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Civil Liberties in Times of Crisis [pdf] (nber.org)
92 points by elsewhen 36 days ago | hide | past | favorite | 155 comments



> Fourth, we document a gradual but continuous decrease in respondents’ overall willingness to sacrifice rights and freedom, throughout March to mid-June of 2020 ... Such declines are accompanied by a decrease in expressed worries on health and economic conditions

I wonder if this is simply because there is a mismatch between what people are being told and what people are observing with their own eyes.

If, instead of covid, it were a plague with 50% death rate... I doubt people would be having as much "lockdown fatigue" since they would literally see the bodies piling up in their communities. Instead you have a disease that only mildly affects the majority, putting only small minorities in real danger, which doesn't jive with the "sky is falling" stories the media/government peddles.

One parallel to this finding would be climate change, of course. There's a danger in preaching that the sky is falling in that if people can't see the sky falling with their own eyes, they are going to get "climate fatigue" followed by "a decrease in expressed worries on [climate] conditions".


> I wonder if this is simply because there is a mismatch between what people are being told and what people are observing with their own eyes.

This has been my experience with people who want to open things back up. They're getting together with friends, they've been going to visit family, they've gotten their kids back in school, and no one has gotten sick. They think the rest of us are being ridiculous.

I almost feel like its the elephant in the room. No official has come out and said "I understand why these policies look like overkill, but if things go bad they will go bad quickly". Now the reason no official has said that is because they think people will hear the first part and discard the last part, but it's exacerbating the mistrust people already have about our government response.

I will say that I'm personally finding it hard, and I fall into cycles of wondering if the sacrifices I've made a are worth it. Family members are getting older and we've probably missed out on 4-5 visits we would have had any other year, plus we're facing the possibility of seeing no one over Thanksgiving and Christmas.


> No official has come out and said "I understand why these policies look like overkill, but if things go bad they will go bad quickly".

Don't discount how many people are fully aware of how bad things could be, yet still don't believe lockdown is worth it. I know older people who themselves have been really sick with COVID-19, and seen friends die from it. Yet many of them would still rather lockdown be lifted so they can enjoy the remaining time they have.

The fatality rate of COVID-19 by age roughly tracks overall mortality by age. There's lots of older people who would rather at worst double their chances of dying this year, in exchange for being able to see friends and family, not to mention big life events like new grandkids. You don't get always get a second chance at experiencing that.

If you're 75, this year or two of lockdown is a significant % of your remaining life.


This very much depends who you know; I know of several people at the friends-of-friends level who've either been in hospital for long periods and/or have "long covid"; lingering symptoms of fatigue or worse. Young people, not over-65s.

Like a lot of things, the badness is very unevenly distributed.

(I also remember, very early on in the crisis, lots of news footage of coffins in Italy; that seemingly stopped once the crisis reached the UK)


> I know of several people at the friends-of-friends level who've either been in hospital for long periods and/or have "long covid"

I personally know someone who got very sick, and had long term symptoms ("brain fog") from catching the flu. They also may have gotten covid (direct exposure to someone who tested positive, and covid symptoms), and again, they had some long term symptoms. Long term symptoms after respiratory diseases aren't new.

Heck, I'm relatively young and healthy, and the last time I got sick with what was probably the flu it took me about a month to feel 100% again.


My family has two die directly to covid, one to complications from covid, and one from an accident not related to covid. We have a few more that are very susceptible to covid due to a few factors. It's not been a good year.

I can tell you from very personal experience: Zoom funerals are horrible.

They scream and cry, but you can't comfort them, you're hundreds of miles away, and you can't leave the call either. And when you do finally turn it off, you're just there in your quiet room again. It's just so surreal.

Please, take this disease seriously.


If each person knows around 300 people, friends-of-friends includes almost 100,000 people.

When you’re casting such a wide net, of course you’ll hear about rare events. (And the more unusual it is, the more likely you are to hear about it from friends.)


I'm pretty sure the average amount of friends is more like 15-20 than 300.


It depends on how you define friends. Several years ago the average Facebook user had over 300 "friends". Now they might not spend much time with most of that 300 but they at least see some posts.

https://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2014/02/03/what-people...


An interesting visualization that showed up on /r/dataisbeautiful a few days ago:

https://www.reddit.com/r/dataisbeautiful/comments/jdffl5/oc_...

"Animation showing the number of Covid-19 deaths per 100k, by county in the US since the start of the pandemic"

Watch California, compared to New York, the east coast, and eventually the midwest. (And visible rural areas as well.)


There isn't a "third wave" like they say in the nightly news, it's really more like regional waves.


The changes being forced, such as Health Passports, and other related matter, are not temporary in nature. “Overkill” in temporary measures would be understandable. Overkill is not an accurate characterization of a prematurely announced “new normal” that (amazingly) 100% adheres to socio-political “visions for future” by the unelected and possibly too rich.


I'm curious to those who disagree with the parent why, or what exactly they find is inaccurate about their statements.

"A permanent solution to a temporary problem" is a government's most practiced response.


Because it is politically incorrect to question the official narrative, and a segment of our society has been brainwashed into conflating questioning the -hysterical- Covid-19 response with support with some actor turned president.


[flagged]


That is not my name, it’s a handle. (And you have no idea whatsoever where the ban is issued. HN is just a website..)


>If, instead of covid, it were a plague with 50% death rate... I doubt people would be having as much "lockdown fatigue" since they would literally see the bodies piling up in their communities. Instead you have a disease that only mildly affects the majority, putting only small minorities in real danger, which doesn't jive with the "sky is falling" stories the media/government peddles.

I don't know about you, but living in NYC, we did "literally see the bodies piling up" in March and April.

While the number of deaths was small compared to the overall population of NYC, the fact that morgues were so overwhelmed that refrigerated trucks were required to hold the excess corpses told me that this was a dangerous disease and needed to be taken seriously.

Out of curiosity, if 200,000+ deaths in the US doesn't constitute something serious and worthy of attention and efforts to mitigate/minimize the impact of COVID-19, how many deaths would make you change your mind? 1,000,000? 5,000,000?


The vast majority of people don’t internalize statistics at all. They go by experiences. So someone they are close to going from healthy and then suddenly falling ill and dying would be what gets people to pay attention. My 82 year old diabetic grandmother who had a quadruple bypass surgery said “if I die I die, and I’ll follow the rules and wear a mask if they tell me to”, this is a died in the wool Democrat of a woman.

The only thing she has seen personally was her ex-husband dying alone in the old folks home because visitation was disallowed. He didn’t get COVID, he died of loneliness, as far as she could tell. So she’s going out to social engagements because she thinks the cure is worse than the disease.


I think a lot of the elderly have already faced death. I know for years my grandma has almost welcomed death. It isn't scary to her. So I think many of these people think "so what, I might die this year instead of 6 months later, I'm just going to make the most of whatever time I have left." It definitely makes sense considering the uncertainness of the future for them and rapidly declining cognitive and mental functions.

While being younger we're trying to maximize time. Even time with the elderly. Different cost functions.


The big problems with just "listen to the experts" is we've never actually been in this situation, and it depends which type of expert you talk to. Talk to an epidemiologist and you'll get an idea of how a compliant society can stop the disease. Talk to an economist and you'll hear how to minimize economic impact. Talk to a psychologist and you'll hear about mental health, compliance, fatigue. Talk to a political scientist and you might hear about China making a move on Hong Kong.

This is a complex system, and there aren't really systemic experts.


> Talk to a psychologist

I actually happened to do exactly that in late Feburary, and he pointed out that about 1% of the population die every year naturally, and WWII killed double-digits in many countries, so COVID-19 killing ~3% was certainly something civilization could survive (remember that the early fatality rate estimates were much higher than they are now, and the vast differences in fatality rate by age weren't yet known).

Dunno what he might have said to if I had been a patient. But certainly part of that job is to put things in perspective!


> in NYC, we did "literally see the bodies piling up" in March and April

Was this because of the excess COVID deaths or just because some the services that normally handle deaths were deemed non-critical and so the chain of services that handle bodies just had glitches?

Or, to look at it scientifically, did the uptick in NYC deaths per week in March and April put the total deaths per week above, say, (average + 3 sigma) over the past couple of years. Honest question, I do not know this answer but knowing this would help put the numerical base behind an emotional statement.

For your second question, On your "how many" question: nobody I know says that 200k deaths do not constitute something worthy of attention. But on average, over 3 million people die per year in the US. 650k per year (according to CDC) just from heart disease, much of it preventable with better habits and good exercise.

If 200k deaths is enough to force major life restrictions on everyone (and spend over $5 trillion to limit economic fallout), should we bring the same machinery to focus on heart disease as well: force video taped gym sessions and cardio exercises? require wearable monitors? prohibit admittance to public transport without a gym validation stamp or a doctor note?

Those sound aggressive, sorry! That was not the intent; but just from a purely objective approach I do not see why the answer to those should be an automatic "no" if we accept COVID policies as automatic "yes". My 2c.


>Or, to look at it scientifically, did the uptick in NYC deaths per week in March and April put the total deaths per week above, say, (average + 3 sigma) over the past couple of years. Honest question, I do not know this answer but knowing this would help put the numerical base behind an emotional statement.

This survey[0] answers (in the affirmative) your question:

"During March 11–May 2, 2020, a total of 32,107 deaths were reported to DOHMH; of these deaths, 24,172 (95% confidence interval = 22,980–25,364) were found to be in excess of the seasonal expected baseline. Included in the 24,172 deaths were 13,831 (57%) laboratory-confirmed COVID-19–associated deaths and 5,048 (21%) probable COVID-19–associated deaths, leaving 5,293 (22%) excess deaths that were not identified as either laboratory-confirmed or probable COVID-19–associated deaths (Figure)."

[0] https://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/volumes/69/wr/mm6919e5.htm


Thank you for the link, good data!

To nitpick though, it does not quite answer the question of whether "the bodies were piling up" because totals exceeded pre-COVID processing capacity or because the processing chain broke down. That is, was the level during Spring of 2020 (higher than average Spring, your link shows it) also higher than previous spikes that included other seasons.


To counter-nitpick... :-)

Could your place of employment handle a 2-month long, 5x spike? Would the processing chain break down? Would it make a difference which it was?


To c-c nitpick :). The issue is not being able to handle the 5x volume spike, but handling the spikes the system handled just fine before (but not necessarily at the same day of the week/month/year).

For example, if my employer promises not to reduce cafeteria service and a month later says "no cafeteria for employees today due to a conference; we cannot feed that many people; go away" a hungry employee should check if we had such spikes before and if so how well we did. If indeed it was a unique surge, OK. But if every year we have similar spikes and they never turned employees away, "we did reduce service" is a better explanation than "we cannot serve such volumes" :).


You know, this is not a link I'd ever thought I'd be looking for:

https://www.marketwatch.com/story/new-york-city-expands-morg...

"Without the makeshift morgues, the city can accommodate between 800 and 900 bodies, Aja Worthy-Davis, the executive director for the Office of Public Affairs for the Office of Chief Medical Examiner, told MarketWatch on Monday.

"“Between the tent and the refrigerated trucks, we have space for between 3,500 and 3,600,” Worthy-Davis said."

And then there's this, which is interesting....

https://www.cityandstateny.com/articles/policy/health-care/w...

"That unprecedented number of deaths over the course of a few months has led funeral homes to experience a backlog, which has, in turn, overwhelmed city and hospital morgues with bodies waiting to be picked up by funeral homes.

"For some in this business, the crisis has served as a reminder of just how much families need to have their deceased loved ones cared for with respect. “We got swamped and weren't able to offer services at the time,” D’Arienzo, the funeral director, said of the backlog funeral homes were experiencing. “Families were so desperate, it just ignited a fire under me to make sure that we're always prepared.”"

So the problem looks like funeral homes not picking up bodies. Which makes sense; I don't think they're in the processing capacity business.

https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2020/apr/10/new-york-fun...

Has the interesting comment: "<p>New York’s governor, Andrew Cuomo, this week signed an executive order allowing out-of-state funeral directors to come into the state to help relieve pressure on funeral services. The move came after the <a href="https://www.nfda.org/news/in-the-news/nfda-news/id/4984/an-o..." data-link-name="in body link" class="u-underline">National Funeral Directors Association</a> wrote an open letter letter to the governor, saying hundreds of people were willing to help."

(Yeah, the Guardian doesn't want me to see the article.)


First and foremost, thank you for digging up the information. I owe you a beer.

As you said, the problem seemed to be with funeral homes not picking up bodies. I wonder if this was primarily due to increased deaths (which I do not doubt) or restrictions that made the funeral homes not able or not willing to handle the funerals.


IIRC, the funeral homes were overwhelmed as well[0].

[0] https://www.nytimes.com/2020/04/29/nyregion/bodies-brooklyn-...


https://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/volumes/69/wr/mm6919e5.htm

"During March 11–May 2, 2020, a total of 32,107 deaths were reported to DOHMH; of these deaths, 24,172 (95% confidence interval = 22,980–25,364) were found to be in excess of the seasonal expected baseline. Included in the 24,172 deaths were 13,831 (57%) laboratory-confirmed COVID-19–associated deaths and 5,048 (21%) probable COVID-19–associated deaths, leaving 5,293 (22%) excess deaths that were not identified as either laboratory-confirmed or probable COVID-19–associated deaths (Figure)."

During those roughly 2 months, there were 32,107 deaths; in a normal year there would be about 32,107 - 24,172 = 7,935 deaths. Normally, that would be ~100 deaths/day; during that time there were ~500 deaths/day. ("New York" deaths peaked at about 800/day, although I'm not sure if that was NYC or the state.)

Edit: Dang it. I'll leave this here anyway.


You're asking the wrong question. It's not correct to ask if COVID shelter in place orders are worth it for "200k" deaths.

The correct question to ask is, "What is the cost of not sheltering in place?" The answer seems to be between two million and three million deaths in the US from COVID alone[0]. Of course, there would be even more deaths due to ICUs being full and even more acute shortages of PPE for medical personnel.

We would also experience profound second- and third-order effects of millions of additional deaths on the economy.

> should we... force video taped gym sessions and cardio exercises? require wearable monitors? prohibit admittance to public transport without a gym validation stamp or a doctor note?

I hope you've taken the opportunity to read this again. To be charitable, it does not meet the high standards I think we hold ourselves to at HN. People suffering from heart disease don't infect others with a potentially fatal virus.

Other countries have applied strict shelter in place and mask rules with great success. In the US, compliance with such rules has been made political, and questioning it--often with straw man arguments like those above--has become the mark of supposed contrarian rebels.

As a result we have something of the worst of both worlds. Sadly, as more Americans irresponsibly refuse to apply basic COVID safety measures, more people get infected, thus supplying rhetorical ammunition to critics like those in this thread.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/graphics/2020/health/coronavi...


Your counter-claim of 2-3M US deaths from COVID is questionable. This is 0.7-1.0% of total population. Sweden, which had no forced quarantines and for which the ministry of health web site explicitly recommends not wearing a mask for people with no symptoms, has effectively zero COVID deaths from late July (from Wikipedia; deaths per week show a classic curve for an infectious disease). No second waves that are starting to hit other countries. Sweden's total COVID deaths are reported as a bit under 6000 as of today -- less than 0.06% and well under the 0.7-1.0% you estimate.

This does not mean that the total estimates of 2-3M for the US are proven wrong. But it is a strong counterargument to that estimate that should be addressed if we base our response on the estimate of 2-3M of COVID deaths with no strict measures. My 2c.

I will also push back on your "compliment" to me of not meeting the high standards of HN (you note you are being charitable; I wonder what the "objective" characterization). You lecture me to re-read my post and think about my mistakes (at least that is how I understood it; if I understood it wrongly, sorry). I did re-read it and still see my questions as valid. If the answers to them are obvious, great; but this does not make asking them unethical. Sorry for this rant, I will take the downvotes for it if they come.


> No second waves that are starting to hit other countries.

Sweden is actually seeing a second wave. Its death rate is still low.


I notice I'm getting downvoted for this post. Perhaps I was too verbose or inarticulate, so I'll try to be clearer:

* Are mask and shelter in place laws worthwhile to avoid two to three million additional deaths due to COVID?


I downvoted you because the idea that 1% of the total population will die without lockdowns is directly contradicted by all available evidence.

Various countries had various levels of lockdown, and none had anywhere remotely close to that fraction of their population die.


Exactly. However, if you look at the Economist excess deaths tracker, one could estimate a likely death toll with less stringent restrictions: https://www.economist.com/graphic-detail/2020/07/15/tracking...

Taking Brazil, they had about 62 excess deaths per 100k (who knew Brazil was so dangerous in general?). I'm rounding down because I can't be bothered getting a calculator, so using 50.

Taking this level of excess deaths and applying it to the US, we get 600k excess deaths (so 3x the reported total). Using the excess death numbers for the UK, 90 odd, and again lazily rounding, we'd get 1.2 mn excess deaths this year.

I think the OP's point was actually pretty reasonable, and will look much more accurate in a few years when we have better excess deaths data and (hopefully) this pandemic is over.


> Out of curiosity, if 200,000+ deaths in the US doesn't constitute something serious and worthy of attention and efforts to mitigate/minimize the impact of COVID-19, how many deaths would make you change your mind?

Out of curiosity, how many deaths do you consider little enough to be ignored? 400,000? (Smoking) 35,000? (Traffic accidents) 5? (Amoeba infecting the brain)

If you say none, do you agree that the measure still needs to fit the threat? Stopping driving would eliminate that cause of death, but it would cause other problems.


>Out of curiosity, how many deaths do you consider little enough to be ignored? 400,000? (Smoking) 35,000? (Traffic accidents) 5? (Amoeba infecting the brain)

But are those being ignored (not sure about the Amoeba bit)? Do we routinely mock those who say smoking is bad? Do we ignore traffic fatalities by ripping seat belts and air bags out of vehicles? Are autonomous vehicles widely derided as not useful?

The response absolutely needs to be proportionate to the risk. I never said anything different. In fact, in NYC most of the city is open again, because the impact and risk have been reduced -- by taking the virus seriously and a broad segment of the population are taking steps to protect themselves and others. What's more, widespread testing and tracing enable us to identify outbreaks and limit their spread.

I don't see that as overreaction. I see it as taking a public health issue seriously and engaging the populace in mitigating/minimizing it.

>If you say none, do you agree that the measure still needs to fit the threat? Stopping driving would eliminate the cause of death, but it would cause other problems.

I didn't say anything even approaching that. Please don't try to put words in my mouth.


> Do we ignore traffic fatalities by ripping seat belts and air bags out of vehicles?

Some preventive measures are clearly justified. Wearing a mask requires little more effort than wearing a seat belt and refusing to wear one is pretty childish at this point.

Losing precious time with family is a lot harder and a sacrifice few people would consider making in the face of traffic fatalities.


How long are you expecting asymptomatic people to wear masks in public? What are the exit criteria?


There's a chance people actually start using it to mark their political affiliation in public.


Mask wearing isn't really partisan enough to signal affiliation effectively. A substantial majority of all political leanings (https://www.nationalgeographic.com/history/2020/10/poll-incr...) report they always wear a mask.


Until there's a vaccine with some level of population coverage? I don't have a date, I don't feel it's a heavy burden to bear. If there's a significant downside to wearing a mask it's not obvious to me.


>Losing precious time with family is a lot harder and a sacrifice few people would consider making in the face of traffic fatalities.

I agree. In fact, I've had to come to the realization that I may never be able see and hug my ailing mother ever again, as she lives on the other side of the country.

I hope that isn't the case, but it may well be so.


I'm sorry. I'm facing the same thing and it's tearing me up.


> But are those being ignored (not sure about the Amoeba bit)? Do we routinely mock those who say smoking is bad? Do we ignore traffic fatalities by ripping seat belts and air bags out of vehicles? Are autonomous vehicles widely derided as not useful?

The point is that we didn't ban smoking or driving. We did ban being close to other people.


Not sure why you’re getting downvoted.

Not being close to other people is the most effective measure to stop this pandemic. Wearing a mask while sitting in a badly ventilated room with many others is considered high risk by most experts. While the lockdown let the infection numbers collapse the mask requirements showed little impact so far.

So banning being close is what happened and helped.


>The point is that we didn't ban smoking

Actually, we did. Especially in places where masks are currently required. When was the last time you could just light up a cigarette or cigar (or a joint for that matter) in a restaurant, bar, shop or other indoor venue?


You're allowed to smoke in your own house, but you're not allowed to have large gatherings in your own house.


To be fair, my dad (and a lot of people in his generation) still refuses to wear a seatbelt "because freedom". For people like me, born after the seatbelt laws came into effect, wearing them is totally normalized, because they've always been around. I never felt like something was taken away from me.

I bet that kids born today will not consider wearing a mask when you're sick to be this outrageous affront to freedom, since they'll be used to it by the time they grow up.


> wearing a mask when you're sick

That's very different than forcing everyone to wear masks all the time just in case anyone is ever sick.


In case they are asymptomatic and spreading a somewhat dangerous respiratory disease for which we have no vaccine, treatment or pre-existing immunity.


>> If you say none [...]

Maybe I should have used: In case you say none

> I didn't say anything even approaching that. Please don't try to put words in my mouth.

Neither did GP umvi say anything approaching

>>> [...] 200,000+ deaths in the US doesn't constitute something serious and worthy of attention and efforts to mitigate/minimize the impact [...]

Since we all now agree that no mitigation measures are bad and total measures are bad, we’re back to arguing what is the right middle ground.


>Since we all now agree that no mitigation measures are bad and total measures are bad, we’re back to arguing what is the right middle ground.

How about social distancing, mask wearing, basic hygiene, widespread testing/tracing, keeping the sick away from the healthy, limited restrictions in areas with outbreaks/clusters, etc.?

You know, the stuff that the public health experts have been recommending throughout?

I'm not sure that there's really much argument to be had that such measures (given that they've been pretty much standard procedure for disease outbreaks for decades) are appropriate and effective.


> You know, the stuff that the public health experts have been recommending throughout?

I thought 8 months ago experts agreed that paper masks were useless for the general public.

30? years ago herd immunity was an agreed approach for measles. 10 months ago it was the general approach to the common cold in kindergardens.

EDIT: I personally think that pebbles in the shoes would be more effective than masks because it would make people stay at home even more.


"10 months ago [herd immunity] was the general approach to the common cold in kindergardens."

Herd immunity, to my knowledge, has never developed for the common cold, because there are several hundred viruses responsible and they're rather changeable. The general approach, as I recall it, was, "we can't do anything about it, but it doesn't kill too many people, and those at risk can get flu and pneumonia vaccinations."

And herd immunity for measles is due to vaccination. If measles were a novel disease, you would be seeing lockdowns that make San Quentin look open and free.


I live in NYC and yes, during March and April you constantly heard ambulances, but I think describing it as "bodies piling up" is hyperbole. The vast majority of us survived.

> if 200,000+ deaths in the US doesn't constitute something serious and worthy of attention and efforts to mitigate/minimize the impact of COVID-19

Nobody said they don't. There's a difference between something being serious and worthy of attention, and it being the sort of existential threat that would justify disrupting civilization to the extent we have.


"I live in NYC and yes, during March and April you constantly heard ambulances, but I think describing it as "bodies piling up" is hyperbole. The vast majority of us survived."

Let's see here... According to https://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/volumes/69/wr/mm6919e5.htm, there were 32,107 deaths in NYC in March-May, an excess of 24,172. There are about 8.4 million people in NYC, according to the Goog.

That would mean that, normally, there would be about 9 deaths/10,000 residents. In those two months, though, there were about 38 deaths/10k. The other 99.62% survive. Yay, you!

"Nobody said they don't. There's a difference between something being serious and worthy of attention, and it being the sort of existential threat that would justify disrupting civilization to the extent we have."

"existential threat"? "disrupting civilization"?


This only happened because people were banned from holding funerals and the entire supply chain of burials was disrupted by stay-at-home orders.


Heart disease accounts for over 600,000 deaths per year in the US but most people are more likely to use their current health as a metric in determining their diet than the risk of dying from heart disease. For example I am more likely to weigh the fact that I can no longer fit into my pants as a reason to change my diet than the possibility of dying from heart disease.


Similarly, many people are using their own lack of COVID-related death as a metric in determining their behavior.


This would explain why NYC flattened and then reduced the first curve relatively quickly.


I wonder how much time per day the average person contemplates the 480,000 annual U.S. deaths caused by tobacco?

https://www.cdc.gov/tobacco/data_statistics/fact_sheets/heal...


It's not really a fair comparison. Tobacco/Smoking seems avoidable: "If I don't smoke, I won't be one of those statistics."

With disease, caused by a practically invisible virus, we wash our hands, we keep our distance, we wear a mask, but it still seems likely that we will eventually get it anyway. It seems unavoidable, especially because we can't tell who is spreading it. I think the equivalent of being a non-smoker is just hiding out in your house for 18 months and not seeing another human at all, close family and friends included.


Exactly. We were lucky that COVID wasn't more deadly than it was. I mean, 200k deaths and people still complain about wearing a little piece of cloth over their face. What happens when the hypothetical next "COVID-21" comes that's 20X deadlier? Do we all just suck it up and die, because we won't temporarily give up the freedom of eating at Olive Garden? Sorry, but I'm not willing to risk a double digit percentage chance of getting sick and possibly dying, just to retain the convenience of indoor shopping and getting my hair cut.


> While the number of deaths was small compared to the overall population of NYC, the fact that morgues were so overwhelmed that refrigerated trucks were required to hold the excess corpses told me that this was a dangerous disease and needed to be taken seriously.

And that's the problem.

You still have March / April info in your head and it's stuck there.

You're scared of living in the present because your brain living in the past.


>You're scared of living in the present because your brain living in the past.

Huh? Because I don't want to see that again, I'm living in the past?

Should I ignore previous experience as unimportant?

I'd point out that because NYC took strong action back then, we are now mostly open. And I'm glad we are.

I don't think we should lock back down. Rather I think it's important to do the myriad other things (social distancing, mask wearing, basic hygiene, widespread testing/tracing, etc.) that will keep the number of cases at a relatively low level (cf. https://www1.nyc.gov/site/doh/covid/covid-19-data.page ) to avoid such unwanted draconian measures.

Ignoring the risk posed by not doing the things that will limit the spread just increases the likelihood that the virus will be uncontrolled and make "lockdowns" more and not less likely.

I remember what happened in March-May precisely because I want to avoid further lockdowns, not because I support them.


> I wonder if this is simply because there is a mismatch between what people are being told and what people are observing with their own eyes.

when in doubt, "humans don't intuitively understand exponential growth" is often a good guess. to the average person, "barely under control" and "everything is fine" look very similar and the precautions taken in the former seem pretty silly. by the time an outbreak is directly observable in your day-to-day life, things have already gone sideways.


Your parent comment was talking about how mild the virus is for most people who get it, not about how many cases there are. So I don’t think the growth rate is relevant.


>Your parent comment was talking about how mild the virus is for most people who get it, not about how many cases there are. So I don’t think the growth rate is relevant.

An interesting point. However, I'd posit that the growth rate is of paramount importance -- not because many will have mild symptoms, but because a small portion of those who contract COVID-19 will die or have serious long-term effects.

As the number of cases grow, the number of folks who die/suffer serious long-term effects will grow along with them.


Yes, but the same is true of literally every common disease.


Literally every other common disease is either saturated to a somewhat stable level, or eliminated or on the way there because of some vaccine. Sadly, there are some countries where HIV is still rapidly expanding, but in aggregate even that is shrinking.

Currently covid-19 is the only epidemic that's large but still actively growing worldwide, it's the only one where we actually would see exponential growth if we do nothing.


I don't know why people are easily willing to sacrifice their rights to curtail "terrorism" that has killed fewer people than lightning strikes, but with a pandemic with hundreds of thousands of deaths is "you can't take my freedom".


I suspect it has to do with the visibility how much those rights affect their day-to-day lives.

Most people notice very little, if at all, when privacy rights are breached in the name of fighting terrorism. Even protocols like those of the TSA are only witnessed occasionally. However, people quickly notice when their workplace, or local pub or park, are shut down because it affects them on a daily basis.


Because there was far more fear mongering around terrorism, it was unpatriotic to claim it wasn't such a big deal, and there was more property damage.

Maybe it's the property damage that really makes it different in the eyes of many people. People die from all sorts of causes, but skyscrapers don't just collapse. It makes it more real, I guess.

Also: a clearer group of people to blame for it.


Neither is a good excuse to curtail civil liberties. And, frankly, I doubt terrorism would have the same psychological impact if it mostly targeted people in long-term care facilities with serious pre-existing health issues.


I wonder if this is simply because there is a mismatch between what people are being told and what people are observing with their own eyes.

What are people being told? The US federal government, media outlets friendly to them and some local governments seem to undermine the WHO, CDC, NIAID, etc. every chance they get.


It's also one of those things where if you succeed in staving off disaster, folks think you overreacted.


I agree.

This is an animation that was posted to /r/dataisbeautiful a few days ago. Watch California compared to New York, the east coast, and then the midwest.

https://www.reddit.com/r/dataisbeautiful/comments/jdffl5/oc_...

I'm going to suggest that California's success is pretty good (and that factor is related to the prevalence of "overreacted" comments here).


Death is one thing. If you want society to really care about the pandemic, link it to erectile dysfunction. Dudes will be walking around in scuba gear.


> If, instead of covid, it were a plague with 50% death rate... I doubt people would be having as much "lockdown fatigue" since they would literally see the bodies piling up in their communities.

In a way, I doubt it. Our society takes deliberate steps to hide the sick from public view. That's good in a lot of ways, but one problem is that most people don't get to see the effects that Covid had.

I have enough nurses in my family to know that this is a serious disease.


The extreme politicization of the ACLU over the last 4 years has really been a big loss for civil liberties. They used to be the ones defending the civil rights of everyone, no matter how heinous the defendant or extreme the situation. These days they seem to just repeat hyper-partisan viewpoints ad infintum.

Does a nonpartisan, alternative organization exist?


> Does a nonpartisan, alternative organization exist?

If it does, it soon won't. The only permanent home of Liberty is in the individual and families. Organizations become attractive to power-hungry psychopaths when they become effective, and those who gravitate to leadership are skewed toward self-serving. Therefore, compromise and decay are right on the heels of success. Faith in a man-made establishment is a slow escalator to a shallow grave.


> The only permanent home of Liberty is in the individual and families.

I agree. It has been unfortunate to see the attacks on individuality when it's the best way to view each other. Group identity has a long history of being evil and rationalizing inhuman or even dehumanizing treatment of out-groups. Liberty being associated with the individual, not a collective, is the peaceful path I believe.

The grand irony of concepts like intersectionality is that when you slice a person enough ways, you end up with an individual. But that leap just hasn't been made it seems and I assume because there is power to be gained by forming and controlling a collective through the seduction of victimhood and grievance.


> They used to be the ones defending the civil rights of everyone, no matter how heinous the defendant or extreme the situation

They still are.

> These days they seem to just repeat hyper-partisan viewpoints ad infintum

Their involvement against broad interpretation of the CFAA in Van Buren v. U.S. doesn't seem hyperpartisan.

Neither does their action in ACLU v. Clearview AI

Neither does Nashville Community Bail Fund v. Gentry

Nor it's involvement in Georgia v. Public.Resource.Org

Sure, right now one party is more actively using the power of government against the rights that the ACLU has always defended, which has a lot do with party ideology (which in both parties have shifted over time so that one aligns morr with and one more against ACLU's long-held positions than used to be the case) and a lot to do with control of the executive branch of government (both federally and in states), without which you can't usually take the kind of government actions that the ACLU defends against.


I've stopped donating to the ACLU after being a donor for many years because they have stopped being nonpartisan from what I can tell. This is not only in their cases but their public statements, and it's become very clear they no longer are friends of free speech.


> it's become very clear they no longer are friends of free speech.

Well, certainly they aren't a friend of the modern right-wing idea that “free speech” is a positive entitlement to compel other private actors to relay your speech, but they remain zealous defenders of the Constitutional right of free speech against encroachment by government, including against bipartisan assaults like the EARN IT Act.

https://www.aclu.org/news/by-issue/free-speech/


This memo[1] seems to assert that they would not be friends to free speech against encroachment by the government if the speech were speech they didn't like.

[1] http://online.wsj.com/public/resources/documents/20180621ACL...


> This memo[1] seems to assert that they would not be friends to free speech against encroachment by the government if the speech were speech they didn't like.

It explicitly says the opposite, but does indicate that they would not be able to legally represent people making such speech if the terms of such representation would restrict the ACLU from criticizing the viewpoint being advanced while defending the right to advance it: "While the ACLU vigorously defends the right to free speech of those who espouse views antithetical to our own, we also reserve our right to condemn those views. Our defense of free speech rests squarely on the proposition that speech deserves defending even if we, or others in the community, find it reprehensible. Accordingly, as a general matter we should be able to simultaneously defend a speaker’s right to speak and condemn their views, and we should seek to preserve that right through ethically appropriate representation agreements. [...] But we generally should not agree to represent people who will not agree to sign an ethically appropriate advance waiver of potential conflicts arising from our condemnation of their views."


I appreciate the correction, but I think it's noteworthy that they expect would-be defendants to waiver away the ACLU's disdain for them as a condition of representation.

Perhaps this is normal in the legal realm?


> Perhaps this is normal in the legal realm?

Yes, informing potential clients of, and conditioning representation on waiver of, a forseeable conflict of interest is generally mandatory for lawyers.


Framed as you have it, I would agree...but I always understood a conflict of interest to be one which might compel an attorney to violate your confidence, or fail to keep your confidences sacrosanct.

Publicly stating "we do not agree with the language of our clients" does not seem to me to rise anywhere near the level of that to require waiver.

That said, I take you as more informed on the subject than I, so again I thank you for the information.


It seems like people are confused about what non-partisan means. Non-partisan does not mean neutral on political issues. The ACLU has never been neutral on political issues, going back as long as they've existed [1]. Non-partisan means they pursue their vision of civil rights regardless of which party that brings them into conflict with. If they come info conflict with one party more than another, that doesn't make them partisan. It just means that their vision of civil liberties has been taken up more by one party than others.

[1] Just skim their wikipedia page: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/American_Civil_Liberties_Union


Taking a look at their Twitter, I have a hard time seeing how their viewpoints are anything but hyper-partisan. They often have nothing whatsoever to do with defending civil liberties in a nonpartisan manner.


ACLU knows that they've been politicized externally. This messaging is a funding strategy, not necessarily related to their actual legal advocacy.



Can you provide a specific example of what you mean?


For example, they sent a lot of tweets yesterday about preferred pronouns and why you should use them in your personal and professional life. That's a quite controversial message in many circles, and it really has nothing to do with civil liberties, so an organization focused on civil liberties would want to stay neutral on it in order to best promote their core goals.


> That's a quite controversial message in many circles

If you think the ACLU has steered clear of controversy historically, you are not very familiar with their history.

> it really has nothing to do with civil liberties

How so? It is about someone's right to exist as themselves without discrimination and be treated equally to others. The ACLU has been involved in LGBT rights since at least the 70s.


That is absolutely not the right, not at all. Although I honestly don't give a crap about this particular issue, and would use whatever pronouns people prefer (as long as I don't forget them, as one sometimes does even with names), the civil right is free speech.

Claiming the right of not being offended by speech, to me, is a litmus test for an anti-civil-rights person/organization. Sure, if someone chooses to call everyone "you pitiful worm" it's their right to not associate with the caller, but they have no right whatsoever, and certainly not any kind of civil right, to be called anything else.


You have more than one civil right. It seems like people in this thread are taking civil rights to mean free speech and nothing else, but in fact you have many civil rights, and they may even come into conflict with each other at times.


The only way using preferred pronouns could be related to civil rights, though, is as a restriction of free speech. So, either ACLU is tweeting something partisan and unrelated to civil rights, or they are tweeting something that is evidence for them not being fully supportive of cornerstone civil rights (also, partisan).


There’s more than one civil right, no?

Also your example is unrealistic and distorted - it’s not a useful hypothetical because no one is asking anyone to call them something insulting like that as their public form of address.

The fact that the example is an insult makes it different from “they/them”


See sibling response. The example illustrates the principle. My point is that it either has nothing to do with civil rights whatsoever (any, not just speech; if I'm wrong please elaborate), or it is slightly anti-civil-rights, in a way indicative to me of being much more anti-civil-rights than the tweets would let on.

What it is, though, even if it's the right thing to recommend, is partisan.


I haven't thought about this too much, but, words are power.

Is identifying someone by a racial slur a civil-rights issue?

Obviously it's not a black-and-white issue, and is complex, but yeah, fundamentally calling someone something they don't want to be called (and I don't mean "your hair is blue / don't tell me my hair is blue") can be a civil rights issue.

Words define our selves. There's a reason jargon is such a big deal in the corporate world - words have power.

Consider this - if it wasn't a civil rights issue, would there be so much discomfort and/or backlash around it? Would it even be a big deal at all if it didn't matter?

Again, I'm not saying it's straightforward - it's not.

But a quick google search says civil rights are "the rights of citizens to political and social freedom and equality."

So that's pretty complex and broad in and of itself.


I think it only looks complex because of halo effect/lack of clarity... you want to call it a civil right because it feels like a good thing. I am not saying it's not a good thing, but I am saying it's not a civil right. Like, it's good if everyone had affordable health care, but it's not a civil right.

There are also tons of issues that are not civil rights that have lots of backlash/noise around them (like healthcare).

In fact, in this case enforcement of any kind (outside of the private contract-based context like the office) would be quite obviously anti-civil-rights, which is a bummer with civil rights - sometimes, they inconvenience other people. Remember that being right and being wrong feels the same way. There are tons of people who would be very offended at you for all kinds of bogus reasons, like that you don't go to church, or are friendly with gay people, or whatever.

So yeah, if ACLU is about civil rights, it should focus on those. If it's going to pontificate that it's good to use certain pronouns, of for everyone to go to church, or whatever, then I'll take my money somewhere else :)


Civil liberties are liberties that you have from the government. That is, things that the government ought to allow you to do. So debates over whether suchandsuch interpersonal practice is polite just aren't issues of civil liberties, even if the people discussing such practices have related civil rights concerns. (It'd make perfect sense, for example, if the ACLU said that you ought to be able to put whatever letter you'd like in the "gender" field of your driver's license.)


> Civil liberties are liberties that you have from the government. That is, things that the government ought to allow you to do.

What do you think the ACLU did in the 60s? Not fight segregation where it was legal?


So because one party has a problem with intolerance, promoting these things breaks the non-partisan label? Seems a bit like being non-partisan is an end in itself.


It's just a thing you have to do in order to effectively achieve non-partisan goals. An organization that picks a side on every political battle in the country won't be able to effectively focus on its core mission.


That suggests that an organizations value system should follow along with a moving target - the current mid-ground - rather than their own values. At some point one party may just sway too far to accept a middle ground.


Being non-partisan isn't about seeking out a middle ground and planting yourself there. It's about saying "you know, there's a lot of strongly held beliefs on this issue, and we're not the right organization to reconcile them".

It's the same principle as being a non-religious organization. If the ACLU went around telling people that accepting Jesus as your lord and savior is the most important liberty, I suspect you'd agree that's very strange - even though many devout Christians do hold that position and think it's important.


Example - white supremacy is not a “strongly held belief” to those who believe in universal human rights and equality.

My belief system makes white supremacy not some other, legitimate belief I oppose, but one that is beyond the pale because it threatens the core of my belief system (universal human rights and equality).

Since the (current) Republican Party is running on white supremacy ...


But if it's one part of those strongly held beliefs that are simply wrong because they range from intolerance to bigotry, there's nothing non-partisan to make a stand.


Maybe the ACLU really does believe it is a civil right.


Do border walls have anything to do with civil liberties? https://twitter.com/ACLU/status/1318242920416366593


Sure, they make two arguments: 1) Trump is redirecting funds that were intended by congress for totally different purposes [1]. Doing this is anti-democratic and therefore infringes on your right to determine government policy. 2) Trump is interfering with natural and culturally significant sites that people have a right to. Destroying cultural sites and altering land that was set aside as a national park for preservation for future generations are obviously civil liberties issues.

[1]: https://www.aclu.org/press-releases/aclu-comment-supreme-cou...


This is an informative cogent response and I was surprised to see it downvoted.


Yes, they do.

If nothing else the fact that you don’t seem to recognize the desire to build a huge wall as one big red authoritarian flag is concerning.

It’s like going on a date with someone who says he’s a nice guy but treats the waitress like shit.

And it’s not only Border Walls it’s Border Patrol / ICE. Which has literally been putting children in cages.

Plus as another poster said it’s not clear that the administration was building this wall in a legal fashion.


> "These days they seem to just repeat hyper-partisan viewpoints ad infintum."

But that's only because everything is hyper-partisan these days. Even science. Or facts. Or the idea of an objective reality. It's impossible to be non-political in this kind of political landscape.

And civil liberties have always been political to some extent.


I don't really agree with this take and I think it's highly over-simplified. The ACLU used to be the organization that defended the really unpleasant people and popularized ideas like, "I disagree with what you say, but I will defend your right to say it." They had a lot of responsibility.

Today they are basically indistinguishable from Huffington Post with a law firm attached.


Can you give an example? As far as I know, they're still defending the free speech rights of the Far Right, famously including in the Unite the Right rally [1].

[1]: https://www.aclu.org/news/civil-liberties/the-short-life-and...


Come on, that’s bordering on the kind of contentless dismissal you see in right wing propaganda today. Someone already provided examples contradicting your assertions, and others have accurately explained that defending civil rights appears political because, in fact, one political party tends to oppose protections of civil rights more than the other. Rather than doubling down on blithe, unsupported assertions, you should demonstrate that you are here in good faith by either responding to the fair criticisms or admitting you’re wrong.


I wonder whether the problem is with finding nonpartisan donors, or nonpartisan charity leaders, of if there's plenty of both but partisan forces work subversively.


I've canceled my ACLU membership and stopped donating a couple years ago, but it's really hard to get off their email lists. This year after receiving some emails that made my blood boil, I've actually done some research and now donate to Institute for Justice and Foundation for Individual Rights in Education - these are the reputable public interest law firms I could find; and also Reason Foundation, Foundation for Economic Education, and Cato Institute, that I think are all tangentially related.


This has been said for the history of the ACLU. And there are difficult balances there: do you defend the Nazi March? What if that March includes armed marchers aiming guns at others? Is aiming a gun speech? Or speech the ACLU has interest in defending? Does it maximize the freedom for marchers, counter marchers, or citizens?

The ACLU had to come to terms with consequences, and harder answers. After defending and enabling a march where people died, the ACLU had to answer whether it was responsible...and it was.

So the organization is a bit different, but I am not so sure that the ACLU could have continued. It had avoided really hard problems, and then had to come to terms with it.

I prefer it this way: it is messy and tricky and also much less likely to be a disaster.


Aiming guns at people is already illegal under brandishing laws. The ACLU has refused to support any armed demonstration


That's an interesting example of how partisan-seeming biases can develop inadvertently. There may be an objective reason why the ACLU doesn't support armed demonstrations, but there's only one side that likes to bring guns to their protests, so in practice this only cancels support for one side. Reminds me of the "anyone is equally free to marry a person of the opposite gender" response to gay people having the same rights.

The ACLU may or may not want to support armed demonstrations, but if they want "docket diversity," they'd pragmatically have to loosen that rule, perhaps to "we don't support demonstrations where weapons were fired," or even, "we defend demonstrators in all cases except when they admit to specifically trying to shoot someone," or something like that.


> There may be an objective reason why the ACLU doesn't support armed demonstrations, but there's only one side that likes to bring guns to their protests, so in practice this only cancels support for one side.

is this true? I can think of at least one recent event in kenosha where people on both "sides" had guns.


It's mostly true... so far.

Although some elements of antifa are perfectly willing to use projectile weapons. Those are less dangerous than guns, but they aren't nothing.


> but there's only one side that likes to bring guns to their protests

NFAC [1], Pro-BLM Protestors in Austin [2] and that was after a protestor brandished his AK at an uber driver and the uber driver shot him (so we had armed protestors before that as well).

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Not_Fucking_Around_Coalition

[2] https://www.kvue.com/article/news/local/protests/austin-prot...


> There may be an objective reason why the ACLU doesn't support armed demonstrations

They flatly do not believe that firearm ownership is an individual right, rather that it is a collective right. This used to be plainly displayed on their website, but I'm having troubles finding it now, and perhaps that narrative has been challenged internally as certain chapters of the ACLU (Nevada comes to mind) have begun recognizing it as an individual right.

Moreover, arms rights challenges that could spur ACLU action haven't ever really come to fruition, such as a ban on arms sales to individuals on the no-fly list for example.


>do you defend the Nazi March

In the past they would [1]. I'm not convinced they would do so today.

[1] https://www.aclu.org/other/aclu-history-taking-stand-free-sp...


They did recently (2017/2018) defend Milo Yiannopoulis' right to advertise his event in the DC metro, but after pushback related to that, they've softened their stance in a lot of ways, carving out exceptions, for example they have stated they would not defend the right of "hate groups" to march if they were armed, and stated in a memo[1] that they should no longer defend the right to speech against marginalized groups.

[1] http://online.wsj.com/public/resources/documents/20180621ACL...


Thank you, that was enlightening. Among their considerations,

"the potential effect on marginalized communities; the extent to which the speech may assist in advancing the goals of white supremacists or others whose views are contrary to our values;"

It sounds like maybe they've adjusted their "unwavering commitment to the principle of free speech"

"That’s because the defense of freedom of speech is most necessary when the message is one most people find repulsive. Constitutional rights must apply to even the most unpopular groups if they’re going to be preserved for everyone."

[1] https://www.aclu.org/issues/free-speech


The problem with the lockdown is that we cannot know what would’ve happened without it. Now was it too extreme, for too long? Probably. Again we can’t know the counter factual.

I really take issue with the ones complaining about a mask. It’s not curtailing your civil liberties. It’s a matter of etiquette and empathy. If empathy is not enough, then think about it this way...

You can be required to wear a mask just like you’re required to wear other clothing. You do not have the freedom to walk around naked, for example.


> You can be required to wear a mask just like you’re required to wear other clothing. You do not have the freedom to walk around naked, for example.

This depends on where you live. In Seattle, for example, the freedom to walk around naked in public is explicitly recognized as a 1st Amendment right, both in theory and in practice. The question of if the government could force you to wear a specific article of clothing in public places was decided by the courts in the negative many decades ago, and people take advantage of this recognized Constitutional right to wear nothing at all.


Any reason we shouldn't just make mask use permanently mandatory in public (similar to seatbelts)? Even in times without covid, I'm sure it would reduce a lot of infectious disease transmission (flu, cold, etc). We can further optimize and reduce death counts by making all gatherings permanently remote. If people can't gather, they can't spread disease. We can also further optimize by advocating people have less kids. The smaller the population, the fewer people will die. You can't get sick if you were never born.

Had we been doing all these things for the past century, we would have saved many millions of lives by now (well, they all died eventually, but I mean we could have extended lives by millions, maybe even billions of man-years).


I'm afraid Poe's Law is hitting hard for me on this comment.


>The problem with the lockdown is that we cannot know what would’ve happened without it. Now was it too extreme, for too long? Probably. Again we can’t know the counter factual.

Actually, while we can't be precise about the number of deaths that would have occurred from doing nothing, we can use the number of cases as a proxy for that. Since the case fatality rate (CFR) is correlated with the number of cases, it's actually a pretty good proxy.

As to whether or not restrictions have been "too extreme" or gone on "too long," I'd say that's a function of the number of cases reported in specific areas.

In some places where there has been widespread testing/tracing, lockdowns have been eased when the spread has been significantly reduced.

In fact, NY state[0] sets specific case rates (IIRC, >3% rolling average over seven days) in very small and specific geographical areas as a determinant of the need for specific, localized restrictions and increased testing/tracing to limit the spread of the virus.

[0] https://forward.ny.gov/


We can look at countries and states in the US that did bot have lockdowns and mask mandates.


Yes, and? Would you actually tell us what your point is, rather than making us guess?


It would have been interesting to see where the citizens of Turkey stand on this as well. Back in 2009, they did a study of each country's views on government regulation, and Turkey was the only country in the world where the majority of the people were against increased state regulation; every other nation was in favor of larger government.


Can someone parse this statement from the abstract for me?

"Second, consistent across countries, exposure to health risks is associated with citizens’ greater willingness to trade off civil liberties, though individuals who are more economically disadvantaged are less willing to do so."


Higher-risk people are more likely to be pro-lockdown. Poorer people are more likely to be pro-reopen.


The civil liberties vs pandemic narrative strikes me as more of a political red herring rather than some real trade off being made, at least in the US. I skimmed the paper to see what specific liberties they were talking about. My answer to most of their posed questions is basically wu.

> I am willing to relax privacy protections and let the government access my personal data during a crisis like the current one, in order to allow the government to make timely and accurate decisions.

A moot point in the US, as there are few privacy protections to begin with. I can hardly see a contact tracing app becoming mandatory here. And while I'm generally concerned about Surveillance Valley's ever-growing control, I'm not specifically concerned if the results of its surveillance are used to inform a public health crisis.

> I am willing to suspend democratic procedures and give the President [or Prime Minister] more power during a crisis like the current one, in order to ensure swift government actions.

This is laughable as there has been very little federal government action in the US. But answering in the context of state governors, I still don't see how the democratic procedures have or will have been suspended. The executive has the power to execute, the legislature and the People are slower acting but at this point have had plenty of time to countermand. The closest example of this dynamic seems to be Wisconsin, where the courts took away powers from the governor, which is just the system working as intended.

> I am willing to support the government controlling the media during a crisis like the current one, in order to ensure effective and uniform communication between the government and citizens.

Also laughable given that much disinformation has come from the government itself. Authoritative government sources don't need the control of the media to get heard. Probably the closest we can on this topic is to flip it around to censorship of private party disinformation. But flipping around would have totally changed the responses.

> I am willing to tolerate public health risks in order to participate in elections and other civic duties, even during a crisis like the current one.

Once again nobody is talking about suspending any elections. What other civic duties are there? Jury duty comes to mind, but once again that's flipped - the practical question would be whether the state should force people to expose themselves to the pandemic in order to run its courts. Protests haven't been suspended, although there have been calls to when it's conveniently the other team doing the protesting.

> I am willing to endure substantial economic losses during a crisis like the current one,in order to maintain the health and well-being of society as a whole.

This strikes me as the closest to what people mean when they say "civil liberties", and it is indeed a point of debate that has been argued to bits. Horribly dishonestly from all sides, IMO. And I feel this paper itself will be part of that, used to overstate the economic argument as one about general civil liberties, even though it references few other liberties. The sad truth about civil liberties is that most people do not actually exercise their civil liberties most of the time.


This paper was not limited to the USA.


Sure, but the institution and all of the researchers are based in the US. If their chosen framing gets it so horribly wrong for their own society, then how useful can it be?


This is fairly off topic, but I noticed that the paper thanks Dynata. I got a call purporting to be from Dynata that was a "push poll", meaning they were basically using it to present really unflattering questions about a particular candidate. It had a pro right-wing, somewhat obliquely conspiratorial bent - "How concerned are you about child sex trafficking?" It also had more overt stuff, in the vein of "Given that Joe Biden's plans on the economy would destroy it, does that affect your preference for the two candidates?" I asked them who was funding the poll, and they said they didn't know.

I find myself curious about how that world works, but cursory google searches didn't help, and I imagine it's pretty murky. Would love to know who is funding those sorts of polls.


how is being concerned about child sex trafficking pro right wing?


You may be unaware that there is a predominantly Trump supporting movement called qanon which coopted an existing hashtag, #SaveTheChildren to allege that the cause of child sex trafficking is "Satan-worshiping, child-molesting criminals led by prominent Democrats".

https://archive.is/HSKiG#selection-549.281-549.352

Now, some portion of attempts to #SaveTheChildren on social media are people concerned with child sex trafficking, and some portion are people who think that their political opponents are literal monsters... and it is often not immediately clear which is which.


ah. i'm not in either of those political bubbles and i'm not on twitter.

guess i'm not missing out if being against child trafficking is somehow either a) a conspiracy theory on the left or b) a conspiracy theory on the right.

child trafficking is wrong. full stop.


You don't really have to be in those bubbles to know about it - there was a much publicized shooting in a pizza shop circa 2017, motivated by baseless fears about a pedophile ring - https://www.nytimes.com/2017/06/22/us/pizzagate-attack-sente...

Full stop, child trafficking is wrong. But then, so is baselessly accusing people of something as heinous as child trafficking.


It's not intrinsically, however linking to spurious allegations (like Pizzagate) seems to be a rightwing tactic. Actual substantial allegations (qv Maxwell/Epstein) seem to be less partisan.


> This is fairly off topic, but I noticed that the paper thanks Dynata.

I'm not sure about your anecdote, nor do I know who Dynata is, but you give the impression that this paper is only thanking one org. The entire section thanks a much broader base than you seem to portray:

> We thank Dynata for assistance with data collection and incorporating civil liberties concerns into their surveys. We thank participants at Harvard Public Seminar, Harvard COVID Seminar, the Healthand Pandemics Seminar, London School of Economics, Princeton and NBER SI Development. Funding provided by Harvard Kennedy School and Harvard Economics Department. The authors have no conflicts to disclose. The study is approved by IRB at Harvard University (IRB-20-0495 and IRB20-0467),and registered at AEA-RCT registry (AEARCTR-0005609). The views expressed herein are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Bureau of Economic Research.

NOTE: Formatting issues from the PDF copy


I don't mean to give that impression at all. Looking through this paper it looks like quite legitimate, thoughtful research, and the fact that they used Dynata certainly doesn't impugn their motivations. As I was able to glean, Dynata is a polling firm. Their willingness to do push polling reflects badly on their ethics, but it's orthogonal to their ability to perform effective polling.




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