Coronavirus Counterfactual: A True Enemy Would Have Alerted Us In 2019

Coronavirus Counterfactual: A True Enemy Would Have Alerted Us In 2019 by John Tamny for American Institute for Economic Research

With the coronavirus, the most frustrating counterfactual of all is to think about how much better off we all would have been if politicians had done nothing. Stop and think about it for a minute. The more desperate the situation, the more freedom makes sense.

The reality is that well before the needless lockdowns began, Americans had started to adjust their behavior. This included staying at home for some. Notable about this is that it was in the U.S. states that locked down the latest that citizens adjusted the most. In a global sense, it was reported by the great Holman Jenkins that the supply of masks had run out before major action by Merkel et al in Germany. People get it. They don’t need a law. Fear of sickness or death concentrates the mind.

Remember how restaurants started to clear somewhat before the lockdowns? People were adjusting. Imagine if businesses, including restaurants, had been left free to meet the needs of customers (or not at all) free of business tips from those who brought us the DMV.

No doubt some businesses would have gone under amid fear of the virus, but they were already going under before that. Particularly retail. Remember all the hand wringing about Amazon and the internet “hollowing out” shopping malls? While the nailbiters will eventually regret the association of their names with such alarmism, the reality in a dynamic economy is that the roster of names in shopping malls and town centers is constantly changing.

The main thing is that near-term caution taken by free people would have resulted in more saving, and as a consequence a rising capital base for businesses and entrepreneurs to access on the way to recovery. Natural slowdowns paradoxically fuel the subsequent rebound. Translated, what you’ve been told about “recessions” by economists, pundits and politicians is mostly bunk. This wasn’t nor is it a recession; rather it was a forced contraction. Tragic.

Politicians foisted on us lockdowns that wrecked lives and business. Economic growth produces the resources to fight a virus, but this time around an always obtuse political class outdid itself by choosing economic desperation as the path to a cure.

There’s a China angle to this, though perhaps not what you think. It’s known the virus originated there, and the first documented infection dates back to November.

November raises a question about when the virus first began spreading. Presumably before that, but since over half don’t know they have it, who knows? The main thing is that the virus had been around the global block as it were well before January when Beijing officially acknowledged its existence.

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