The fact that our nation’s unemployment rate is approaching the low rate of 3.5% that was reached just prior to the pandemic should be a cause for celebration. But for a variety of reasons, the official unemployment number is misleading.
The employment situation is not as rosy as it may seem. There is a wide disparity among the states that can be explained by how much economic freedom they allow, including how severely each state shut down its economy due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
It’s official, COVID-19 is no longer a crisis. According to a recent Axios poll, only nine percent of Americans believe COVID is a serious crisis. Yet the economic destruction caused by lockdowns lingers. Nowhere is that more obvious than in Michigan and Pennsylvania.
Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and Gov. Tom Wolf wielded immense emergency powers to shut down large parts of the economy, actions unprecedented in the 246-year history of the United States.
Newly released federal inflation data show that prices continue to rise at the fastest rate in four decades, continuing the trend of soaring inflation.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics released its Consumer Price Index, a key indicator of inflation, which showed prices rose an additional 1.2% in March, part of an 8.5 percent spike in the past 12 months.
A new study by the Committee to Unleash Prosperity found that states led by Republicans did a better job than Democrat-led states at managing the coronavirus and keeping their states from slumping into an economic and social recession.
As reported by The Daily Caller, the three states that ranked the worst in mortality, economy, and schooling during the COVID pandemic were New Jersey, New York, and California, all of which had implemented some of the strictest lockdown measures in the nation. By contrast, the states that ranked the highest were Utah, Vermont, and Nebraska.
While many government leaders sound the all clear message on COVID-19, dropping vaccine restrictions and mask mandates, some states and municipalities are clinging to the emergency powers that allowed them to govern people’s behavior in unprecedented ways.
Citing the need to direct emergency funding and oversee hospitals, they have held on to their emergency orders even as many restaurants, shopping centers, and sports arenas are once again packed and lingering pandemic concerns have faded into the background of a more normal life.
Emergency orders at the state level are usually issued in response to temporary threats, especially weather disasters, and are wrapped up in a few days or weeks. Soon after the new coronavirus exploded in March 2020, most governors issued broad executive orders. Under these powers, governors banned crowds, closed businesses, and imposed mask and vaccination mandates. They have also deferred to unelected public health officials in imposing restrictions.
I sense a disturbance in the force. In fact, I’ve been feeling the tremors for a while. Back in January, I wrote a column for American Greatness called “The Coming Dethronement of Joe Biden.” In it, I noted that Biden’s appalling performance as president would sooner or later—and probably sooner, given the ostentatious nature of his multifaceted failure—lead to his removal as president.
I should have added that it wasn’t Biden’s performance per se that would lead to his downfall. The problem, rather, was the way his performance was undermining his—and therefore his minders’ and puppetmasters’—political power. As Saul Alinsky, community organizer to the stars, noted, the “issue is never the issue.” Accordingly, the people who put Joe Biden in power—I cannot name them, but I know they are the same people who keep him in power—do not care about inflation, rising gas and food prices, COVID lockdowns or mask mandates, the porousness of our Southern border, the threat of war with Russia, or the myriad other issues that worry ordinary voters. I am quite certain, in fact, that the word “voters” brings a vaguely contemptuous smile to their faces.
Two years after COVID burst on the American scene, leading to lockdowns, school closures, mask and vaccine mandates, and trillions of dollars in emergency government spending, the question on many minds is: When will the emergency end?
The answer to that question is not an easy one. An examination of past emergencies does not resolve it. Rather, it is clear that emergency situations, including this one, may be understood through various lenses, yielding different perspectives on what the endpoint will be.
Take, by way of comparison, World War II, an emergency that had at least four distinct endings because it had at least four distinct faces:
Joe Biden, first as a candidate and then in the White House, from the outset saw the COVID-19 pandemic mainly as a means of leveraging political support, from the manner in which the lockdowns allowed him to run a virtual campaign from his basement to equating Donald Trump with the COVID-19 virus.
Like many on the Left, Biden was overt in such cynicism. So were Hillary Clinton, Gavin Newsom, and Jane Fonda—who claimed that COVID was a “never-let-a-crisis-go-to-waste” moment. Panic and lockdowns could help achieve single-payer health care, or a recalibrated capitalism, or the end of Donald Trump himself.
The following is an excerpt from “When Politicians Panicked: The New Coronavirus, Expert Opinion, and a Tragic Lapse of Reason” (Simon & Schuster, 2021).
Let’s travel back in time to March of 2020. It was then that predictions of mass death related to the new coronavirus started to gain currency. One study, conducted by Imperial College’s Neil Ferguson, indicated that U.S. deaths alone would exceed 2 million.
The above number is often used, even by conservatives and libertarians, as justification for the initial lockdowns. “We knew so little” is the excuse, and with so many deaths expected, can anyone blame local, state and national politicians for panicking? The answer is a resounding yes.
Last week, I dusted off my Chinese-flu soapbox and said a word or two about (cue the scary music) the Omicron variant. It sounds like the title of a Robert Ludlum novel, doesn’t it? A friend told me about a parlor game that the journalist Christopher Hitchens and his pals used to play in which the object was to contrive names for Shakespeare’s plays that sounded like the title of a Ludlum novel. Hamlet was “The Elsinore Conundrum.” I am sorry that Hitch is not still with us to try his hand at the Omicron variant.
So far, I have to say, it’s been pretty much of a dud—unless, that is, you’re the stock market, which has taken a beating this last week or so, in part because of this new kid on the medical block (there is also that much more toxic financial emergency, the Biden Administration, but that’s for another day). The new variant has also been a godsend for scolds, nags, bureaucrats, and meddlesome so-called public health officials nannies who are just itching for another excuse to lock down your world, introduce new travel restrictions, and impose new testing protocols.
The majority of Americans believe the threat of the coronavirus is getting less serious, and a plurality believe President Joe Biden and government health officials like Dr. Anthony Fauci don’t want lockdowns to end, according to a new poll conducted by the Convention of States Action in partnership with The Trafalgar Group.
“Despite the fact that Big Media and Big Tech are working tirelessly to suppress the truth, this poll reveals that most Americans aren’t fooled in the least,” Mark Meckler, president of Convention of States Action, said. “They clearly see that the pandemic is on a downward trend, and they also understand that President Biden and Dr. Fauci have no intention of easing restrictions and mandates,””
According to the poll, 63.1% of likely voters believe the threat of the coronavirus is getting less serious, with 25.9% saying it’s much less serious, compared to 26.1% who say it’s getting more serious. Nearly 11% said they weren’t sure.
Watching television coverage of people crossing the border illegally at our southern border I began to wonder: where are they going?
I was shocked to learn that the Biden administration refuses to tell the states and cities how many people they are sending – and who they are sending. Apparently, immigrants just get put on airplanes, buses, and trains, and go off into America.
We are learning that a substantial number of the people who have crossed the border illegally have COVID-19. McAllen, Texas had to declare a state of emergency when 7,000 infected immigrants arrived there. So, the Biden government could send people with COVID-19 to your neighborhood and then refuses to tell you that it has put you at risk.
There will not be any new shutdowns or mask mandates in Georgia, as concerns over the recent uptick in COVID-19 cases grows.
“Georgia will not lock down or impose statewide mask mandates,” Gov. Brian Kemp said Wednesday on Twitter. “As the first state in the country to reopen over a year ago, we’ve proven that Georgians know how to come together and protect themselves and their loved ones.”
Before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit in Philadelphia on Thursday, legal counsel for several Pennsylvania counties as well as numerous public officials and private companies, argued Governor Tom Wolf (D) abused his police powers during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Specifically, the private-sector compainaints charge that the governor’s shutdown of and other demands on businesses during parts of 2020 and 2021 violate the takings clause and the due-process clause of the U.S. Constitution. All plaintiffs, governmental and private, further insist that the governor’s restrictions on public gatherings over the past year violated the rights of assembly, association and religion secured by the First Amendment.
Life in the United States and in many parts of the world was transformed in mid-March 2020. That was when the great experiment began. It was a test. How much power does government have to rule nearly the whole of life? To what extent can all the power of the state be mobilized to take away rights that people had previously supposed were protected by law? How many restrictions on freedom would people put up with without a revolt?
It was also a test of executive and bureaucratic power: can these dramatic decisions be made by just a handful of people, independent of all our slogans about representative democracy?
We are far from coming to terms with any of these questions. They are hardly being discussed. The one takeaway from the storm that swept through our country and the world in those days is that anything is possible. Unless something dramatic is done, like some firm limits on what governments can do, they will try again, under the pretext of public health or something else.
Beth Palmer was 17 and dreaming of becoming a singer in March 2020 when the United Kingdom went into lockdown because of the coronavirus. One month later, she was dead.
“She was a wonderful, wonderful daughter. She was just funny, she lit up the room.,” said Mike Palmer, Beth’s father. “She was so affectionate and loving as well. She basically had the world at her feet. She had everything, everything to live for.”
Palmer didn’t die of the coronavirus. She took her own life.
More evidence to confirm what many Republican lawmakers and free-market advocates such as Americans for Limited Government were saying from the start of the Covid pandemic, lockdowns would be one of the most tragic mistakes in American history.
The Rand Corporation and economists from the University of Southern California have released a new study examining the effectiveness of pandemic lockdowns, using data from 43 countries and all 50 US states.
“We fail to find that shelter-in-place policies saved lives,” the authors report. In the weeks following the implementation of these policies, excess mortality actually increases—even though it had typically been declining before the orders took effect.
And across all countries, the study finds that a one-week increase in the length of stay-at-home policies corresponds with 2.7 more excess deaths per 100,000 people.
Founding father and the second president of the United States John Adams once said that “Facts are stubborn things; and whatever may be our wishes, our inclinations, or the dictates of our passion, they cannot alter the state of facts and evidence.” What he meant was that objective, raw numbers don’t lie—and this remains true hundreds of years later.
We just got yet another example. A new data analysis from Harvard University, Brown University, and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation calculates how different employment levels have been impacted during the pandemic to date. The findings reveal that government lockdown orders devastated workers at the bottom of the financial food chain but left the upper-tier actually better off.
The analysis examined employment levels in January 2020, before the coronavirus spread widely and before lockdown orders and other restrictions on the economy were implemented. It compared them to employment figures from March 31, 2021.
The last 14 months elevated a global group of intellectuals and bureaucrats about which most people had previously cared very little. Among them, the ones who believe least in freedom entrenched their power, thanks to a big push by the lavishly funded but largely discredited World Health Organization.
The WHO tapped an “independent panel” (the fix was already in: the panel’s head is former New Zealand Prime Minister Helen Clark) to figure out what the world did right and did wrong in response to Covid-19. The final report has all the expected verbiage about the needs for more global coordination and largesse going to public health.
The key conclusion follows:
“Every country should apply non-pharmaceutical measures systematically and rigorously at the scale the epidemiological situation requires, with an explicit evidence-based strategy agreed at the highest level of government…”
Gov. Brian Kemp announced Thursday during an interview on Fox News that Georgia will reject the federal government’s $300 per week enhanced unemployment benefits.
“What I’m seeing on the ground here is that every small business owner and the workers that are currently working, they need more people. It is hurting our productivity, not only in Georgia, but across the country,” Kemp told host Dana Perino.
COVID’s grip on America is relaxing, not so the Left’s. The Left seized COVID as an unprecedented statist opportunity to advance their agenda. Unsurprisingly, they now resist relinquishing it. Since the Left refuse to let go of America, America must let go of the Left.
Last week the CDC relaxed its guidelines for outdoor mask-wearing by those fully vaccinated against COVID. It was more a rearguard action than a vanguard one, but at least it was a start. Several states are well ahead in their return to normalcy.
America’s virus statistics demonstrate the remission of the virus and validate accelerating relaxation of the lockdowns. On a seven-day moving average, active cases, daily new cases, and daily deaths have been plummeting since the beginning of the year.
On the ledger’s other side, vaccinations began in the U.S. in December, averaging over two million a day since February; as a result, around 31 percent of the population is now fully vaccinated at this writing.
The cruelty, Donald Trump’s foes often claimed, is the point.
Whether in response to a mean tweet or childish name-calling or the infamous “kids in cages” episode, the president’s critics collectively wailed in performative grief about Trump’s self-gratifying “cruelty” toward others.
Small businesses have been decimated by the pandemic shutdowns. Many have struggled to survive. Many have had to lay off employees. If they haven’t closed their doors yet, the next six to nine months will be a real challenge.
There is some help on the way. The Small Business Administration has released a second round of the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) — a forgivable loan program designed to assist small businesses with money to stay afloat. Part two of the PPP opened on Jan. 15.
The U.S. poverty rate saw its sharpest increase since the 1960s as the coronavirus pandemic devastated the economy in 2020, according to a recent study.
The poverty rate increased 2.5 percentage points from 9.3% in June to 11.8% in December, according to the study released Monday by economists Bruce Meyer, of the University of Chicago, and James Sullivan, of the University of Notre Dame, Bloomberg reported. In total, 8.1 million Americans were added to ranks of the poor, according to the researchers.
Prime minister Boris Johnson confirmed that the end of lockdown may be delayed beyond mid-February and would last until the end of March, telling MPs the government will be “extremely cautious” about lifting restrictions and reopening schools.
On Monday, Prime Minister Johnson plunged England into a third national coronavirus lockdown. The lockdown includes a strict stay at home orders and the closure of all schools. Mr Johnson resisted calls from Tory MPs to guarantee the rules will start to be eased after the first review on February 15, the prime minister made it clear that a successful roll-out of the vaccine programme to the most vulnerable will be key to determining when the lockdown measures can be lifted. Adding on a lag for achieving immunity after vaccination and relieving “the pressure on the NHS”, he then tacked on a further two or three weeks, saying “we should remain cautious of the timetable ahead”, Breitbart reported.
On Dec. 16 the top-ranked Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) published a headline-grabbing article about the risks that Covid poses to young people. The article and an accompanying New York Times piece by its authors strongly implied that people under the age of 45 face a high risk from the disease and, furthermore, this risk is understated by official statistics.
Pandemic restrictions forced 32% of Michigan businesses to close at least temporarily, the most of all 50 states in the nation, federal data show.
Only Puerto Rico, a U.S. territory where 50% of businesses closed, ranked higher.
Over the weekend Dr. Ashish Jha, dean of the Brown University School of Public Health, took to Twitter to criticize Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker for not taking more assertive government action to slow the spread of the coronavirus.
“Massachusetts has more new COVID cases per capita than Georgia, Florida, or Texas,” observed Jha, who also serves as the Director of the Harvard Global Health Institute. “Our hospitalizations, deaths are up 100% in [the] last 3 weeks. But our casinos and tanning salons are still open.”
Across America and Europe, many government officials are resuming lockdowns and tightening restrictions in the face of rising COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations, and deaths.
The collateral damage of lockdowns, which has been well documented, includes widespread poverty, depression, bankruptcy, and unemployment. Meanwhile, the benefits of lockdowns remain murky.
Though some students have found learning at home relieves them of school’s social stresses, many others miss their teachers, classmates, and the routine of the school day. Some of the little ones have become more defiant and have reverted to bed-wetting, while many older students suffer from depression.
16.4 million jobs have been recovered since April when labor markets bottomed amid the state-led Covid pandemic economic shutdowns, according to the latest data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
But with Covid cases once again on the upswing as the cold and flu season kicks into higher gear — about 166,000 confirmed new cases daily, and then the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation reports 255,000 probable new cases daily when projected asymptomatic cases are factored in — states appear ready to go right back into shutdown mode.
On February 28, the idea of locking down and smashing economies and human rights the world over was unthinkable to most of us but lustily imagined by intellectuals hoping to conduct a new social/political experiment. On that day, New York Times reporter Donald McNeil released a shocking article: To Take On the Coronavirus, Go Medieval on It.
He was serious. Most all governments – with few exceptions like Sweden and the Dakotas in the US – did exactly that. The result has been shocking. I’ve previously called it the new totalitarianism.
Estimated costs of the coronavirus pandemic are in. The results are not pretty.
A new study co-authored by Harvard economist David M. Cutler and former World Bank chief economist Lawrence H. Summers places the costs of the COVID-19 pandemic north of $16 trillion.
A World Health Organization (WHO) official urged world leaders this week to stop “using lockdowns as your primary control method” to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, The Daily Caller reports.
The statement has prompted questions about whether the WHO has backflipped on its advice, after they previously advised against lifting lockdown restrictions too quickly. Back in June, Dr. Michael Ryan, executive director of WHO’s Health Emergencies Program, explained, “We all want to avoid whole countries going back into total lockdown, that is not a desire anybody has,” continuing, “But there may be situations in which that is the only option.”
Government officials in Sweden announced this week that the government expects to maintain its mild restrictions on gatherings “for at least another year” to mitigate the spread of COVID-19.
Unlike most other European countries and nations around the world, Sweden declined to initiate a nationwide lockdown or mask mandates, opting instead for a policy that restricted large gatherings and relied on social responsibility to slow transmission of the virus.
Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, minorities have disproportionately suffered from the virus’s health effects. A new study reveals that the government-mandated economic lockdowns have also hit minorities hardest.
In response to the outbreak and under the guidance of federal agencies such as the Centers for Disease Control, state and local governments imposed quarantine orders and mandated shutdowns for many businesses deemed “non-essential.” Whether one supports lockdowns as a public health measure or not, they undoubtedly resulted in tens of millions of Americans and counting filing for unemployment and a sharp economic downturn.