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The Absurdity of Covid Absolutism

Robert Dimuro

Posted on February 14, 2021 17:34

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There are other values at play besides stopping the spread of Covid-19.

Earlier in the week, I stumbled upon a surprising article from The New York Times titled “Covid Absolutism.” Instead of lecturing us about the absolute need to stop the spread of Covid-19, the author, David Leonhardt, denounces the phenomenon as impractical and counterproductive. I would add that it’s illiberal and anti-American as well.

The absurdity of Covid Absolutism can be demonstrated on multiple levels. One is that it seems as though much of the world is under a continued delusion that the only value that matters is slowing the spread. This is a very puzzling mindset when you consider that it’s unique to Covid-19. Epidemics have swept through the world before, and the emphasis during those outbreaks was on taking individual precautions to protect one’s own health.

The singular argument for our collective, oppressive response to this particular outbreak has been that wearing a mask and limiting social interaction help not only to protect you from the virus but others from contracting the virus from you. This is a brilliant framing of the rationale to ensure widespread compliance, but the notion that mandating mask usage is a necessary measure to ensure the survival of the population is tremendously overblown. 

Although mask enforcement is an infringement on civil liberty, masks themselves are not the reason why we’re in the midst of an economic depression. Government-enforced lockdowns have cost millions of employees their jobs and entrepreneurs their livelihoods, all in the name of slowing the spread. As I mentioned earlier, there’s a woeful imbalance of values at play here. However, even if we accept that slowing the spread is the only thing that matters, evidence suggests that government intervention isn’t the only way to go.

The world has deluded itself into believing that it has firm control over the spread of Covid-19 and it’s only a matter of tinkering with policy and ensuring compliance. Why aren’t we demanding evidence of how the counterfactual approach of doing nothing would likely unfold before endorsing widespread lockdowns and mask enforcements?

As it turns out, the counterfactual evidence is right before our eyes. Sweden is one of the only nations in the developed world to resist transforming into a sterile laboratory. They have resisted implementation of nationwide lockdowns and have also banned the enforcement of mask usage. Predictably, the critics in nations that have prevented people from earning a living are livid about Sweden’s “irresponsible behavior.” You’ll see many articles stating that Sweden is in grave danger and that their inaction is potentially risky - the key word being “potentially.”

In reality, the statistics paint a different picture. Sweden’s death rate per 100,000 is lower than 11 other European nations that have issued mask mandates and nationwide lockdowns. Although it’s not a perfect case study as there are several variables to consider, Sweden’s example defies the accepted narrative that lockdowns and mask mandates are necessary during these times. As such, Sweden makes it clear that Covid Absolutism is tantamount to Covid Absurdity.

Robert Dimuro

Posted on February 14, 2021 17:34

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Source: BBC

Despite global criticism, Sweden has seen a drop in serious Covid cases without ever having a lockdown.

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