“The Lord commandeth you, when ye shall see these things come among you that ye shall awake to a sense of your awful situation, because of this secret combination which shall be among you; or wo be unto it, because of the blood of them who have been slain; for they cry from the dust for vengeance upon it, and also upon those who built it up.
For it cometh to pass that whoso buildeth it up seeketh to overthrow the freedom of all lands, nations, and countries; and it bringeth to pass the destruction of all people, for it is built up by the devil, who is the father of all lies.” Ether 8: 24-25
“The power of government must have limits,” said Elder David A. Bednar in June 2020. “This time of restriction and confinement has confirmed for me that no freedom is more important than religious freedom. Protecting a person’s physical health from the coronavirus is, of course, important, but so is a person’s spiritual health. While believers and their religious organizations must be good citizens in a time of crisis, never again can we allow government officials to treat the exercise of religion as simply nonessential. Never again must the fundamental right to worship God be trivialized below the ability to buy gasoline.”
Like Elder Bednar, all Latter-day Saints should speak out against the deadly and authoritarian lockdowns that have been instituted by out of control governments around the world. Not only have these lockdowns affected religious and others freedoms, but they are causing millions of unnecessary deaths, destroying the economy worldwide, bankrupting businesses and causing an increase in suicide, depression, anxiety and a myriad of other health disorders.
Lockdowns should be voluntary. People who feel they are at risk should stay home. Mask wearing (more on that later) should also be voluntary. Governments that impose lockdowns and mask mandates are acting in an authoritarian manner. The purpose of this post is to increase pressure on society to end mandatory lockdowns and mask mandates so that healthy people can return to normal lives. Note that some protections should be taken for the most vulnerable in society (the elderly and others at risk), but these protections should follow the actual science, not the voodoo that is spouted by most people in the media today.
I would like to remind readers that in times of panic and fear, governments almost always respond by restricting freedom. During World War I, people of German descent were harassed and arrested. During World War II, 120,000 Japanese-Americans were sent to American detention camps because of fear and hysteria. The Supreme Court even upheld this clearly unconstitutional act. (I am happy to say that the Supreme Court recently apologized for this decision). We are living through a similar time now, when people allow their terror to justify government attempts to control other innocent people.
Many people have forgotten how we got to this place. Much of the panic started because of the media’s need for clicks. The media has spent much of the last nine months fueling panic to increase advertising revenue. And one of the primary sources was the now completely discredited projection that 2.2 million people in the United States would die from the coronavirus. The real numbers are likely to be one fifth of that, at worst. So, the primary reason for the first lockdowns in March and April were based on media exaggeration and bad science. (In fairness to the author of that report, he latter retracted it and pointed out that lockdowns were not the solution. Ahem.)
We must, of course, ask ourselves the common sense question: “if the lockdowns were successful, why are we locking down again, and if the lockdowns were not successful, why are we locking down again?” But the real point is that when you give governments power, they never want to give it up. We are beginning to understand why modern-day prophets and the Book of Mormon have warned us again and again to protect liberty. Liberty is a precious thing that can disappear in a few days, and we have seen that truth unfold in front of us in 2020.
So here we are at the end of November 2020, with governors literally starving their own populations in New Mexico by shutting down grocery stores left and right. We see unprecedented curfews imposed on tens of millions of people. Meanwhile, businesses and churches continue to be fined and controlled by a long list of capricious rules that seem to change ever week. In my ward in Colorado, one week we were allowed to have 100 people at Sacrament meeting, the next week, 175 people and now only 50 people. Meanwhile, all of these people are masked and sitting at least six feet from everybody else. And of course no singing, no going to the bathroom, and no drinking from the drinking fountain!!! One ward in our stake was visited by government bureaucrats wearing hazmat suits to make sure they were following the rules.
The lockdowns are more than just Orwellian nonsense: they are also deadly. Ponder this (hat tip to Tom Woods for most of these statistics):
A United Nations report in April warned that economic hardship generated by disruptions of commerce could result in hundreds of thousands of additional child deaths in 2020. The report warned that 42 million to 66 million children could fall into extreme poverty as a result of the crisis. Even The Atlantic had to admit, “When you ask them to stay home, in many cases you’re asking them to starve.”
UNICEF warned of 1.2 million child deaths — “visits to health care centers are declining due to lockdowns, curfews and transport disruptions, and as communities remain fearful of infection.”
Oxford University’s Sunetra Gupta has pointed to warnings by global authorities that as many as 130 million people are at risk of starvation thanks to the possibility of famine in several dozen places around the world, brought on by lockdown-induced disruptions of supply chains.
Suicidal ideation is massively on the rise in the United States. The federal government’s Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration reports on percentages of people who have considered suicide within the previous 12 months, organized by age. People between the ages of 18 and 25 fluctuate between 6.8 percent and 11 percent. Now, from the Centers for Disease Control, we find that percentage (for the 18-24 group) has leaped to 25.5 percent — and this survey asks not about the previous 12 months, like the earlier one, but whether they’ve considered suicide just in the past 30 days.
In the UK, cancer authorities have been warning that the lockdowns will wind up leading to as many or more avoidable cancer deaths than COVID deaths there — as many as 60,000, according to one estimate. In fact, says Richard Sullivan, a professor of cancer and global health at King’s College London and director of its Institute of Cancer Policy: “The number of deaths due to the disruption of cancer services is likely to outweigh the number of deaths from the coronavirus itself. The cessation and delay of cancer care will cause considerable avoidable suffering. Cancer screening services have stopped, which means we will miss our chance to catch many cancers when they are treatable and curable, such as cervical, bowel and breast. When we do restart normal service delivery after the lockdown is lifted, the backlog of cases will be a huge challenge to the healthcare system.“
The CDC estimates 93,814 non-COVID “excess deaths” this year, including 42,427 from cardiovascular conditions, 10,686 from diabetes, and 3646 from cancer, and many of these were caused by the cancellation of “nonessential” care in the midst of the COVID panic.
Meanwhile, almost no American hospitals were actually “overwhelmed” during 2020. In April alone, 1.4 million health care workers were furloughed because the hospitals were empty. In May NPR reported on those field hospitals that were assembled to take care of the surge of people who were supposed to appear: “U.S. Field Hospitals Stand Down, Most Without Treating Any COVID-19 Patients.”
According to The Lancet, “During lockdown people with dementia or severe mental illness had a higher risk of excess death.” Dementia patients had a 53% greater chance of death because of lockdowns and elderly patients with severe mental illness had a 123% greater chance of death.
As a direct result of the lockdowns, the New York Times reports that there will be 1.4 million excess tuberculosis deaths, half a million excess HIV deaths, and 385,000 malaria deaths.
Meanwhile, we are facing the horrific scene of tens of millions of the world’s elderly in their last years being confined to nursing homes where they cannot have access to family members. Many of these people, who have lived many decades and know they must soon die no matter what the cause, want to be able to see their children or grandchildren before they die, but governments will not allow visits, and they will not allow the elderly to leave. In Greeley, Colorado, which is about 30 miles from where I live, long-term care residents protested recently, saying they would rather die from COVID-19 than not see their families. What kind of monster do you have to be to prevent these people from getting that last hug from family members before they go to the spirit world?
So, to be clear, if you believe the trumped-up worldwide numbers on COVID deaths (which I don’t), there may be as many as 2 to 3 million death worldwide from this coronavirus pandemic. But the response to the pandemic — caused by panic and hysteria — will cause millions of unnecessary deaths, and of course the poorest people worldwide will be affected most of all. If we had approached this pandemic like we have most pandemics in the last 65 years, by encouraging the vulnerable to take protective measures but allowing everybody else to go about their business, we would have millions fewer deaths.
If you oppose lockdowns, you should not be asked by the chattering classes, “why do you want grandma to die?” Instead, you should showered with praise for wanting fewer worldwide deaths and for wanting to protect the poor and vulnerable from famine.
Let’s discuss supply chain disruptions, which sound rather pedestrian but are essential to understanding the devastating impact on the world’s poor from the response to the pandemic. You may have noticed that many of your favorite products in the United States are not available in the stores right now. And this is in a relatively free market for consumer goods. I cannot buy my favorite beverages all the time, and many kinds of meats are often not available. I am a big user of Lysol, but it is impossible to find it on the shelves these days. Interestingly, you can find Lysol on Amazon Prime, but it is five times its normal price.
Whenever there is a disruption in the global supply chain, this means that many products that used to be inexpensive become more expensive (think of the Lysol example above). The world’s poorest people spend 60 to 70 percent of their income on food. So, if food becomes scarce, richer people (like most Americans) can usually find it, and they may have to spend a bit more putting dinner on the table. But what happens to the world’s poor? Instead of spending 60 to 70 percent of their income on food, they must spend 100 percent, and they must borrow. And when the lockdowns go on for months (as has happened in 2020), the poor simply run out of money and begin to starve to death.
When the global supply chain is disrupted because factories are closed or meat packing plants are closed, this inevitably means that the world’s poorest people in places like Yemen, Malawi and Haiti are the hardest hit of all.
This is why it is essential that governments allow people, especially the young and healthy who are not as likely to die from COVID-19, to continue to work and produce — it actually helps the global supply chain, which helps the poor.
So, please spare us the ignorant claims that people who oppose lockdowns only want the stock market to benefit. First of all, the stock market is doing quite well, even during the lockdowns, and secondly, economics is, at the end of the day, about life and death for billions of people.
What does the science say? If you know anything about science, you should know that if you have two scientists you very often have three different opinions. And trustworthy scientists concentrate on their areas of expertise. So, you should be very suspicious when immunologists like Dr. Fauci start making recommendations on economics. However, we do have epidemiologists and public health scientists who have issued something called the Great Barrington Declaration, which says this:
Current lockdown policies are producing devastating effects on short and long-term public health. The results (to name a few) include lower childhood vaccination rates, worsening cardiovascular disease outcomes, fewer cancer screenings and deteriorating mental health – leading to greater excess mortality in years to come, with the working class and younger members of society carrying the heaviest burden. Keeping students out of school is a grave injustice.
I have not even mentioned, until now, the horrific decision that school districts worldwide have made to prevent children from enjoying in-person education. We are talking about an entire generation of young people who will learn very little, if anything, during the lockdowns, which may last 18 to 24 months (or more) in many places. What will be the long-term effects of more than a billion of the world’s children being denied education? It is impossible to name all of the possible ramifications, but depression, suicide, drug and alcohol addiction are already on the rise. Will millions of young people turn to crime because of the lockdowns? Almost certainly.
Before I end this post, I want to discuss masks. As I have written before, if you are in Utah or other areas where Church authorities have encouraged you to wear a mask, then you should do it. The Church is concerned, as Elder Bednar notes above, about our members being good citizens in a time of crisis. My personal policy is that I try to avoid wearing masks as much as possible, but if a store insists I wear a mask I do because I believe in private property. At church, I always wear a mask because my bishop asks me to. My kids wear a mask when they are allowed to go to school.
But you should be aware, as you don that mask, that the best study on mask wearing indicates that masks will not protect wearers from COVID-19. To be clear, if you are sick or if you are a doctor of dentist working closely with patients, wearing a mask is very beneficial. But if you are expecting that mask to magically protect you from the virus, the science says it will not.
So, as I say up above, lockdowns should be voluntary, and so should mask wearing.