Covid And The Costs Of The Technocratic State

Recently I learned that a friend’s child was hospitalized following an incident of self-harm. The details surrounding this event will remain undisclosed for obvious reasons, but it motivated me to write about an overlooked tragedy of the past year. We have paid a tremendous cost for the policies our leadership class foisted upon us and we should examine what those costs are and who is paying them. Political leaders and television pundits like to say, “we are all in this together,” but the fact is that some of us are more in more than others, particularly young people.

According to Fairhealth’s March 2021 white paper, incidents of pediatric self-harm increased 334% as a percentage of all insurance claims in August 2020 over August 2019. Less dramatic, but still alarming increases were seen in the spring but received little attention in the media. These numbers reflect only situations in which health coverage could be claimed, so it is likely that the rate of self-harm among young people is higher. Children of parents who lost their jobs and medical coverage because of mandated lockdowns would not be reflected in these statistics.

What is also hidden are the costs associated with millions of children missing an academic year of school. It is unlikely that schools will administer extensive standardized testing to assess the damage of a missed school year; if it is, the teachers' unions and school boards will bury the results. Our leadership class has done something that has never been done before and the effects cannot be undone.

Particularly damaged in this debacle are children on the margins, those in single-parent households, and those with less access to resources such as laptops and high-speed internet. In a school district where I live, the school board has decided to decrease online instruction so that those who have fallen behind will not fall further behind. Instead of stepping up and filling the holes the lockdown and hybrid school models created, the teachers and administrators decided it was equitable to slow all students down in a perverse “flatten the curve” effort.

Adults too have suffered from the lockdowns, as deaths of despair such as suicide and drug overdose are trending higher. In fact, death by overdose is trending up 17% over the staggering 2019 number of approximately 70,000. In the 12 month period ending in May 2020 (after just three months of lockdowns), 81,000 people were dead from overdoses. The final numbers for all of 2020 will almost certainly exceed the numbers for 2019.

Self-harm, suicide, and drug overdoses are just the tip of the iceberg. There is no way for us to quantify the dreams smashed and lives derailed by the policies and mandates of the ruling class. Consider what they have done to our youngest and weakest.

As most parents know, infants form bonds and develop their first links to communication through observing facial expressions. They develop a sense of self in relationship to others by observing the faces of mothers, fathers, family members, and strangers. Imagine the impact of covering all the faces except those of immediate family members. It may be years or decades before we know the results of this hideous experiment.

It would be foolish to understate the dangers of COVID-19. It is a dangerous virus for a significant portion of our population, specifically those 60 years or older. It should also be kept in proper perspective. There have been worse pandemics in human history and there will be worse in the future. There were three critical failures making this pandemic much worse than it need be: the media, the political class, and the technocrats.

The newsreaders, writers, editors, pundits, and cable news talking heads used the pandemic to boost ratings and tilt the political scales in favor of their candidates and party. It was used as a weapon to divide and isolate Americans, to control the narrative, and to facilitate change using fear. As they oozed manufactured empathy, how many in the media class died of COVID? Or lost their jobs? How many were sitting at home worried about their futures while trying to get their kid to participate in Zoom lessons?

How many politicians missed months of income? How many elected officials took a job at Walmart or Target to put food on the table? How many pols lost sleep over missed mortgage payments or their children’s mental well-being?

Our leadership class was insulated from the effects of their decisions. Their children attend private schools beyond the reach of teachers’ unions and many state mandates; their paychecks continued to roll in; and their pensions continued to be funded.

In 1944, F.A. Hayek warned us about the technocratic state. He saw that the computational power and reasoning ability of the experts could never match the collective wisdom of an informed citizenry. Jacque Barzun warned us of relinquishing power to experts whose knowledge was deep but dangerously narrow. And yet we gave immense power over our culture and economy to professional technocrats such as Anthony Fauci, who were happy to exercise such power without any concern for the effects.

I wonder if my friend, while his child laid in a hospital bed, reflected on the costs of the COVID shutdowns. I suspect he did, but we can be certain the media celebrities, politicians, and technocrats have no such concerns. They continue to tell us we are all in this together, but some are more in than others.

Chris Boland can be contacted at

IMAGE: Sad person by Emiliano Vittoriosi on Unsplash.

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