In the early days of the outbreak, pundits rushed to the ramparts of Twitter to proclaim that “there are no libertarians in a pandemic.”
However, this glee at the apparent failure of markets was soon dashed as more evidence accumulated showing that government intervention was actually the main impediment to success. From an economic standpoint, the channels by which government failure accumulated were legion:
In short, by nearly every metric, governments around the world have played to their own incentives rather than those of the market, and they have lost valuable time in fighting the COVID-19. As part of this dereliction of duty, they obviously have been…rewarded with more power, as authoritarians and would-be authoritarians have clamped down on freedom of assembly, shut down private businesses, and arrogated more power to themselves. Fortunately, the economic difficulties which will follow the end of the coronavirus are likely to be mostly reversible—with the recognition that an economy is a complex system that cannot just be “restarted”—but only if the basic tenets of the market economy such as the price system are allowed to function. This means vitiating the power of the state to interfere, not giving it more say over every aspect of our lives.