Wednesday, March 4, 2020

How a Private Property Society Would Deal With the Wuhan Coronavirus

By Robert Wenzel

I am highly suspicious of the news media hype surrounding the Wuhan coronavirus (COVID-19).

There are very strong indications that the virus is not much different than the common flu, where no dramatic actions are taken by governments of the world and people go about their daily lives taking common-sense precautions.

Nevertheless, let us for the moment take the view that COVID-19 is a much more serious virus where much more stringent precautions should be taken than those we now take against the flu. How would the private property society deal with the virus as opposed to government?

The first thing to keep in mind is that government actions surrounding COVID-19 are largely inept central planning efforts that should be left to the private sector to get much more efficient results.

Consider, the government is in charge of testing, which leads to typical central planning horror stories and lack of supply.
The Left is trying to blame this on President Trump but this is just typical failure of government central planning. There are solutions out there.
Given a free market, why wouldn't businesses race to provide such tests, instead of the current system where doctors and patients must beg the government for tests in typical government rationing as a solution protocol?

Then there is the latest scam from the government claiming that masks don't work for protection against the virus. Masks are "not effective" at preventing the coronavirus, says the U.S. surgeon general.

“Seriously people — STOP BUYING MASKS!” the surgeon general, Jerome M. Adams, said in a tweet on Saturday morning. “They are NOT effective in preventing general public from catching #Coronavirus, but if health care providers can’t get them to care for sick patients, it puts them and our communities at risk!”

Well, if they are not effective for the general public, how are they effective for healthcare workers?

The government's fallback position is that people don't know how to properly wear the masks. But this is a problem with an easy solution. If drug stores weren't so frozen into following government orders rather than being creative, they might come up with ways to serve their customers instead of hustling government promoted sketchy vaccines. Why not, say, teach people how to wear the masks? Either by having an individual ready to do so when a mask is sold or in-store classes to do so if it is complicated.

Hey, Walgreen's and CVS wake up out of your led by the government stupors. There is probably no retail sector that I come across that is more regimented in following government dictates then the drug store industry.

Thinking beyond masks, the most important thing one can do as a result of a new virus, where the private sector has not yet developed treatments and vaccines, is to isolate from the general public to the degree one is concerned.

If you really fear COVID-19, stay at home. No draconian orders required for the president to put an entire area under lockdown. If you are not concerned about the virus, well then, carry about your usual routine. This is not complicated. Why would a president have to step in with authoritarian dictates? In the PPS, those who want to take caution to the extreme can do so, those that don't should be free to move about.

Businesses can adopt policies that lower the risk of catching the disease, if they believe such actions are what customers want.

For example, there have to be more bacteria on door handles then pretty much anywhere else. Macy's and major malls could place gloved uniformed doormen who open and close the entry and exit doors for customers. They can place uniformed "Virus Fighters" at the escalators and wipe down the handrail for each customer. They can put gloved uniformed elevator operators to push (operate) the elevators like in the old days. Would this cost too much? Not necessarily in a free market, if the customers really want the service. (And, under current anti-free market regulations, Macy's and mall owners should go to governments to get exemptions from minimum wages for new hire "Virus Fighter" employees. Exemptions would apply to anyone that is applying for their first job or is unable to find a job at the current minimum wage.)

Are people going to be scared about attending major sporting events or concerts. Maybe it would make sense for venue operators to place temperature readers to read everyone's temperature before ticket holders enter a venue, and prevent anyone who has a fever. And if conference operators want to cancel events, well just let them, like they are doing now, without presidential edicts.

Maybe a service would emerge where individuals are tested and receive some sort of identification that they have been tested and are COVID-19 free. And certain venues might require an up to date test for entrance.

Bottom line, I can see much more potential for creativity and solutions to this new emerging virus from the free market and the general PPS, rather than the current mind-block situation where everyone is sitting around waiting for orders from the government, which is an organization that is structured in a manner that creates inefficiencies and suffocates innovation and loves the iron fist of orders over having to come up with solutions that people would prefer.

And, of course, if a group of property owners in an area want to prevent outsiders from visiting during a period of heightened concern,  there is no problem with this and it can be done right away in a PPS without having to wait for some presidential edict.

End the CDC! End the FDA! The only thing it seems we will lose is a shortage of tests and masks--and the end of central planner incompetence.

Robert Wenzel is Editor & Publisher of EconomicPolicyJournal.comand Target Liberty. He also writes EPJ Daily Alert and is author of The Fed Flunks: My Speech at the New York Federal Reserve Bankand most recently Foundations of Private Property Society Theory: Anarchism for the Civilized Person Follow him on twitter:@wenzeleconomics and on LinkedIn. His youtube series is here: Robert Wenzel Talks Economics. More about Wenzel here.


  1. "Why not, say, teach people how to wear the masks? Either by having an individual ready to do so when a mask is sold or in-store classes to do so if it is complicated."

    Right. A non-Governmental example: Apple with their Macs and iPhones. If you have a question about use you have options: call Support, make an appt. to come in, stop by and speak with an employee at the door, or sign up for a class. All at no charge. The politicians will figure this out in 50 years, but currently too busy saving the earth. Michael, www.TheREBT.Life

  2. You forgot a big one...a "disease control center" / bioweapons facility wouldn't be located in the center of a 20M person city of a PPS.

  3. I have been more concerned about the government response than the actual virus, but to admit that is almost as shameful as being a "climate denier."

    One of the arguments that I heard in favor of forced quarantine is that we can't have the health system overwhelmed, so we need to reduce potential cases. But that is nonsense in two respects. First, if the health system were private, then it would already be more efficient, and would respond rapidly to a crisis. Second, if someone wants to wander out and risk catching the virus, then he knows in advance that he might have to join a long queue at the local hospital.

    1. Ding! I'm glad there's more than one of us that think this way.

  4. The Idiocracy is alive and thriving!