- FOUNDATION FOR ECONOMIC EDUCATION - 2 Jan, 2021 -
COVID-19 was going to be bad, no matter what. But the failures of big government made it much, much worse.
The disaster that was 2020 is finally over. Now it’s time for the inevitable post-mortems.
First and foremost, the COVID-19 pandemic posed enormous challenges to American institutions, and continues to do so. Frankly, we were not prepared. We need to diagnose what went wrong, so that we are never caught unaware like this again. Fortunately, the diagnosis is straightforward. COVID-19 was going to be bad, no matter what. But the failures of big government made it much, much worse.
In particular, the Centers for Disease Control, Food and Drug Administration, and public teachers’ unions are the great American villains of 2020. Meanwhile, the heroes of this year are almost entirely in the private sector. From Zoom to vaccine development, Big Pharma and Big Tech—yes, you read that right—made this horrible year bearable. Even amid a crisis that led so many to cry out for vigorous government action, we saw that private markets still work best.
For progressives and so-called “national” conservatives who support big government, 2020 represented the ultimate test for their philosophies. Although they disagree on cultural issues, they see eye-to-eye on the role of government. Both want a big, energetic state promoting what (they believe to be) the good of the nation. Well, here was their chance for the government to shine.
The result was shameful failure. The COVID-19 crisis put left-wing and right-wing statism on trial—and both were found guilty of ill-intent and gross incompetence.
After all, the CDC is the reason America lagged behind other nations for so long in terms of COVID-19 testing. We had the virus genome fully mapped in January, which enabled the rapid production of private testing kits. But the CDC forced these operations to shut down, coming up with its own test—which was flawed, and even contaminated! Testing and tracing could have stemmed the worst of the COVID-19 tide.
On this issue alone, CDC ineptitude is likely responsible for tens of thousands of deaths. Its red tape and incompetence made containing the COVID-19 pandemic, like a few other countries were able to, impossible.
How about the FDA?