Commentary

Trump Should Unleash the Free Market to Conquer Coronavirus

By Andy Schlafly | March 12, 2020 | 11:20am EDT
A free market would conquer the coronavirus more quickly and effectively than government ever could.  In a free market, everyone could test themselves for the coronavirus (Covid-19), to end the fear and uncertainty which is paralyzing our economy. 
 
Those who test positive for the virus would then take steps to protect others, and the dreaded disease would fade as the weather warms. As on other issues, the best approach is empower the people to protect themselves and others by letting them find out what they need to know.
 
The panic would cease, and there would no longer be any precautionary 14-day quarantines for people who do not even have the virus, which are devastating our economy. We can do better in this Information Age than the approach to disease taken back in the Middle Ages.
 
All government need do is get out of the way inside our country, while closing our borders from heavily infected nations.  Government can help most by simply requiring full and timely disclosure to the public about the incidence of coronavirus.
 


 
 
Instead, we have federal agencies that have been worse than communist China in serving the needs of the public. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) have long acted like totalitarian regimes to expand authority for themselves at the expense of the public.
 
The CDC and FDA have blocked the timely development by private companies of tests which would permit Americans to determine if they have coronavirus.  The CDC promised to make its own test available, which it then failed to do soon enough.
 
Developing and distributing products is not the forte of government, to say the least.  It was a mistake for the CDC to retain control of testing for the coronavirus, and the sooner that mistake is recognized the quicker this crisis can be resolved.
 
We have languished for pivotal weeks without the availability of tests to check for who has the coronavirus, so that they could then be isolated and treated.  The FDA has blocked new diagnostic tests for coronavirus, just as it has blocked other tests and treatments for years.
 
One physician reports how a recent patient in a hospital having a respiratory condition could not be tested for coronavirus due to a perceived need to conserve the test kits.  Rationing is a common approach by government, in contrast with the abundance of essential products which are supplied by the free market.
 
The FDA pretends to be protecting the public by delaying innovative new products, when in fact the agency has been long dominated by liberals who oppose free enterprise in fundamental ways. Impeding the availability of testing does not protect the public, but only exacerbates the coronavirus crisis.
 
Rather than relying on the FDA and CDC to resolve this crisis, President Trump should get them out of the way. He should immediately suspend overregulation by those agencies with respect to the coronavirus, and urge people to self-test in order to take precautions as appropriate.
 
Trump has not yet cleaned house at the FDA or the CDC.  Trump is placing his reelection hopes in the hands of liberals at these agencies, many whom opposed Trump’s election last time and probably oppose it again.
 
Trump should stop relying on these agencies to control medical testing for this and other emerging diseases. The United States has a plethora of wealthy companies and investors capable of doing this well, and the free market would quickly sort out the better products from the less effective ones.
 
South Korea, free of suffocation by the FDA, has had drive-through testing for coronavirus for weeks. Millions have been tested there and in China, while as of a few days ago barely a thousand patients have been tested in the United States.
 
It is not only government which has been too slow to react to the crisis. The American Medical Association, which controls archaic billing codes for tests and procedures, has taken months to announce a new code for implementing a coronavirus test.  
 
Hospitals are unlikely to perform a task if they lack an ability to obtain payment for it. Our antiquated system of third-party payment for medical services has made it more difficult for patients and their physicians to administer timely coronavirus tests as needed.
 
Time is money, and the delay in the availability of testing for coronavirus has cost our economy dearly. It has wiped away trillions from the value of our stock market, not due to deaths from coronavirus but from panic and inefficient isolation.
 
Only the free market, not government, can restore that immense lost value. President Trump should deregulate coronavirus testing, and not allow liberal overregulation to prolong this crisis and hinder his own reelection effort.
 
Andy Schlafly, Esq., is a teacher, engineer, conservative litigator and founder of Conservapedia. A social conservative, he survived being on the Harvard Law Review with Barack Obama.
 


 

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