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What Comes After the Coronavirus, Freedom or Despotism?

What Comes After the Coronavirus, Freedom or Despotism?

The coronavirus crisis that has enveloped the world has brought about calls for society and economy-wide action on the part of governments that has been matched by the imposing of radical shutdowns and compulsory mass quarantining as tens of millions of people are told to not to go to work and to stay at home instead.

Governments have also been redirecting essential medical and related supplies in some places. In the United States, direct governmental commands for companies and industries to change what and how they produce has been declared to be in the executive hands of the president of the United States, when it is deemed necessary to meet the needs of the health crisis. 

President Donald Trump’s recent order for the automobile manufacturer, General Motors, to shift its production potentials to the manufacturing of ventilators for those stricken severely by the virus, under the authority of a Korean-war era piece of legislation, is merely an especially high-profile example of the central planning powers that governments have been asserting the right to implement. 

Fundamental to everything that governments have been doing is the presumption that the crisis can only be handled and solved through a comprehensive system of political command and control. The chorus of voices making this case, along with their own proposals as to what should be the ingredients of “the plan,” has been deafening. 

The Deafening Chorus of Voices for Central Planning

John Cassidy, writing for The New Yorker (March 28, 2020), insists that “the most effective stimulus policy is doing whatever it takes to get some control over the virus’s trajectory.”

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