When the situation is explained to them, most Americans act responsibility motivated by both wholesome self-interest and concern for the neighbors. That at least is the takeaway from “a study published this week by the National Bureau of Economic Research.” Based on their “statistical analysis, five academic researchers find ‘no evidence’ that the sudden lifting of Wisconsin’s order “impacted social distancing, COVID-19 cases, or COVID-19-related mortality” during the 14 days that followed.” The authors go on to “suggest that perhaps most of Wisconsin’s 5.8 million people simply decided to act responsibly of their own accord. Stay-at-home orders might be first enacted ‘during a time where people perceived little risk and knew little about proper protective behavior.’ But by the time such orders are rescinded, residents ‘have had a chance to adjust.'” (Read the rest here)
Jonathan Kay at Quillette argues that based on the data of what people did relative to when governments did (or didn’t) impose lockdown concludes our debate on the issue is “phoney.” what it overlooks is that for a mixture of self-interest and altruism people have voluntarily changed their behavior.
Unfortunately, “on both sides” assume “that government decrees work as a sort of magic wand that will bring our economies (and perhaps the most acute phase of the pandemic) back to life. But the data suggest there is no magic wand. Much of the lockdown effect was imposed not by top-down fiat, but through millions of small decisions made every day by civic groups, employers, unions, trade associations, school boards and, most importantly, ordinary people.”
Put another way, we tend–as a group–to do the right thing for each other.