We at the Cato Institute have friends and family who have tested positive for SARS‐CoV2. We have loved ones among the most vulnerable. Our hearts go out to all patients and their families around the globe who are suffering pain and loss due to this disease. We appreciate the inspiring dedication of our health care professionals.
Policymakers must approach this pandemic head on, with calm and humility. Calm, because a virus is not the only contagion we face. Panic is its own contagion, one that impairs judgment. Humility, because even when policymakers do not act out of panic, their best laid plans often go awry.
In that vein, policymakers must first discard laws that are preventing health professionals from responding to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Humility counsels policymakers not to assume in every case that they can better assess the benefits and costs of shutdowns or lockdowns than private citizens, nor that federal policymakers can do so better than states or localities. To ensure containment efforts are proportionate and do minimal damage to the American people, policymakers must base them on solid epidemiological information and commit to lifting them upon reaching prespecified targets.
With the need for urgency, calm, and humility in mind, we offer these principles to help policymakers meet this challenge in a manner that saves human lives and preserves human dignity.
We at the Cato Institute face this challenge with both trepidation and a firm belief in the creative capacities of human beings. We urge policymakers in the United States and around the world not to let fear and hubris lead them to prescribe cures that are worse than the disease.