Editor’s Note: This is the last of a three-part series featuring an interview on Liberty Nation Radio with the brilliant author and columnist Victor Davis Hanson, acclaimed for his insightful and provocative analysis of the COVID pandemic. In part one, Dr. Hanson made some dire predictions about the left’s intransigence on restarting the U.S. economy. In part two, he discussed the downdraft from what he calls “little Napoleonic governors arising to enact decrees” during the pandemic.
As Americans accustomed to the political structure of our country, we have always accepted, if not welcomed, the authority of public officials, from the president of the United States down to the local dog catcher. After all, these men and women were elected by the people or appointed to positions of authority by those who were elected.
But never before in our 244-year history have we been commanded by experts from the scientific community whose every utterance was, when the virus began to spread its tentacles, greeted with breathless anticipation by a nervous populace. However, with each passing day – and each off-target prediction – the authority of these experts has diminished like a fine bottle of wine left to sit half-full and uncorked. Still emitting quality, but in ever-diminishing measure. And this is where the final part of our conversation with Victor Davis Hanson commenced.
Tim Donner: I want to touch on this culture of experts that’s been unleashed during this crisis. It seems like the left wants doctors and scientists to make all the public policy decisions during the crisis instead of the president of the United States, of course. You write, “Experts with all sorts of Ph.D.s, M.D.s, and J.D.s after their names lecture from authority about what we must right now do — or else! — on the principle that they have a scientific or technocratic prerogative to impress critics of their modeling or their demand that we shut down a $22-trillion economy for ’18 months,’ if need be.”
Now, we all remember that chilling discussion about the possibility of over two million deaths in this country from the virus. What are we to make of these hysterical predictions that were way off, that it’s because we did the right things that they’re way off, or because it was a grand overreaction by the U.S. and the world?
Victor Davis Hanson: Well, part of it is that they all wanted to be pessimistic because then they could always say that they were right if things were bad, and then if they were wrong, they could turn around and say, “Well, we wanted to be wrong because we scared everybody and they made the necessary adjustments. So technically we were wrong, but we were right in our motivations,” and that’s what they’ve been doing. But the problem again goes back to the idea that they never would do in a flu year what they’re doing now. That is to take a number of supposed people who tested positive for the virus and make that represent everybody who had been infected with it when we know that the number was off by huge magnitudes, and then come up with a lethality rate of those infected that was really scary, three or four or five per 100 and then base these modelings on that.
And then that became in the case of Governor DeWine in Ohio, or Gavin Newsom here in California. DeWine said, I think on March 12, “100,000 people have it right now. Right now, they have it.” And Newsom said 25 million are going to have it. And at the rates of lethality that they were telling us, that meant in California a million were going to be dead by now, and we have under 2000 dead. And I think Ohio was way off, even worse off.
And yet, why does Texas have such a low rate of deaths per million population? Or why didn’t Florida have an epidemic when it didn’t completely lock down like New York, or why is California doing pretty well? And why is New York doing worse than Paris? Those are the questions that the media should have been asking, but they’re either ignorant, or they’re unprofessional, or they’re so biased they’re just incapable of giving us knowledge.
Tim: The media beatdown on Trump is quite predictable, given their derangement about him in these last years. But you write about or even predict something very profound beyond the media. You say we are witnessing the fading moments of baby boomer generation authority. Expand on that if you would.
Well, the baby boomers told us that they were … A good example is Barack Obama’s administration; they were going to be based on science. And they were not going to have any yokelism, and they were going to be international and were going to be citizens of the world. And every one of those assertions has proven absolutely wrong. People with degrees at the World Health Organization, the CDC, these modelers at Imperial College, they were all wrong. And common sense was forgotten. Expertise and practical experience were forgotten. We were told China was a model, that it was a citizen of the world. And we found out they lied, lied, lied, and corrupted the World Health Organization and got hundreds of thousands killed to protect either their brand or their reputation or in panic. We don’t quite know the full story yet. And we were told that Massachusetts and New York, these were models of mass trends and how to live with little energy and density living.
And they turned out to be Petri dishes in a way that Texas or Arkansas or rural California was not. So, a lot of the things that they told us were going to be our futures, we’re all going to be like Italians in high rises, and we’re all going to jump on the subway. And we’re all going to be guided by unelected leaps in bureaucracy. That didn’t work. And it’s been refuted. And so I think that it’s been a teacher, it’s taught us things that we otherwise wouldn’t have known. I think nobody now believes the world is flat and that’s a good thing. And that China is a major player and should be a major player in world commerce and world governance, and I just don’t think anybody’s going to believe any of that stuff anymore.
Read more from Tim Donner.