Amherst College in Massachusetts is welcoming students back to campus by implementing some of the most restrictive COVID-19 mitigation efforts anywhere in the country. Administrators will now require students to wear two masks while indoors, get tested every other week, eschew large social interactions, and generally refrain from leaving school grounds.
Well, so what? Is this an over-reaction? Maybe. I might have chosen a somewhat less restrictive policy, but really, who cares? The restrictions are only temporary; I am confident that the administration will dial them back if less stringent measures are effective at other campuses.
Next, there’s the on-going outrage of Australia and New Zealand and their efforts to eliminate covid. As I’ve discussed before, there really is a case for trying to keep covid cases close to zero for a few more months as the countries engage in a mass vaccination campaign. Honest. Australia and New Zealand lagged initially on vaccinations, relative to other rich countries, but vaccinations are now in full swing. Of course, you can argue that their approach is misguided, or that the delta variant is so contagious that a hardline policy no longer makes sense. (But still, does it make sense to just lift all restrictions in the middle of a vaccination campaign? Really? If not, what exactly are you proposing?) In any event, if you do this, a reasonable person would at least acknowledge the arguments in favor of the eliminationist approach, right?
Well, not necessarily! Libertarians have another trick up their sleeves . . . they can always play their trump card, the “road to serfdom” argument. The war on the war on covid features constant claims that covid restrictions will last forever and extinguish the flame of human freedom. I kid you not. Here is a passage quoted by Boudreaux:
There is no talk of future freedom. Instead, Australians are told lockdowns are staying, even with vaccines widely available and vaccination rates finally accelerating. Indeed, last Sunday Andrews extended Victoria’s lockdown indefinitely, and Western Australia and Queensland premiers are using the Sydney and Melbourne outbreaks to repudiate prior commitments to end lockdowns and reopen their states once full vaccination rates reach 70-80 per cent.
How long can this last? If it was up to the drunk-on-power politicians and bureaucrats who have found a winning electoral formula, health experts who have found relevance, and the deathly scared who have found a sense of safety (and, for some at least, the frisson of being a part of something big and important), the answer is “forever.”
Uh huh. Aussies and Kiwis will still be locked down not just a few months longer than makes sense (which is entirely possible), and not just for years after everyone is vaxxed, but forever. Sure. Because lockdowns are so much fun, or because they’re all sheeple, or whatever.
Unfortunately, to be continued . . .