tv John Tamny When Politicians Panicked CSPAN November 9, 2021 3:40am-4:26am EST
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>> so our keynote speaker this afternoon for our event is john tamny contra many of you know his name. he is executive director of freedomworks center for economic freedom but i think for our purposes more poorly i consider him maybe the best financial journalist in the united states today. he knows his economics, very well read which is actually surprisingly rare in his profession did you probably know his writing from forbes and real clear markets what he's the editor. he's written several books including one in 2016 which is interesting on the fed but his most recent book just came out earlier this year that is called "when politicians panicked" and i think it's most important chronicle of what's happened politically over the last 16, 18
months. it's a very important book. i had the opportunity to read it a couple of months ago and interviewed john about it. i recommend to all of you and recommend you read his columns at forbes in real clear markets to keep up on everything his writing, an unheralded an important voice in financial journalism today, john tamny. [applause] >> thank you very much, , jeff. and let me first say what a treat it is to be here today. i would like to out a few people, joe woodford is in the audience, joe turned onto henry hazlitt many years ago and it was transformative, and he keeps doing this for people around the country presentation, so thank you very much. thank you also to bill brennan for putting on this event for sponsoring it. what an excellent event, thanks to all of you for being here in
supporting such an important organization. if you came to my office or you came by where i live you would see books by mises everywhere. they are not there for show. if you pick them up and you look at the opening pages, all the blank pages are full of tiny notes, and very often i actually had to add blank pages to the front of the book to add all that i wanted to take down. so to read a book by me is to see numerous direct references, quotes to ludwig von mises here but you read me more broadly is is he that he's had a major, major influence on me, so what a treat to get to speak at mises institute event, what a treat to get to know so many of you in attendance were involved with such an essential organization.
it's also a big deal for me to get to follow ryan mcmeekin and jeff deist. they've been so good to me over the years, opened my ideas. even with it disagreed with me, which speaks for the will of the mises institute, so thank you very much for this opportunity. i am here of course to discuss my new book "when politicians panicked: the new coronavirus, expert opinion, and a tragic lapse of reason." i'm very interested in discussing this and i hope that what you here today proves fruitful in in a way that cas you to tell a friend to talk to other people, not just necessarily about my book but you have this discussion. it's essential that we win this argument. it's essential that we influence the narrative. because if we don't, if we stay quiet, history books will indicate that a virus caused a global economic contraction.
no, the virus had been spreading for months and people have been responding for months. what happened was that politicians panicked, and in panicking they substituted themselves narrow, very limited knowledge, for the knowledge of the marketplace, as in the knowledge of the people. and it did so in disastrous fashion which is what happens every time politicians start biting their nails and put themselves in front of the great marketplace that is humanity. so we must once again when this argument we must discuss it. we must talk to people. because we don't want history to tell something that's false. and what would be false is that the virus was the source of so much global economic carnage. but the virus was the source of easily the biggest human rights tragedy of the 21st century. and so in talking about this, i
think it's important to begin with some of the excuses, some of the justifications he used in march of 2020 to explain why the lockdowns were necessary. easily the worst arguments made for the lockdowns were made in march of 2020. 2020. many of you remember them. many of you remember the argument made that we have to take away your freedom, we have to take away your right to work, we have to take away your right to render business here because if we don't, you the people will act so irresponsibly that you will get very sick and overwhelm hospitals that are not ready for you. we must stop the spread to protect hospitals. have you ever heard of a a moe absurd line of reasoning? if politicians don't tell you what to do, you will engage in behavior that will cause you to
be hospitalized, that you have no incentive as individuals to protect yourselves that you need to be led around. it's quite the insult but it was passed around by very respectable people. i think we know people in our world who said it's sort of justified at first. which brings us to what has to be an even more dense argument they made. well, you know, the imperial college in england addicted deaths of 2.3 million. they had to take away our freedom, don't you get it? that has to be if possible and even more foolhardy argument. the notion that without politicians handholding we would just go out and engage in behavior that would lead us to die. the reality is that the deaths had piled up any political force would event wholly superfluous because we would've figured out ways to avoid the virus or avoid getting sick. the politicians could have come
up with. what if they said 30 million are going to die? what that would signal is that any political force would've made no sense at all. the more threatening something is more superfluous is political force. because we are going to engage in behavior that politicians could never dream of to protect ourselves. we live our lives so much but see politicians it back in 2020 that we didn't, that they need to save us from it. no, it usually politicians that get us into wars. politicians engage in behavior that caused death but they had the arrogance to say no, they needed to save us from behavior that would cause death. and so the very excuses defied basic common sense that he became dumber and dumber because see the lockdowns happened and then they had to justify the carnage, , so they point to the chinese. the chinese covered up the
virus, they covered up the spreading virus. it did just let us know we could have acted sooner and contain it. oh, my gosh, they must think voters of intensely stupid. wait, the chinese covered it up? how could you possibly cover something up? think about this in economic terms because while most people rely on emotion making decisions, most your follow market signals as they should. i understand they are differing views about china and the ideas but what you cannot deny is that china is the second largest market in the world for the most valuable companies in the world, those of the american companies. and so apple sells one-fifth of its iphones in china, gm sells more cars in china than it does in north america took starbucks has 4100 stores in china on the way to tens of thousands. the are 3700 mcdonald's in china. it's the second largest box
office for the movie did, second largest market for nike. the list goes on and on and on. if the virus had been indiscriminate killer of chinese people, if it'd been an indiscriminate cause of sickness, we would've known this months before march of 2020 and we would have because u.s. share prices would've been an stupendous decline. it would event the mother of all stock market crashes. to reflect the loss of the greatest market in the world, not the united states. yet u.s. shares continued to hit all-time highs, those companies i described for the most part did. if you go to march 18, 2020, that's when bret baier a fox news interviewed fred smith, the founder of fedex. this is important because he asked him about the spreading virus. this is right as a lockdowns were beginning. fred smith had a very important perspective on this because wuhan is a very major economic city in china, and as a as a
consequence fedex is a very big presence there, 907 employees. so fred smith said we've tested all of our employees in disjuncture four test about it, two a false positive but all of our employees are in good health. this truth would also explain why elon musk was always a skeptic. he had a big operation in china and so he knew from his employees that the virus was spreading but it wasn't something, it wasn't an indiscriminate killer. fred smith and elon musk couldn't lie about these things, as public of his shift report me to information like this. so we knew from the markets that the virus was many things. it was real. it would be foolish to deny its reality but we knew from china that as many things, none of them terribly lethal, because it would have been we wouldn't know this months before. looking at the smart smart it in our pocket, china is one of the most smart phone dense countries in the world. we saw a few weeks ago and even
out of an economically primitive country like cuba that footage of the protests traveling via the internet made it around the world. does anyone seriously think that the chinese government could have hidden in a smart phone dense country like that massive evidence of people dying in getting sick? gridlock. not to mention -- good luck. not to make a web intelligence service around the world. does anyone think a spreading virus what is somehow not been noticed? against the cover-up, the blame of china, the cover-up is a loser excuse that ignores the fact that china was our surest evidence that the virus was real, but again it wasn't a major killer and it certainly wasn't a major cause of sickness. so when you loan before the lockdowns that there was no justification for them. furthermore, if it had been very lethal in china the more lethal something is the more threatening something is, unlese
less justification there is for taking away freedom. the basis for that is economic growth is easily the biggest enemy that death and disease have ever known. whereas jeff alluded to earlier poverty is the worst state of mind for people. poverty is the biggest killer mankind has ever known. just to give you an idea of the health meaning of this it's worthwhile to travel back in time to the 19th century in the united states. in the 19th century if you broke your femur, you had one in three odds of dying. but if you lived your only option was amputation. let's be clear that painkillers back then were not as advanced as they are today, let's just leave it at that. if you broke your hip in the 20th century you are going to die. when you were born in a 20th century you have as good of a chance of dying as you did
living. if you got cancer, forget about it, you are going to die. most people never got to cancer. that would've represented healthcare progress and it didn't because tuberculosis and pneumonia. pneumonia was the captain of man's death killed you off much sooner than cancer could get to you. if you travel forward to even the early part of the 20th century, 1910, cancer was still a distant eighth among american killers and it was because once again tuberculosis, pneumonia, yellow fever, the terror of western civilization they were all getting us first. world war i was the first war in the history of mankind in which more people died of gunshots and bombs than it did from just routine disease. so what changed? well, what change was economic growth. in the 19th century johns hopkins made a fortune in the baltimore and ohio railroad, and directed 7 million of it to what
became johns hopkins university, the largest donation ever of its kind. johns hopkins would start the first real medical school. before that medical schools kind of a night school trade school concept that wasn't about saving lives. there was no way to save lives. it was really about protecting people, easing them into their death. so johns hopkins would be the first place where they would study. how delete your what kills us? doctors and scientists matched with precious capital board of wealth creation, which brings us to john d. rockefeller arguably the richest man who ever lived. in his lifetime look he gave away $530 million. 415 million of it was directed toward healthcare studies. matching doctors and scientists with capital so that they could find cures to that which used to readily kill us. all of a sudden people are used to die once were living.
people were suddenly able to die once, i twice, die three times. by that i mean what used to kill them don't want with killing a because they had access to advances born of economic growth. even in 1950 the biggest line item on hospital budgets was bed linens, and was because i didn't have answers. where as more and more what can easily kill us, we can come up with answers for. this is important in consideration of where the debate went. let me stress in writing when politicians panicked, i make sure to read the "new york times" every single day and i did because i wanted to check against my passion from day one against the lockdowns. i wanted the other point of view to moderate mine. what you find is that when you read deeply into the "new york times" the report exit information. my book would be a fraction of itself without the times. so you read deeper into these
alarmist headlines and the times kept reporting something that was interesting in consideration of what david brooks one of the colonists said, david brooks said the spreading of the virus is a stain on the national stage. the newspaper kept reporting routinely that of those who had died with the virus, over 40% of them, those deaths were associate with very old very sick people in nursing homes. that's not to minimize very old very sick people but it is a way of saying if anything the virus showed the immense progress of healthcare in the united states. people are dying of old age. is it one realize what a modern rich country concept that is? people never lived into old age but now we do and it's because economic growth has been matched with doctors and scientists on the way to tutoring things that used to kill us. so when we needed economic growth most because politicians and the virus is a big threat towards our health and ability to live, they quite literally
chose economic contraction. historians will marvel at their abject stupidity. which brings us to anthony fauci. [laughing] it's not fair to laugh. it was not meant to be a a lah line, it was not. [laughing] from the looks everyone in the room, most of you remember the aids scare, and it was a very real scare. anthony fauci first came to prominence back in the 1980s and he very famously as a point out in the book wrote a paper in 1983 saying that aids was a communicable disease that can be passed around with an household just from people being around each other. turned out he was wrong but he was wrong just not indict him. site is all about doubt and learning from presumptions that don't turn out to be true. what indicts anthony fauci is that he didn't recognize the limits of knowledge, that knowledge rarely ages well, that
want to learn and to be fair it wasn't just anthony fauci. england's national health service put up signs in great britain and the 1980 saying that one in five was going to get aids for which there is no cure. many of you remember the television show dynasty. you remember that episode where rock rock and made out with linda evans. he died soon after it and it was a great scare among people that linda evans had gotten aids. rock hudson went to his death worrying that he had given her aids. how little we knew, which is the point. it's why free people are not just essential freedoms of virtue. they're not just essential because they produce economic growth that create cures for that which used to kill us. free people arguing most important when a virus is spreading because they produce crucial information. as jeff said earlier you wanted
330 million kind of competing with different ideas. i come from the libertarian world yet i know libertarians who didn't go into a restaurant for over a year. i know they return types who never left their houses. we need people like that. you need people testing that who are just avoiding all human contact altogether to see if it works. we know from new york in may 2020 that may be that doesn't work because two-thirds of those hospitalized in new york had been sheltered in place but you need the people taking full precautions. you also need people like my only occasionally exasperating wife who, in her defense, she had delivered a child in march 1, 2020, and so suddenly will be walking down the street and someone would be walking passes on sidewalk and she would jump off the sidewalk. ..
>> you need people like my science denying parents in california who had grown up with polio and a lot of things they thought were truly scary and they said we are not going to stop living our lives because of expert opinion. we are going to continue. they figuredthey were healthy and they were going to
continue living as they did to the extentthey could . you need peoplelike that . most of all you need young people . you need those young people hitting every bar, every party and making out with every girl and guy they can. they're the most important producers of information precisely because they reject expert opinion. that's not because experts are always wrong but you need a control group. a group that says we going to do the opposite of what the experts say because from then you find out what causes the virus is spread. what is the behavior most associate with getting sick, with dying? yet when we needed this information most politicians locked us down and blinded us . same with businesses. it's not unreasonable to speculate a company like disney with very good access to capital markets might have locked down its parks anyway just because brands may have
closed things down. again, they have the access to the capital to do something like that where small businesses didn't necessarily have that kind of ability to go to the market and pay for a shutdown. good, you wanted businesses trying all sorts of different things. you wanted restaurants to say we're going to charge search pricing's $6.30, half price at 10:00 and others to say we're not going to have any limits because people will respond to a crowd by avoiding the crowd. you wanted businesses through miracles on their own succeeding to come up with myriad ways to meet the needs of a customer base that had clearly changed. but instead we had the very people that gave us the dmv and postoffice deciding what businesses could do . making it even more incomprehensible, think about
this. politicians and experts said the very humans who driven all economic and financial progress were suddenly able legal minutes towards one another and wanted to separate us so their solution was we will take and choose the businesses you can go into. we will shoehorn you through a limited number of businesses rather than allow, one come all. it didn't make sense based on their arguments that we should be separated from one another but also what you lockdown businesses, when you limit their ability to innovate you blind them and you blind them how to reopen. hysterics will marvel at the abject stupidity of the political class and expert class but this is what you get when you substitute narrow knowledge in the marketplace what which brings us back to fauci.
what all political parts due, fauci is a baseball fan and invariably it's a baseball. imagine fauci going to the nationals game next year, whole crowd, 40,000 people and let's assume something many wouldn't believe but that fauci was the smartest individual in the stadium. that may well be true but let's agree that fauci's knowledge would be a microscopic fraction of the combined knowledge of the stadium . what i've just described for you is the free marketplace. markets work with and they work brilliantly precisely because they combine the decentralized knowledge of everyone . it's not that the soviets didn't have experts, it's not that north korea and cuba don't have experts now but when you substitute the knowledge of the few for the marketplace you invariably get prices tothis is what we get .
politicians and experts said unless we take away your freedom, unless we lock you down. there is going to be a crisis . what they did not see given their limited knowledge is what theyere describing is the crisis they were about to create for us because anytime you substitute political knowledge for the marketplace , crisis is the inevitable result. and you think about what this meant not just for the us think about the rest of the world. never again allow yourself to be told by someone on the left that we care more about poor people. this had to be the biggest injustice of the world's poor that we've ever seen at least in modern times. because as the us took a break from simple economic reality so they were just going to shut things down and run from the virus as though it's going to curl up and fall asleep, the rest of the world according to the new
york times 285 million people around the world were rushing towards start starvation. as rich people decidedthey were going to take a break . in countries like el salvador they started putting up white flags in their shacks and huts. and what that means in el salvador, that's a signal that there isstarvation going on . that's what we did. when we stopped working in the united states and tens of millions out of work suddenly remissions around the world dry out. people around the world ánot to mention the hundreds of millions who were rushed back to poverty americans stopped producing and stopped working . jobs around the world start to vanish. which brings us to the job loss in the united states. people know the tens of millions of jobs lost where politicians that some of you are nolonger essential .
some of you businessmen who spend your life building this are no longer essential. it's not convenient for us. in my case i'm a writer so luckily my work was not taken from the. i can't imagine what i would do without my work. but i got to continue doing that and i think that the people around the us for homework is the animating feature in their life, what gives them dignity and pride. suddenly they were told you can't do that anymore. you're all legal minutes if you continue to have a job so we're going to give you $1200 for your trouble. have you ever heard of something more insulting than that , something more insulting than what they told businessmen, don't worry about that, we just have to shut you down for a time and there's no market share which is so hard one and so easily be regained , let's give youa check for your trouble . which brings us to the basic truth this can never happen again .
and how we have to make sure that it never happens again is an argument that many of you probably won't agree with . but i think it's very dangerous that we make statistical arguments against the lockdown. even though statistics may support our skepticism. once we make statistical arguments about well, the cdc said 90 percent plus of the depths were associated with old people, once you do that what you're saying, what you're implying is there's a rate of death that allows politicians to take away our freedom. no, they should never take away our freedom and furthermore we should never allow them to. never ever again give up your freedom so cheaply as we did this time. and in making statistical arguments we are setting the stage for future lockdowns
because one thing we know is thatpathogens are a part of life and because they are there will be more viruses . if we make statistical arguments where setting it up where experts can go to politicians and say this time is different. this virus is going to hit young people. again, the more threatening a virus the more essential freedom is. never give your freedom of ever again. let's win this argument now so that we never have toever again . thank you very much. [applause] >> mister tamny has agreed to take questions and answers. raise your hand and wait for a light so we can get the audio and we asked for a nice shortpithy questions of mister tamny .
>> you're all convinced, or two? no need. >> i agree pathogens will always be around but what about the implications of biowarfare ? what would be your take away on that subject. >> it's a good question. i don't presume to know much about the biowarfare angle but my dad always said to me if it's so easy to spread something that can kill lots of people, wouldn't they have alreadydone it ? i already feel like there's all sorts of scary things out there, all sortsof scary scenarios we can imagine but i think it's easier said than done . my concern always is there's always some terrifying
scenariopoliticians use to take away our freedom . one of my favorite ones is going to have to shut down flights because the virus is spreading . once can it be somethingmight be out there that potentially threatens us that does not aggrandize government ? why does governments always get to grow in response to alleged threats as though we're too stupid to take precautions ? no doubt there's fire weapons and all sorts of potential scarce but i think as humans will work pretty wise and i got we would be able to. >> i guess this is a question table. the fifth amendment prohibits the taking of private property for public use without due process and without just compensation.
that seems to have beenthe first casualty of the coronavirus . what do you recommend in terms of protecting those rights. given that we walk away from them at the slightest threat of a crisis for a some public harm. >> it's a great question and i actually jack and i were talking about this. chapter 17 and one college is an experimental chapter where i talk about the constitutionalimplications and i feel as you do . there was a taping, i talked to business owners who said i will not one day and my business was no longermine to run . yet i've had lawyers tell me that's not taking thing. i've had other lawyers, libertarian types saystates have police power and everything . i don't know the answer to this. but i feel like there was a better alternative property rights violations at work. furthermore i would add and
yes, what i'm going to add is easier said than done. at some point you just have to resist. if i take you out to carlsbad california last or early january of this year, the business owners out there just put up signs we're in peaceful protest. basically they realized either we can go out of business or we can start serving our customers again. so they basically gave the middle finger to the political class and i think we have to get yes. we have to get, take energy from this and recognize they can't arrestus all . we need to support the businesses that want to stay open. we need to stand guard around them whatever it takes, we need to embarrass political types who would take away the rights for someone to run a business.
so i bring you also to california. last july 4. remember on july 4, 2020 , no fireworks shows. so people, the state basically put on their own big fireworks show and we could see it on the internet that the left said net neutralityis going to cost to vanish . americans are the wrong people to lockdown. we are truly the wrong people . we descend from the crazies and the people who love liberty so much that crossed oceans and borders to get a taste of it to wherethe wrong people to do this too but we've got to remind politicians . [applause] >> i think you made such an excellent point about not making statistical arguments but you talk to individuals who value security over freedom, it is not one of their objectives?
>> it's a great question. all of you probably are speaking to a group that maybe at some time had someone say put your mask on or how selfish that you'renot wearing a mask . as jeff said earlier we're in the minority, or to? my reaction has always been wait, i'm not being selfish one. if you are really fearful of me being out in the world spreading a virus, then go home. don't force your fears on me. the selfish people are the ones who basically wanted to take away the freedom of others they can feel secure. and so we need to feelsecure in making that basic argument . i don't think anyone here is has same the virus didn't exist . i don't think anyone here, i would this agree heartily with anyone who said people should be allowed to lockdown. what we're against is force where everyone had to go with a one-size-fits-all solution.
and that would be my one disagreement with jeff. i agree with you on states rights, everything. i love your optimism about more states rights if there were differentresponses but i've got a slight tweak to that . what if donald trump remains obstreperous, impossible to get along with donald trump and this is important from a states rights perspective. what if trump had reacted and stuck to his guns of wait a second, the virus is no big deal. but oh why the way, those states that think it's a big deal they have the right to lockdown but guess what, any governors so foolish as to take away businesses and jobs the virus mitigation strategy will have me and his or her state every day of the month right up to election day, i'm going to embarrass you doing something so accurately
foolish . so imagine if trump acted like something does that, he still president but was more important about this is this would have kept him from doing what was so damaging as signing the $2.9 trillion cares act. i reject the notion that there were states rights. ifthere's no federal response if trump says what does the federal government have to do with this , the only answer is not to lockdown and states that are locked down could face the consequences for doing so . once you do that , california's lockdowns and in marches 2020. florida realistically never gets to lockdown because they didn't do this until april 1. texas was march 31 . the federal response subsidized immense cruelty from governors and mayors. so yes, there were different
state reactions but what we didn't see were city and state reactions if the federal governmentstays out of the way . >> what do you do about corporations and educational institutions that are insisting on vaccination as a precondition ofemployment ? >> it's a great question. a long time misa supporter ran a verysuccessful banking company . he's always told me when you get a call from the federal government, when you get a call from a regulator really you're in a tough spot because if you disagree you'll get a call the following day saying we don't like thelooks of your balance sheet and we're going to do
something about it . so there's the argument that businesses feel forced to force vaccinations that they are afraid of the federal response, there's no doubt that's true. but wrongly i would much prefer if corporations were the ones mandating or not mandating vaccinations. that my employer says that the condition of your employment, fine . i'm making an economic decision. the problem is when politicians force a one-size-fits-all. while i would like to think corporations wouldn't force this on us i think that's a much better place for there to be discussions about vaccines . let's let 1000 flowers bloom. let's let different corporations try different things. schools kind of the same idea. if a private school as a
condition of going there i suppose that would be certainly a better answerthan governors and national politicians . >> i think we have time for one more. would you say that you're optimistic about the near future or more pessimistic? is there a silver lining to this in your view or should we brace ourselves for more of the same? >> i'm very optimistic optimistic based on what jeff said. while there were less states rights at work and perhaps he does, i love you! that america sought different reactions incities and states across the country so maybe you can see that . so that's a source of optimism. i'm also optimistic because i saw americans startto revolt . that makes me optimistic for sure. after which i can't not be optimisticabout the united states .
never ever bet against the united statesbecause anything you think is bad today , it was much worse in the past. show me the time in life you'd like to return to. the 1970s where it was illegal to own a phone anyou had to rent it from the governor's preferredmonopoly, where airlines were planned by the aeronautics board ? does the 60s get you hot, the vietnam war, was that a great time for the 30s , 40s . the only constant in american life is progress so i can't not be optimistic and even more so when you consider capitalism getting quicker and quicker and outrunning politicians in ways that they can't begin to imagine i refuse to not think that need to be jealous of the young people for what i would get to be your age because what you're going to enjoy the living standards you're going to witness will make some of
us older people in the audience if we're around to see it be staggered by a rancher. never never bet against the united states. we are full of the most remarkable people on earth and that didn't change with these lockdowns. [applause] >> john, what do you make of the incredible censorship you're seeing from facebook, youtube and the light especially in medical narratives thatare not part of the mainstream propaganda ? >> my reaction is i refuse to be a victim our site has always been again for affirmative action so facebook wants to limit what's on that site, but it's property and if twitter wants to do the same thing. as we've always felt i believe that if they discriminate against you, they're creating an opportunity. they're creating a market opportunity.
what does jeff say to mark your margin is my opportunity . if you're going to discriminate against a certain slice of the marketplace you're creating an opportunity amongst someone to sell unmet need weather is murdoch who didn't act like a victim, he started fox . no whining here . no complaining about what facebook doesn't allow my point of view. personally i think facebook was essential. without and twitter, think of how limited our access to information would have been and did we get all that we wanted ? i have a lot better access thanks to it but more broadly that gives us a reason to start something new . [applause] >> thank you don and we appreciate all of you coming out, taking time to spend your saturday with us .
at the top of the page. >> good eating everybody and welcome to the virtual launch of "every minute is a day" this fantastic book dan coppell and rob meyer. i am just going to give a quick introduction to the authors and then we will dive right into the conversation here. if anyone has questions throughout the course of the event you can ask them right in the chatfield and i will field of those for dan and rob a little bit later on and i'll also add the lin