Jay W. Richards
Jay W. Richards, Ph.D., is author of many books including the New York Times bestsellers Infiltrated (2013) and Indivisible (2012). He is also the author of Money, Greed, and God, winner of a 2010 Templeton Enterprise Award; and co-author of The Privileged Planet with astronomer Guillermo Gonzalez. His most recent book, co-authored with Jonathan Witt, is The Hobbit Party: The Vision of Freedom that J.R.R. Tolkien Got and the West Forgot.
Richards is an Research Assistant Professor in the Busch School of Business at The Catholic University of America, a Senior Fellow at the Discovery Institute, and executive editor of The Stream. In recent years he has been Distinguished Fellow at the Institute for Faith, Work & Economics, Contributing Editor of The American at the American Enterprise Institute, a Visiting Fellow at the Heritage Foundation, and Research Fellow and Director of Acton Media at the Acton Institute.
Richards’ articles and essays have been published in The Harvard Business Review, Wall Street Journal, Barron’s, Washington Post, Forbes, The Daily Caller, Investor’s Business Daily, Washington Times, The Philadelphia Inquirer, The Huffington Post, The American Spectator, The Daily Caller, The Seattle Post-Intelligencer, and a wide variety of other publications. He is a regular contributor to National Review Online, Christian Research Journal, and The Imaginative Conservative. His topics range from culture, economics, and public policy to natural science, technology, and the environment.
He is also creator and executive producer of several documentaries, including three that appeared widely on PBS—The Call of the Entrepreneur, The Birth of Freedom, and The Privileged Planet.
Richards’ work has been covered in The New York Times (front page news, science news, and editorial), The Washington Post (news and editorial), The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Times, Nature, Science, Astronomy, Physics Today, Reuters, The Chronicle of Higher Education, American Enterprise, Congressional Quarterly Researcher, World, National Catholic Register, and American Spectator.
An experienced public speaker, Richards has appeared on several hundred radio and television programs, including Larry King Live (CNN), Huckabee, Dayside, Fox and Friends, Studio B with Shepard Smith (Fox News), Glenn Beck TV, Yahoo Finance, Life Today, PBS, CBN, and TBN, The Michael Medved Show, The Mitch Albom Show, The Thom Hartmann Program, The Dennis Prager Show, Linda Chavez, The Mark Davis Show, The Bible Answer Man, Janet Parshall’s America, Al Kresta, Teresa Tomeo, Drew Mariani, Cardinal Dolan, and many others.
He has lectured at conferences as diverse as the Western Economic Association, Intercollegiate Studies Institute, and the Evangelical Theological Society; on dozens of college and university campuses; at think tanks, including the Cato Institute, the American Enterprise Institute, the Foundation for Economic Education, the New America Foundation and the Heritage Foundation; at numerous public policy meetings, such as the Heritage Resource Bank, the Council for National Policy, and the Atlas Freedom Forum; in Christian forums such as Legatus and Catholic Professionals, and on several occasions to members of the U.S. Congress and U.S. congressional staff. In January 2008, his debate with the late Christopher Hitchens at Stanford University, moderated by Ben Stein and Michael Cromartie, was broadcast live to several hundred North American churches.
Richards has a Ph.D., with honors, in philosophy and theology from Princeton Theological Seminary. He also has an M.Div. (Master of Divinity), a Th.M. (Master of Theology), and a B.A. with majors in Political Science and Religion. He lives with his family in the Washington DC Metro area.
The original interview had a repeating clip by mistake, I removed it, otherwise it’s unedited.
Interviewer ➝ 00:03
Please introduce yourself. Say who you are.
Jay W. Richards ➝ 00:21
Absolutely. I’m Jay Richards. I’m the author or the co-author of The Price of Panic. And I’m a professor at The Busch School of Business at Catholic University of America. I’ve been working actually in the academic realm since I graduated from graduate school actually in 1998, but I spent most of my career at think tanks, places like the Discovery Institute and the Acton Institute. And I think this is my sixth or seventh year at Catholic University.
Jay W. Richards ➝ 00:47
Well, the COVID-19 narrative started in the mid-spring with this idea that we were going to flatten the curve or we were going to slow the spread. In fact, the White House campaign was 15 days to slow the spread, the flatten the curve idea came from this famous image of two different case and death curves.
And so there was a spiky curve in which a lot of people got sick all at once, overwhelmed the healthcare system. And so you got people dying, both of COVID and also just from not getting care. So the idea is that by locking everyone down, we would flatten the curve.
That is the same number of people would still get it. It’s the same area under both curves, but people would get it spread out over more time. And so that would give time, essentially for the healthcare system to handle it.
Jay W. Richards ➝ 01:25
Well, what actually happened is the healthcare system absorbed the shock. We had thousands of beds at the Javits Center that continued to be open and Navy ship that sat next to Manhattan that had no use.
And so the story almost immediately changed. The narrative for a couple of weeks, was that, well, it’s just as a temporary measure in order to ease up on the pain of the healthcare system, it transitioned seamlessly into effectively a kind of rolling barrage of lockdowns and shutdowns and quarantines and mask wearings, presumably in order to just prevent the spread of the virus itself, which was very much an untested idea.
In fact, in epidemiology is well known that you’re not going to be able to do that indefinitely. And of course the effects of the lockdowns themselves, when you do them over the long period of time, are devastating.
We’re now seven, eight months into this, and we’re still trying this idea of the lockdowns. And it’s not even exactly clear at this point what the argument is, perhaps we’re waiting for the perfect vaccine or something, but it’s clear that from the very beginning in, say, March of 2020 until late 2020, the narrative changed three or four times. Always the same policy, massive lockdowns and quarantines but with changing justification.
Interviewer ➝ 02:37
And what did you think when you saw the narrative change the first time?
Jay W. Richards ➝ 02:42
Well, I initially got worried in late March because I realized that the response was based on initially a single speculative computer model out of the Imperial College London, which there was no reason to trust. And we learned within weeks was entirely untrustworthy. That’s when I initially got worried.
I then got really worried in April when I realized that the idea for the lockdowns wasn’t going to be a temporary measure, it was going to be something we were going to try for months.
It became clear almost immediately that lockdowns were going to be devastating to the economy and to frankly, to just human wellbeing.
It’s one thing, if you did that for two weeks, while you were trying to buy yourself time. It’s another thing if you’re going to do that for months and months on end. And so it got really, really worrisome by late spring.
Jay W. Richards ➝ 03:25
I honestly thought that by say June or July, most of the population had realized, okay, this doesn’t make sense. This isn’t working. That the costs are greater than the benefits, but unfortunately, even into the late fall, it seems like maybe half the American population is still terrified.
Initially I suspected that the lockdowns are going to be a bad thing. It didn’t take a whole lot of economic acumen to realize that if you shut down schools, you shut down businesses, you’re going to destroy people’s jobs. You’re going to destroy people’s well-beings, their lives.
And when you start shutting down hospitals or clearing out hospital wards in order to make room for COVID patients, you’re essentially saying COVID patients have priority over say people that need to get cancer screenings for cancer surgery.
So I think it’s very likely that just those first three months of the lockdowns, we could end up with something like 80,000 missed cancer screenings just in the United States.
One early estimate put deaths of despair in the United States about, so in other words, drug and alcohol overdose suicides, it’s something like 75,000 excess deaths.
Jay W. Richards ➝ 04:25
So in other words, the lockdowns themselves in just three months will probably have caused 75,000 excess deaths of despair.
Now those have to be weighed. Those are costs. Those are the price of panic. Those have to be weighed against the cost of the virus itself.
At some point when the argument keeps changing, the people making the argument lose credibility. I mean, I, myself actually didn’t buy the flatten the curve argument from the very beginning because it was quite clear that we were overestimating the deadliness of the virus, but even if that were the case, the fact that the argument not only kept changing, but it actually changed in contradictory ways.
So the original assumption was that the, we would not be able to prevent ultimately the spread of the coronavirus through the population. In fact, that’s the premise of the flatten the curve image, same area under both curves.
Jay W. Richards ➝ 05:12
We’ll just change the sort of shape of the curve. Very quickly though, we change to this idea that lockdowns could actually the prevent spread of the virus.
Well, this is a respiratory virus spread probably by aerosol the way other viruses like this are spread. Unless we’re literally going to isolate everyone and put them all in bubbles, and we’re not going to prevent literally the spread of the virus.
And yet we keep thinking we’re going to do that. And so at some point I would hope that the population would wise up and realize, look, our policymakers, they don’t, they’re not actually following the science.
They’re following maybe what a public health official told them. But I think more often than not, maybe they’re just shooting from the hip.
Jay W. Richards ➝ 05:52
Something that I really realized in working on this book was that the public health itself has become highly politicized. You might think of public health as a nursing or a civil engineering or something like that.
But the reality is that the very field of public health over the last say 15 or 20 years has become highly politicized.
So there’s this kind of shadow bureaucracy starting with the World Health Organization, which is the public health arm of the United Nations, and then public health entities in every developed country – in the United States, it’s the CDC – which are in some ways the kind of national counterparts to the World Health Organization.
And there’s kind of intellectual orthodoxy that pervades these bureaucracies.
And so instead of getting you know, iron sharpening iron and the smartest scientists in the room, all getting together and duking it out, once you get this kind of intellectual orthodoxy of public health bureaucrats.
Jay W. Richards ➝ 06:39
And unfortunately, that’s what we got when it came to the response of COVID 19. We didn’t ask all the smartest epidemiologists in the world to duke it out about what we should do.
Policy makers, presidents, prime ministers, they listened to the public health officials that they happen to inherit from the administrative state. And that I think is what we call in The Price of Panic the tyranny of experts. The problem isn’t expertise.
It’s when a few public health officials end up with the power effectively to shut down the world. That’s a serious problem.
Perhaps one of the greatest prices of the panic is the loss of our basic freedoms, basic human rights and civil liberties. Most people of course, if told okay, you need to stay inside for your own good. At least in the United States, we would all object to that.
Jay W. Richards ➝ 07:25
On the left, people would object to fascism. On the right, we’d be talking about the first amendment.
No one would just be told you gotta stay in your house for your own good.
Instead, we were told you need to stay in your house for the good of other people. You might be fine, but you go to church and you’re an asymptomatic carrier and you sneeze and you kill the old man that’s sitting in front of you.
I think that’s the kind of moral jujitsu that allowed us to so easily surrender the civil liberties that we claim to prize, because we believe that we’re actually doing it for the benefit of other people.
I think we need to rethink that. We need to realize that what we actually have here is the mother of all arguments for the eroding of the civil liberties that we claim to prize so much.
Yeah. I mean, the reality is that the public health bureaucracies can end up being mechanisms by which, I hate to say it, but populations can be controlled.
And I don’t mean that in a conspiratorial way. I don’t mean that every person working in public health, of course, wants to control what you’re doing. What I’m saying is the apparatus of public health becomes a really good tool of choice for controlling populations. And for increasing the extent and the control of the administrative state over populations.
Interviewer ➝ 08:40
Does that alarm you?
Jay W. Richards ➝ 08:43
I’m really worried about the growth of the administrative state in general, and certainly the public health administrative state in particular.
The World Health Organization as an arm of the United Nations, has been around since the United Nations charter began. Most Americans though, we don’t really know anything about it. It just sounds like a nice thing, World Health Organization, they’re just helping the world with its health.
What they don’t know is, for instance, that, well, a leading ethno nationalist communist [Tedros Adhanom] from Ethiopia is now the director general of the World Health Organization.
I mean, that sounds like some kind of conspiratorial novel, but that’s actually what we’re dealing with. So it shouldn’t be so surprising to discover, for instance, in the spring of 2020 that the World Health Organization was carrying water for the regime in Beijing, for the People’s Republic of China.
It’s not me saying this. That’s what the Atlantic magazine said for weeks. They were literally covering for the People’s Republic. First claiming, the World Health Organization, that the coronavirus didn’t transmit between humans and then telling us that there was no worry about it, then telling us we didn’t need to wear masks.
And then a few weeks later telling us that we needed to wear masks. I mean, ultimately, these public health entities are political institutions, and I think the population at large needs to learn that. We need to recognize that reality.
Interviewer ➝ 10:03
And are you concerned about corruption and that with the WHO with private companies like big pharma and vaccines?
Jay W. Richards ➝ 10:10
I mean, the reality is that behind the scenes, we’re not dealing with something as simple as just sort of political entities.
We’re not just dealing with governments, we’re not just dealing with non-government organizations.
We’re also dealing with large multinational corporations. I mean, I don’t spend a lot of time worrying about a repeat of what we got in Stalinist Russia or Nazi Germany. That’s what happened in the 20th century.
I think the 21st century, what we’re more likely to see is a kind of collusion, a kind of cronyism between big governments, between big regulatory bodies and organizations like the UN and then big multinational organizations, all of which have, in a sense, different interests, but also aligned interests.
And so I think that’s, if you actually look at the details, what you’ll see is a weird alignment of governments, the United Nations, philanthropic individuals, people like Bill Gates, and multinational corporations.
Jay W. Richards ➝ 11:04
I think that’s that kind of complex hybrid dynamic. That’s the kind of political economy that I think we need to spend more time worrying about in the early 21st century.
Yeah, the World Health Organization and entities like the Imperial College London, they provided the kind of medical and intellectual heft for the policy. But of course it was the media and social media that provided the marketing.
In fact, a former Israeli health minister said, this is the first virus with public relations. The panic itself could never have happened but for the media propagating the panic and social media magnifying it.
The idea of herd immunity became a sort of neuralgic word or phrase in this debate. But of course, herd immunity is not so much a policy. It’s just a fact of nature. I mean, the reality is that the way human populations, so every population ultimately gets immunized against a pathogen, is by reaching a certain threshold.
Jay W. Richards ➝ 11:59
And so the question is, how exactly do you reach that? The whole point of vaccines for instance, is just to speed up herd immunity, but when you don’t have a vaccine, you still eventually reach herd immunity.
That’s just a kind of basic reality. What’s funny is that we all sort of panicked about the idea that well, who would ever recommend herd immunity as a policy?
Well, herd immunity is actually, it’s just a fact of biology rather than a policy, but if we’re going to talk about herd immunity as a policy, let’s try to build up some herd immunity to media propaganda.
I mean, we’re worried about the viral contagion of the coronavirus. I think we need to spend more time worrying about the social contagion and in particular, the vectors of social contagion that really transmitted the panic around the world.
Jay W. Richards ➝ 12:43
It’s important to understand that of course, media operations are corporate operations, I mean, of course they’re independent journalists and bloggers on the internet, and sometimes they’re the most reliable guides to these things, but whether you’re talking about Fox News or CNN or any of the big three networks, or even PBS, you’re dealing with large corporations that have very particular corporate interests and media corporate interests.
And so you can’t expect the kind of independence. In fact, what you get is a almost perfect uniformity of opinion on issues like this. And then you just deal with the fact that media is naturally incentivized to terrorize us, nobody, to terrify us. Nobody wants a boring story about how 330 million Americans continued to live today, right?
It’s a boring news story, but we’ll click on a story about hospitals being overrun or an increase in cases. And so there’s this natural incentive for media to terrify us.
Now give an overlay of social media in which we have direct access to high definition video on our bodies at roughly the speed of light. And you have the perfect kind of social setting and technological setting for a planet wide social pandemic, a social contagion.
Jay W. Richards ➝ 13:54
Perhaps the most terrifying thing about the pandemic of 2020 has been just their draconian censorship from the censorship on social media of people who just simply raise questions about the wisdom of lockdowns or scientists at places like Harvard and Yale [laughter] and Oxford [laughter] and Stanford. Reputable scientists who simply articulate something that was actually a conventional wisdom until a few years ago.
The idea of lockdowns, for instance, this is an untested heterodox hypothesis that had never actually been run. There’s a really strong argument among serious epidemiologists about whether that made sense. And unfortunately, social media and big tech in particular decided to put their finger on the scales on that debate. So they decided almost immediately that essentially the word of official entities – so officials at the World Health Organization or the CDC – that was going to have priority over other epidemiologists, even if they’re in places like Stanford.
It’s almost as if, if you’re a government or public health official, that’s like winning the gold medal of scientific wisdom or something like that.
January 3, 2021
“Perhaps the most terrifying thing about the pandemic of 2020 has been just their draconian censorship from the censorship on social media of people who just simply raise questions about the wisdom of lockdowns”
Well, that’s not how science works. Just because you work in an entity in the federal government doesn’t mean that you know anything about more about epidemiology than somebody at a medical school. But unfortunately the media and social media overwhelmingly decided essentially to to weight the scales in favor of the scientific officials against those who had questioned their wisdom.
Jay W. Richards ➝ 15:21
I’m worried about the future with the transmission of information. I mean, the great thing about the internet early on, I think about, you know, the early days of Google in which you could just, you could find something immediately. You could search it and you’d get an organic answer.
Unfortunately, when it came to this subject in particular, my co-authors and I, we watched Google actually bury stories. So you’d get an important interview with say a European scientist, challenging the lockdowns. We’d find it. And within a few days it would just disappear unless you actually knew the name of the scientist.
It would often even get pulled from YouTube. That’s terrifying because first of all, it’s actually really effective. I mean, the reality is that almost all of us get most of our information from our social media newsfeeds or from YouTube.
Even the major media operations are ultimately dependent upon these social media platforms. And so the fear that you’d essentially have private actors censoring the free flow of information in this way, and censoring, frankly, the honest debate about scientific issues that are absolute importance to everyone, that’s terrifying.
And the fact that it seemed to be fairly effective in 2020 makes me worried that the social media giants may just try more of this in the future.
Jay W. Richards ➝ 16:31
Honestly, if you spend too much time studying the pandemic of 2020, especially at social and political aspects, you constantly have to remind yourself that you’re not inside one of those 1970s apocalyptic novels that some of us read that grew up during that time [laughter].
I mean, it’s really very strange, but you have these kinds of weird collusive actors between multi-billionaire philanthropists and large multi national corporations and large entities like the World Health Organization, the United Nations, even discussion of a unified currency and the control of people’s movements based on vaccines.[laughter]
I mean, it almost sounds like something that you’d make up, but it doesn’t take very long in studying this to realize, well, gosh, you know I don’t want to believe a crazy conspiracy theory, but you know, if people are conspiring to do bad things [laughter], I want to know.
Jay W. Richards ➝ 17:26
And even if they’re not conspiring, even if this is a kind of conspiracy of consensus, which is what I tend to think, I tend to think that you don’t actually need a central command telling everyone what to do.
January 3, 2021
“… we watched Google actually bury stories. So you’d get an important interview with say a European scientist, challenging the lockdowns. We’d find it. And within a few days it would just disappear…”
You just get a large number of elites in positions of power, all thinking exactly alike. There’s a kind of spontaneous order to that and that they simply think about the world in exactly the same way they think in a kind of technocratic way in which if the smartest technocrats can just be put in charge, we’ll all be a lot better off. I think that’s what we’re dealing with.
We’re dealing with the rise of the kind of 21st century technocracy on a global level.
Interviewer ➝ 18:00
Is it taking some courage for you this year to talk about this?
Jay W. Richards ➝ 18:05
Anyone that wants to write about this has to sort of take a deep breath, especially if you’re an academic.
My coauthors and I were all sort of worried, okay, what’s going to happen? Are we going to lose all of our friends? The reality is you have nasty things happen to you on Twitter.
I’ve had interviews pulled off of YouTube for advocating self harm, which is of course absurd. But the worst thing that I’ve had happened is probably being attacked on Twitter. And so I always feel like, look, if that’s the worst thing that ever happens to me, I should thank my lucky stars.
But the reality is it does, especially if you’re in academic circles, it takes, you know, it takes some courage or at least take some craziness, some willingness to challenge the conventional wisdom because the conventional narrative on this, it was set in 15 minutes in the middle of March and it never moved. We were told what the official story was supposed to be from the very beginning before we knew anything.
And now we know far more than we did seven months ago, and yet we’re still being told the same thing. I mean, at some point we have to let the evidence challenge the official narrative.
Interviewer ➝ 19:05
Or what would happen if we don’t?
Jay W. Richards ➝ 19:09
If we don’t allow the evidence ultimately to challenge the official narrative, the official narrative’s going to set in concrete. And what’s going to happen is that essentially a public health crisis primarily manufactured by a public health apparatus to control populations will have succeeded.
And if that campaign succeeds the first time, there’s absolutely no doubt in my mind that it will be tried again.
Every time in which a person lives, there’s going to be some intellectual orthodoxy that everyone assumes to be true that’s not true. But all the social signals tell you, okay, you need to believe this, and then you need to affirm it.
Jay W. Richards ➝ 19:51
And when that happens, if you’re going to be a discerning person, we’re all going to reach the stage where you have to decide, okay, look, am I going to, am I going to be a part of this intellectual orthodoxy? Or am I going to challenge it? And am I going to suffer the consequences? Am I going to suffer the social cost of this?
And so ultimately it’s a question of courage and a question of commitment to truth.
January 3, 2021
“censoring the free flow of information in this way, and censoring, frankly, the honest debate about scientific issues that are absolute importance to everyone, that’s terrifying.”
If you the truth is otherwise, are you going to have the courage to stand in defense of the truth against the official narrative? Even if it costs you dearly? That’s something that we’re all ultimately I think asked to do.
And more and more of us are going to be asked to do it here in 2020 and 2021.
The reality is that human beings are social creatures.
Jay W. Richards ➝ 20:36
We’re not made to be alone. We are made to be in community. And so we tend to go along. We tend to do what our fellow human beings and our neighbors and our friends and family do. But the reality is that sometimes we are called to stand against that.
Now yeah, sometimes you just have some cranky idea and you need to actually listen to your parents who will correct you, but there are other times in which, you know, maybe it’s just like, you’re in the matrix, right? You see a sort of glitch in your visual field and you have to decide, okay, is that, is that a sign that something’s not quite right?
The things don’t look as they sort of initially appeared to be. And I think that’s something that all of us ultimately have to decide, but the first step to being able to do that is at least being willing to do it.
Jay W. Richards ➝ 21:22
What would it take? What evidence would it take for you to be willing to challenge the official story, to challenge the intellectual orthodoxy of your time?
It’s easy to recognize the intellectual orthodoxies of the past. It’s easy to talk about the Dutch tulip panic or something that you’re not in.
The real trick is to be able to tell the intellectual orthodoxy when you’re inside it. And to be able to challenge it when the cost is directly to you.
Even my friends early on, I mean, not my coauthors, but some of my closest friends were like, Oh, no, I don’t know, Jay, maybe you shouldn’t talk about this. [laughter]
Jay W. Richards ➝ 22:03
Yeah. They came around though. Most of them, they said, okay, now I see what you’re talking about. That was about June .
This idea that you would lock healthy and sick people together inside, it makes absolutely no sense. A quarantine is where you isolate people that you know are sick. You isolate them from everyone else. And then you maybe add special protection to the people that are really vulnerable.
Lockdowns say that we should just lock everyone inside together. Well, that’s actually what causes [laughter] viral infections and respiratory viruses. That’s why we have a flu season.
January 3, 2021
“you have these kinds of weird collusive actors between multi-billionaire philanthropists and large multi national corporations and large entities like the World Health Organization”
And so this idea that lockdowns themselves are gonna somehow stop it. First of all, it made no intuitive sense. There’s no evidence that would work. As we now know, there’s no evidence that the lockdowns, the government imposed lockdowns anyway, actually made any difference.
Jay W. Richards ➝ 22:47
What’s weird about lockdowns is that this was never really tried before. I mean, if you look for hundreds of years, what we did during pandemics is you quarantine. Quarantine is when you isolate the sick. You know the people that are sick and you isolate them from everyone else. And then maybe you add some special protection to the people that are most vulnerable. But a lockdown applied to the population as a whole.
That’s why we closed down schools. We closed down hospitals for anything basically not related to COVID-19.
We closed down businesses. This kind of lockdown, there’s no evidence that I actually would work. And also it wasn’t like this was a tried and true method for dealing with respiratory viruses. But of course the argument was that, well, this is what was needed.
Whatever the argument was at the beginning, we now actually have the evidence.
Jay W. Richards ➝ 23:31
And we know we can actually look at the states that locked down and the states that didn’t.
January 3, 2021
“World Health Organization and entities like the Imperial College London, they provided the kind of medical and intellectual heft for the policy. But of course it was the media and social media that provided the marketing.”
We can compare countries that locked down with countries that did not. And the least that can be said is that there is no evidence that government imposed lockdowns make any discernible difference in the progress of the coronavirus.
They just make no discernible difference one way or the other. So, in other words, you’d like to believe that lockdowns may have been costly, but at least they are beneficial.
The reality is the lockdowns are virtually all pain and no gain.
Jay W. Richards ➝ 24:01
I mean, already by May, we had enough data from states in the United States and countries around the world to know that the lockdowns imposed by governments really didn’t make any difference.
In fact, some states like Florida actually adjusted their policies based upon this. And so the question is why in the fall, in October, November, December of 2020, would we still be talking about lockdowns? At some point you have to conclude, this is, this is not about trying untested things. It’s just about malfeasance or incompetence, or even malevolence, because we know lockdowns don’t work.
When we compare countries like say Sweden and Norway, people will isolate those two and say, well, Norway locked down in Sweden didn’t. And Norway had fewer per capita deaths. But that’s not how you do statistics.
You’ve got to compare all the countries. If you compare Sweden with its neighbor Belgium on the other hand, which had draconian lockdowns. It is much higher death per capita in Belgium or in the UK.
Jay W. Richards ➝ 24:55
In fact, if there’s any kind of correlation, the more draconian the lockdown a country had, certainly in Europe, the more deaths they had.
Now, does that mean the lockdowns caused coronavirus deaths? Not necessarily, but we do think that the lockdowns themselves caused deaths.
January 3, 2021
“if you spend too much time studying the pandemic of 2020, especially at social and political aspects, you constantly have to remind yourself that you’re not inside one of those 1970s apocalyptic novels”
So what we will have in the United States, in other countries is some deaths from the coronavirus directly. And then some, maybe equally many deaths from the lockdowns themselves.
If the lockdowns made a difference, we should have actually seen an effect. When you look at the case curves and the death curves, you should see a signal in the noise. You should see the effect of the lockdowns in the curves themselves.
But if you actually do that, if you compare the states of the United States against each other, you compare the countries of the world against each other, and you map them according to the dates of lockdowns or against countries that didn’t lock down. There’s no signature of the lockdowns.
In other words, the lockdowns made no discernible difference in the spread of the virus, either in individual US states or in countries around the world. The data is in. Lockdowns do not work. So why are we still talking about them? And why are public health officials still advocating them?
Interviewer ➝ 26:00
And at what point was that clear? What date was that clear?
Jay W. Richards ➝ 26:04
Certainly by May , we knew that the lockdowns didn’t seem to make any difference. We had lockdowns in March and April. We had data spilling out certainly by May. So before the summer even started, we knew that the lockdowns weren’t making a discernible difference.
January 3, 2021
“In fact, if there’s any kind of correlation, the more draconian the lockdown a country had, certainly in Europe, the more deaths they had.”
And so the idea that we’d continue them into the summer or reimplement lockdowns again in the fall in light of the data, to me is just unconscionable.
We were always told there’d be a second wave, but in so far as there’s a respiratory virus, I mean, this is how respiratory viruses go [laughter]. This is why we always have a cold and a flu season in the Northern hemisphere during the fall and winter.
It’s cold, people get inside and we tend to spread this around. So it’s as far as COVID-19 is a respiratory virus.
Jay W. Richards ➝ 26:46
Of course, we’re going to have that kind of second wave, but there’s no reason to assume it’s going to be as bad or worse than the first one.
And in any case, why would we do destructive policies that we know didn’t work the first time? That makes absolutely no sense.
What’s weird economically is that, of course, the shutdowns applied mostly to small businesses, small little car shops or Mexican restaurants owned by families. They didn’t apply to large, big box stores or massive digital companies like Amazon.
And so in many ways this was the kind of mother of all boons for the digital economy. If you were working in the digital economy, you could work from home or you’re one of these large companies you likely saw growth. You likely saw improvement.
If you had a small family owned business you almost certainly had a lockdown imposed upon you.
Jay W. Richards ➝ 27:33
And so the reality is that whether by intention or not what we saw as a kind of massive transfer of wealth in the economy away from all of these tens of thousands of small and often family owned businesses toward very large, publicly owned businesses that happen to benefit from the digital economy.
I would think whether you’re left, right, center, libertarian, whatever, that’s something that ought to trouble you. That’s one of the costs of the social contagion. That’s one of the prices of the panic.
Interviewer ➝ 28:03
And you think we’re seeing, are you concerned about maybe the growth of world socialism from this? It’s sort of achieving the same goals as communism except the true sort of public health economic?
Everyone’s now going to be thrown into the hands of their creditors or, or depending on the state for, for his routes when they roll into this universal basic income is now sort of the government says like, do they need to do that too?
Jay W. Richards ➝ 28:34
What’s funny is that we’re all expecting the political crisis of the past. So I spent a lot of time thinking about socialism in the 20th century. But I think we need to focus on the way in which these things happen in the 21st century digital economy.
I mean, the reality is that we could have something that you might think of as a kind of global socialism in which there’s the kind of cosseted costing power of the state or a mush multinational organization, but it’s not going to be one in which the state literally owns the means of production. I think it would be a system in which you actually have very large privately owned companies that are nevertheless in collusion with the biggest government actors.
I think that’s the kind of political dynamic that all of us ought to spend more time worrying about whether you’re on the left or on the right politically or wherever that it’s that kind of collusion between large multinational corporate actors and state entities.
Jay W. Richards ➝ 29:13
That’s the thing that certainly I spend most of my time worrying about now. Oh, well, because what you think of is like the state ownership of means of production. Like they did it in the twenties, right? Like when they centralized all farms, which even [inaudible] had to realize it just didn’t work and they had to implement some market reforms.
January 3, 2021
“This idea that you would lock healthy and sick people together inside, it makes absolutely no sense. A quarantine is where you isolate people that you know are sick.”
But now, I mean, you get this kind of weird dynamic in which you have, especially the corporations that are in charge of information, right? I don’t spend all that much time worrying about Chevrolet, but I spend a lot of time worrying about Google, you know.
In these companies got big initially by being good at what they did. It’s not like they became big by being evil. They became good by serving customers, but now having become almost the semi monopolies. Now, I think they’re misusing their power. And we’re seeing the contours of kind of cronyism in which you get this collusion between a vast regulatory state and these private companies. And that’s something I think that’s worth worrying about.
Interviewer ➝ 30:20
Yeah. It’s pretty alarming. I know. Yeah. [laughter]
Jay W. Richards ➝ 30:21
I’m working on a. There’s a book right now and I’m working on a chapter on Catholic it’s on Catholic social teaching and different economic issues and minus Catholic social teaching and cronyism. So trying to try to figure it out.
Interviewer ➝ 30:33
That’s cool. Yeah. And then maybe could you show us your book? Oh, absolutely.
Jay W. Richards ➝ 30:37
Let’s see, I’ve got one back here, some
Interviewer ➝ 30:42
Right here and send it to us.
Jay W. Richards ➝ 30:45
Oh yeah. Oh, there is one up there. Yeah.
Interviewer ➝ 30:49
Okay. Can you tell us what it’s about? Yeah. So
Jay W. Richards ➝ 30:53
And so The Price of Panic is essentially self descriptive. So we think certainly the virus itself is a serious thing. A lot of people get sick and some people die of it.
But we think the panic itself had as many or perhaps even more costs than the virus itself. We think just in the United States, more deaths will result from the lockdowns than from the coronavirus itself. That’s the price of panic. It’s not just a viral contagion.
It’s a social contagion and the price of panic, we argued that the real story of 2020, the story that historians will write about 50 years from now is not the coronavirus itself. It’s not the viral contagion so much as the global social contagion of panic.
Interviewer ➝ 31:37
And what is that doing to our society? All this madness is here.
Jay W. Richards ➝ 31:42
The panic of 2020 unfortunately is led to untold psychological damage destruction of human well-being, but also loss of basic civic and political liberties that we all take for granted.
There’s never been a greater growth of the administrative state than we saw in 2020. I mean, if you told someone, even in 2018 that in 2020 state and federal governments would shut down, schools would shut down. Private businesses would shut down churches and synagogues and tell people they can’t worship. They can’t go to parks. They can’t go to school. They can’t go to the business. Nobody would have believed it because it would have seemed conceivable.
But once you have a public health crisis in which you have to do this for the benefit of other people that was the key that unlocked that growth in political power that would have seemed unimaginable two years ago.
- Dr Marcus De Brun — Irish Nursing Home Covid-19 Deaths: Deaths of Neglect Inflicted by the State
- Dr Robert Endres — Lockdowns and Masks are not Evidence-Based. Vaccine is not Fully Tested.
- PCR Inventor Kary Mullis Talks About Anthony Fauci — “he doesn’t know anything really about anything”
Video Source https://planetlockdownfilm.com/ (Copyright Planet Lockdown, January 3, 2021)