Tag Archive for: LOCKDOWNS

Not a Single U.S. State Is Requiring Kids to Get Vaccinated to Attend Public School. Why?

Economics may offer a clue as to why not one state is mandating vaccination to attend school in the 2022-2023 school year, even though many government officials support coercive vaccination policies.


September has arrived and many children are back in public schools (though fewer than previous years).

At a recent event, one parent joked to me we’re now officially in “vaccine season.” The comment made me laugh, but there’s at least a kernel of truth to it. It’s not unusual for states to require that children receive an array of vaccinations—from polio, diphtheria, and chickenpox to measles, mumps, and meningitis—to be enrolled in a public school system.

One vaccine that parents will not find on any state’s required list in 2022 are the Covid-19 shots, which have been a source of great debate in the US and other countries.

While a few US cities continue to push vaccine mandates to attend, Pew Charitable Trusts pointed out earlier this year that states have been surprisingly wary of mandating Covid shots for children.

“[Only] two states—California and Louisiana—have added COVID-19 vaccines to the list of immunizations mandated for schoolchildren,” Michael Ollove pointed out in January. “Both requirements would be enforced next school year, and then only if the vaccines receive full authorization by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.”

Things have changed since then.

In May, Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards announced the Louisiana Department of Health would not require children attending the state’s daycares or K-12 schools to provide proof of vaccination. California, which in October 2021 became the first state to announce Covid vaccine requirements for school, announced in April that it would not require vaccination, noting the vaccines had not at that time been approved by the FDA for all school-age children. (They are now.)

The fact that not a single US state is requiring students to be vaccinated against Covid to attend K-12 school is probably a bit surprising to readers. (It was to this author.)

I’d like to think that policymakers and politicians finally woke up to the fact that vaccine mandates are immoral, inhumane, and a clear violation of bodily integrity. But that seems unlikely considering that many vaccine mandates remain in place, particularly at the federal and municipal levels.

It’s also possible that lawmakers have realized vaccinated individuals can still get sick and spread the virus, and therefore concluded vaccinations are a matter of personal health, not public health. Yet once again this theory is undermined by the presence of other vaccine mandates that remain in place. Some may contend that we’ve simply beaten the virus and mandates are no longer necessary, but official statistics show Covid deaths and cases remain stubbornly high.

So what’s the answer?

What’s most likely is that political considerations are at play. Yet this thesis too, at first blush, appears to be undermined by the reality that polls show Americans support Covid vaccine mandates in schools.

Some basic economics, however, can help us see that the politics are more complicated than that.

Public Choice Theory is a field of economics pioneered by the Nobel Prize-winning economist James M. Buchanan and economist Gordon Tullock. It rests on a simple assumption: politicians and bureaucrats make decisions primarily based on self-interest and incentives just like everyone else, not out of an altruistic goal of serving “the public good.” (This is why public choice economists have dubbed it “politics without romance.”)

I’ve previously pointed out that politicians were incentivized during the pandemic to embrace Covid restrictions even if they didn’t work because of the political climate in 2020. The absence of government regulations was viewed as actual violence by some public health experts, and those who didn’t embrace strict interventions were accused of genocide.

Moreover, the costs of these regulations tended to be dispersed, delayed, and hidden from view. Depression, drug overdoses, lost learning, and speech impediments were among the consequences of NPIs (Non-Pharmaceutical Interventions) imposed by governments. But the results of these policies were relatively “unseen” (to use a term from the 19th century economist Frederic Bastiat), at least compared to Covid deaths, which public health officials, the media, and even ordinary citizens tracked obsessively.

The costs of NPIs were quite serious, but they were quite low politically for the reasons stated above. The political costs of keeping a state open were much higher. No politician wants to explain why Mrs. Jackson, the 60-year-old math teacher, died from Covid while schools in your state remained open. (It would be just as tragic if Mrs. Jackson had died at home when schools were closed, but at least no politician would be blamed for her death in this case.)

In other words, the incentive structure early in the pandemic encouraged interventions, even if those interventions were ineffective and ultimately ended up doing more harm than good.

The incentive structure for vaccines is very different, particularly for young people.

Children can and do die from Covid, of course, but their risk is extremely low compared to other age groups. Even more important, perhaps, is that the costs of mandatory vaccination are not delayed, dispersed, or hidden from view. They are immediate, concentrated, and highly visible.

The sad reality is that vaccine injuries, though rare, do occur, as the CDC notes. And when they occur, they are the opposite of “unseen,” which means the political repercussions have the potential to be swift—and severe.

After all, when a young person dies after taking a vaccine designed to protect him, it’s a tragedy. When a young person dies of myocarditis after taking a vaccine he was forced to take to attend school, it’s a tragic event and a political disaster with a wide radius, even if some studies show the risk of myocarditis is greater after Covid infection than after Covid vaccination.

All of this analysis is dark and a bit troubling, of course. Now you see why they call public choice theory “politics without romance.”

But it might help explain why even state leaders comfortable with mandatory vaccination and vaccine passports have been reluctant to compel children to get the shot, even if they truly believe it could save lives.

Whether mandatory vaccination would have done more harm than good is a question we’ll never know, though it’s a debate that will likely continue for years to come. But because vaccines have the power to both save lives and claim lives, the decision to accept or refuse them can only morally be made by one person: the individual (or parents, if the decision concerns a child).

So at least state leaders are getting it right this time, even if they are doing so for the wrong reasons.

AUTHOR

Jon Miltimore

Jonathan Miltimore is the Managing Editor of FEE.org. His writing/reporting has been the subject of articles in TIME magazine, The Wall Street Journal, CNN, Forbes, Fox News, and the Star Tribune. Bylines: Newsweek, The Washington Times, MSN.com, The Washington Examiner, The Daily Caller, The Federalist, the Epoch Times.

EDITORS NOTE: This FEE column is republished with permission. ©All rights reserved.

If Lockdowns and Mandates Failed, Why Are They Still Pushed?

STORY AT-A-GLANCE

  • In a literature review and meta-analysis of the effects of lockdowns on COVID-19 mortality, researchers revealed lockdowns had little to no effect on COVID-19 mortality
  • The Brownstone Institute compiled more than 400 studies showing that lockdowns, restrictions and closures failed to do what was promised
  • A team of 12 researchers from Johns Hopkins School of Public Health, Harvard Medical School, the University of Oxford and other institutions outlined key reasons why COVID-19 shot mandates have been counterproductive and harmful
  • COVID-19 injection mandates could lead to reactance and entrenchment, cognitive dissonance, stigma and scapegoating, and distrust
  • If you don’t agree with COVID-19 restrictions and mandates in your area, now is the time to speak out in peaceful protest

Scientists the world over have done a deep dive into the unprecedented lockdowns and injection mandates that characterized the COVID-19 pandemic response. Over and over again, the results confirm what many instinctively knew all along — that these totalitarian schemes didn’t work and may have caused more harm than good.

Despite the writing on the wall, health officials and academics continue to defend the Draconian measures. It’s difficult to admit wrongdoing, especially of this magnitude, but sooner or later it will become widely known that, as Jeffrey Tucker, founder and president of the Brownstone Institute, put it, “these interventions turned a manageable pandemic into a catastrophe.”1

Hundreds of Studies Show Lockdowns Didn’t Work

Public health policies that restrict movement, ban international travel and close schools and businesses, commonly known as lockdowns, were implemented in virtually every country around the globe during the pandemic, beginning in China, then Italy and spreading like wildfire from there.

Simulated computer models conducted by Imperial College London researchers in 2020 suggested that lockdowns would reduce COVID-19 mortality by up to 98%2 — an estimate that had many scholars raising eyebrows, and which did not come to fruition, not even close.

In a literature review and meta-analysis of the effects of lockdowns on COVID-19 mortality, researchers from Johns Hopkins Institute for Applied Economics, Global Health, and the Study of Business Enterprise, Lund University and the Center for Political Studies in Copenhagen, Denmark, revealed lockdowns had little to no effect on COVID-19 mortality.

The meta-analysis included 24 studies separated into three groups: lockdown stringency index studies, shelter-in-place order (SIPO) studies and specific non-pharmaceutical intervention (NPI) studies. They found:3

“An analysis of each of these three groups support the conclusion that lockdowns have had little to no effect on COVID-19 mortality. More specifically, stringency index studies find that lockdowns in Europe and the United States only reduced COVID-19 mortality by 0.2% on average.

SIPOs were also ineffective, only reducing COVID-19 mortality by 2.9% on average. Specific NPI studies also find no broad-based evidence of noticeable effects on COVID-19 mortality.”

The Brownstone Institute actually compiled more than 400 studies showing that lockdowns, restrictions and closures failed to do what was promised.4 Among them is a study by Dr. Gilbert Berdine, an associate professor of medicine at Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center.

It used data on daily mortality rates for COVID-19 to track the course of the pandemic in Sweden, New York, Illinois and Texas, which each used different pandemic responses, and has suggested that lockdowns may turn out to be “the greatest policy error of this generation.”5 This isn’t to say that lockdowns had no noticeable effects, however. While they failed to meaningfully reduce COVID-19 deaths, they took a massive toll on other measures of public health:6

“While this meta-analysis concludes that lockdowns have had little to no public health effects, they have imposed enormous economic and social costs where they have been adopted. In consequence, lockdown policies are ill-founded and should be rejected as a pandemic policy instrument.”

‘Fact Checkers’ Try to Defend Lockdowns

When the Johns Hopkins meta-analysis received some media attention, bringing the dismal results of lockdowns mainstream, “fact checkers” sprung to action to rebut the study.

Among them was the Science Media Centre (SMC),7 variations of which exist in a number of countries, including the U.K., Canada, Australia and New Zealand, with a reported mission to provide “high-quality scientific information” to journalists. Their mission, as stated on their website, is:8

“To provide, for the benefit of the public and policymakers, accurate and evidence-based information about science and engineering through the media, particularly on controversial and headline news stories when most confusion and misinformation occurs.”

But SMC is not an independent news agency as it claims to be, as it counts among its biggest funders a number of high-level industry players with worldwide agendas, including the Wellcome Trust, GlaxoSmithKline, CropLife International, Sanofi and AstraZeneca.9

Tucker teased out a particularly arrogant commentary in the SMC piece — a comment by Seth Flaxman, an associate professor in the department of computer science at the University of Oxford, who said:10

“Smoking causes cancer, the earth is round, and ordering people to stay at home (the correct definition of lockdown) decreases disease transmission. None of this is controversial among scientists. A study purporting to prove the opposite is almost certain to be fundamentally flawed.”

But categorizing lockdowns as completely without controversy, like the fact that smoking causes cancer, is wrong. Yet, Flaxman’s work is continually cited in defense of lockdowns, even though he has no background in medicine. Tucker wrote:11

“See how this rhetoric works? If you question his claim, you are not a scientist; you are denying the science! … To say that this is not controversial is ridiculous, since such policies had never before been attempted on this scale. Such a policy is not at all like an established causal claim (smoking increases cancer risk) nor a mere empirical observation (the earth is round). It is subject to verification.

… That Flaxman would still claim otherwise after all experience 

Injection Mandates Counterproductive and Harmful

shows that he is not observing reality but inventing dogma from his own intuition. Flaxman might say that he is sure that transmission might have been higher had people not been ordered to stay home, and there might be settings in which that is true, but he is in no position to elevate this claim to the status of ‘the earth is round.’

… The dogma that ordering people to stay home – for how long? – always reduces the spread comes not from evidence but from Flaxman-style modeling plus a remarkable capacity to ignore reality.”

The rapid emergence of widespread COVID-19 injection mandates, vaccine passports and restrictions based on injection status is also unprecedented and led to controversy on ethical, scientific and political grounds.

A team of 12 researchers from Johns Hopkins School of Public Health, Harvard Medical School, the University of Oxford and other institutions outlined key reasons why these mandates have been counterproductive and harmful.12

“While vaccine policies have largely been framed as offering ‘benefits’ with freedoms for those who take up a full COVID-19 vaccination series, they include elements that are punitive, discriminatory and coercive, including conditioning access to health, work, travel and social life on vaccination status in many settings,” the preprint paper reads.13

Four domains are explored, with potential unintended consequences of injection mandates outlined as follows:

  1. Behavioral psychology — COVID-19 injection mandates could lead to reactance and entrenchment, cognitive dissonance, stigma and scapegoating, conspiracy theories and distrust
  2. Political and legal effects — Injection mandates could cause erosion of civil liberties, polarization and disunity in global health governance
  3. Socio-economics — Injection mandates could cause disparity and inequality, reduced health system capacity and exclusion from work and social life
  4. Integrity of science and public health — Consequences include erosion of informed consent, trust in public health policy and trust in regulatory oversight

The authors maintain that segregating society into those who have gotten the shots and those who have not, while restricting access to work and education based on injection status, is a violation of human rights that’s promoting social polarization and adversely affecting health and well-being. In light of this, they note:14

“The adoption of new vaccination status policies has provoked a multilayered global and local backlash, resistance and polarization that threaten to escalate if current policies continue. It is important to emphasize that these policies are not viewed as “incentives” or “nudges” by substantial proportions of populations, especially in marginalized, underserved, or low COVID-19-risk groups.

Denying individuals education, livelihoods, medical care, or social life unless they get vaccinated does not appear to coincide with constitutional and bioethical principles, especially in liberal democracies.

While public support appears to have consolidated behind these policies in many countries, we should acknowledge that human rights frameworks were designed to ensure that rights are respected and promoted even during public health emergencies.

… We argue that current COVID-19 vaccine policies should be reevaluated in light of negative consequences that may outweigh benefits. Leveraging empowering strategies based on trust and public consultation represent a more sustainable approach for protecting those at highest risk of COVID-19 morbidity and mortality and the health and wellbeing of the public.”

2006 Study: Lockdowns Don’t Work

In 2006, public health officials went through a list of mitigation actions that could be used in the event of pandemic influenza, along with their potential repercussions.15

Lockdowns, including quarantine and extended school closures, were not recommended, as this overriding principle was explained: “Experience has shown that communities faced with epidemics or other adverse events respond best and with the least anxiety when the normal social functioning of the community is least disrupted.”

In the case of quarantines, the researchers explained there is “no basis” for quarantining either groups or individuals, as it raises “formidable” problems. “Secondary effects of absenteeism and community disruption as well as possible adverse consequences, such as loss of public trust in government and stigmatization of quarantined people and groups, are likely to be considerable,” they noted.16

Closure of schools beyond 10 to 14 days was also not recommended, unless all other points of contact, such as restaurants and churches, were also closed. But, they noted, “Such widespread closures, sustained throughout the pandemic, would almost certainly have serious adverse social and economic effects.”17

They also advised against cancelling or postponing meetings or events involving large numbers of people, explaining that “cancelling or postponing large meetings would not be likely to have any significant effect on the development of the epidemic” and “… communitywide closure of public events seems inadvisable.”18 Still, Tucker wrote, “a decade and a half later, governments all over the world tried lockdowns anyway.”19

With increasing recognition that lockdowns were useless and COVID-19 injections don’t work as advertised, people are rebelling. COVID-19 shots were supposed to set you free and bring life back to what it looked like in 2019 — no masks, no lockdowns and freedom for everyone, regardless of vaccination status.

Lockdowns, too, were supposed to be a means to an end — an end to the pandemic that, two years later, is still going strong. If you don’t agree with COVID-19 restrictions and mandates in your area, now is the time to speak out in peaceful protest in order to compel positive changes in support of health and overall freedom.

EDITORS NOTE: This MERCOLA column is republished with permission. ©All rights reserved.

San Francisco Sees More Overdose Deaths Than Covid Deaths in 2020

Data show alarming trends in drug overdoses and suicide as people—especially young people who are least at risk from COVID-19—are forcibly cut off from friends, families, and communities.


It’s quite likely that wherever you are reading this, you are currently subjected to lockdowns, restrictions, regulations, or executive orders to one degree or another, as government officials respond to the coronavirus pandemic with increasing coercion and control. Indeed, The Wall Street Journal reported on Wednesday that US states and cities have “imposed the most extensive restrictions on business and social gatherings” since the spring.

Many argue that these new restrictions are essential for slowing the current surge in coronavirus cases in certain areas, but some public health researchers have pointed out that lockdowns and related government orders that focus entirely on containing COVID-19 cases lead to worse public health outcomes in other areas. This collateral damage from lockdowns is already glaringly apparent. In particular, data show an alarming trend toward drug overdoses and suicide in 2020, as people—especially young people who are least at risk from COVID-19—are forcibly cut off from their friends, families, and communities.

The desperation is revealed in startling new statistics. According to the Associated Press, a total of 621 people have died of drug overdoses this year in San Francisco, compared to 173 deaths in the city from COVID-19. The number of San Francisco drug overdose deaths is up from 441 in 2019. California has enacted some of the strictest public health orders in the country this year, and is still seeing its cases rise.

One survey by YouGov found that 39 percent of respondents who were recovering from an addiction prior to lockdowns have relapsed. Other research shows increasing rates of drug and alcohol abuse in 2020, and the CDC reports that overdose deaths are accelerating during COVID-19.

Federal surveys show that 40 percent of Americans are now grappling with at least one mental health or drug-related problem.

Martin Kulldorff, a biostatistician and epidemiologist at Harvard Medical School, has been critical of widespread lockdowns since the beginning of the pandemic, warning that these coercive strategies would lead to other serious public health harms and increased mortality.

“The current lockdown strategy has led to many excess deaths, both from COVID-19 and from the collateral damage on other health outcomes,” Kulldorff recently told Newsweek. “A focused protection strategy, as outlined in the Great Barrington Declaration, would minimize disease and mortality by better protecting older and other high risk people while letting the young live near normal lives.”

Kulldorff also suggests that new data showing US excess deaths in 2020 for people ages 25-44 are mostly due to the collateral damage caused by lockdown policies.

In addition to rising drug and alcohol abuse and overdose deaths, suicidal thoughts and attempts are also increasing this year. The Washington Post reports that depression and anxiety have surged since the arrival of the coronavirus.

“Federal surveys show that 40 percent of Americans are now grappling with at least one mental health or drug-related problem. But young adults have been hit harder than any other age group, with 75 percent struggling,” the Post reports. “Even more alarming, when the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently asked young adults if they had thought about killing themselves in the past 30 days, 1 in 4 said they had.”

The Post explains that we won’t have accurate data on suicide rates for 2020 until another couple of years, due to slow reporting mechanisms. But state and city data for some areas suggest disturbing suicide numbers this year, including in Oregon’s Columbia County where suicides by summertime had already exceeded the area’s 2019 total, and DuPage County near Chicago reports a 23 percent increase in suicides over last year. Other large counties in the US have seen similarly ominous trends, and in Japan, more people died of suicide in the month of October alone than have died from COVID-19 this entire year.

As families weigh the trade-offs this holiday season between social isolation to slow the spread of coronavirus and the harms that this separation can cause, many of them are choosing to ignore public health warnings to avoid travel and holiday gatherings. The New York Times reports that millions of people have passed through airport security checkpoints this week, while The Wall Street Journal indicates that nearly 85 million Americans are expected to travel between Dec. 23 and Jan. 3, a decline of just under 30 percent from last year.

More families may be seeing the damage these lockdowns and related policies are causing their loved ones and are no longer willing to comply with draconian orders to stay away from others. Their decision may be made easier when they see public health officials and politicians personally violating the holiday travel and gathering warnings and rules they thrust on others.

COVID-19 should be taken seriously as a public health threat, but so too should the harms of lockdowns and government orders that are leading to record numbers of drug overdose deaths and suicides, along with other types of collateral damage such as rising global poverty and declining cancer screenings.

While public health and elected officials remain singularly focused on COVID-19, families gathering this holiday season recognize that ensuring the overall health and well-being of their loved ones extends beyond one virus.

COLUMN BY

Kerry McDonald

Kerry McDonald is a Senior Education Fellow at FEE and author of Unschooled: Raising Curious, Well-Educated Children Outside the Conventional Classroom (Chicago Review Press, 2019). She is also an adjunct scholar at The Cato Institute and a regular Forbes contributor. Kerry has a B.A. in economics from Bowdoin College and an M.Ed. in education policy from Harvard University. She lives in Cambridge, Massachusetts with her husband and four children. You can sign up for her weekly newsletter on parenting and education here.

EDITORS NOTE: This FEE column is republished with permission. ©All rights reserved.

Unmask America Now. Stop the Lockdowns. Enjoy Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year Day!

The Democrat Mayor of St. Louis Lyda Krewson has ordered, starting November 17th, 2020 and in effect for four weeks, another lockdown. This lockdown’s new rules, which took effect 12:01 a.m., require:

  • Anyone over the age of 5 to wear a mask in public.
  • Bars and restaurants to no longer offer indoor dining.
  • Businesses, gyms and religious institutions to operate at no more than 25% capacity, down from 50%.
  • All gatherings to be limited to 10 or fewer people.
  • Club teams to submit plans to the county’s health department, though youth sports tied to schools can continue to play.

This is happening across America in cities, counties and states run by Democrats.

There are Democratic politicians calling for their city or state to lockdown for Thanksgiving and Christmas. Michigan’s and California’s governors have done the same. Biden and Harris have called for similar measures.

WATCH: Democrat Governor of Michigan Gretchen Whitmer presser on Thanksgiving shutdown:

This is all happening while we have a 99% recovery rate from Covid and two pharmaceutical companies are shipping out a Covid vaccine. This false idea of a “lockdown” hurts people more than the virus. Lockdowns are a willful imposition of control of citizens by Democrats. It is nothing more than a power grab using the excuse of a pandemic. It is designed to create fear and then impose tyranny.

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©Dr. Rich Swier. All rights reserved.