In recent months, as a vicious pandemic spread out of China, an emerging technocracy—rule by experts—threatened to seize control of much of our public life.
When National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Director Dr. Anthony Fauci and other infectious disease specialists instructed us to self-isolate, President Donald Trump “shut it [the economy] down.”
Governors issued executive orders shuttering restaurants and hair salons. Mayors banned private gatherings. Funerals—even at the graveside—became grieving ceremonies that most were forbidden to attend. As for beaches and public parks, they became ghost zones.
The policy purpose behind our national quasi-home arrest was to “flatten the curve” of new COVID-19 cases to keep hospitals from being overwhelmed—as happened terrifyingly in Northern Italy. Whether or not our insipidly termed “alone together” national isolation was effective—I think it probably was—we can all give thanks that hospitals did not collapse, and draconian triage measures such as Italy imposed were never required.
But that laudable success came at a terrible toll. Tens of millions were thrown out of work. Despite concerted government efforts to shore up the economy, the small-business sector imploded—some shops and restaurants never to reopen. Uber and taxi drivers lost countless fares. Parking lot attendants and airport shop workers became unemployed. Major corporations faced bankruptcy.