Instead of a Column, by a Man Too Burnt Out to Write One

In the normal course of things, I write my columns to a particular formula, that of the “op-ed.” I pick a subject that’s riding high in the news cycle (or, better yet, is ABOUT to be riding high in the news cycle, making me look prophetic) and make the most compelling — but concise! — argument I can come up with for my position on that subject.

These times are not the normal course of things. The news cycle right now is “COVID-19, 24/7.” Frankly I’m sick of writing about that — my last 12 columns, and 13 out of my last 15 columns, have been about the pandemic — but it’s not like there’s much else going on.

So, instead of a column, I’m going to share some random thoughts. Some of those thoughts relate to COVID-19, some don’t. They’re just things I’ve been thinking about.

Thought One: I often hear politicians complain that this or that person, corporation, organization, whatever, is “out of control” and needs to be “held accountable.” Out of WHOSE control? Accountable to WHOM? They never seem to say.

Thought Two: Regular people who don’t care very much about politics are often referred to as “sheep” by people who care deeply about politics. And we’re all encouraged to think of ourselves that way by supporters of militarism and “law enforcement.” That is, we’re the sheep, and they’re the sheep dogs guarding us from the wolves. But who are the politicians in this scenario? They’re the sheep FARMERS. They shear us continuously … and feed some of us to their dogs.

Thought Three: I keep hearing about the need for a “plan” to “open the economy back up.” We don’t need a “plan” for that. If you take your boot off someone’s neck, he can get up on his own just fine, with no need for a “plan” from you. Ditto an entire population. But the politicians don’t want us to notice that. Their livelihoods depend on us believing that their “plans” are why things happen.

Thought Four: The Republican and Democratic Parties want us to believe that the upcoming election is THE MOST IMPORTANT ELECTION [insert something here — “of our lifetimes,” “in history,” etc.] But the quality of the candidates they’re putting up for us to choose between says they don’t think it’s important enough for them to bother taking seriously. If they don’t, why should we?

Next time, a real column. I promise.

Thomas L. Knapp (Twitter: @thomaslknapp) is director and senior news analyst at the William Lloyd Garrison Center for Libertarian Advocacy Journalism ( He lives and works in north central Florida.


Will We Learn COVID-19’s Most Important Lesson?

Photo by Min An from Pexels

On February 29th, US Surgeon General Jerome Adams took to Twitter to admonish Americans:  “Seriously people — STOP BUYING MASKS! They are NOT effective in preventing general public from catching #Coronavirus …”

A little over a month later, Adams finally got around to asking the Centers for Disease Control if perhaps he’d been talking through his hat when talking through a mask might have been smarter.

City governments from Miami to Los Angeles gave themselves whiplash as mask-wearing went from “officially discouraged” to “mandatory” virtually overnight. Philadelphia’s city bus system adopted the new policy so enthusiastically that masked cops were summoned to violently drag non-masked riders off of buses.

The Parable of Mask Idiocy’s lessons extend, like those of most parables, far beyond the specifics of the story itself.

If general lessons can be drawn from our experience of COVID-19 so far, here are three of them:

First, never expect government to be prepared to respond to a pandemic.

Second, never expect government’s ad hoc responses to a pandemic to be the correct responses.

And third, never expect government to admit its errors.

The sequel to the Parable of Mask Idiocy is the “Saved You From Apocalypse” Claim.

You’ve heard that story in its mocking primitive form before:

Villagers cower in fear as the sun begins to disappear behind a black spot. It’s the end of the world, their witch doctor informs them. Follow my instructions to appease the gods or you will all be consumed! Then the eclipse ends and the witch doctor takes credit. The world WOULD have ended if it hadn’t been for him and his wisdom, see?

At this very moment, herds of government officials and “public health” bureaucrats are stampeding away from their initial predictions of hundreds of thousands, even millions, of American deaths from COVID-19. Latest guesstimate: “Substantially under” 100,000.

They know you won’t forget those early predictions, so their task is to con you into believing that the lower numbers are a function of you having obeyed their orders.

One problem with that is that so far the death tolls seem to be worst in areas where draconian orders were most strictly enforced. And that seems to be true globally, not just in the US (see the responses and outcomes in Italy versus South Korea, for example).

While there are certainly other factors involved — population density being a big one — it’s at least plausible that the authoritarian responses of governors like New York’s Andrew Cuomo and New Jersey’s Phil Murphy increased, rather than decreased, the death tolls in their states.

As with so many other jobs, the state is neither competent nor trustworthy when it comes to protecting us from contagion. Let’s never again forget that.

Thomas L. Knapp (Twitter: @thomaslknapp) is director and senior news analyst at the William Lloyd Garrison Center for Libertarian Advocacy Journalism ( He lives and works in north central Florida.


COVID-19: Resist Much, Obey Little, and Never Forget

Photo by cottonbro from Pexels
Photo by cottonbro from Pexels

The COVID-19 outbreak isn’t over yet, but we’ve reached a turning point: American politicians and bureaucrats are beginning the tricky process of trying to simultaneously walk back their predictions of catastrophe, while awarding themselves the credit for those predictions not coming true, and avoiding the blame they deserve for inciting headlong irrational panic.

I’m no more immune than others to seeing confirmation of my views in outcomes on the ground. I might just as easily have titled this column “Confirming My Priors” or “That Rug Really Tied the Room Together.” But I’m gonna roll with temptation. I think this episode HAS confirmed my priors.

For nearly three decades, I’ve been pointing out to my readers that politicians are expensive serial killers who pose unacceptable risks to our lives and liberties.

We can usually “afford” their depredations.  The US government only openly steals about one out of every five dollars you earn, and its Food and Drug Administration (as an example) only murders about as many Americans each month as were killed in the 9/11 attacks.

But every once in a while their antics boil over into a Holodomor or a Holocaust or a Great Leap Forward. And that should keep you lying awake nights trying to think of a better way.

For those same three decades, I’ve been pointing out that you don’t actually need the politicians, that they don’t serve any useful productive purpose — and that they will go to any length to keep you from NOTICING that they’re useless and that you don’t need them.

I’d like to believe that COVID-19 will make these points so obvious that I can retire.

For example, it seems to me that people should just naturally notice that countries (like South Korea) and US states (like Florida) that are maintaining relative freedom of movement, assembly, commerce, etc., are coming through this thing in much better shape than countries (like Italy) and states (like New York and New Jersey) that went into full-on fascist “lockdown” mode.

And I’d like to think that having noticed, Americans will do the right thing:

Rise up.

Get back to living.

Ignore the politicians.

I’m not saying don’t be careful. I’m saying that you know better than any politician what being careful entails for you, and what risks are acceptable to you.

And if the politicians send uniformed thugs to enforce their dictates? Leave a few of their bodies lying in the streets, or hanging from lamp-posts, as a warning to the wise.

Yes, you just read what you thought you just read.

Resist much. Obey little. Never forget that the politicians tried to exploit this pandemic to reduce you under absolute despotism. And stop giving them such opportunities.

Thomas L. Knapp (Twitter: @thomaslknapp) is director and senior news analyst at the William Lloyd Garrison Center for Libertarian Advocacy Journalism ( He lives and works in north central Florida.