Health and Medicine

The Pandemic Is a Case for Policy Humility

By Peter Suderman, Reason

Politicians and policymakers know less than they think they do, in part because they have less power over our lives than they assume.

One thing that’s more clear than ever after a year of pandemic governance is that politicians and policymakers know less than they think they do, in part because they have less power over individual lives and choices than they assume.

A brief case study: When Texas’ Republican Gov. Greg Abbott lifted the state’s mask mandate and ended all capacity limits at the beginning of March, becoming the first state to do so, his decision was greeted by a flood of high-profile criticism from left-leaning lawmakers and policymakers.

California’s Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom, who has presided over the nation’s most restrictive coronavirus policy regime, called the move “absolutely reckless.” Andy Slavitt, President Joe Biden’s senior advisor for COVID response, said, “We think it’s a mistake to lift the mask mandates too early. Masks are saving a lot of lives.” Biden himself called the move “Neanderthal thinking.” And Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Rochelle Walensky insisted, “Now is not the time to relax the critical safeguards.”

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