Ron Paul, M.D., Offers A Second Opinion

This article is from the archive of The New York Sun before the launch of its new website in 2022. The Sun has neither altered nor updated such articles but will seek to correct any errors, mis-categorizations or other problems introduced during transfer.

The New York Sun

Dr. Ron Paul has quite a second opinion on the coronavirus, we see in his latest column. We understand how controversial the former congressman is. We’ve covered him on and off, though, for nearly 40 years. When it comes to a principled take on the constitution of American liberty, Ron Paul could be likened to what the Japanese call a living national treasure.

Dr. Paul’s latest opinion starts with an irony. It is that “the same Democrats who tried to impeach President Trump last month for abuse of power” are now “demanding that the Administration grab more power and authority in the name of fighting a virus” that, Dr. Paul notes, had, as of his writing, killed fewer than 100 Americans. That toll has now risen to close to 200. Dr. Paul, a physician, no doubt understands the number could soar to ghastly numbers not seen in a century.

The ex-congressman, though, is addressing a strategic and parallel concern. Since declaring an emergency, President Trump, as Dr. Paul puts it, “now claims the power to quarantine individuals suspected of being infected by the virus and, as Politico writes, ‘stop and seize any plane, train or automobile to stymie the spread of contagious disease.’” The president, he marvels, can even call out the military to cordon off any American city or state.

Dr. Paul is stunned at the calls to close down the entire country for two weeks that began coming in when the coronavirus had killed just over 5,000 worldwide, including the then-100 in America. He contrasts that with tuberculosis, which he calls “an old disease not much discussed these days” but which, he notes, killed nearly 1.6 million persons in 2017. “Where’s the panic over this?” Dr. Paul asks. The answer may be that most of its toll is borne parts of the world where Americans don’t live.

It’s Dr. Paul’s reckoning that the “fearmongers” will make the disease worse. He thinks, for starters, that it’s unhealthy for Americans to coop themselves up in their homes at this juncture. The Sun is not qualified to offer a medical opinion one way or another. Dr. Paul ridicules the president of the Atlantic Council, Fred Kempe, for arguing that President Trump ought to invoke Article Five of the North Atlantic Treaty, in effect declaring war on COVID-19.

“Are they going to send in tanks and drones to wipe out these microscopic enemies?” Dr. Paul asks.

No doubt Mr. Kempe, a newspaper veteran of the first water, was making a point about the need to bring both sides of the Atlantic into this medical campaign. So, too, was Dr. Paul, a partisan of liberty, making a point. He has to know the coronavirus is serious. He is concerned about the danger of the disease being “exaggerated” by those who seek to profit politically (and/or financially) from the panic.

“We have seen this movie before,” Dr. Paul writes.

It’s not our intention here to suggest that our political leaders are acting in bad faith. On the contrary, President Trump, Governor Cuomo, key captains of industry, and heroic healers are, in our view, acting courageously against a horrifying, invisible foe. Yet we’re not the only paper concerned about the strategies and programs being launched by the administration, some states, and Congress.

Shortly after the first edition of this editorial went up, the Wall Street Journal issued an important editorial, “Rethinking the Coronavirus Shutdown.” It warns that “no society can safeguard public health for long at the cost of its economic health.” It notes that the “politicians in Washington are telling Americans, as they always do, that they are riding to the rescue by writing checks to individuals and offering loans to business.”

“But there is no amount of money that can make up for losses of the magnitude we are facing if this extends for several more weeks. After the first $1 trillion this month, will we have to spend another $1 trillion in April, and another in June?” the Journal asks. It warns that Treasury’s small-business lending program could leave millions of businesses bankrupt and “tens of millions will be jobless.” The Journal’s warning is different but not entirely unrelated to Dr. Paul’s point — which we take to be a salutary reminder that war is a friend of the state.

The New York Sun

© 2023 The New York Sun Company, LLC. All rights reserved.

Use of this site constitutes acceptance of our Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. The material on this site is protected by copyright law and may not be reproduced, distributed, transmitted, cached or otherwise used.

The New York Sun

Sign in or  Create a free account

By continuing you agree to our Privacy Policy and Terms of Use