Lockdowns Leave Americans Worse Off Than Ever

October 26, 2020 Updated: October 26, 2020

Commentary

Keeping communities locked down has resulted in several unintended consequences, including more suicides, depression, drug and alcohol abuse, etc.

According to a recent Kaiser Family Foundation poll, 53 percent of U.S. adults have been negatively impacted by worry and stress relating to coronavirus lockdowns. It seems like common sense to assume there would be far-reaching negative impacts on mental health by implementing strict lockdowns across the country.

Sadly, death by suicide has been on the rise over the past few decades. Yet, the lockdowns have amplified this disturbing trend. A report by the Well Being Trust found that 75,000 more people could die from suicide and/or substance abuse caused by stress from COVID-19 lockdowns.

Even more troubling, the lockdowns have caused the economy to go into a tailspin. As of September, 10.7 million jobs have been lost. The unemployment rate remains well-above pre-pandemic levels. Research suggests that long-term unemployment has severe consequences on mental health, resulting in poorer physical and psychological well-being.

Overall, states that implemented early and strict lockdowns have had the worst economic outcomes. States such as New York and New Jersey, which implemented harsh lockdowns, are dealing with sky-high unemployment. New York’s unemployment rate is 12.5 percent. New Jersey is not far behind at 11 percent. On the flip side, states like Alabama, where lockdowns were rarely enacted and more moderate approaches focused on keeping the economy open, unemployment stands at 5.6 percent.

As the election approaches, a false notion is being promoted that elected officials can fix our problems. This is not true, especially considering that many of them are responsible for the terrible economic situation in the first place. The saying, “if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is” should come to mind here. And we should all remember the previous “solutions” implemented by state and local governments have not worked well.

The unintended consequences that have resulted from these lockdowns seem to be foreseeable consequences for anyone with an ounce of commonsense. Loneliness has the same impact on mortality as smoking 15 cigarettes a day, making it more dangerous than obesity. People live healthier lives when they are free to make their own choices and pursue their own happiness as they see fit. The lockdowns have blocked people from exercising basic human dignity.

It isn’t difficult to understand that these lockdowns have drastic economic impacts, and this translates to mental health issues as well. Health care is a life or death matter, literally, and it is necessary that decisions regarding physical and mental health are put back in the hands of the people. Central planning has led us into troubling times and lockdowns continue to wreak havoc across the country, with no end in sight.

As states implement plans to reopen, it is critical they enact policies that incentivize people to work and allow for free enterprise to lead the way. As President Trump said in April, there is no net benefit in making the cure worse than the disease. In other words, you don’t use a sledgehammer to kill a fly.

Human dignity, basic liberty, and the right to pursue to happiness are being constrained by the government. Humans need purpose, not orders to stay home from the government.

This virus has taken a toll on the American people and the world, but we will come out better because of it. Adversity builds strength and character. A wise man once said, “smooth seas never made a skilled sailor.”

States and local governments ought to look toward solutions that get people back to normal as soon as safely possible. The American people are smart and hard-working, and deserve the right to live in a free society, pandemic or not.

Christina Herrin (cherrin@heartland.org) is the government relations manager of Health Policy at The Heartland Institute, a non-partisan, free-market think tank headquartered in Arlington Heights, Illinois.

Views expressed in this article are the opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Epoch Times.