Sometimes terrible things happen without any human malfeasance, and the novel Wuhan coronavirus may in fact be one of those things. It is entirely plausible the virus emerged from “wet markets” in the Hubei Province of China rather than as a fumbled (or worse, intentionally released) bioweapon cooked up by the Xi Jinping government.
We may never know, of course. But easy or readily apparent answers to the question of how this could have been avoided should be viewed with the skepticism appropriate to any state propaganda. Crises of all kinds, whether economic, political, military, or health, send ideologues scrambling to explain how such events fit neatly into their worldview. In fact, political partisans often attempt to paint any crisis as having occurred in the first place precisely because their policies and preferences have not been adopted.
The Wuhan coronavirus seems tailor-made for this. Alarmists who argue for (i) much more robust and comprehensive “public health” measures by national governments and (ii) greater supranational coordination inevitably point to infectious diseases as justification for increased state power over personal medical decisions. Scary and fast-spreading viruses are perfect fodder for their busybody argument that people cannot simply be left to their own devices.
Cross-border outbreaks of illnesses are particularly well suited to the preexisting bureaucratic desire for power over populations: they make the public much more willing to accept forced quarantines and arrests for noncompliance; forced immunizations; involuntary commitments to state facilities; curfews; restrictions on business operations and travel; and import controls. They also allow public health officials to commandeer and manage efforts to find “the cure,” who then take credit when the virus eventually relents.
These are the sorts of things that authoritarian politicians want all the time. Crises simply provide an opportunity to ratchet up their power and also to accustom the public to being ordered around and taking cues from centralized government sources.
Antistate libertarians are not immune to this phenomenon of attempting to place square events into round holes. We tend to explain crises as the result of state (or central bank) interference, either created or made worse by the lack of market discipline, incentives, and property rights lacking due to state action or state regulation. Libertarians think the Food and Drug Administration, for example, kills more people than it saves by approving bad drugs and delaying regulatory approvals for promising treatments.
Moreover, an individualist libertarian perspective on bodily sovereignty poses an obvious challenge to public health. No individual should be forced to accept quarantine or immunization against his will, and in fact no individual should be forced to consider herd immunity or other collectivist notions when making medical decisions. Just as most libertarians don’t think Doritos and Mountain Dew should be banned because their consumption imposes “public” healthcare costs in a statist/fascist system of mandatory insurance and tax-funded Medicaid, most don’t think that individual health decisions should be overridden by politicians—even in an “emergency” outbreak situation.
So how do we reconcile public health with individual rights? Should the latter be sacrificed to protect the former?
Three observations present themselves.
First, even the highly authoritarian Chinese national state has been unable to contain the virus, though it can cordon off whole cities by dictatorial fiat and impose wholesale house arrest over cities in a manner unthinkable in Western countries. Chinese state police literally drag people suspected of carrying the virus out of their cars, forcibly put them handcuffed in hazmat vehicles, and haul them off to what amount to prison hospitals. Chinese citizens who speak out publicly against the Xi government’s handling of the crisis are arrested. So, if the Chinese government can’t contain it, even with martial law and control over media, how in the world do Western countries expect to do so? Imagine trying to quarantine, say, Dallas and Fort Worth!
Second, poor countries (and China is quite poor per capita compared to the West, ranking around sixty-fifth internationally) almost invariably suffer from worse public health conditions. Sanitation, nutrition, and access to drugs, facilities, and competent doctors matter a great deal when it comes to incubating infectious diseases. Richer countries are healthier countries, and the West benefits when conditions improve and modernize in the Third World.
Third, we already have de facto supranational bodies such as World Health Organization tasked with preventing and lessening the spread of diseases like the coronavirus. The WHO has been around since 1948 and hasn’t prevented a host of modern epidemics like SARS and Zika; exactly what new international agency or organization will do better?
If anything, pandemics call for decentralization of treatment. After all, the best approach is to isolate infected people rather than bringing them into large hospital populations in crowded city centers. What doctor or nurse wants to work in a hospital full of coronavirus cases?
We might wish for a utopian libertarian answer to public health crises like the coronovirus, along the lines of a Rothbardian externality argument for airborne pollution. But sometimes bad things simply happen. The best hope is market incentives, the rapid application of individual human ingenuity and self-interest to the situation. Liberty is better, not perfect. And governments, including the Chinese government, are clueless as always.
This is a topic which is near to my heart… Take care! Exactly where are your contact details though?
Hi there! This article could not be written any better! Reading through this article reminds me of my previous roommate! He continually kept preaching about this. I am going to forward this article to him. Fairly certain he’ll have a great read. Thank you for sharing!
Excellent post. I’m experiencing a few of these issues as well..
The next time I read a blog, I hope that it does not fail me just as much as this particular one. I mean, Yes, it was my choice to read through, but I truly believed you would have something interesting to talk about. All I hear is a bunch of whining about something you can fix if you weren’t too busy seeking attention.
Whats up very cool site!! Guy .. Beautiful ..
Wonderful .. I will bookmark your blog and take the feeds additionally?
I am satisfied to find so many useful info right here within the post, we’d like work
out extra strategies on this regard, thank you for
sharing. . . . . .
Way cool! Some extremely valid points! I appreciate you penning this post plus the rest of the site is also very good.
I’m very pleased to discover this web site. I want to to thank you for your time for this fantastic read!! I definitely liked every little bit of it and i also have you book marked to look at new information in your site.
You’re so awesome! I don’t think I’ve read anything like this before. So nice to discover someone with a few genuine thoughts on this subject. Really.. many thanks for starting this up. This web site is something that is required on the internet, someone with a little originality!
Great info. Lucky me I discovered your blog by accident (stumbleupon). I have saved it for later!
May I simply just say what a comfort to discover someone who really understands what they’re discussing on the web. You certainly realize how to bring an issue to light and make it important. More people ought to check this out and understand this side of your story. I was surprised that you aren’t more popular given that you most certainly possess the gift.
First off I want to say awesome blog! I had a quick
question that I’d like to ask if you do not mind.
I was interested to know how you center yourself and clear your thoughts before writing.
I’ve had a difficult time clearing my thoughts in getting my thoughts out.
I do take pleasure in writing however it just seems like
the first 10 to 15 minutes tend to be lost simply just trying to figure out how to begin. Any suggestions
or hints? Cheers!
Good post. I learn something new and challenging on blogs I stumbleupon everyday. It will always be interesting to read through articles from other authors and practice something from their sites.
This website definitely has all of the info I needed concerning this subject and didnít know who to ask.
Pretty! This has been a really wonderful post. Thank you for providing these details.
I would like to thank you for the efforts you have put in penning this site. I am hoping to check out the same high-grade blog posts from you later on as well. In truth, your creative writing abilities has motivated me to get my own, personal blog now 😉
Hi, I do think this is a great web site. I stumbledupon it 😉 I’m going to come back yet again since I book-marked it. Money and freedom is the greatest way to change, may you be rich and continue to guide other people.
Hello, i feel that i noticed you visited my blog thus i
got here to return the choose?.I’m attempting to find things to enhance my site!I guess its ok to make
use of a few of your ideas!!
Great post! We are linking to this great article on our site. Keep up the good writing.
I’m more than happy to uncover this web site. I want to to thank you for your time just for this fantastic read!! I definitely enjoyed every bit of it and i also have you book-marked to check out new stuff on your blog.
After checking out a handful of the blog articles on your website, I seriously appreciate your technique of writing a blog. I book marked it to my bookmark site list and will be checking back in the near future. Please visit my web site as well and let me know your opinion.
Saved as a favorite, I like your blog!
I would like to thank you for the efforts you have put in writing this site. I really hope to see the same high-grade content from you in the future as well. In truth, your creative writing abilities has inspired me to get my own, personal site now 😉
This website really has all of the information and facts I wanted concerning this subject and didnít know who to ask.
Good day! I could have sworn Iíve been to this website before but after going through many of the posts I realized itís new to me. Nonetheless, Iím certainly happy I discovered it and Iíll be book-marking it and checking back often!
Hi, I do think this is an excellent blog. I stumbledupon it 😉 I am going to return once again since i have bookmarked it. Money and freedom is the greatest way to change, may you be rich and continue to guide others.
Pretty! This was an extremely wonderful article. Many thanks for supplying this info.
Itís nearly impossible to find knowledgeable people for this topic, but you seem like you know what youíre talking about! Thanks
After looking into a few of the blog articles on your website, I really like your way of blogging. I saved it to my bookmark webpage list and will be checking back soon. Please check out my website as well and tell me how you feel.
This is a topic which is close to my heart… Many thanks! Exactly where are your contact details though?
Oh my goodness! Amazing article dude! Thanks, However I am going through troubles with your RSS. I donít know the reason why I can’t join it. Is there anybody else getting similar RSS issues? Anybody who knows the answer will you kindly respond? Thanx!!
Greetings! Very helpful advice within this article! It’s the little changes that make the most significant changes. Thanks for sharing!
The next time I read a blog, I hope that it won’t disappoint me as much as this one. I mean, Yes, it was my choice to read, but I genuinely believed you’d have something interesting to say. All I hear is a bunch of complaining about something you could possibly fix if you were not too busy searching for attention.
I was pretty pleased to uncover this page. I need to to thank you for ones time just for this fantastic read!! I definitely liked every bit of it and I have you saved as a favorite to look at new information on your site.
That is a really good tip especially to those new to the blogosphere. Short but very precise informationÖ Many thanks for sharing this one. A must read article!
A motivating discussion is worth comment. There’s no doubt that that you need to write more on this subject matter, it may not be a taboo matter but usually people do not speak about such topics. To the next! Many thanks!!
Good post. I definitely love this site. Keep writing!
An outstanding share! I’ve just forwarded this onto a co-worker who was doing a little research on this. And he actually ordered me dinner simply because I stumbled upon it for him… lol. So allow me to reword this…. Thank YOU for the meal!! But yeah, thanks for spending time to talk about this matter here on your internet site.
After looking at a handful of the blog articles on your web page, I really appreciate your technique of blogging. I book marked it to my bookmark website list and will be checking back soon. Please visit my website as well and tell me your opinion.
I like looking through an article that can make people think. Also, many thanks for permitting me to comment!
Itís hard to come by experienced people in this particular subject, but you sound like you know what youíre talking about! Thanks
Spot on with this write-up, I absolutely believe this site needs a lot more attention. Iíll probably be returning to read more, thanks for the information!
You are so cool! I don’t suppose I’ve truly read a single thing like that before. So nice to discover another person with a few unique thoughts on this topic. Seriously.. thanks for starting this up. This site is something that is required on the internet, someone with some originality!
This is the perfect website for anybody who wants to find out about this topic. You realize so much its almost tough to argue with you (not that I actually would want toÖHaHa). You certainly put a fresh spin on a topic that has been written about for decades. Great stuff, just great!
Aw, this was an exceptionally nice post. Taking the time and actual effort to produce a great articleÖ but what can I sayÖ I put things off a whole lot and don’t seem to get anything done.
Way cool! Some very valid points! I appreciate you penning this article and also the rest of the site is very good.
That is a really good tip particularly to those new to the blogosphere. Brief but very precise informationÖ Appreciate your sharing this one. A must read post!
Your style is really unique compared to other people I’ve read stuff from. Thank you for posting when you’ve got the opportunity, Guess I will just bookmark this web site.
Good information. Lucky me I ran across your site by chance (stumbleupon). I have book-marked it for later!
super site pour acheter des pot en verre
I used to be able to find good info from your content.
Having read this I believed it was very enlightening. I appreciate you finding the time and effort to put this short article together. I once again find myself spending way too much time both reading and posting comments. But so what, it was still worth it!
Great web site you have here.. Itís difficult to find high quality writing like yours nowadays. I really appreciate people like you! Take care!!
I was able to find good advice from your articles.
The next time I read a blog, I hope that it doesn’t fail me as much as this particular one. After all, I know it was my choice to read, nonetheless I actually thought you would probably have something helpful to say. All I hear is a bunch of whining about something you could fix if you weren’t too busy seeking attention.
You have made some decent points there. I checked on the internet for additional information about the issue and found most people will go along with your views on this web site.
May I simply say what a comfort to discover somebody who really knows what they are discussing on the web. You definitely know how to bring a problem to light and make it important. More and more people must check this out and understand this side of your story. I was surprised you aren’t more popular given that you definitely have the gift.