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We Need Politicians in a Pandemic

The conceit that everyone must bow to ‘science’ is not only undemocratic but dangerous in its own right. Continue Reading at The Wall Street Journal

The U.S. economy has been cratered less by the coronavirus than by the response to it — driven by the undemocratic idea that “science” should rule, even when much of the science and the data behind it remain in dispute.

We’re told in this plague year that politicians have no role — in essence, that the people have no real rights against consensus science, which can demand that we forfeit our liberties and suspend the Constitution. Political leaders, elected to exercise judgment on our behalf, must defer to doctors, because the viral threat is addressable only through medical expertise.

Yet since many liken fighting the coronavirus to war, we should remember that in war admirals and generals defer to civilian authority — to the president, as commander in chief, on matters of strategy and to Congress on matters of budget. This is not a design flaw but how a free people governs itself, even in a perilous crisis. It is how we bring the largest possible perspective to decision-making. 

The demands of health-care experts are not greater than the demands of the economy, for a very simple reason: The health-care system is not separate from the economy but a crucial part of it. The health-care system saves lives; the economy provides everything we need to live. The damage being done to the economy — if sustained — could easily cost more lives world-wide than the coronavirus.

There are not, and never will be, scientific answers to all public problems. Scientific expertise and specialization inform good policy, but they should never be the final word. To navigate successfully between competing interests or competing calamities, between war and peace, and even between deadly pandemics and deadly economic depressions, we need politics — and politicians. 

Continue Reading at The Wall Street Journal

George Gilder

Senior Fellow and Co-Founder of Discovery Institute
George Gilder  is Chairman of Gilder Publishing LLC, located in Great Barrington, Massachusetts. A co-founder of Discovery Institute, Mr. Gilder is a Senior Fellow of the Center on Wealth, Poverty, and Morality, and also directs Discovery's Technology and Democracy Project. His latest book, Life After Google: The Fall of Big Data and the Rise of the Blockchain Economy(2018), Gilder waves goodbye to today's Internet.  In a rocketing journey into the very near-future, he argues that Silicon Valley, long dominated by a few giants, faces a “great unbundling,” which will disperse computer power and commerce and transform the economy and the Internet.