Infectious Diseases and Government Growth: News Releases: The Independent Institute

The Power of Independent Thinking


Stay Connected
Get the latest updates straight to your inbox.

News Release
October 13, 2020

Infectious Diseases and Government Growth
New Article Warns of “Virus and Leviathan”

(Oakland, CA)—In early 2020, COVID-19 was unleashed on the world. In response, governments across the globe, including those in the United States, kicked into high gear their regulatory machinery. Citizens were ordered to stay-at-home and, as designated by officials, shutter all schools and “non-essential” businesses, restrict travel, and ban religious, sports and other events.

The extension of state power in the U.S. has been alarming—but the long-term consequences could be even more devastating to civil society, economic welfare and the rule of law.

So say the authors of a new, shocking article published this week to appear in the Spring 2021 issue of The Independent Review, the peer-reviewed journal on political economy of the Independent Institute (Oakland, CA).

In “Infectious Diseases and Government Growth,” Christopher J. Coyne—co-editor of the journal—Nathan P. Goodman, and Abigail Devereaux, make the compelling case that regulations designed to combat pandemics involve extremely harmful, new, draconian and unconstitutional forms of the state’s police powers—surveillance, extraordinary fines, exclusion of citizens from government services as punishment, and even the use of physical force against violators

To make matters worse, the history of government control warns us that these increases in government power may well not likely be retracted after the pandemic—to the great detriment to economic and civil liberties, other and more severe health risks, and overall human well-being.

The World Health Organization has just reversed its prior claim and now admits that lockdowns are serious mistakes in harming communities and "making poor people an awful lot poorer," agreeing with the recent Great Barrington Declaration of top scientists which opposes lockdowns as "devastating" to both public health and social and economic well-being.

The unintended consequences of this ratchet-like growth of government can be horrific. To cite just one example in the article, the Supreme Court’s Progressive Era pro-vaccination case Jacobson v. Massachusetts (1905) was later used by Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes in Buck v. Bell (1927) to authorize forced sterilization of American citizens.

“Prudence and caution are needed during public health crises, where there are often calls for governments to act quickly and decisively,” says Coyne. “Why? Because expansions in government power can expand, over time, into other areas of life, posing unique threats to a free society” says Coyne.

To interview Christopher Coyne, please contact Robert Ade, [email protected].

CREDENTIALS: Christopher J. Coyne is a Senior Fellow at the Independent Institute, Co-Editor of The Independent Review, and the F.A. Harper Professor of Economics at George Mason University.

100 Swan Way, Oakland, CA 94621-1428

The Independent Institute is a non-profit research and educational organization that promotes the power of independent thinking to boldly advance peaceful, prosperous, and free societies grounded in a commitment to human worth and dignity. For more information, visit

  • Catalyst
  • Beyond Homeless