Covid Collectivism, Or the Derangement of Homo Avoidcovidus

(Don Boudreaux)

Near the end of my latest column for AIER I identify the deranged creature driving and cheering Covid-19 lockdowns. Worse even than homo economicus, this creature – homo avoidcovidus – is pathologically single-minded and real. A slice:

While economists often use homo economicus as a simplifying assumption when theorizing, no serious economist has ever insisted that real-world individuals actually fit the description of homo economicus – a dreary fictional sociopath who obsessively aims to maximize his narrow material well-being. Much less have serious thinkers ever recommended that real-world individuals transform themselves into homo economici. Covid collectivists, in contrast, believe that homo avoidcovidus is actually descriptive of many individuals and, when not descriptive, prescriptive.

Homo avoidcovidus seeks to maximize one narrow thing and that thing only: avoidance of Covid-19. Just as the caricature homo economicus is willing, say, to risk disintegration of his family in order to earn a few extra dollars by working excessively, homo avoidcovidus is willing to sacrifice family connections, friendships, the quality of his children’s education and of his own work, the simple pleasure of being at restaurants and theaters with other persons; everything, for even slight reductions in his prospect of catching Covid. For homo avoidcovidus, nothing is ever as important, on any margin, as is avoiding Covid. As long as the prospect of catching Covid is greater than zero, all steps to avoid it are justified in the puny mind of homo avoidcovidus.

Such are the gruesome monsters hatched by Covid collectivism. This deeply illiberal collectivist ideology thrives on irrational fear brought on by unusually poor information. And it refuses to acknowledge that Covid-19’s dangers, while indeed real, are not as great as suggested by daily screaming headlines, and are heavily confined to infirm groups on whom preventive attention should be, but isn’t, focused.

It’s time for a revolt against Covid collectivism.

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