Principle of Subsidiarity

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What COVID Ought to Teach Us

I’m back from vacation and catching up on COVID matters. I was greeted with news that COVID cases are spiking rapidly in my county, and one of my clients has it and is “not doing well.”

The developments fueled my curiosity. I had, after all, sworn off all things COVID just a few weeks ago, just as I had done about, oh, 36 times previously.

Based on what I can discern, the current developments show: (1) Social distancing does appear to work to prevent the spread, as evidenced by the spike in areas where lockdowns ended and young people have shown a greater propensity for ignoring social distancing; (2) The disease is scary but not nearly as deadly as we once thought. The death rate is about .3 percent . . . or three times the seasonal flu rate. (3) Among youth, the fatality rate is less than the overall fatality rate of the seasonal flu and for folks my age, the fatality rate is about double. The CDC estimates that the CFR for COVID-19 falls to 0.05 percent among people younger than 50 and rises to 1.3 percent among people 65 and older. For people in the middle (ages 50–64), the estimated CFR is 0.2 percent. (4) Lockdowns are not effective, at least when compared simply to living in rural areas where there’s naturally more distance between people. The least restrictive states have the lowest infection rates, but those least restrictive states also tend to be the least densely-populated.

If you put all that into a blender what do you get?

The heck if I know, but neither does anyone else. It’s pretty apparent that a one-size-fits-all approach to COVID that states implemented in hysteria last March are ill-advised. We need micro-choices. Each region of each state deciding what it needs. Or each county. Or each town . . . or each family.

COVID might, with some decent publicity, put the principle of subsidiarity back on people’s radar screen as the most sane political principle of all time.