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Freedom saves lives

Freedom saves lives

Over the last few years I have published several notes highlighting the decisions of the government of sweden in front of Covid-19which differed from those followed by most of the countries in the world,

The absurdity of the case is that even today it is debated whether they were justifiable, when the burden of proof should fall on those countries, the vast majority, that unrestrictedly curtailed freedoms to face the health emergency.

For those who have forgotten, Sweden was vilified by politicians and the media; By the way, not only from our country. Let’s remember some facts, let’s go back to the beginning of May 2020 when the President Alberto Fernández exemplified the case of Sweden as a counterexample of what should be done: “When they tell me to follow Sweden’s example, the truth is that what I see is that Sweden, With 10 million inhabitants, there are 3,175 deaths from the virus. It is less than a quarter of what Argentina has. That is to say, what they are proposing to me is that if we followed Sweden’s example we would have 13 thousand deaths.” Of course, any resemblance to reality is just a fantasy of our imagination.

Let’s look at some headlines from then: why the Swedish model of fighting Covid-19 is a disaster (Time, October 2020); The inside story of how Sweden failed in its coronavirus response (Foreign Policy, December 2020); Sweden remained open and more people died from Covid-19, but the real reason may be something darker (Forbes, 2020). This is just a sample of the reactions against Sweden in 2020. By choosing to allow its 10 million citizens to continue living relatively normal lives, Sweden was, in the words of Guardianleading not only the Swedes but the entire world “to catastrophe.”

It is clear that these predictions never came close to materializing. As reported in an interesting note on March 6 from the Foundation for Economic Education (FEE): by March 2021, it was evident that Sweden had a lower mortality rate than many European nations. The following year its mortality rate was already one of the lowest in Europe and in March 2023 some statistics showed that Sweden had the lowest excess mortality rate in all of Europe. By then, even the New York Times admitted that Sweden’s laissez-faire approach was not the disaster many had predicted.

Furthermore, the note published by FEE shares a statistical analysis based on government data from all European countries from January 2020 to August 2022, carried out by Danish economist Bjørn Lomborg, which concludes that Sweden had the mortality rate standardized by lowest age in all of Europe.

How to explain? As the note points out, history shows that collective responses during panics tend not to end well, because people want someone to do something and do not want to hear about unintended consequences of said policies; That was the breeding ground for the policies carried out by most countries in the face of the pandemic.

By the way, this is the great fallacy that Henry Hazlitt warned decades ago. Hazlitt, author of Economics in One Lesson, noted that “there is a persistent tendency of men to see only the immediate effects of a given policy and to neglect the inquiry into what its long-term effects will be.”

The lockdowns were unscientific and proved ineffective in curbing the spread of Covid. But even if they had worked, they had serious collateral damage. As examples: cancer screenings plummeted, drug use increased, learning was lost, and global poverty soared. Depression and unemployment soared, businesses went bankrupt… the list goes on and on. The secondary consequences of the lockdowns caused irreparable damage to human beings that will be experienced in the coming decades.

Sweden’s leading infectious disease expert, Anders Tegnell, was one of the few people who understood this; This is why Tegnell was able to avoid the pernicious effects of lockdowns, a policy that seduced so many pseudo central planners. Today, many people in Sweden are alive because of his courage.

But this was not the first time that Sweden did not follow the herd. Since the 1970s the Swedish school system had declined considerably in quality. Only those who could afford the high tuition of private schools, while also paying Sweden’s high taxes, had the ability to provide an excellent education for their children. The rest of the population had to attend the public schools in their municipalities. Sounds familiar, right?

By virtue of this, in 1992, Sweden carried out a radical reform of its educational system, from which every family can freely decide where to educate their children, whether in public or private institutions (called independent schools), with or non-profit, and the State (at the Municipal level) limits itself to providing them with a voucher with which to pay for said education.

It is clear that there are no coincidences, one of the few countries in the world that has implemented an educational system that privileges freedom, 30 years later decides, alone, not to unrestrictedly curtail freedoms to face the pandemic.

At the risk of being repetitive, many people in Sweden are alive today because of it.

* Edgardo Zablotsky is Rector of the CEMA University and Member of the National Academy of Education

Source: Ambito

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