It didn't begin with Covid
Pundits often criticize the US government for overreacting to Covid, especially the excessive mandates for masks, vaccines, etc. I share their concern. But I also wonder where some of these people have been. On a list of regulatory overreaction, these mandates don’t even make my “top 100”. For decades, overreaction to tiny safety risks has been getting worse, with no end in sight.
Have you ever wondered why we must wear those annoying seat belts on full size airliners? Here’s a list of fatalities on US airline flights:
Notice only 2 deaths in the past 11 years. And even that overstates the risk of flying modern full size airliners, because (AFAIK) almost all the deaths over the past 20 years occurred in smaller commuter planes, with fewer than 5 people dying on full size airliners. So why the seat belts? We don’t wear seat belts on buses, trains, boats, etc. Why full size airliners, which almost never crash? And if they were to crash, are seat belts actually likely to save your life? (Yes, they might help you when the plane hits an big air pocket, but you aren’t even required to wear a seatbelt in mid-flight.)
BTW, People sometimes say the human mind cannot visualize astronomical distances. But the distance from the Earth to the Sun (93 million miles) is small compared to the number of safe passenger flights each year (nearly a billion). Airline safety is far, far beyond human comprehension. Analogies such as lightning strikes no longer apply:
A long-term average of 41 people die from lightning strikes each year in the United States, but that number has been continuing to trend downward thanks in part to increased awareness, safety campaigns, and growing accessibility of weather forecasts and warnings. A 10-year average is closer to 20 people killed by lightning.
As I got older, I saw one freedom after another taken away from me due to our hysterical overreaction to risk. In the 1980s, a group of us used to swim after playing volleyball, but then the pool was closed to us because it was too dangerous to allow 20 healthy young adults to swim in a small pool for an hour in broad daylight. A bar at our volleyball site was closed due to panic over potential lawsuits from people drinking too much and getting in an accident. I’m glad I got to live at least a portion of my life before the safety fanatics took over America; I can’t even imagine what it’s like to be young today. I could cite dozens of similar examples.
I don’t disagree with those who point to excessive fear of Covid, but why is anyone surprised? I’m surprised the regulations aren’t far worse. Given our history of overreaction, I would have expected us to emulate Australia. Unlike airline crashes, Covid has killed roughly 800,000 Americans, despite all sorts of social distancing, of which nearly 200,000 are less than 65-years old. Yes, we are overreacting, but it’s not like with airline crashes where the risk is entirely imaginary. Covid really is somewhat dangerous; not in absolute terms, but at least relative to the almost absurd safety of modern America.
Personally, I find the TSA to be 10 times more annoying than all the Covid regulations combined. Why aren’t senators speaking out on that issue? And as far as personal freedom, what about the 400,000 people in prison for violating drug laws? How many are in prison for violating mask and vaccine mandates?
The disproportionate outrage over Covid regulations combined with almost total silence in dozens of other areas of wildly excessive safety regulation makes me wonder whether there is some sort of hidden agenda here.
PS. Admittedly, for small businesses the lockdowns were pretty big issue, which did not affect me personally. In this post I focus on mask and vaccine mandates.