Yesterday I discussed the main reason the coronavirus shutdown must end: we are not producing, and without production we will be unable to purchase anything no matter how big the government bailout checks are. No production, no produce. The only difference between a mandated and voluntary shutdown is the difference between mass murder and mass suicide.

So, why have I heard no one saying this? Not even a libertarian economist? It is logical. It fits with theories from Hume and Smith that liberals and libertarians have been parroting for years. So why are economists not prophesying disaster? Do they think we have enough saved wealth to go for another 17 months without producing?

Do they really believe in the efficacy of “government checks”?

I suspect there is a simpler reason. They could be cowards.

I remember how few libertarians prophesied the collapse of the Soviet Union. Oh, sure, libertarians knew that socialism couldn’t match the industrial output of a capitalist society, and that the makeshift workarounds in the context of tyranny that the Communists manqué perpetrated could not provide anything like stability. It couldn’t last.

But few dared say it.


Well, we could not predict when, making our predictions seem vacuous, and the collapse of such a system had never happened naturally, without attack, before. So we would have had to dare to take theory beyond the comfort zone of repetitive reality.

Economists are not trained to be courageous. Not courageous enough to draw the consequences of a never-before-experienced event. Before we predict the Sun to rise on the eastern horizon, we first must observe it many times. A new event? Yikes. That is hard to confidently assert.

We might be made fun of!

Just so, this shutdown quarantine, the “lockdowns.” Though there have been shutdowns of small regions because of conflict and catastrophe, never before has so much of the modern, capitalist world been shut down. I guess the idea must be, “well, we survived Acts of God and war and regional famine, we will survive this!” But cities and towns struck by a major blow can rely on folks outside the region for help, at the end of the crisis period. But who could help nearly all of the world’s nations?

I do not see a way around this. No production = no products = poverty/destitution on a mass scale.

The few allowed “essential services” cannot feed the world, clothe the world, heal the world. “Commercial society” is one big super-organic system of mutually depedent-but-uncontrolled-but-adapting endeavors.

I do not see how I am wrong. At some point, universal non-productivity ruins not merely the price signals that allow order in a market, but interrupts production enough to completely scuttle the delivering of goods we need to survive. At some point, we go beyond not merely a navigable “opening up” of the economy, we go beyond the point where we can make up for lost time to provide what is necessary for civilized life.

The COVID-19/coronavirus lockdowns could be the biggest hit to capitalism since Communism. Possibly bigger than Communism. At some point, an extended shutdown could lead to the starvation of millions.

Just as now the prioritization of coronavirus over all other illnesses will cause tens of thousands of cancer and other deaths.

I have lost a lot of respect for the experts, even among libertarian economists.

Money isn’t wealth . . . and the source of the wealth for our continued existence as a civilization and species is continued productivity.

I am unaware of any amendments to the laws of economics.

I just see people fooled by fear and paralyzed — at least in tongue and lip and lungs — by cowardice.

And remember, when jumping off a tall building, free fall can seem wonderful . . . right up until you hit the pavement.

If you have jumped off, and are falling, falling, falling, only one thing is safe: predicting a major impact. Probably death.