It’s Time to Stop Despairing


It’s Time to Stop Despairing

By Duncan Whitmore

It is difficult not to feel despondent when considering the enormous loss of liberty that has been inflicted by government lockdown policies in response to COVID-19. This despair has been compounded for many on the right by the final failure of Donald Trump’s attempt to challenge November’s presidential election result, together with the sudden, panicked attempt to remove him from office just days before his term expires, as well as the purging of him and prominent cheerleaders from social media. In this vein, the following quotations – all from prominent libertarians or conservative-libertarians – are not unrepresentative:

“2021 is going to be worse than 2020. Sorry”

“You ain’t seen nothing yet: the worst is yet to come”

“The lockdown is permanent, get used to it. It is all about political control. NOBODY HEALTHY IS DYING.”

It is true that any opponents of lockdown policies need to have a realistic grasp of why these draconian policies have been resorted to and how the situation is likely to pan out. Indeed, enough is now known about COVID-19 for us to be well past the point of lending the state the benefit of the doubt in its decision to continue with those policies. Thus, explanations other than the protection of health must be sought.

Nevertheless, the amount of time spent despairing is beginning to come at the expense of time that could be spent working out how to fight back. Happily, Sean Gabb has helped to buck the trend by offering some reasons as to why the past year has not been all that bad. While Gabb acknowledges that his personal circumstances have contributed much to his relatively sanguine view, it is, nevertheless, a refreshing counterbalance to the torrent of doomerism that seems to be erupting from the right. Continue reading

Against Lockdown – The Libertarian Case


Against Lockdown – The Libertarian Case

By Duncan Whitmore

Although I have written on the topic of how libertarian property rights can be applied to the situation of viruses in two, previous essays, it is useful to summarise this again for a clearer picture. Such an endeavour seems necessary now more than ever, for in spite of increased opposition compared to the first round of lockdowns earlier this year, the various nations of the UK are again heading into some from of lockdown mode as the winter draws near.

Most sceptics of lockdown and restrictive policies designed to “curb” the onset of COVID-19 approach the matter from a utilitarian or technocractic angle – i.e. whether the measures that states are pursuing are an effective and/or proportionate response to the spread of the virus. While this is an invaluable exercise, it does not challenge the principle that the state has the prerogative to obliterate rights and freedoms in the manner that it has. In other words, the notion that, ultimately, our rights could be infringed on a future occasion when someone deems that it is “effective” and “proportionate” to do so is left untouched. Equally intact, therefore, is the notion that our rights are not immovably tied to our status as individual human beings, but are little more than privileges enjoyed at the sufferance of the state. This is not to imply that the principle of liberty has been ignored – former Supreme Court Justice Lord Sumption has been a notable high profile critic of the government in this regard. But the general opposition to lockdowns and other restrictions seems to assume that their only problem is that COVID-19 is simply not a big enough crisis to justify the present level of state intrusion. Thus, there is still a need to emphasise the fact that our rights exist not only in fair weather but in storms and hurricanes also – in fact, it is precisely in exceptional circumstances when rights need the most protection for it is always on these occasions that the state exploits fear and anxiety of unknown dangers so as to achieve greater incursions upon our liberty. Continue reading

A Second Open Letter to my MP on COVID


I sent this to “my” MP, Jeremy Hunt, earlier today.

Dear Mr Hunt,

When I wrote to you about five weeks ago, the main subject of my letter was de-carbonization of transport. However, I also drew your attention to an article I had had published on the COVID lockdowns, and told you that I had found them to be “way over the top compared to what was actually necessary.”

I have very recently published another article on the subject of COVID – here: https://misesuk.org/2020/09/20/covid-19-is-the-virus-weakening/. The figures show that, over the course of the last three months or so, the lethality of the virus in the UK (as measured by number of deaths divided by number of new cases as at 14 days beforehand) has gone down by a factor of around 60. This means that the virus is now considerably less dangerous than, for example, ’flu. And so, all lockdown measures ought to be released as soon as possible.

And yet, there is now serious talk of a re-lockdown at national level! For “two weeks.” We know from last time round what that means; we were told it would be three weeks, and now it’s been six months. Moreover, it feels like we are locked down harder than at any previous stage. And they want to make it longer, and worse!

The people-haters, that want to lock down as hard as possible for as long as possible and don’t care a damn about how much pain they cause to people, seem to be winning inside your party and others. And the arbitrary and extreme fines they are demanding are a sign of a rapacious monster that has lost all control over itself. I remind you of Edmund Burke’s aphorism that “Bad laws are the worst sort of tyranny.” And yet, these aren’t even bad laws – they are simply decrees of a small cadre! That isn’t the rule of law. That isn’t England. Moreover, in a democracy, government is supposed to be on the side of the people. It must never do anything which causes harm to those people without full and rigorous justification, which will stand up to scrutiny by objectively minded people (including me).

A national re-lockdown, in my opinion, would result in a meltdown in the public mood. As to myself, I have already lost all respect for the parliament as a whole, and for the great majority of those in it. Such a move would turn my disrespect into contempt and hatred, or worse.

So, I ask you immediately to add your voice in parliament to those who say “No” to any new lockdowns, and to demand that the public be provided with full, objective justification of every one of the measures that are already in place. Moreover, I would ask you, please, to use your seniority and your relevant expertise to metaphorically box the ears of those that are doing these things to us.

Yours sincerely,

Neil Lock

COVID-19: Is the Virus Weakening?


COVID-19: Is the Virus Weakening?

By Neil Lock

 

This is another of my articles on the numbers relating to the COVID epidemic world-wide.  It follows on from the “Lock-downs or Cock-ups?” article, here: https://wattsupwiththat.com/2020/08/11/covid-19-lock-downs-or-cock-ups/. This time, I’ll focus on the question: what proportion of confirmed new cases, at each stage of the epidemic, are actually leading to deaths? That ratio ought to be a major factor in any rational consideration of when to release lockdowns (or not); because it hugely affects the load on health care systems. Avoiding health system overload, so we were assured at the beginning of the epidemic, was the only reason for going into lockdown – for three weeks. (Cough).

Continue reading

Viruses and Property Rights


Viruses and Property Rights

By Duncan Whitmore

In recent post on the LRC blog, Michael S Rozeff has attempted to demonstrate that pro-freedom arguments made in terms of self-ownership, private property, or the non-aggression principle are ill-equipped to handle a problem such as a contagious virus. It is not entirely clear whether Rozeff is arguing that “property rights solutions” are inherently unable to address such matters, and/or whether they are merely unpersuasive compared to other arguments that libertarians have at their disposal (such as utilitarian arguments). Either way, however, much of what Rozeff says is severely wanting.

Says Rozeff:

Libertarians who attempt to apply 100% body ownership to every situation run into insoluble problems. They frequently try to solve them by deciding what is aggression and what is not, or equivalently who has rights or not, or equivalently whose 100% body property rights are being violated. Sometimes the suggested solutions involve odd behavior that looks immoral, and the confusing and arguable rejoinder is that body ownership theory is a theory of rights, not morality.

In the first place, it is misleading to characterise the libertarian position as one of “100% body ownership” for it conveys the impression that anyone should be able, quite literally, to do whatever they like with their bodies. The correct position is that you should be able to do what you want with your body provided that it does not physically interfere with the body or property of another person without that person’s consent. Rozeff, both here and later, seems to ignore this basic but important qualification. Continue reading

The Barber of Owosso


In Owosso, Michigan, USA, a 77-year-old barber named Karl Manke has taken on the might of the state of Michigan, by opening his barber shop in defiance of “laws” made by the state government. He’s been suppressed. But he’s gathering support:

https://eu.detroitnews.com/story/business/2020/05/18/owosso-barber-calls-all-business-owners-open-up/5214002002/

I confess that I have an interest in this case. I’ve had a beard for 47 years now, and I like to keep it neatly trimmed. Luckily, I happened to go to my barber just a couple of days before the UK “lockdown” in the middle of March. But now, my beard is trending out of control. (A bit like the hysteria about “climate change.”) And under current UK plans it’s “illegal” for his (or anyone else’s) barber shop to open until July 4th at least! By that time, everyone who meets me will think I’ve gone Muslim. A claim which I can’t falsify until the pubs re-open.

Now let’s look at how US politicians have behaved on this issue, shall we?

Kansas Democrat governor Laura Kelly took a haircut in early May, which she claimed was done by her husband. Republicans congratulated him – a lung doctor, would you believe! – on his barbering skills. Can we believe either side? No. But that same governor sought to forcibly close down a barber shop in Wichita:

https://www.kansas.com/news/coronavirus/article242647601.html

As to Chicago mayor Lori Lightfoot:

https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-8211169/Chicago-Mayor-Lori-Lightfoot-defends-decision-haircut-amid-city-wide-lockdown.html

Look, Lori, in your part of the world (and I lived in Chicago for a year, 30 years ago) you’re supposed to have something called “the rule of law.” That means that what is wrong for one person to do in a given situation, is wrong for another. No exceptions.

This suggests to me that honest people should focus, hard, on the dishonesty, hypocrisy and double standards that are rife among our enemies. Don’t let any of them get away with anything.

You schoot ze lockdown violator on ze right, Klaus, I schoot ze vun on ze left


Never before has UK government bias in favour of the establishment been clearer, than in the recent cases of Neil Ferguson and Nigel Farage.

Neil Ferguson of Imperial College, having supplied the dubious (and unprofessional) “evidence” that was used to “justify” the “no non-essential travel” lockdown in the first place, will not be prosecuted for inviting a woman from across London to his home while he was still supposed to be in 14-day quarantine.

Yet Nigel Farage, who has never been in quarantine, gets lectured by police for going to Dover to investigate the possibility that the UK “border force” is letting people in to the UK who should not be. At a time when, if even one of them has the virus, efforts to contain the epidemic will be seriously compromised.

One law for the establishment, one for the plebs and the “bad boys” like Nigel Farage, no?

On a lighter note, yesterday my camera took me on a walking tour of my local area, to record the lockdown experience. I won’t bother to upload all the photos here, just give you the link: http://www.honestcommonsense.co.uk/2020/05/still-locked-down.html.