Tag Archives: Coronavirus

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. Read more

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.

Coronavirus: eight European countries are now “over the hump!”


I’ve been doing some more playing with the new-cases figures for coronavirus. I took the raw figures since March 17th from worldometers.info for the following countries: Spain, Italy, Germany, UK, Switzerland, Belgium, Netherlands, Austria, Portugal, Sweden, Norway, Ireland, Denmark. I left out France, because of their recent data issues. I used Excel to smooth the figures over 7-day periods (so e.g. for March 20th I averaged the figures from March 17th to 23rd inclusive). I chose 7 days, because that is roughly the period of the “wobble” I saw in many countries’ data when I first looked into the detail a few days ago.

I came up with some interesting results. The countries divided clearly into three groups:

  • Eight in which the smoothed new cases have already peaked and are on a downward trend: Spain, Italy, Germany, Switzerland, Belgium, Austria, Portugal, Norway.
  • One (Netherlands) where smoothed new cases have only very recently peaked, and it’s not clear whether or not that will be the final peak.
  • Four in which the smoothed new cases have not yet peaked: UK, Sweden, Ireland, Denmark.

Read more

Are Coronavirus Lockdowns Working?


(Neil’s Note: This was a blog comment I made in response to Christopher Monckton’s article “Are Lockdowns Working?” at https://wattsupwiththat.com/2020/04/04/are-lockdowns-working/#comment-2956309, about the efficacy of lockdowns at lowering the rate of spread of the currently raging coronavirus epidemic. I made some further comments in replies, too).

The former mathematician in me decided it was about time to use the data we have to make a direct assessment of Christopher Monckton’s hypothesis that the lockdowns are working.

What I did was look, not at comparisons between countries, but at the graphs of total cases and daily new cases which are readily available on worldometers.info. As long as the reporting of cases within a country is done in the same way each day, I should be able to make reasonably reliable comparisons between the numbers of cases in a country at different stages of the epidemic. I simply picked the top 12 European countries in terms of total number of cases, and looked at the graphs for each.

First up was Spain. Something interesting jumped right out of the paper at me when I looked at the total cases graph. The curve comes in two parts; an exponential part, followed by a pretty much linear part. The transition in Spain was quite sharp, around March 24th. The daily new cases graph shows it, too; new cases were increasing exponentially up to about that date, and since then have been increasing far less, or even static. The Spaniards seem to have brought in their lockdown very quickly on March 13th and 14th, so the change in the regime came about 10 days after lockdown. Not at all far from the incubation period of the virus, of which the best estimate I have heard is 6 to 14 days.

Read more

Why the State Shouldn’t Manage a Crisis


Why the State Shouldn’t Manage a Crisis

By Duncan Whitmore

Many libertarians, especially at lewrockwell.com, have written of their scepticism to the draconian responses of states around the world to the recent outbreak of coronavirus (COVID-19). It is not difficult to share this scepticism given that at least some analyses – particularly of infections on cruise ships, which, given the unavoidably close social proximity, present the closest thing to a worst case scenario – suggest there is little cause for any heightened alarm. Indeed, for the very vast majority of us, there is probably more to be feared from state overreaction than there is from the virus itself. Even mainstream commentators, such as Matthew Parris in Saturday’s Times, are beginning to question the wisdom of trashing your economy to prevent the spread of an infection that is, at least at the moment, affecting only a relative minority of people of advanced age and/or with underlying health conditions (in common with many other inflictions). States always have ulterior motives when dealing with (apparent) crises as they always see them as an opportunity to expand the ambit of their power over the populace, given that a scared people is nearly always willing to sacrifice its liberty for the sake of security. In fact, if the true medical seriousness of this current virus turns out to be only a hill of beans then it may well have served as a dress rehearsal that has merely tested our pliability for some later calamity.

This essay, however, will not concern whether the spread of COVID-19 is quite the crisis it is being made out to be. Instead, let us assume, for argument’s sake, that the world was to be threatened by a very real and very serious pandemic threat. Would such a disaster warrant stronger, co-ordinated, globalised solutions managed by states and enhanced state powers to deal with the problem? Read more