The Mask Madness of Big Government

As Newsweek reports, people are sewing their own face masks to protect themselves against the coronavirus. Readers might wonder why something as simple as a face mask might be in short supply. As it turns out, such masks are strictly regulated.

The federal Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) must certify masks. The division of the CDC that certifies masks is the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), not the same as OSHA, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration.

To Battle Covid-19, Cut Regulation!

Nearly three weeks ago, the United States reported 230 confirmed cases of the Covid-19 virus and a dozen fatalities. On March 24, the United States reached 64,645 confirmed cases and 908 deaths. In New York City the death toll hit 192.

As anyone with a TV or digital news feed knows, the virus is spreading alarmingly fast and widespread efforts are underway to slow its progress. Unfortunately, too many people accept that the United States healthcare system is not ready for a pandemic without asking why. Answering this question involves looking at current healthcare regulations.

Coronavirus and National Healthcare Rationing

Flattening the curve.” Those three words describe the motivation that many governments in Europe and several state governments within the United States have used to justify shutting down nearly all commerce and public gatherings within their jurisdictions as they seek to slow the rapid spread of coronavirus infections to keep from overwhelming their limited health care resources.

How much curve-flattening is necessary to avoid overloading a nation’s healthcare system? The answer has a lot to do with the system’s capacity.

University of Arizona Students Say Finishing Courses Online Is “Expecting Too Much”

An online petition demanding that the University of Arizona end spring classes has garnered more than 8,800 signatures from students.

The university had already announced a delayed start of spring classes and moved as many as possible online out of concern for students’ health. However, the UA online petition objected, “This is not an effective solution in this time of crisis.”

California Coronavirus Measures Impact the Justice System

As we noted, Gov. Gavin Newsom’s March 12 Executive Order N-25-20 “readies state to commandeer hotels and medical facilities to isolate and treat COVID-19 patients” and “readies the state to commandeer property for temporary residences and medical facilities for quarantining, isolating or treating individuals.”

As Milton Friedman observed, temporary government measures often become permanent, and the commandeering of private property could easily mesh with the governor’s plans to impose government monopoly health care. As that unfolds, the coronavirus crisis is also impacting the criminal justice system. 

Fighting Coronavirus by Breaking the Chains of Needless Regulation

The coronavirus pandemic is having a major effect on the operation of the U.S. government:

  • It is revealing where the bureaucrats’ methods of business-as-usual obstruct the vital interests of regular Americans.
  • The increased visibility allows the Trump administration to obliterate the regulations that provide little to no value for ordinary Americans.
Never Let a Good Crisis Go to Waste

Remember the Golden Age of Laissez-Faire, the grand epoch brought to a tragic end by the COVID-19 crisis, which laid bare its failures for all to see? Me neither.

And yet the New Narrative is already being written. “The Era of Small Government Is Over,” writes Jamelle Bouie in the New York Times. US federal, state, and local government spending was 32 percent of GDP in 1980, 37 percent in 2018. It peaked at 39 percent during the Obama stimulus and never fell below 31 percent during this period. So much for the neoliberal consensus!

What C.S. Lewis’s Screwtape Teaches Us About Politics

Americans, finally facing the prospect of the mano-a-mano portion of the 2020 presidential campaign, have already learned that previous complainers about the negativity, underhandedness, and attack-dog nature of politics didn’t know how good they had it.

Abetted by technologies that increase the reach and power of smear campaigns and by mechanisms that allow far more money to be spent on them, not to mention the mushrooming of “fake news,” electoral politics has became an even more intense mud pit of attacks and finger-pointing about every conceivable issue, along with “O yeah?” responses, counterattacks, and bare-knuckle brawling among partisan spinners. And that was before the general election campaign, which can double down on duplicity and deception.

Coronacrisis and Leviathan

In his magisterial Crisis and LeviathanRobert Higgs shows that the growth of government in the twentieth century can largely be explained by patterns of crisis and response. These crises can be real (World Wars I and II, the Great Depression, stagflation) or imagined (inequality, the various isms). In either case new government programs, agencies, and policies are established, purportedly as temporary responses to the perceived emergency. But, as Higgs shows with rich historical detail, most of the temporary measures become permanent—either explicitly or in a revised form based on the original.

“Let Them Stay at the W!” San Francisco’s Privileged Respond to the Coronavirus Threat

For forty years, San Francisco has chased homelessness with government spending: from then-Mayor Dianne Feinstein’s allocating 1,000 Single Room Occupancy units to what she thought a temporary problem, to the current “official” figure for Housing & Homeless Services Spending of $364,000,000 for 2019-20 (unofficial figures that count all government spending on homelessness are unimaginably higher), it has succeeded only in creating a spiraling homelessness crisis:

  • Catalyst