(The transcript of today's important program appears just below and you may want to check out next week's Part 2.) Real Science Radio host Bob Enyart takes lessons from the founder of the discipline of praxeology, as it's been called by Ludwig von Mises, the past leader of the Austrian School of Economics. Taking brilliant insights from von Mises, and working them within the context of a biblical Christian worldview, gives stunning insights into why, just now and unlike ever before, the world has shut down to fight a pandemic. Good for the mind. Great for the soul.
Today's Resource: God's Principles of Government. Join Bob Enyart as he explores God's Principles of Government. From Against Democracy where we look at the biblical principles related to the idea of majority rule, to a Representative Republic and its similarities with democracy, to a real Alternative to Democracy, to what a Bible-based Constitution actually looks like, after this series, the Scriptures' principles of governance will permeate your thinking like never before! Or your money back. (Really.)
* Transcript of Today's Program:
As a public service for the COVID-19 pandemic and brought to you by the Crawford family of radio stations, welcoming new RSR listeners in Portland and San Francisco, today we'll present an overview of the coronavirus pandemic. How we got here, where we are at, and what this global experience portends for the future. And we'll rebut a few conspiracy theories and hopefully mitigate some misplaced anger.
Real Science Radio has long run as a weekly Bible-based science program out of Denver and during the pandemic its been made available to various Crawford Broadcasting stations. Today, we include the soft science of praxeology, as Ludwig von Mises called it. Von Mises was the recognized leader of what is called the Austrian School, or the more conservative school, of Economics. For RSR to understand what a virus is and how it spreads requires interviewing scientists, like we've done in this series. Audience favorite molecular biologist Kevin Anderson, and world renowned scientists like biochemist Michael Behe and synthetic chemist James Tour and his nanoprobe device, remember that from last week, like a guided missile, seeks out pathogens, attaches and drills into them at three million RPMs, three million revolutions per minute, to destroy them!
Yes, many brilliant scientists including those among the most successful in the world, like Dr. James Tour, reject secular origins and trust in Jesus Christ as savior and in the Scriptures as God's Word.
But if you want to understand how the world, including our own government, got to this point of near-global extended quarantine, vast economic shut down, and millions of jobs lost, and likely, tens of thousands of failed businesses with employers who will no longer and never again provide jobs for others, these questions fall into the domain, not only of economics, but into the larger realm, of what Von Mises called praxeology, for the study of Human Action. Hence, Mises' masterpiece, which I highly recommend though it was quite a slog to get through it, at a thousand pages, his magnum opus, titled, Human Action.
The mass shut down as an early response to a growing worldwide outbreak was bound to happen, eventually. Like a Calvinist who gets a broken leg and, by his theology, believed that this was decreed from eternity past, breaks his leg and says, "Boy, I'm glad that's over with", right, believing that it was unavoidable.
Well, about this COVID pandemic, I'm not making any kind of theological argument; not at all. I'm making a praxeological argument, that eventually in human history, a shutdown like this was unavoidably coming, and now that it's here, we can say, once we emerge from it: Glad that's over with.
I'll explain why such a shut down was inevitable; and for whatever reasons this started, as we've said on air for, what, two months now, the cure may be worse than the disease. Because, even with the relatively high death toll, we'll lose what, about the same number of people we lost in the Vietnam War, albeit mostly the elderly and those also dying from underlying conditions.
Regardless though, and with the world losing a quarter of a million people, eventually, or more, during this, what could be possibly just the first wave of SARS-CoV-2, this coronavirus, the number of people who die from the economic shutdown could potentially dwarf the number of people killed by the disease.
Now if that happens, of course that is devastating, but like we'll discuss, a global pandemic-based shutdown has been coming at us for a while and the larger questions, even than whether the cure kills more people than the disease, is What are the principles of morality, justice, and authority, by which governments should make decisions and take actions.
Also, from some of the crisis within the crisis, we'll see that we can blame ABC's Shark Tank, including Mark Cuban, Kevin O'Leary Mr. Wonderful, and Daymond John, and the rest, for their vastly overstated claim that an entrepreneur is a fool if, regardless of his reasons, if he does not outsource his production jobs, and move manufacturing overseas. So there's a lot on our plate.
As far as economics being a subdiscipline within praxeology, or the study of all human action, which overlaps of course with the field of psychology, we've all heard the observation that movement in the stock market follows greed and fear, and of course, therefore, understanding the financial pages often puts you smack-dab in the middle of psychology. Buy low and sell high. As Warren Buffet said decades ago if you want to make money off the Dow, you need to be fearful when everyone else is greedy and greedy when everyone else is fearful.
Back on March 16th, a month ago, the title of our broadcast was, Buy. Buy. Buy. If You Can Buy Stock, Buy! Our live show broadcasts on the most powerful Christian radio station in America, Crawford's AM 670 KLTT out of Denver, and it happens to air at Easter Time, 5 p.m. By then the market is closed, and we always consider those listening via streaming around the country regarding our live program.
So that day and over the next five trading days, the market was at its lowest point since the coronavirus hit; the Dow Jones Industrial Average of 30 large U.S. businesses, had been hovering for two months mostly over 29,000 and flirting with 30,000, and then it dropped precipitously to, what, around 20,000, and even below, so almost a 30% pandemic-related drop. We just heard from one of our listeners in Alaska. He said that in listening to the program for decades, he had never heard us give a buy or sell recommendation; we don't do that. And up there in Fairbanks, he had been out of the market. So he transferred a lot of money in, and by the time he bought, within a few days of that program, he couldn't have timed it better and he's ecstatic.
So, as praxeologists, the study of human behavior, we Bible-based Christians should be the best around, because you understand an automobile better when you understand how it was made. And you understand people better when you understand how we were made, and if you notice who is following the manufacturers recommended maintenance plan, and who is ignoring it. After all, this very program is brought to you by God, maker of heaven and earth and other fine products!
So, I said that this government-imposed shutdown has been coming at us for sometime. Why is that? As we discuss in our Principles of Governance seminars and broadcasts, which are indexed in our archives, when you are trying to understand government behavior, and even, the principles by which governments should operate, use the analogy of a family. Afterall, the dispensation of human government, as many theologians call it, began when God instituted the death penalty, in contrast to what He did before the flood, the global flood, when He prohibited the death penalty. And yet, just as He changed the rules about eating animals, for likewise very deliberate and important reasons, He changed, 180 degrees reversal, His prohibition against execution to mandating it, in Genesis 9, for every convicted murderer. Now this command was given to Noah, as the head of his household, and that established the authority for human government, first through patriarchies, then tribes, then villages, to city states, and their daughter villages, their suburbs, to nations, and finally, even to empires.
To simplify the rules of governance, including foreign policy, you can do what Von Mises so often recommended, and use a thought experiment. Consider a group of families that suddenly find themselves living in a frontier where there is no established governmental authority. You can confidently figure out, especially if you have a reasonable biblical understanding, both the way families should behave in such a circumstance, within their own homes, and toward one another, and you can figure out how they are likely to behave, within their own homes, and as they interact with one another. And this will give you tremendous insight into how governments should function, and how they are likely to function.
So, the proper extent and the just functions of government authority; how nations should interact with one another and how they will likely interact.
So this shutdown approach to a flu-like pandemic has never happened before [that is, the extent of the shutdown, throughout most of the economy, and the nation, and much of the world]. But its been a longtime coming because of the world's growing prosperity. Wealthy nations do things, and face problems, the scope of which mankind has never faced before. Here's a minor example. Wealthy nations are fat nations. Obesity was mostly an American problem at first, at a global level. Not because we were less disciplined, but because tens of millions of us could afford, including many who didn't even have a job, we bought all the junk food, ice cream, and candy we could shove in our face. Then as the rest of the world caught up, guess what happened? They got fat too. Turns out the media was wrong. It wasn't because Americans cared less about our health. It wasn't that Europeans were more health conscious; they're just far less wealthy than we are. The same problem with male delayed adolescence with millions of young men spending a decade or more caring mostly about playing video games, and watching pornography in their parents' basement, and not getting married until their 30s. Prosperity, obsessively violent adrenaline-pumping games, decriminalized sexual entertainment, and now add to all that increasingly decriminalized marijuana, and it's all-but destroying a generation. And many of these problems, including the wondrous yet pernicious problem of widespread wealth, has never before been dealt with on such a vast demographic scale. With a lousy job you can make more than enough money to watch porn, play video games, get high, and eat junk food, until you're 28 years old, and beyond. Bty the way, today is April 20th, that's 4/20, when a few million potheads go out of their way to make sure that they're high today. So please, urge those you know to not smoke pot, and Google: Negative effects of marijuana, or just go to our website, rsr.org/pot where we've worked with some of the world's leading experts on the terrible mental health, physical and moral health problems associated with cannabis. But back to the wealth crisis, and this is all to understand why, and why now, governments have shut down our economies to fight the coronavirus.
Vast national wealth also brings with it predictable challenges. Those who say that the masses are not wealthy, relatively speaking, don't remember the past. What would a well-off family do if they thought that a growing epidemic had a good chance of killing one of their kids? I've asked that exact question to a dozen successful parents over the last two months. They've told me what we all know they would say. That they would go to any length they could, if they really thought that there was a good chance that one of their kids might pick up an infection that had a likely chance of killing them. For example, some folks said things like, we'd move to Tonga, you know in the South Pacific, for the duration of the pestilence. We'd hunker down and not leave the house until the plague had passed. We'd send our kids to live with their grandparents in Siberia. Literally. In other words, if you can afford it, you would go to extraordinary lengths, even if you couldn't really afford it, and it might bankrupt you, you would do above and beyond anything you had previously imagined, if you thought one of your kids might die, and you had some chance of saving them.
Poorer families, on the other hand, can't even think in such terms. Compare what Bill Gates would do to protect his family, wife Melinda, and his kids, his son Rory, and daughters Jennifer and Phoebe? Yes, he's a pro-abortion, moral monster. He did help much of the world out of poverty, and for that, he deserves his wealth, however he's an all-but-declared enemy of biblical morality. In the 1980s I worked for him in Redmond Washington. He once flamed me, as we'd say back then, with an angry email of two screens worth of text, from Bill Gates; I didn't even read the whole thing. I was busy. And as I've too often mentioned, I had dinner at his home back when he was still a bachelor, before he had even bought much furniture. There wasn't even a table and chairs for us to eat at. It was funny. Anyway, if he had to, he'd buy the whole Hawaiian island of Lanai, which in fact he [temporarily shut down] about a decade after I worked for him, for his wedding. He'd spend billions to buy an entire island if he though it would protect his kids.
What would a typical family, say, in Kenya do? If there's a plague coming across Africa and it's headed right for their family. What would a typical family in Kenya do? The answer is, they'd wait for it. There's virtually nothing that they could do. Or that they would think they could do.
Epidemiologists for decades have been telling governments and the public how to slow down or even stop the spread of an infectious disease. Until now though, nations didn't have the wealth, or at least, they didn't think they had the wealth, to follow their advice. Go back a century to the Spanish flu, 1918, a quarter of the world's population was infected, about 500 million people, and estimates vary of the death toll, but all recognize it as one of the deadliest events pandemics in history. So let's take the smallest estimate, of about one percent of the world population, so that if you were alive then, if you personally knew 200 people, two of them would be killed by the plague. Careful estimates range up to 5% of the world's population, or one out of every 20 people, dying. So go back a hundred years, go back, to let's say, London, in 1850. What if they had a plague like that. When ]you think of their current deaths in the United Kingdom, they're approaching what, 17,000 deaths. Well London back, 150 years ago, they had a population of what, two and a half million people. If they tried to quarantine, lock down the city, let alone the whole country, for six weeks, two months, three months. Within the first six weeks, half the population of London would be dead. You'd have a million people starve to death. If it were in winter they'd freeze to death. So it is prosperity that has enabled governments to think, at some point, it's been coming for a long time at some point, that they could implement what epidemiologists were telling them for decades now, that they could do to stop people from dying.
Now these scientists, they are important and they have valid insights, but they're not inerrant, and they're not praxeologists, right, they're not economists, and so they're not good at estimating how many people will be killed by their cure, for the opposite of an increased standard living, what we call economic decline, that kills people. Instead of living, and living better, they live worse, and they die. And that happens both when wealth increases, especially rapidly, and when, including rapidly, it decreases.
Remember that China's scientists, twice, earlier this century, unintentionally allowed the SARS virus to escape from the Chinese Institute of Virology. Now that's not in Wuhan, but in Beijing. But they did a pretty good job, compared to what they did with this coronavirus, of slowing and stopping the spread. It's like the sailor who gets a commendation for securing a loose canon, and then has to walk the plank, because he's the one who let it get loose in the first place. About 800 people did end up dying, but China began by quarantining all 200 staffers from the lab, for weeks in a nearby hotel which they locked down; and they took other measures. Most of the dead were in mainland China, Taiwan, Hong Kong, and a few dozen in Singapore and even Canada. So, epidemiologists, some of whom are both helpful, and guilty, do have some valid ideas of how to slow down, or possibly even stop, the spread of a disease.
You can expect a wealthy nation to behave like a wealthy family, including in a crisis. Add to that, our governing leaders who have virtually no knowledge, or concern, for what God says about the just function of government. And you can be sure that leaders will not know where the proper boundaries of their authority lie. And you can also be sure that those who are angry at their government, including some in this audience right now, whether they hate the government or are just angry at it, many of them will themselves, have very little knowledge of what God says about how governments should function, or know how to apply valid principles of governance during a pandemic. If we replaced any number of our leaders, with, say, the same number of our Christian leaders, do you think the final death toll would be lower than it will be under the current regime? Or, how about this. Do you think that fewer people would be angry at their decisions, than are currently angered? One rule we have here at Real Science Radio is, don't get angry at people for doing things that we ourselves couldn't do any better.
Some governing leaders hate their own people. In addition to abortion, by which they have dismembered and otherwise killed millions of their own youngest boys and girls, in addition to that, some have slaughtered millions of their own, I could put it the way Antonin Scalia put it. They have slaughtered millions of their own walking-around-people. Now he put it that thoughtlessly. A few years back I had the honor of giving a presentation, it's now on YouTube, against theistic evolution, on the beautiful campus in Malibu, of Pepperdine University. And there, former justice Antonin Scalia said, and Christians think that he was pro-life, he said that if Congress passed a law banning abortion, he would strike it down. Why? Because he'd rather people fight over killing the unborn at the local level. Now that's absurd.
Anyway, not all leaders hate their own people, or at least, say, their walking-around people. Another Austrian conservative author, Erik von Kuehnelt-Leddihn wrote in his brilliant work, Leftism Revisited. that some leaders actually think of their citizens the same way that a father thinks of his children. By the way, his is another great book, and at a mere 500 pages, it's still quite the slog; boy, these Austrians really know how to write! If you want to watch your nation go broke faster, see what happens when millionaires end up in charge. The Clintons went from donating Bill's underwear, literally, it's on their old tax returns, and taking a deduction for each pair, they went from that, to controlling a two-billion dollar foundation. For like the Bible says about Judas, explicitly, the Bible says that Judas didn't actually care about the poor, but he said he did because he would take money designated for the poor, he'd take the money for himself. That's a perfect summary of socialist politicians. It's something, that very thing in fact, is in the headlines, describing Pope Francis in the Vatican, right now! Taking the money from all over the world, that Catholics put in their poor boxes. I was raised Catholic, I was an altar boy for a couple years. And in the back of every church in the vestibule there's a little box and it says, For the poor. Poor people put their money in it for other poor people. It turns out that the Pope has been spending that very money on his own budget. Wow.
So wealthy politicians and those who become wealthy in office, they're especially inclined to have a socialist mindset. Like right now, giving a thousand dollar check to everybody, to a hundred million of us, whether you need it or not. And "printing" money, put printing in quotes, printing trillions of dollars, so we can spread that around also, in a socialist hope of reducing the lethality of the quarantine cure.
We don't need a conspiracy to figure out how this started. Mental illness is widespread, including among Christians, with paranoia, the susceptibility to conspiracy theory, being one of the easiest symptoms to diagnose your health issue.
Now, regarding the crisis within the crisis, China produces much of our most vital pharmaceuticals, medicines, emergency medical supplies, and even much of the equipment, not to mention so much of everything else. And while I've always loved Shark Tank, I've also been critical of them for a couple reasons. One is that routinely they will skewer an entrepreneur who wants to manufacture in America.
To them, a hundred times over, it mattered nothing that they could be weakening America, or taking away jobs that American business owners wanted to give to their neighbors. And so that mindset, profit is great; and greed will blind you to bigger issues, including matters of national security and economic health. Don't get me wrong. The cheaper provider, doing the same job, is almost always the wisest choice, except that, manufacturing your widget, often, is not the entire consideration, and they've always presented it as though it were.
I've always openly and aggressively hated the Chinese communist government. Our church has even gone to protest their communist leader a decade ago when he came to Colorado Springs. And I've hated the idea that instead of always condemning them and pushing for the liberation of their 1.4 billion people that Donald Trump was always talking about getting a better "deal" from the Chinese, that is, from their slave labor. And I've always said the opposite whenever Trump would praise their president. So I don't think I'm inclined to err on their behalf. But they did not intentionally infect the world. They're nothing if not deliberate, long-term players. This was a combination of hubris and incompetence.
Yes, they shut down Wuhan flights within China, in fact, they shut down the whole Hubei province from travel to the rest of the country. Let's dig in and add some accuracy to this story that's overlooked by the enraged right. And our goal is to think through the conspiracy theory now widely circulating especially among Christians, that China had some kind of plan to infect the world. So, when did they shut down Hubei, including Wuhan air travel within China? Let's see my notes here. That was January 23rd. Now the whole province has about half a dozen airports, and only one international, the Wuhan International Airport. So they were all closed to fights outside of Hubei province. And by the way, the Wuhan airport stayed closed for about ten weeks, until April 8th. So January 23rd till April 8th.
In mid January, quite a bit was already going on, publicly, worldwide even, before they closed down those flights. On January 11th, China made their first nationwide announcement of the illness, which means of course that's when it became widely known about, around the world. Its state media reported the illness in Wuhan. Then, and this is easier to recall for Americans, ten days later, on January 21st, we had our first [publicly known] case here. It was, as you'll recall, in the state of Washington. The world was on the lookout for this virus. By then it had just shown up in Japan, South Korea and Thailand. Then two days later, on that January 23rd date, China closed off Wuhan by canceling planes and trains leaving the city. They suspended all public transportation in the city and apparently, throughout the province, buses, subways and even ferries were closed down. By this point, it was known publicly that at least 17 people had died and about 600 were infected, including then also in Taiwan.
Then, and this is where the conspiracy theorists get energized, apparently, based on public reports we have of a February 4th announcement, China's Civil Aviation Administration ordered local airlines to keep operating international flights to countries that HAD NOT imposed restrictions on inbound travel to China. So that's been reported including by Reuters news agency, that's an extremely biased leftist source, but one that nonetheless, frequently does report the basic dates and facts correctly.
People are angry, including people who have lost jobs, and businesses even, and see no way of financially recovering. They don't need us to pile on and give them a boogeymen to be enraged at. China has plenty of guilt for what we know that they've done to cover up the crisis, mistreat, and even disappear their own doctors, journalists, and experts.
So why would China continue flights to the rest of the world, according to conspiracy theorists, and then according to a rational assessment.
Well the conspiracy claims that they had an intentional plan to infect the world to give them an economic advantage. That seems absurd on its face. We'll talk about why.
The claim continues like this. If the rest of the world is reeling from a pandemic, then China will have an economic advantage because they won't be reeling, except they were infected themselves, for starters, and they've lied about their numbers, which have apparently been much greater than they've publicized. On its face that theory seems absurd and will be believed by people who are inclined to paranoia and looking for an outlet for their fear and their anger, someone to blame, and especially because they think that this extreme accusation against China somehow helps their own favorite politician.
Okay then, what's the rational assessment? First, it completely discounts the conspiracy claim, because China, again, is nothing if not a deliberate, long-term player. To gain some kind of supposed short-term economic advantage, they would be sacrificing decades of prosperity, when they've had a hundred million people just barely climbing out of poverty. They'd have to give all that up, and go backwards. For clearly, intentionally spreading a disease to the rest of the world is not something that could be hidden, especially after the Wuhan outbreak had become known worldwide.
They would enrage more than a hundred countries, and infect and devastate even their allies, like Iran. They would become a global pariah, which they have become anyway, apart from the conspiracy theories. This was not a biological weapon engineered in a lab. The scientific evidence strongly refutes that claim. And this was not intentionally spread to the world, so they could take some kind of economic advantage. The world would be highly motivated to reduce, some countries cut off, all trade with China. And that trade is exactly what has been bringing them out of 70 years of communism-induced poverty. It is that trade that has built up their military. It is that trade that has enabled them to create the technology to control almost a billion and a half people. And they know that. Trade has been vital for their already struggling economy. For them to hatch this scheme would mean that they were willing to sacrifice decades of increasing prosperity, for, what? For nothing. Because their trade would collapse.
Instead, it was what we see in tyrants generally. It was hubris, and incompetence. By the uncontrolled arrogance of the left, especially of communist tyrants, but even of the Nancy Pelosis and Hillary Clintons of the world. They put themselves up on pedestals, as though there were gods. And when you look at their policies, they do seem to think that they are gods, passing legislation that appear to, attempt to defy the very laws of nature itself, and certainly, that would defy human nature.
So a communist leader thinks that what he says is law. And that even nature itself will obey him. So they lie about an outbreak as it inexorably explodes to where the whole world knows that they lied.
And then in their incompetence and hubris, they hoard medical supplies for themselves violating even their own manufacturing commitments to the world. And they shut down travel within China. But again, in hubris, think, well if countries are still flying here, we're not going to shut down flights back to those countries. That's their decision. [Of course, based even just on the number of planes available in any fleet or nation, no airline or country, including China, could sustain continuing to send flights out of their country unless those same planes were first flying into their country. So the countries that planes were flying into, out of China, were the same countries that continued of their own volition, and with some recklessness, to fly planes into China.] Those countries, they know that there's an outbreak here, and if they're so stupid to fly here, then fine. Whatever business and help they bring along, on those flights, we could use it. And their problems, are their problems.
So, we're out of time. We'll finish this on our next RSR COVID show. And until then, to forward this Crawford-sponsored public service program to a friend, just go online to rsr.org. That's r-s-r dot o-r-g. This is Bob Enyart for my co-host Fred Williams and Real Science Radio, may God bless you