"A Pro-Freedom Approach to Infectious Disease: Planning for the Next Pandemic" is the Ayn Rand Institute's white paper on America's response to the coronavirus pandemic, authored by the Institute's chief philosophy officer, Onkar Ghate. You can read it online below (use the interactive table of contents to navigate) or view a PDF that's suitable for reading online, downloading and printing.
Listen and subscribe to New Ideal Live from your mobile device on Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Spotify or Stitcher.
I. WE MUST DEMAND BETTER FROM GOVERNMENT.
Our response to SARS-CoV-2 was un-American.
In the words of one expert, the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic presents “the most pressing infectious disease challenge we have faced in over a century.”55 Our federal and state governments have so far failed the challenge. We dare not meet a second wave of infections, let alone the emergence of another novel disease, with the governmental attitudes and policies that have presently been guiding us.
When a new, deadly disease appears, we expect both illness and death. But who expected that for months our federal and state governments would be unable to test for and then isolate contagious individuals? Who expected the chaos and delays in purchasing ventilators and other supplies, or simply procuring them from federal stockpiles and the U.S. military? Who expected that emergency responders, nurses, doctors and other brave healthcare workers would be exhausted, infected, sick and even dead, unable to obtain adequate personal protective equipment and desperately trying to supply their own makeshifts, homemade masks and repurposed rain gear not excluded?
A March 26 video from an emergency room physician at the center of the outbreak in New York City, featured in a New York Times story and now approaching 8 million views, gave voice to what many of us were feeling. “Everything is not fine,” the doctor said. “I don’t have the support that I need, and even just the materials that I need, physically, to take care of my patients. And it’s America, and we’re supposed to be a first-world country.”56
America is not only supposed to be a first-world country, we’re supposed to be a free country. Who of us expected that the response from our governments to their failure in January, February and March to test for and isolate contagious individuals and to expand healthcare capacity would be to coercively and indefinitely lock us down in our homes, with the consequent destruction to our production, incomes, jobs, and freedom?