Yesterday I watched a debate between Phil Magness and Jeremy Horpedahl on lockdowns and liberty. Phil is a senior research fellow at the American Institute for Economic Research and Jeremy is an assistant professor of economics at the University of Central Arkansas. The debate was sponsored by the University of San Diego’s Center for Ethics, Economics, and Public Policy and the Center for Health Law Policy and Bioethics. The moderator was Dov Fox, Professor of Law and Herzog Endowed Scholar at USD.

I had expected a debate about lockdowns, with Phil arguing against and Jeremy arguing in favor, but that’s not what it turned out to be. Phil did argue against, but Jeremy didn’t argue in favor.

I tend to take copious notes and here’s what I wrote down from Jeremy’s opening statement. This is not word for word, but it’s close.

Lockdowns are general shutdowns of non-essential industries.

There are two problems with lockdowns. First, they are very strong restrictions on people’s liberty. Second, all the lockdowns did was delay infections.

These restrictions did very little good and a lot of harm.

We should shut down where there’s an outbreak.

On the last sentence above, Jeremy gave the example of his own University, where 20% of the tests were positive the first week of classes in January and so they shut down for just a week. So the impression I got was that Jeremy believes only in localized shutdowns that last a short time. This is nothing like the lockdowns that we in California have to deal with. In fact, Jeremy stated that most states had abandoned lockdowns within a month of imposing them and it was only rare states like California that sustained them for 10 months.

In short, both Phil and Jeremy strongly oppose the extensive lockdowns we have had in California. I was gratified to hear that.

I had to leave the debate at 5:12 p.m. and so it’s possible that in Q&A Jeremy made stronger statements in favor of lockdowns but I think I’ve stated the views I heard accurately.

Much of the discussion was about masking and there were real differences between the two debaters about mask mandates. I’ll deal with that in a separate post.

One thing I liked was the civility of the discussion. Jeremy went first and set the tone by referring to Phil as his friend. Some debaters say this kind of thing and then go on to show that the person isn’t their friend at all, but that’s not what happened. Jeremy seemed genuinely friendly as did Phil in response.

I’ll update with a link to the recorded debate once I get one.

UPDATE: Here is the link to the debate.