We now know the price of freedom: $0

Continuing the Passover-Freedom theme… what is the actual price tag that Americans put on freedom? “The Curious Case of Florida’s Pandemic Response” (Atlantic) suggests that the value is $0.

To the extent that winning a pandemic is possible, Florida seemed to be winning the pandemic.

(the author does not consider the possibility that Floridians did not enter the COVID Olympics)

Governor Ron DeSantis bragged that Florida drew a straight flush of pandemic outcomes: “open schools, comparatively low unemployment, and per capita COVID mortality below the national average.”

But the closer I looked, the more holes I found in the simple pro-Florida narrative.

Yes, Florida is seeing falling COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations. But so is just about everywhere else. And its overall pandemic performance is just about typical.

As far as I can tell, though, it didn’t. At 4.8 percent, its unemployment rate is 18th in the country, and not meaningfully different from that of the median states, South Carolina and Virginia, at 5.3 percent. Real-time data tracking state spending and employment show that Florida is doing, again, no better than average. Compared with January 2020, its consumer spending is down 1 percent, which is right in line with the national average. Its small-business revenue is down about 30 percent—again, almost exactly the national average. These statistics may be missing something. But the national narrative of an exceptionally white-hot Florida economy doesn’t match the statistical record of its performance.

What this nation desperately needs is low-skill immigration so that we have lots more people to house:

Since 2012, Miami home prices have increased by 94 percent, nearly the exact same as those in Los Angeles in that time. Prices are soaring as inventory melts away; Florida’s active listings fell by 50 percent last year, and it’s not doing enough to keep up with demand.

A rare moment of checking to see whether coronascience has any predictive value:

In 2020, smart media figures and scientists predicted that COVID-19 would especially ravage Florida, given its open economy and elderly population. They were wrong. Why? Did Florida just get lucky? Is this mostly about the salutary benefits of the outdoors, or the coronavirus’s sensitivity to heat and humidity? Do strict lockdowns simply fail the cost-benefit analysis? The answer to all three questions may be yes.

What’s most interesting to me is that the author implicitly values the freedoms to walk out of one’s door, walk outside without a mask, meet friends at a restaurant, host a party at one’s house, etc. at $0. If two people, one confined to his/her/zir/their home by a governor’s executive order and one free to send children to school, go to work, play a sport, socialize, have the same amount of money they are equally well off. So it makes sense to look at the statistics gathered by economists and pronounce a state (or a society) a success or failure based on those statistics. (We also see this applied to Sweden; people will look at a list of countries ranked by COVID-19-tagged deaths per capita and note Sweden’s position without pointing out that it avoided the lockdowns, masquerades, etc.)

From Wellington, Florida… (Why does the realtor rank “Pool” above “Hangar”?!?!)

6 thoughts on “We now know the price of freedom: $0

  1. The pool sign has holes allowing another sign to hang below it. Obviously the sign makers feel that once you’ve advertised a hangar, there’s nothing left to say.

  2. Not only is his estimate of freedom’s value $0, he doesn’t mention the word a single time in the entire piece. The new Ruling Class technocrats don’t even know what that word is.

  3. Sad. I used to read Atlantic often. Last time I browsed it was a year ago or so.
    Love Florida. Wish that mansion with pool and hangar there were on my to do list.

  4. Breaking! California is allowing some people a little bit of freedom in response to “plunging COVID cases.” No word on how much Governor Newsom values his freedom to remain Governor in light of the looming recall election. In fact, the recall election is not mentioned in the article, but this seems to be one case where the #Science, the #ValueofFreedom, and the value of #Newsom’sCareer intersect at the vaccination line!

    California OKs indoor sports, concerts as COVID cases plunge


    “Ben Bleiman, a San Francisco nightlife activist and chairman of the California Music and Culture Association, said venues need full capacity to make any money — but members will take the change, albeit with trepidation.

    “On the one side you have the thrill and the joy of reopening,” he said, adding on the other, “there’s some dread that something’s going to go wrong.”

    Photo from a drive-up vaccination site in LA:


    “Vehicles drive around a maze of traffic cones, as they line up at the Dodgers Stadium vaccination site in Los Angeles Friday, April 2, 2021. California has administered nearly 19 million doses, and nearly 6.9 million people are fully vaccinated in a state with almost 40 million residents. But only people 50 and over are eligible statewide to get the vaccine now. Adults 16 and older won’t be eligible until April 15. (AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes)”

    • Also fascinating from the article:

      “State officials won’t require testing or proof of vaccination for some of those events. Events that do require testing and vaccinations will be allowed to have more paying customers than those that don’t. Only people who live in California can attend these live performances.”

      To enforce that, people are going to have to show some form of proof of residency or ID card! So you will need ID in order to attend a concert or an indoor sporting event. But not to vote.

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