For reasons that are completely understandable, we’ve been contacted by several parties asking for a statement regarding COVID-19 and the various government programs and restrictions that have been put in place in the name of public safety. While it would not be feasible for us to address every specific detail, I do feel it is incumbent on us to offer a general statement on how the party sees the situation.
I want to first note the reality of the threat that faces the people of Texas, the United States of America, and the world more generally. While there are conflicting accounts of just how deadly and pervasive COVID-19 is, and no doubt the picture will become a lot more clear in the coming months as more data is gathered and analyzed, COVID-19 does represent a threat to public health that is significantly greater than a typical flu season; the death toll thus far alone confirms this. It is not “just the flu”, even if it’s not exactly an airborne Ebola virus either; there is room for some nuance here.
What is not clear is that the right approach is to completely disregard individual rights in the name of public safety. It is fair to say that our governments have failed us in providing consistent and reliable information about the pandemic while, simultaneously, taking an incredibly blunt approach to solving the problem. More often than not, decisions are being made to create the perception that the powers that be are “doing something” about the problem, rather than being made based on reliable data and demonstrated efficacy of the approach being taken.
The result has been a tremendous amount of economic hardship that will itself, ultimately, cost lives. As any libertarian economist will tell you, one of the greatest economic biases is our tendency to focus on large obvious singular events (the seen) while ignoring widely distributed, but individually small, effects (the unseen). This bias means that the general public often asks for policies that, on the whole, make everyone worse off but in ways that are not easily seen.
We can see a virus sweeping through the country easily; we won’t easily see every suicide or mental health episode, every parent struggling to afford food for their kids after losing their job, every person dead from a medical episode due to being unable to afford medication or due to budget cuts in local infrastructure that prevent emergency vehicles from reaching them in a timely manner. The severe damage done to the economy by the various lockdown measures will have vast and far reaching negative consequences, and it’s very likely that, in the end, these measures will not have been “worth it” even from the standpoint of saving human life.
For those of us who value liberty, one of the most disheartening aspects of this has been seeing the wave of friends, family members, coworkers, and other acquaintances begging for the boot of the state to press on their neck even harder, and the ferocity with which they will attack anyone who questions the narrative that, perhaps, liberty has some value worth saving even in the midst of a pandemic. These have been hard times, and times aren’t easy for us even under ordinary circumstances.
As your local branch of the Libertarian Party, know that we retain our commitment to defending individual liberty in the face of tyranny, whether it be local tyranny, state tyranny, or federal tyranny. While we do recognize the threat that COVID-19 poses, we do not recognize sweeping restrictions on human liberty as a valid or viable solution to the problem.
While I am confident that most of our membership sees things roughly the same way I do, the above statement should be taken as a statement from me as an individual, from my office of Chair of the Libertarian Party of Bexar County. Our membership is diverse and not a monolith, and naturally, no statement I could make will 100% represent every registered member of our party.
Yours in Liberty,
Chair, Libertarian Party of Bexar County