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Biden, Cooper et al. need Canute thinking

My recent article for the American Institute for Economic Research, “Biden and the Lockdown Governors Need Canute Thinking” argued that the case declines in Texas, Mississippi, and other states that got rid of strict executive orders to “fight” COVID-19 is publicly ripping off “the mask of the All-Wise Central Planner who can dictate even the progress of a virus.” How? By showing that the case declines are “consistent with natural seasonality as well as expanding natural immunity along with vaccine-induced immunity …, the natural progress of the virus, not with mask mandates.”

I said that Pres. Joe Biden, Gov. Roy Cooper, and other strict lockdowners and maskers need the humility of Canute. Who? I explain:

According to legend, Canute the Great, an 11th century warrior and king, wearied of the obsequious flatteries of his courtiers and decided to teach them a lesson in the limitations of a sovereign’s power. His choice was a natural phenomenon: the rising tide. 

Philosopher David Hume introduced the legend well in his History of England: “Canute, the greatest and most powerful monarch of his time, sovereign of Denmark and Norway, as well as of England, could not fail of meeting with adulation from his courtiers; a tribute which is literally paid even to the meanest and weakest princes.” Some asides are evergreen.

Hume goes on to tell that some of Canute’s flatterers one day even “exclaimed that every thing was possible for him.” That prompted Canute’s lesson (emphasis added):

[T]he monarch, it is said, ordered his chair to be set on the sea-shore, while the tide was rising, and as the waters approached, he commanded them to retire, and to obey the voice who was lord of the ocean. He feigned to sit some time in expectation of their submission; but when the sea still advanced towards him, and began to wash him with its billows, he turned to his courtiers, and remarked to them, that every creature in the universe was feeble and impotent, and that power resided with one Being alone, in whose hands were all the elements of nature; who could say to ocean, ‘Thus far shalt thou go, and no farther’; and who could level with his nod the most towering piles of human pride and ambition.

As I explained:

The lesson of Canute is this: the forces of nature obey their Creator, not a man who is elevated to rule over other men, but who is still a man. The governed who believe otherwise are simpletons, while the ruler who acts on that belief is destined to be a frustrated tyrant exposed as a fraud.

Images

Above: King Canute attempting to stop the tide (from Zero Hedge)

Below: A medical mask attempting to stop SARS-CoV-2 (from the Smile Project: the two smaller particle sizes “are the size of respiratory aerosols, increasingly demonstrated to carry the majority of infectious flu virus, and which have also been demonstrated to carry SARS-CoV-2 as well”)

Jon Sanders / Research Editor and Senior Fellow, Regulatory Studies

Jon Sanders studies regulatory policy, a veritable kudzu of invasive government and unintended consequences. As director of regulatory studies at the John Locke Foundation, Jo...