RealClear Heal⁠t⁠h: Th⁠i⁠ngs My Daugh⁠t⁠ers Used ⁠t⁠o Say

By: Dr. J. Robert McClure / 2024

Dr. J. Robert McClure




July 9, 2024
Bob McClure and Collin Roberts

When my daughters were in middle school, their playful banter and petty squabbles were often punctuated with dismissive expressions such as “whatever,” “just kidding,” and “it’s all good.” Never did I imagine hearing similar words and phrases from public officials seeking to minimize the serious problems they caused in times of unprecedented crisis.  

And then I saw Dr. Anthony Fauci’s recent testimony before a Congressional committee about the federal government’s response to COVID-19.   

Fauci reluctantly acknowledged the limited efficacy of COVID vaccines, noting that while they prevented infections in some individuals, their “durability…was not long.” Indeed, recent studies showed that the vaccines were effective for a mere three months. 

Moreover, Fauci did not “recall specifically” reviewing any studies or data supporting masking for children. Yet, this did not stop him from calling for mask mandates for children aged 2-5 – even after studies revealed “detrimental effects of face masks on face recognition and identification, communication, and social-emotional interaction.” 

Lastly, Dr. Fauci admitted that his six-foot social distancing guideline was, well, rather arbitrary. He said the recommendation “sort of just appeared” and “was not backed by science.” Yet, even after an MIT study revealed one was no safer at 60 feet than at six feet, Fauci and other public health officials made no effort to revise the six-foot social distancing guideline or to correct the misinformation given to the American public.

During a period marked by limited information and few precedents, the US government urged its citizens to adhere to its public health guidelines. Americans were subjected to mandates that required vaccinations, mask-wearing in public, while maintaining social distance. By complying with these faulty directives under the guise of “public safety,” American citizens were forced to compromise their personal liberty – resulting in education losses, productivity declines, and devastating effects on mental health.

“Oops. Jk. My bad,” Fauci and other officials now say.

As we reflect on the stringent measures the government imposed, it is crucial to recognize the real-life consequences these mandates had on everyday Americans. They were not merely inconvenienced; many faced profound life changes. Those choosing not to vaccinate—whether due to medical concerns, personal beliefs, or correctly placed skepticism about the vaccine’s efficacy—often found themselves marginalized, labeled as public health threats, or worse, “killers,” even by President Biden. This stigma extended into the professional realm, where unvaccinated individuals faced job terminations, creating a class of citizens economically punished for their health choices. Moreover, businesses adhering to the non-science-backed ‘6-foot rule’ suffered from low demand, causing unemployment to spike to 14.8% in April 2020. 

The repercussions were arguably even more devastating for children. Students lost critical months, if not years, of learning and social interaction, disproportionately affecting the growth of younger children who missed essential milestones in educational and social development. 

This retrospective is not just an academic exercise; it’s a necessary reckoning. The policies enacted during the pandemic, often under the banner of public safety, must be scrutinized and learned from. As we navigate future public health crises, it is paramount that our actions carefully balance safety with the preservation of the freedoms that are fundamental to American society. The lessons are clear: public trust is crucial, and maintaining it requires transparency, adaptability, and respect for personal freedoms that should not be so easily compromised, even in the face of dire health emergencies. 

The government’s actions during the pandemic have established a dangerous precedent for future national emergencies. It is unacceptable for the government to sacrifice personal liberties in favor of ineffective policies that do not serve the public’s best interests. What’s to come next? Confiscating gas-powered vehicles to advance a Green Initiative? Seizing personal data under the guise of protecting against cyberattacks or terrorism? We must not permit future crises to undermine the foundational American principles of democracy. In the words of Thomas Jefferson, “Every government degenerates when trusted to the rulers of the people alone. The people themselves therefore are its only safe depositories.”  

Put another way, Thomas Jefferson was saying government officials shouldn’t be able to invoke a dismissive “jk” and move on. The people should hold them to account instead.

Dr. Bob McClure is president and CEO of The James Madison Institute. Collin Roberts is a junior studying Economics and Data Science at Yale University and a research intern at The James Madison Institute.  

Original found in RealClear Health.