Lockdowns Were a Failure. What We Do Next Doesn’t Have To Be | Real Clear Policy

Lockdowns Were a Failure. What We Do Next Doesn’t Have To Be | Real Clear Policy

In The News

Lockdowns Were a Failure. What We Do Next Doesn’t Have To Be | Real Clear Policy

There is new proof government-imposed shutdowns prompted by the COVID-19 pandemic have done more harm than good. A better choice would have been to keep the economy open so people stay connected to work and targeting resources to vulnerable populations.

A new meta-analysis from Johns Hopkins University underscores this truth, revealing that lockdowns in America and Europe during the first pandemic wave in spring 2020 only reduced the death rate by 0.2% on average. Researchers concluded that lockdowns “have had little to no public health effects” while imposing “enormous economic and social costs” and should be “rejected as a pandemic policy instrument.”

While businesses were shuttered, people were forced to stay home, and schools remained closed, the unintended social and economic consequences were clear: rising unemployment, learning loss among students, spiking rates of domestic violence, and a pandemic-level rise in drug abuse and overdoses. All of that social and economic devastation yielded a minimal impact on health-related suffering due to COVID-19.

The new research from Johns Hopkins mirrors our own findings in a recent nationwide study, which found that overreaction by states did substantial damage without much benefit in reducing the effects of the pandemic.

The research shows a statistical correlation between how severe state governmental actions were in shutting down their economies and negative impacts on employment more than a year after the pandemic began. This was the case even after controlling for a state’s dependence on tourism or agriculture, population density, and the prevalence of COVID-19 infections and hospitalizations.

Our research found no correlations between the severity of shutdowns imposed by state governments and the rate of reported COVID-19 hospitalizations or deaths. States like Hawaii, New York, California, and New Mexico that imposed harsher economic restrictions generally have greater job losses even today than those states that were less harsh, such as South Dakota, Iowa, Nebraska, Missouri, and Utah.

For example, New York was 10.2% below its trajectory in October 2021 while Nebraska was just 2.4% below.

The bottom line is that while policymakers were likely working in good faith to do their best in a challenging situation, it’s crucial we learn from these past mistakes so that we don’t repeat them. And make no mistake about it — those mistakes have driven untold amounts of human suffering during the past two years.

The worst part is that the government-imposed shutdowns created even more barriers for people who were already struggling. Every American was impacted, of course. These interventions created challenges and burdens for the middle and upper classes, but for our poorest communities they were outright damaging.

Protecting the rights and opportunities of workers to earn a living is obvious. Equally important are the psychological benefits that come with the dignity of work. And there are socio-economic benefits from work that positively impact everyone, such as building social capital and gaining skills, which are especially important for those in marginalized communities who were most impacted by the shutdowns.

As the states look for a long-term strategy to deal with the pandemic, it is paramount that they consider the empirical evidence and not impose burdensome restrictions — such as business closures, stay-at-home orders, school closures, gathering restrictions, and capacity limits — on economic activity that have proven to do more harm than good.

Instead, policies need to be crafted more carefully to expand opportunities for the poor and preserve jobs in an open economy in which entrepreneurs can solve problems while taking measures when necessary to protect vulnerable populations.

These are the policies that should have been done all along to avoid the severity of the shutdown recession and the effects on lives and livelihoods thereafter. Let’s not make another mistake when so many are already suffering.

This Article Originally Appeared in Real Clear Policy 

Media blasted for ignoring study on harmful government lockdowns | The Johnston County Report

Media blasted for ignoring study on harmful government lockdowns | The Johnston County Report

In The News

Media blasted for ignoring study on harmful government lockdowns | The Johnston County Report

A new meta-analysis from Johns Hopkins University shows that government-mandated lockdowns in America and Europe during the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic only reduced the death rate by 0.2%, on average. Researchers concluded that lockdowns “have had little to no public health effects” while imposing “enormous economic and social costs” and should be “rejected as a pandemic policy instrument.”

Meanwhile, another faculty member at Johns Hopkins is blasting his own university and the media broadly for ignoring or downplaying the study…

The working paper comes on the heels of other research questioning the effectiveness of lockdowns in saving lives compared to the social and economic toll. A working paper from the Georgia Center for Opportunity found no correlations between the severity of government-imposed shutdowns and reported rates of COVID-19 hospitalizations or deaths. But states that imposed more stringent lockdowns — such as New York and California — continue to experience negative economic effects compared to less severe states, such as Utah.

Media blasted for ignoring study on harmful government lockdowns | The Johnston County Report

An Opportunity Roadmap For Poverty Relief | The Georgia Virtue

In The News

An Opportunity Roadmap For Poverty Relief | The Georgia Virtue

The South is the fastest growing region in the country. The pull of our warm winters, friendly people, and low cost of living has drawn millions over the last few years. However, an old foe that we have attempted to fight for decades continues to afflict our people.

Rampant, inescapable poverty has been a staple of urban and rural areas in the South for generations. Government has long purported to be the solution to this problem, but after years of government programs and promises of a better tomorrow, our fellow man continues to be stuck in the cyclical nature of poverty. The status quo and government solutions have failed…

It’s time to change focus and realize that while our safety net programs are well intentioned, they often act as snare nets trapping people in poverty with no means to escape. Safety net programs should catch people when they fall and put them back on their feet. The Pelican Institute for Public Policy has joined together with the Texas Public Policy Foundation (TPPF) and Georgia Center for Opportunity (GCO) to forge a new path forward to bring poverty relief to our friends and neighbors, beginning now.

BETTER WORK has changed Latesha’s and Shay’s lives forever

BETTER WORK has changed Latesha’s and Shay’s lives forever

BETTER WORK has changed Latesha’s and Shay’s lives forever

A newly released video shares the impact of BETTER WORK with the world

For single mothers, Shay and Latesha, the effects of being trapped in the system meant that not only were they impacted but their kids were as well. Like most mothers, all they wanted for their kids was an opportunity to thrive and have a better life. But unlike many parents, the instability of work presented a sense of hopelessness that both Shay and Latesha struggled to overcome.

In 2020, the Atlas Network, an international organization that partners with over 500 think tanks around the world to remove barriers to opportunities; and empower individuals to live a life of choice came to Georgia to create a documentary on the Georgia Center for Opportunity. What they found was a program that was bringing dignity through work to a struggling community in Columbus, GA.

The moving story of Shay and Latesha overcoming adversity as they joined the Georgia Center for Opportunity’s groundbreaking BETTER WORK program (then titled Hiring Well, Doing Good) is a powerful one. It is one that both highlights the struggles many low-income mothers face, while showing an example of the dignity that can come out of programs that empower individuals.

 

“Dignity comes from us giving what we’ve been gifted with back to the world and figuring out our place in it,”

– Joyce Mayberry

BETTER WORK means a better opportunity

The BETTER WORK program started as a pilot program to help address the entire need of unemployed or underemployed individuals. Many people struggling and living on government assistance need a community to come around them to address immediate needs as well as vocational needs. BETTER WORK is designed to do just that. It is a program that brings together local resources through non-profits and businesses. Through mentorship and community, BETTER WORK is helping get individuals in sustainable and rewarding work.

Shay and Latesha’s story is just one example of how something as simple as work, can lead to a thriving and hopeful future for an entire family. It is why work is more than just a job to those in need. It provides hope, dignity and a sense of purpose.

The Georgia Center for Opportunity is proud to have been able to share this story and thankful to the Atlas Network for making sure the world sees it.

 

Media blasted for ignoring study on harmful government lockdowns | The Johnston County Report

Media blasted for ignoring study on harmful government lockdowns | Carolina Journal

In The News

Media blasted for ignoring study on harmful government lockdowns | Carolina Journal

A new meta-analysis from Johns Hopkins University shows that government-mandated lockdowns in America and Europe during the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic only reduced the death rate by 0.2%, on average. Researchers concluded that lockdowns “have had little to no public health effects” while imposing “enormous economic and social costs” and should be “rejected as a pandemic policy instrument.”

Meanwhile, another faculty member at Johns Hopkins is blasting his own university and the media broadly for ignoring or downplaying the study…

The working paper comes on the heels of other research questioning the effectiveness of lockdowns in saving lives compared to the social and economic toll. A working paper from the Georgia Center for Opportunity found no correlations between the severity of government-imposed shutdowns and reported rates of COVID-19 hospitalizations or deaths. But states that imposed more stringent lockdowns — such as New York and California — continue to experience negative economic effects compared to less severe states, such as Utah.

Basic Income is the Wrong Solution for Atlanta’s Poor

Basic Income is the Wrong Solution for Atlanta’s Poor

Basic Income is the Wrong Solution for Atlanta’s Poor

Hope and help is the only true solution.

Originally posted on RealClearPolitics.

Three hundred Atlanta residents are poised to receive $500 per month for a year, no strings attached. It’s part of a nationwide “basic guaranteed income” experiment largely bankrolled by Twitter founder and former CEO Jack Dorsey.

To qualify for the pilot program, residents must be 18 years or older and have a maximum income of 200% of the federal poverty threshold ($53,000 for a family of four). The ultimate goal is to gauge how the guaranteed payments impact residents’ economic, mental, and physical health.

 

The Alliance for Opportunity is focused on a mission to reduce those in poverty by 1 million over the next 10 years.

A noble mission with failed outcomes

The mission of this pilot is laudable in attempting to help lower-income Atlanta residents during particularly trying times. But there are reasons to proceed with caution. A significant reason is how these payments could provide a perverse incentive that would discourage people from finding work or moving up the economic ladder. 

Ultimately, we believe there is a better way forward that supports dignity and opportunity for those in need. The mission should be to empower lower-income earners to attain a better life.

For Atlanta to make a real difference in seeking innovative solutions to providing poverty relief, the city must focus on giving those in need opportunity, not simply pity. Most people living in poverty want to provide for their families, get ahead, and live dignified, self-sufficient lives.

In 2020, the poverty rate in Georgia was 21.3%. Major welfare programs in the Peach State in September 2021 had around 3.9 million residents enrolled.  

A key is to improve opportunities to work while giving greater flexibility to our neighbors. This can be done in changing how they may use their temporary government assistance payments to meet their current needs while setting them up for self-sufficiency later. 

 

Exploring Empowerment Accounts

One innovative idea that would do just that are Empowerment Accounts.

These accounts would provide safety net funding to certain eligible recipients on a debit card. To qualify, people would need to be working, training, or being educated while meeting with a community case manager. The program also includes a financial literacy and savings component that paves the way for recipients to pay for long-term needs. 

Atlanta leaders could test these Empowerment Accounts in a pilot project, funded at first by philanthropists.

Why are Empowerment Accounts a better solution than basic guaranteed income?

Their primary benefit is that they treat each recipient as an individual with a long-term upward trajectory. We must help the impoverished through immediate aid, but the best long-term solution to poverty is through creating incentives and opportunities for work. This combination of work and community support will help build the hope and social capital too often lost with the current safety net system.

If implemented on a state or even national scale, Empowerment Accounts would also provide a crucial reform to our flawed safety-net system. 

They would condense and replace the overstretched, wasteful programs into one consolidated, more effective program. By reducing bureaucratic bloat and streamlining payments, more resources would go to needy families while fostering eventual financial independence.

Another benefit of Empowerment Accounts over the current safety-net system is that they would eliminate burdensome benefit cliffs when current programs end. Safety net recipients are often discouraged from earning an additional dollar because the cliffs often trap them in a system they yearn to escape. As a solution, Empowerment Accounts funding would taper over a specified period and any savings would stay with the recipient, helping with the problem of a benefit cliff.

The goal of Atlanta’s basic income experiment is commendable, but as with so much in the charitable and welfare sectors, it is misguided. It oversimplifies the struggles of low-income Georgians and falls well short of providing a comprehensive way forward — which should be centered around providing a path to self-sufficiency.

This was originally posted on RealClearPolitics.