The global coronavirus lockdown is a ‘misguided social experiment’ which threatens to do far more long term damage than the disease itself. We need to get back to work.
So argue two professors — one of public affairs, the other of economics — in a trenchant editorial for Jerusalem Post.
Citizens of many countries throughout the world have recently become human subjects in a grand social science experiment that is being conducted without our informed consent.
The unintended consequences of current lockdown policies may include a surge in domestic violence and suicide and a ‘self-inflicted economic and psychological depression, hoisted upon us by an unholy triumvirate of public health officials, the media and politicians.’
The authors of the piece are Donald S Siegel, foundation professor and director at the School of Public Affairs, Arizona State University; and Robert M Sauer, professor of economics at Royal Holloway, University of London.
They say that government policy is being designed by the very same ‘unelected public health officials’ who failed in their duty to protect us from the virus. In other words, governments are being advised on how to ‘solve’ the problem by the very people who helped create that problem.
This ‘multifaceted tragedy’ is being further enhanced by a ‘crazed media, which have sensationalized the spread of the virus and vastly overestimated the damage the virus could create.’
The ‘dangerous interplay between media and policy makers’ has led to what Nobel laureate Daniel Kahneman calls an ‘availability cascade’.
‘An availability cascade is a self-sustaining chain of events which may start from media reports of a relatively minor event and lead up to public panic and large-scale government action. On some occasions, a media story about a risk catches the attention of a segment of the public, which becomes aroused and worried. This emotional reaction becomes a story in itself, prompting additional coverage in the media, which in turn produces greater concern and involvement.
The cycle is sometimes sped along deliberately by ‘availability entrepreneurs’, individuals or organisations who work to ensure a continuous flow of worrying news. The danger is increasingly exaggerated as the media compete for attention-grabbing headlines.
Scientists and others who try to dampen the increasing fear and revulsion attract little attention, most of it hostile: Anyone who claims that the danger is overstated is suspected of association with a ‘heinous cover-up.’
In the meantime, we call on all business owners and citizens who care about economic liberty and personal freedom to rise up and demand that politicians lift all bans on commerce. Let us get back to work!