Central Planners Are Terrible Businesspeople
Future historians will reexamine the events of the spring of 2020 with head-shaking unbelief. They will be perplexed why our country shut down schools, sports, theaters, bars, restaurants, and churches. They might be hard-pressed to understand why government ignored the rule of law and put individual rights on hold for so long. These future annalists might come to the realization that all levels of government knew, that at a certain time in the pandemic, their focus was completely incorrect.
Disease mitigation is a job for medical professionals, not economists and certainly not politicians. To relinquish all our power to governors for unlimited periods of time was preposterous. Too many citizens have abdicated their responsibilities to keep political leaders in check and have subsequently surrendered all agency to one person in each state. Many of us, especially here in New York State, have relegated all control to King Cuomo.
Not only did he, along with just about every other legislator, presume the information modelers predicted was correct, they consolidated their power and became disease specialists, businesspeople, therapists, panderers, and more often than not authoritarian, high-handed, domineering, paternalistic authority figures.
The focus of disease mitigation moved from “ experts “ to the power of the state. We quickly talked quarantine power. Political discussions morphed into how state power should be deployed. Many thought it was alarmist for even thinking about the limits of federal power, the extent of state emergency powers and the ramifications of shelter at home orders. After a few weeks into the lockdowns in certain states, it wasn’t just about quarantining the sick, the focus was about putting the entire country under de-facto house arrest.
The consequence of these actions brought about almost instant widespread economic collapse, and as we can see now, long-term social and cultural disruption as well. The mainstream media exacerbated this spectacle. At every turn, there were opinion pieces pushing for panic and lockdown. We clearly underestimated the threat of coercion. Our country is debating about the use and effectiveness of face coverings even though the threat of the virus has clearly subsided.
In the end, we found out the models were horribly wrong. They were incorrect, not only about the large death numbers but also about hospital capacity, unseen costs, economic effects, and even the demographics of the affected population. Very few, if any even considered the impact of the virus on long-term care facilities. This negligence contributed to the abdication of responsibility to the population that should have received the bulk of the focus.
A powerful June 5, 2020, editorial in the Journal of the American Medical Association makes the core point:
Both modelers and public health policy makers should recognize that COVID-19 is not a unitary epidemic; in the US and other countries, it likely consists of multiple, contemporaneous, and intertwined suboutbreaks prominently including those in LTC settings. Distinguishing the rates and pattern of disease occurring in the general population from those in LTC facilities is both feasible and critical to control of infection in these high-risk settings.
We now know the truth. The Wall Street Journal sums up the facts of Covid-19 here:
About 80% of Americans who have died of Covid-19 are older than 65, and the median age is 80. A review by Stanford medical professor John Ioannidis last month found that individuals under age 65 accounted for 4.8% to 9.3% of all Covid-19 deaths in 10 European countries and 7.8% to 23.9% in 12 U.S. locations.
For most people under the age of 65, the study found, the risk of dying from Covid-19 isn’t much higher than from getting in a car accident driving to work. In California and Florida, the fatality risk for the under-65 crowd is about equal to driving 16 to 17 miles per day. While higher in hot spots like New York (668 miles) and New Jersey (572 miles), the death risk is still lower than the public perceives.
South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem understood her responsibilities from the beginning. She never locked her state down. She resisted the impulse to control the lives of her citizens:
So this brings me to the question of modeling. While modeling certainly has a place, models have two major shortcomings. No model can actually predict the future. Especially when it is based on data that is incomplete. And no model is capable of replacing human freedom as the best path to responding to life’s risks, including this virus.
That is why central planning of the economy has failed every time the government has tried it. In South Dakota, we saw modeling as a tool, and we used it to be prepared for a worst case scenario. I thank God that the worst case hasn’t happened. But we were ready, and we are still ready, if it does.
But there is no model that can take into consideration all of the factors that make real life work. A blind reliance on insufficient modeling has led some politicians to institute disastrous lockdowns, that have not only jeopardized their people’s health, and their welfare, but also created conditions for a financial catastrophe, that will cause untold burdens and costs on their people for generations.
Now that many states are moving into various “phases,” I am seeing governors setting up guidelines and restrictions for citizens and businesses to follow. It’s clear they are lost. While they may be great politicians, they certainly aren’t businesspeople. I’d argue that the overwhelming majority haven’t run a business or know anyone that does. If they did, they’d quickly realize that the restrictions they are imposing have no basis in the reality of business operations. You can’t operate a business at 50% capacity and make profits. Why not try running your state with 50% of the employees, or operate your city or state with only 50% of tax revenue?
These governors need to allow local jurisdictions to deal with local problems and concerns. Their attempts at micromanaging from their governors mansions are useless.
We allowed presumptuous model-building disease mitigators to become aligned with clueless governors — people who seem to have central planning proclivities. This toxic mix appears to have overruled the wisdom of not only medical professionals, but also economists, philosophers, political scientists, historians, and everyone else including state legislatures and the citizens.
Clayton Craddock is an independent thinker, father of two beautiful children in New York City. He is the drummer of the hit broadway musical Ain’t Too Proud. He earned a Bachelor of Business Administration from Howard University’s School of Business and is a 25 year veteran of the fast paced New York City music scene. He has played drums in a number of hit broadway and off-broadway musicals including “Tick, tick…BOOM!, Altar Boyz, Memphis The Musical and Lady Day At Emerson’s Bar and Grill. In addition, Clayton has worked on: Footloose, Motown, The Color Purple, Rent, Little Shop of Horrors, Evita, Cats, and Avenue Q.
Originally published at https://claytoncraddock.substack.com.