“This is behavior that picks and chooses precepts from both syndromes [taking and trading], creating monstrous moral hybrids.” – Jane Jacobs, from Systems of Survival
Disclosure: I am vaccinated against COVID-19. So allow me to innoculate myself from any charges that I am an ‘anti-vaxxer.’ I am not. Yet, I join millions of people worldwide who are unsettled by vaccine mandates like those issued from the Biden Administration and from states like California. First, we should ask whether the mandates make sense from a public health perspective. Then, if not, we want to try to make sense of why authorities would double down on measures with such weak public health justification.
Mandates Make No Apparent Sense
Before we get into the political economy of that which slinks from the coital bed of government and pharma, we need briefly to get into the reasons why the current “public health” case for mandates and passports makes no sense.
- Schoolchildren currently have negligible risks from COVID-19. Subjecting kids to risks such as myocarditis, pericarditis, and thrombosis, however small, is not based in any rational assessment of the current data on COVID disease risks to children. So the main argument for mandatory child vaccination is that it protects adults. Not only do COVID vaccines have diminished effectiveness through time, but they also do precious little against transmissibility after only two months, especially against the variants currently raging worldwide. Breakthrough cases are legion, and waning vaccine effectiveness is well-documented. (Disclosure 2: Despite being vaccinated, I contracted COVID and passed it to my vaccinated partner and unvaccinated children.) Of course, no one has studied the long-term effects of mass mRNA vaccination on either adults or children, and even the clinical trials on children are dubious. So it’s strange to hear the usual boosters (no pun) of a more expansive regulatory state want to move full-throttle in forcing experimental therapies on kids.
- Vaccine mandates introduce unnecessary risks to the scores of millions of Americans who are COVID recovered. Study after study (after study) demonstrates that people who have recovered from COVID-19 have robust, durable immunity, which is as good or better than vaccine immunity. There is no reason people with natural immunity should be compelled to undergo any therapy whose long-term effects are unknown. Never mind the magnitude of the known risks is still being studied. (One COVID-recovered law professor sued his university for just such a mandate.)
- Vaccine mandates are questionable even for those who have not yet contracted COVID-19. Why? It’s pretty simple: Grown-ass people ought to weigh the known and unknown risks of any medical decision for themselves and seek proven early treatment if they contract the virus. As I pointed out above, the case for vaccine-based community protection is weak and growing weaker by the day. It’s frankly bizarre that we are living in such a time that authorities fancy it’s okay to force anyone to undergo therapies that are still considered experimental. Such is not to argue that riskier experimental therapies shouldn’t be an option for people in a pandemic; it is simply to argue against compulsion.
The good news is that millions of people around the world are in open rebellion against these mandates and the authorities who issue them. And the rebel alliance is not just a covey of anti-vaxxers. People of conscience, both vaccinated and unvaccinated, think these mandates are wrong. Mainstream media apparatchiks will continue to peddle talking points to justify these authoritarian measures, but the great unvaxxed aren’t having it. Current scientific findings and 13,000-plus physicians support their intransigence.
Given that extensive research militates any purported rationale for vaccine mandates, we have to ask: Why then? The answer might have something to do with the dynamics of political economy.
Follow the Money
At the risk of oversimplifying, I’m going to tell a story. I will use readily available information to form a rough timeline and a hypothesis that evokes traditional Public Choice Theory. For the uninitiated, Public Choice Theory is a branch of economics that deals with the behavior of actors operating in a matrix outside of normal market conditions, such as within the political realm.
Our story begins in Wuhan, China: December 2020. Or so it would seem. There, a mysterious virus had begun claiming lives. (As you’ll see, we’ll have to go back a little further than that.) Still, in December 2019, the world had started to notice. The virus soon spread beyond China, and by February 2020, the pandemic raged globally.
In January 2020, a little-known company called Moderna developed their mRNA vaccine with a grant from BARDA (a sub-agency of the U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Services) but in close collaboration with NIAID, the federal infectious disease agency headed by Anthony Fauci. Indeed, the NIH shares the patent with Moderna. All told, government officials spent $2.5 billion to bring Moderna’s vaccine to market, with almost $1 billion going to research and development. Moderna/NIAID entered clinical trials for its mRNA vaccine on March 15, 2020, which means this research had begun, or been accelerated, at a pace unknown to most bureaucracies.
Readers will note that just six weeks before the start of Moderna/NIAID’s clinical trials, NIAID director Anthony Fauci maintained close contact with key stakeholders involved in a multi-year program that included risky gain-of-function research. The exchanges culminated in a now-famous Saturday conference call on February 1, 2020. That call included Scripps Research microbiologist Kristian G. Andersen who had warned Fauci by email a couple of days prior that “Some of the features (potentially) look engineered.” Scripps Research is no stranger to using and allegedly misusing NIH largesse, so it’s no surprise that Andersen would refer to any theories of lab leaks or engineered viruses as “crackpot theories.”
Also present in that teleconference was NIH director Francis Collins who, amid increased calls to fire Fauci, recently resigned his own post.
Along with Fauci, at the center of questions surrounding dangerous gain-of-function research is Peter Daszak. His non-profit, Ecohealth Alliance, directed $600,000 in NIAID grants to the Wuhan lab between 2014 and 2019 as part of a grant to study bat coronaviruses. Daszak wrote Fauci in the days after the Saturday teleconference to thank him for using his gravitas to dismiss the lab-leak theory and propagate the SARS-CoV2 natural origins theory. Daszak was also behind publishing a letter to the venerable Lancet in which signatories denounced the lab-leak theory and boosted the notion of a natural origin. Before the letter’s publication, Daszak had written to a co-conspirator thus:
“We’ll then put it out in a way that doesn’t link it back to our collaboration so we maximize an independent voice.”
The Lancet later condemned that letter, citing conflicts of interest.
As mentioned, Daszak’s Ecohealth Alliance had also been a recipient of research funding over which Fauci had oversight. Not only did Daszak fail to disclose an Ecohealth Alliance grant proposal to DARPA — denied because its research posed dangers eerily similar to that of the current pandemic virus — but Daszak allowed himself to be installed as one of the principal investigators for the WHO, commissioned to look into the Wuhan Lab as a potential origin.
The riff-raff commonly refer to this as the fox guarding the henhouse.
The Moderna Connection
Now, excuse the interruption, but what on earth does all of the above have to do with vaccine mandates?
In one of the email exchanges uncovered by a Judicial Watch FOIA request, a January 20, 2020 email initiated by NIH officials included a “Wuhan Pneumonia Report” along with a timeline of the initial outbreak in China to that point. The report also details a portfolio administered by none other than Peter Daszak of the non-profit EcoHealth Alliance.
Peter Daszak (R01A|110964-06) is funded for work to understand how coronaviruses evolve and jump to human populations, with an emphasis on bat CoVs and high-risk populations at the human-animal interface. Main foreign sites are in China (including co-investigators at the Wuhan Institute of Virology).”
Said “co-investigators” included researcher Fang Li of the WIV, who was to carry out research that sounds conspicuously similar to what lay folk now refer to as “gain of function.” But the exchange also describes another grant to “a team of investigators using mouse models of SARS and MERS to investigate CoV pathogenesis and develop vaccines and therapeutics.” Chimeric or “humanized” mice used in the Wuhan/EcoHealth Alliance research are now coming under greater scrutiny as potential pandemic vectors, belying Fauci’s statements before Congress.
Then, under a section of the report simply called “Vaccines,” NIH authors write:
The VRC [Vaccine Research Center] and collaborators have stabilized the MERS-CoV spike protein in its prefusion conformation. The stabilized spike protein is potently immunogenic and elicits protective antibodies to the receptor binding domain, n-terminal domain and other surfaces of the spike protein. The stabilized coronavirus spike protein, and mRNA expressing the spike protein through collaboration with Moderna Therapeutics, is currently being evaluated in the humanized DPP4 mouse model at UNC. (Emphasis mine.)
Needless to say, it is odd that the startup Moderna had been at the center of all this parallel research on bat coronaviruses for years leading up to the Wuhan outbreak, and was thus joined at the hip with Fauci’s NIAID.
The Fatal Conceit and Monstrous Hybrids
To be fair, the “gain of function” vision, which Anthony Fauci has always supported with a full throat, was to figure out how to develop an arsenal of therapeutics to combat any given virus that might leap from an animal to a human. The whole idealistic premise had been that researchers would collect viruses and find likely candidates for zoonosis in the lab. Then authorities would be able to fund drugmakers to create vaccines. As Fauci writes in 2012:
Scientists working in this field might say—as indeed I have said—that the benefits of such experiments and the resulting knowledge outweigh the risks. It is more likely that a pandemic would occur in nature, and the need to stay ahead of such a threat is a primary reason for performing an experiment that might appear to be risky.
A more cynical interpretation of the above might be that these stakeholders would benefit from a grave warning shot like the COVID-19 pandemic. But a more charitable understanding of events is that Fauci’s desire to save the world from pathogens had been vindicated, indeed accelerated, by a freak accident in Wuhan only they could clean up. That latter interpretation would only fly if the virus was thought to emerge naturally. Otherwise, the political equivalent of ‘Hey, we dropped a match in the forest, so we firefighters are going to get our hoses out now.’ would land with the public like a lead balloon — and for reasons Fauci had anticipated long ago.
They knew they had better get their stories straight.
Thus, in the minds of Moderna executives like the allegedly vicious Moderna CEO Stéphane Bancel and his partners at NIAID, including Fauci, the vaccine train had already left the station. It was a technocrat’s dream, a public-private partnership for all humanity. The credulous, pious media continued to fawn over Fauci throughout 2020 and well into 2021. Remember, up to this point in the story, no mRNA vaccine had ever been rolled out to the masses. Yet Fauci’s reputation as public-health papa put him squarely in the position of Technocrat-in-Chief when it came to the pandemic and how to control it. Moderna stood to make a metric ton of money on top of the investment largesse Fauci had already directed to the start-up in the years leading up to the pandemic. But who could begrudge a life-saving hero becoming a billionaire?
Bootleggers, Baptists, and Vaccine Mandates
I would not go so far as to speculate that Anthony Fauci might be playing out Munchhausen by Proxy on a societal scale, though some have gone there. Still, I don’t think it’s a stretch to say that Fauci and his functionaries have behaved in a way that lends plausibility to orthodox Public Choice Theory, specifically the theory of Bootleggers and Baptists.
In 1983, economist Bruce Yandle developed the Bootleggers and Baptists framework to explain his belief that durable government action tends to come about with the support of two types of interest groups: those with moral interests and those with financial interests. Yandle appeals to early twentieth-century blue laws, which prohibited the sale of alcohol on Sundays. Baptists, the moralists, were motivated by their beliefs that Sundays should be respected as a day of prayer and rest, not drinking. The Bootleggers supported the ban, too, but only because they would enjoy a thriving black market on those days and profit from illegal alcohol sales. Durable government action, according to Yandle, tends to emerge with the support of coalitions that share a common goal even if they don’t share common motivations.
In a global pandemic, it has not been difficult to find a plethora of public health pieties. Nor has it been hard to find profiteers, especially pharma. I doubt that Anthony Fauci has any financial interests in the Moderna/NIAID vaccine — though investigators should look. He’s in it for the glory. Still, the Moderna/NIAID partnership puts the Bootleggers and Baptists on the same team.
Fauci, President Biden, and all the MSM sentinels are the moralists in this equation, that is, if Prof. Yandle will permit a not-so-bright line between moralism and savior complex. They want to be known as the ones who beat the pandemic. One might even say Fauci has been planning for this his whole career. Now he graces us with his presence daily on SAHM programs such as The View, basking in the lamps, reminding us to wear our masks and get our vaccines.
The decrepit Biden, though he needs help getting up on that high horse, once bestride it, holds his mighty executive pen aloft and commands the multitudes to get the jab or else. Waiting in the wings are shadowy corporate figures, such as Moderna’s Bancel, prepared to execute these technocratic plans using billions of dollars inked in red. Though howls against Big Pharma were once prominent in the Progressive Playbook, those have mysteriously been redacted like Anthony Fauci’s FOIA’d emails. When one stops to think that these billions will have to be repaid by the very children who won’t have a choice but to get these vaccines, much less likely COVID, she might find the idea nauseous. A considerably more disturbing thought, though, is that Fauci probably suspected all along that NIH funding led to the creation and (accidental) release of a virus that has killed 5 million people as of this writing.
Anthony Fauci is a monopsony on funding for infectious disease research. He clearly does not want to be known as the guy in charge of funding the pandemic, even inadvertently. His defensiveness, his untruths before Congress, and his mouth like draw to camera lights — all seem to reveal a man who, in his moralism, refuses to acknowledge that his agency had any hand in the damage COVID dealt. He wants to be America’s doctor, and his grand plan has always been to vaccinate the world. In his favored scenario, he would not be viewed not as a negligent bureaucrat but a savior. And he wants to keep it that way. The researchers? The intermediaries? The pharma execs? They’re in it for the money upon which their careers depend.
My hypothesis, therefore, tentative but bold, is that economist Bruce Yandle must have seen this coming a mile away. The vaccine mandates of 2020-2021 is a story of Bootleggers colluding with Baptists. The only question that remains, then, is whether we’re going to let them get away with it.