Via Economic Policy Journal

Rand Paul

Paul Krugman has gotten more Walter Durantyish in his columns by way of covering up more blindly for authoritarianism.

He actually wrote this in his latest column:

Econ 101 has lots of good things to say about free markets (probably too many good things, but that’s a discussion for another time)…

But the biggest absurdity in the column was this:

 Some readers may be aware that Senator Rand Paul — who proclaims himself a libertarian — has been doing a lot of sniping at Dr. Anthony Fauci. Back in May he denounced Fauci for warning that premature reopening might lead to a surge in new Covid-19 cases. More recently, apparently undaunted by the fact that Fauci was right, he demanded that Fauci show “humility” and display some “optimism.”

What struck me, however, was the way Paul justified his attacks on epidemiologists’ recommendations: by invoking the free-market doctrines of Friedrich Hayek. “Hayek had it right: Only decentralized power and decision-making, based on millions of individualized situations, can arrive at what risks and behaviors each individual should choose.”

Whatever you think of Hayek (as you might guess, I’m not a fan), this is bizarre. Decentralized decision-making can do lots of things, but establishing scientific truth isn’t one of those things. And even conservatives used to understand both that expertise matters and that promoting scientific research is a legitimate and necessary role of government.

What a bunch of coprolite. Maybe this is what Krugman has to do these days to keep his job at the wokist Times.

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But what he did in writing about Rand’s position is distort the meaning.

Never did Rand say that millions of individuals determine science. By the way, it should be pointed out Krugman implies that central powers (government and otherwise) are the last word on science, which is really absurd. Has he not heard of truth-tellers such as Galileo and Socrates?

Yeah, that was really well done promoting of scientific research by the Roman Inquisition in the case of Galileo and the oligarchy of the Thirty in the case of Socrates.

But back to Rand, as Krugman quotes him, “only decentralized power and decision-making, based on millions of individualized situations, can arrive at what risks and behaviors each individual should choose.”

This isn’t Rand saying anything about establishing scientific truth, it is a comment about taking on risk given the knowledge we have about COVID-19. That is, Rand, rather than championing the idea that there is a blunt instrument one-size-fits-all risk profile, recognizes that different people have different risk profiles and all should be allowed the freedom to adjust their activity to their risk profile. (I discuss the risk profile concept in detail in the second part of my podcast Dread Risk Fear And Its Role in the Current COVID-19 Fear)

And, for many, it is not the near-zero risk profile that governments have adopted in their blunt instrument orders.

For those who want to adopt a near-zero risk profile, they can certainly do so. They can lock themselves at home and stay there forever if they want.

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But some of us, and count me in this group, may want to live a Jack London life rather than the tank aquarium life that authoritarians and Krugman want to force on us.

Jack London understood real life, unlike Krugman who appears afraid to even challenge his wokist overlords.

Jack London would have never feared COVID-19. He would have cheered Rand Paul on.

Said London:

“The proper function of man is to live, not to exist. I shall not waste my days in trying to prolong them. I shall use my time.”

“I’d rather sing one wild song and burst my heart with it, than live a thousand years watching my digestion and being afraid of the wet.”

“Fear urged him to go back, but growth drove him on.”

Should we really be surprised that Krugman fears to write like this? He is no Rand Paul, he is no Jack London.