The coronavirus crisis is triggering a series of governmental actions across the globe. In America, governors are taking different approaches to help prevent the spread of the virus, with some states implementing more restrictive measures than others.
In California and New York states with some of the highest rates of confirmed novel coronavirus cases, governors have done the unthinkable, issuing directives forcing the population to stay home and threatening to fine those who step out of line.
In California, being caught breaking the new rules could also lead to a misdemeanor, putting residents at risk of going to jail for not practicing “social distancing.”
As if these measures weren’t enough, some city officials decided to double down, announcing that they would be using government-run services to force business owners’ hands.
In Los Angeles, Mayor Eric Garcetti announced that businesses that ignore state orders will risk having their water and power shut off.
This measure, Garcetti said during his daily briefing Tuesday, is part of his brand new “business ambassadors program,” which puts the task of keeping an eye out for rule breakers in the hands of so-called neighborhood prosecutors.
If what the state sees as a non-essential business is known to remain open, neighborhood prosecutors will remind the business owner they must close their doors if they don’t want to be visited by the Department of Water and Power.
Calling business owners who keep their shops open “irresponsible and selfish,” Garcetti added that the “easiest way to avoid a visit is to follow the rules.”
While it’s expected that a state run by Democrats would see little to no opposition to the type of autocratic ruling we often see being implemented in authoritarian countries such as China and Russia, there’s growing evidence that COVID-19 might not be as problematic as once thought.
According to a study carried out by researchers at Oxford’s Evolutionary Ecology of Infectious Disease lab, half of the population of the United Kingdom may have already been infected with the novel coronavirus. If this is the case, it would mean that the virus was responsible for sending only .01 percent of those infected to the hospital.
While this number must still be confirmed by follow-up studies, it seems to echo what some critics of the current response to the coronavirus have been saying.
One of these critics, Dr. Pietro Vernazza, a Swiss physician at the Cantonal Hospital St. Gallen and Professor of Health Policy who specializes in infectious diseases, got some attention when he pointed out the fact that around “85 percent of all [coronavirus] infections have occurred without anyone noticing” in both China and Italy.
He also warned that if governments were to shut down schools, we would all suffer dearly down the road as children would not be exposed to the virus and thus would be prevented from becoming immune.
While it is clear that the novel coronavirus exposes some of those infected to serious and potentially deadly complications, it’s still too early to say with certainty that the dangers warrant shutting down entire economies, and thus demolishing the livelihoods of thousands if not millions of households in the process.
As any Austrian economist will tell you, the economy isn’t something apart from human history, something created by government decree or developed by an elite as a means of oppression — the economy is simply how humans live and thrive, producing goods, offering services, and using these skills in a mutually beneficial manner.
Attempting to halt the economy as such means destroying what makes life possible. Worse yet, it does so under the auspices of saving mankind from itself, as officials use repressive methods to show the public they couldn’t possibly make life-saving decisions for themselves.
If anything, we should be questioning why so many life-changing decisions were made on our behalf without enough evidence to back them up. Otherwise, we risk giving bureaucrats more power than they already have over our lives.