that I substitute superstition for medicine and science when in fact, like many, I am trying to make my own informed decision about my own health and treatment or prophylactic options.

Someone recently asked me about the origins of my love of individual liberty and how I came to embrace the non-aggression axiom at the heart of libertarian philosophy. I initially responded that after college, I followed Mark Twain’s advice never to let my schooling interfere with my education so I embarked on my own course of self-education, devouring all the classics by Rand, Rothbard, Hayek, Block, Hoppe, von Mises as well as political philosophers diametrically opposed to their love of liberty and individual responsibility. But, upon further reflection, I realized that my libertarian roots may have been present as a toddler. One of my earliest memories is my parents growing frustrated with my endless use of the word why! I guess I simply never liked being told what to do or what to think, and I think this skeptical predisposition to question authority was the fertile soil for building my set of political and moral beliefs.

So, in the spirit of being the why (and hopefully wise) guy, I have just a few questions I would like to pose to the CDC and the vaccine manufacturers before I dutifully line up to take the shots. If they can answer these fully to my satisfaction, my consent to get the shots will be informed and voluntary; if not, my submission will only occur because legal mandates will make it impossible to enjoy life on acceptable terms.

Here is my list:

  1. Why is the partnership of government and 4 major vaccine manufacturers exempt from the usual harms of crony capitalism present in other industries where government and big business are allied? Bailouts and subsidies in other industries create moral hazard, socialize risk, and tend to result in high prices and/or poor product quality as the removal of market-based penalties for failure is weakened. Where many glorify Operation Warp Speed and are eager to announce Mission Accomplished much as Bush the younger did in the early days of the forever Iraq war, I have a gnawing sense of discomfort that a product is being rushed to market without full and extensive testing. The government can posture as savior. The vaccine manufacturers, who are granted legal immunity under their private/public partnership and have been provided enormous subsidies to develop the vaccines, have a pure profit opportunity with legally constrained limits on loss or reprisal. This is not meant to ascribe improper motives to either government or corporate entities as the efforts to abate the pandemic may indeed be totally humanitarian. But, zero liability and skewed risk/reward structures create incentives which leave me uneasy.
  2. Are the vaccines safe and effective? If so, why are many government officials still recommending that the vaccinated wear mask(s), socially distance and otherwise put their lives on hold? Does not this public messaging do more to undercut the incentive to get a vaccine than any anti-vaxxer could create?
  3. If the vaccines are so effective, how do you account for the occurrence from December 14, 2020 through last Friday of almost 120,000 adverse events in the US reported to VAERS (Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System) including over 3500 deaths?
  4. While these may statistically indeed be a small percentage of total vaccines administered to date, is it likely that the systematic underreporting to you under VAERS is on the order of just one to ten percent of all adverse events? If that is so, then do you consider the likely true number of adverse vaccine events of 1.2 to 12 million to be material?
  5. And, for certain segments of the population (namely anyone under the age of 30) for whom the odds of contracting Covid and/or debilitating symptoms may be close to zero, how do you justify taking an injection which is admittedly still experimental? Is this risk/reward logical?
  6. If the “vaccines” are so desirable, why have you resorted to classic propaganda techniques (including frequent public servant announcements, photo ops of athletes, politicians and movie stars getting their shots, nonstop social messaging) to encourage their acceptance? Do you think the average citizen is too infantile to provide informed consent?
  7. Why are you threatening the use of vaccine passports and a legal nether world of the unvaccinated to coerce getting the shots? Do you think the average citizen is too infantile to provide informed consent?
  8. Do you think that employers and colleges mandating these vaccines at your behest is consonant with the key elements of the Nuremberg Code and its strictures regarding the scope of and moral underpinnings of medical experimentation?
  9. Why have dissenting views by other scientists and/or vaccine safety organizations been greeted with silence and/or censorship?

I look forward to receiving complete answers to my list of questions. In the meantime, I fully recognize and respect the decision of any individual who chooses to mask up, isolate from society and get vaccinated. It is your right and prerogative. Your body is your choice. I do not respect or recognize your ability to mandate that my individual health decisions are subject to your dictates, which, by and large, I find inhuman, inhumane and unconstitutional. I search in vain for a pandemic exception to the Bill of Rights, which were adopted with a devastating smallpox scourge in the founders’ rear view mirror. To compel that I abide by your dictates so that we can all get back a way of life that was unnaturally and unconstitutionally obliterated strikes me as morally obtuse.

Political Theatre

LRC Blog

LRC Podcasts