Coronavirus Counterfactual: A True Enemy Would Have Alerted Us In 2019, by John Tamny

What if there had been no official response to coronavirus other than advice to wash your hands, blow your nose, cover your mouth when you sneeze or cough, and stay at home if you felt sick? Odds are the disease would have come and gone with very little notice and very little damage to the economy and society. From John Tamny at realclearmarkets.com:

With the coronavirus, the most frustrating counterfactual of all is to think about how much better off we all would have been if politicians had done nothing. Stop and think about it for a minute. The more desperate the situation, the more freedom makes sense.

The reality is that well before the needless lockdowns began, Americans had started to adjust their behavior. This included staying at home for some. Notable about this is that it was in the U.S. states that locked down the latest that citizens adjusted the most. In a global sense, it was reported by the great Holman Jenkins that the supply of masks had run out before major action by Merkel et al in Germany. People get it. They don’t need a law. Fear of sickness or death concentrates the mind.

Remember how restaurants started to clear somewhat before the lockdowns? People were adjusting. Imagine if businesses, including restaurants, had been left free to meet the needs of customers (or not at all) free of business tips from those who brought us the DMV.

No doubt some businesses would have gone under amid fear of the virus, but they were already going under before that. Particularly retail. Remember all the hand wringing about Amazon and the internet “hollowing out” shopping malls? While the nailbiters will eventually regret the association of their names with such alarmism, the reality in a dynamic economy is that the roster of names in shopping malls and town centers is constantly changing.

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