The lockdown is necessary but we must ensure our liberty is restored swiftly

Annabel Denham writes for The Times Red Box

With a new variant strain of the virus, the NHS under even greater pressure than in March, and the vaccination roll-out underway, a third lockdown is not only necessary but proportionate, writes the IEA’s Director of Communications Annabel Denham.

However, as Annabel argues in a comment piece for The Times Red Box, a new frontier will emerge as we attempt to identify the vaccination tipping point; ultimately “it will be incumbent on us to recalibrate our attitudes to risk and ensure liberty is not permanently diminished as a result of the pandemic response.”

Read the full article here.

2 thoughts on “The lockdown is necessary but we must ensure our liberty is restored swiftly”

  1. Posted 13/01/2021 at 03:41 | Permalink

    Good grief, when the IEA starts advocating a complete loss of individual responsibility, freedom and self determination you know the world has gone wacky. Mises, Hayek and anyone resembling a discerning anti authoritarian would be spinning in his or her grave.

    When the outcome of this (and previous) lockdowns may lead to more deaths in the long run and a significant debt toll, sure, let’s follow China’s playbook.

  2. Posted 13/01/2021 at 17:25 | Permalink

    Finally, a libertarian with a bit of sense.
    I’ll thank you for your efforts, and provide some additional food for thought.

    1. Libertarians can agree with lockdowns.
    Prominent Libertarians had long argued that to maximise liberty, sometimes you have to do what needs to be done.
    Milton Friedman worte:
    “As already noted, significant neighborhood effects justify substantial public health activities: maintaining the purity of water, assuring proper sewage disposal, controlling contagious diseases.”[1]
    Pandemic is not the only thing that may need cooperation. In the passage from the 2nd and 3rd editions of Human Action, Ludwig Mises wrote:
    “As isolated attempts on the part of each individual to resist are doomed to failure, the only workable way is to organize resistance by the government.” Hence, he argued that “he who in our age opposes armaments and conscription is, perhaps unbeknown to himself, an abettor of those aiming at the enslavement of all.”[2]

    2. Strict lockdown works
    From the empirical point of view, the data from 1918 Spanish flu illustrated that stronger pandemic response yields better economic recovery.[3] Nations that took lockdown seriously(China, New Zealand, Australia) are now having a low death rate and much more freedom. New Zealand only had 5 dead per million people during the course of the pandemic, while the UK and the US had 1228 and 1150 dead per million people since the start of the pandemic. [4]

    3. There are ways other than lockdowns, but it’s too late for the West.
    Taiwan never had a lockdown, kids had a 2-week extension of the Lunar New Year Holiday, that’s about it, no domestic travel restrictions, no distant learning. As a democracy of 24 million people, only 7 had died during the pandemic, that’s 0.29 per million people. Furthermore, no one had died during the last 248 days[4]. In comparison, London, a city of 9 million, had almost 10,000 death, now(Jan 12) there’s 1 death every 10 minutes.[5]
    In Taiwan, there had strict border control, mandatory 14-day quarantine for anyone entering the island since early February or contracted covid, strict contact tracing by testing everyone that may have contact with a case, and everyone was wearing masks from the very beginning. [6]

    4. Pandemics damages freedom as an idea
    As a Chinese and a classical liberal, I observed that the successful response drastically increased the trust in the government. The initial hope of a wave of dissent was gone, the word ‘freedom’ literally become a joke when people saw what happened in the US and the UK.
    The US already had two major waves of violent protests/insurrections: BLM and Capitol Hill; and in Britain, trust toward the political leaders fell as the pandemic drags on.[7]
    If the response had been different in the West, the retreat of the idea of democracy and freedom may be avoided.

    I here support the notion that strict lockdowns are necessary, they reduce the economic cost and human casualties. Though they will reduce personal freedom for a brief period of time (between 1-3 month based on records from successful cases), they will increase long-term freedom, both in terms of preserving the credibility of the liberal ideas, and personal freedom of travel, work, entertainment, all free of masks.

    [1] Quote from Mesis:
    [2] Quote from Friedman:
    [3] 1918 data:
    [4] World Covid statistics:
    [5] London Covid statistics:
    [6] The Lancet on Taiwan:
    [7] Boris Johnson’s approval rating:

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