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How vaccine mandates became a political weapon Biden is using them to punish his enemies

All we need is nudge (DANIEL MIHAILESCU/AFP via Getty Images)


January 7, 2022   6 mins

Just before Christmas, as the Omicron surge was picking up steam, White House coronavirus response coordinator Jeffrey Zients issued a remarkable statement. He began by reassuring “the vaccinated” that “you’ve done the right thing, and we will get through this”, but followed this optimistic bromide with a dose of fire and brimstone: “For the unvaccinated, you’re looking at a winter of severe illness and death for yourselves, your families, and the hospitals you may soon overwhelm.”

This rhetoric seemed unlikely to spook any of the vaccine-hesitant into getting jabbed. After all, they have already been exposed to plenty of dire warnings about the virus, and are unlikely to be receptive to the admonitions of an administration they have already ignored. Rather, the real addressees of Zients’s sermon were the vaccinated, who could assure themselves that they are on the side of the good.

Early in the Covid era, many believed the virus had made clear that “we’re all in this together”. The pandemic, we were told, would instil a sense of collective responsibility premised on our biological interconnectedness. Yet the reality, starkly revealed by Zients’s proclamation, is that we have entered a new age of biopolitical balkanisation, evident not only in the drastic policy divergence between red and blue states but also in the latter’s attempts to exclude the unvaccinated from public life.

Zients’s boss, Joe Biden, campaigned on the idea that technocratic competence and faith in expertise would end the pandemic. He also promised to scale back the culture wars of the Trump era. “We can,” he said in his inaugural address, “join forces, stop the shouting, and lower the temperature.” This may have been standard political pablum, but it reflected a genuine hope that a less divisive — even pleasantly boring — four years might follow the tumultuous Trump era.

Instead, a year into the Biden administration, we have seen a ratcheting up of the propagandistic weaponisation of “science” and a series of self-inflicted blows to the credibility of experts. Much has been said about the CDC’s inconsistent messaging, and during the current Omicron surge, as during previous surges, the administration has been criticised both for being overly aggressive and overly timid. But underlying these inconsistencies is a new mode of liberal technocratic governance, driven by moralising fervour and partisan animus rather than calm neutrality and rational calculation.

This new strategy of rule places Biden’s administration in contrast with Barack Obama’s, in which he served as Vice President. Although the soaring rhetoric of his 2008 campaign sometimes suggested otherwise, Obama was motivated by a conviction that competent management, not visionary speeches, could unite the nation. The former law professor’s wonkish impulses and academic connections led him to the burgeoning field of behavioural economics, in particular the work of his erstwhile University of Chicago colleague Cass Sunstein, who served as his regulatory tsar between 2009 and 2012.

Sunstein pioneered the approach known as the “nudge”, which gave the title to the 2008 book he co-authored with Richard Thaler. Instead of mandating or proscribing behaviours, Sunstein suggested, governments might alter “choice architecture” to tacitly incentivise desired behaviours and discourage undesired ones. An oft-cited instance is making opt-in the default on certain decisions, like signing up for retirement contributions or the organ donor registry. These apparently small changes, “nudgers” believed, could re-engineer mass behaviour in a prosocial direction. Sunstein and Thaler, David V. Johnson notes, claimed to have “found the Golden Mean between Reagan free-market conservatism and FDR state-guided liberalism”. Their ideas had a natural appeal to a president who had promised to overcome the divisions between red and blue America.

During his second term, Obama signed an executive order committing the government to “using behavioural science insights” and launched a Social and ‘Behavioral Science Team’ that put “nudge theory” into practice. The results of these initiatives were modest. For example, the administration attempted to use text message reminders to increase college matriculation among low-income high school graduates. Such efforts, a reminder of the pre-2016 period when tinkering around the edges of the possible was still seen as a noble and vital mode of governance, seem quaint today.

In his writings, Sunstein directly contrasts nudge-type efforts with mandates, and argues the former are preferable because they are “choice-preserving”. For example, making green energy preferences on utilities the default option predisposes consumers towards environmentally favourable choices, but still gives them an escape. To those chafing against Covid mandates, this “libertarian paternalism” might seem preferable to the current style of Democratic governance.

But behavioural economics also received its share of criticisms at the peak of its influence. Critics argued that nudge-type policies are often attempts to bypass collective deliberation on issues of common concern. Yet this was one of the sources of their appeal: after the 2010 midterms, the White House faced a hostile Congress that thwarted Obama’s ambitions. For an executive boxed in in this way, as Johnson remarked in the final months of the administration, “a nudge can secure policy success without requiring Congressional approval”.

In the Covid era, the Biden administration and its state-level allies have made a hard pivot away from the nudge approach towards an embrace of mandates. The presumed justification for this shift is that the severity of the Covid crisis required more drastic measures. But something else differentiates Covid technocracy from its predecessors: a remarkable incuriosity about whether the strictures it imposes actually work. This incuriosity has become all the more glaring in recent weeks, as Omicron has brought cases to unprecedented levels in cities like New York, where both vaccine passports and mask mandates are in effect.

The nudge approach, on the other hand, is at least ostensibly outcome-oriented: it assesses interventions on the basis of their measurable impact. So one of the problems with mandates, from the nudgers’ perspective, is that they risk conflating intention and outcome. Mandates are often difficult to enforce and generate backlashes, and thus may prove counterproductive. But they may remain in force, despite failing to achieve their objectives, because they demonstrate a moral commitment to a desired aim.

And as Zients’s holiday announcement demonstrated, when mandates fail to achieve the desired results, it is the fault of those who don’t follow the rules, not those who imposed them. A more empirical approach would treat the reality of noncompliance as part of what needs to be measured in order to assess the efficacy of a proposed policy. But such a strategy would imply that the technocrats themselves, rather than the anti-vaxxers or anti-maskers, should be held accountable for policy failures. Small wonder it has fallen out of favour.

Before last year it might have seemed obvious that the guiding ethos of technocracy was cold utilitarian calculus, but in the past two years it has become something like the opposite: moral fervour. Various factors brought about this shift, but the reaction of the technocrats and their constituency to Trump, with his “war on the administrative state” and love of the “poorly educated”, was arguably the crucial one. Tinkering behind the scenes, as was favoured in the Obama era, was no longer a viable approach for a class that felt its interests threatened.

Early on in the pandemic, the writer Alex Hochuli described the pandemic as “technocracy’s end-of-life rally”. At least temporarily, it had put the experts maligned over the previous half-decade back in the drivers’ seat. But the populist fervour that had driven the Trump movement re-energised itself in reaction to lockdowns and mask and vaccine mandates. Initially, this seemed to place the technocrats in an unassailable position, since they could impugn their allies as aiders and abettors of disease and death.

However, this high ground is illusory: the track record of their mandates has proven middling at best. For instance, Los Angeles county, with vaccine and mask mandates, fared no better after implementing them — slightly worse, in fact — than neighbouring Orange County, which had neither. Furthermore, vaccine mandates for health care workers, many of whom already have immunity from prior Covid infection, have led to staffing shortages nationwide as reluctant workers have resigned or been fired, leaving hospitals worse-prepared to confront the Omicron case surge. The refusal to acknowledge such failures and tradeoffs is even more self-discrediting.

But there is also a more profound issue at play: while technocrats’ rule by moral fiat has allowed some critics to be bludgeoned into submission, it also exacerbates the deeper problem of governance by unelected bureaucrats in a system nominally premised on the consent of the governed. Sunstein and his Obama-era acolytes were aware of this risk even if their project was informed by anti-democratic assumptions. This was why they were so concerned to preserve at least nominal freedom of choice on the part of citizens.

Biden, however, seems to have forgotten this. His administration’s devotion to mandates, regardless of the evidence piling up against them, looks more and more like a punitive backlash against political enemies. Far from a means of transcending hyperpartisan antagonism, as both Obama and Biden once promised, technocratic management has become another means of pursuing it. Public health messaging has become another opportunity for partisan pep rallies — and America will suffer for it.


Geoff Shullenberger is managing editor of Compact.

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J Bryant
J Bryant
2 years ago

Great article and I certainly agree with the major conclusion. The Biden administration, through its rhetoric and policies, is every bit as polarizing as the Trump administration.
The midterms are also looming on the horizon and Biden knows if the pandemic is still badly affecting the country toward the end of this year the Dems will likely take a beating, so he’ll try everything to control viral spread. I notice he’s now openly considering no longer focusing on the covid case number count, but instead focusing on measures of serious covid disease such as hospitalization. That’s a sensible policy, imo, although certainly not the standard the Dems applied to Trump. A cynical person would suggest that, with omicron causing less serious disease, Biden and his party will look good going into the midterms if hospitalizations are the measure we use to judge his efforts against covid.
I look across the pond at the UK and can’t avoid the conclusion that the draconian covid responses in Scotland and Wales are little more than an attempt to make those local governments seem more competent than Westminster. Meanwhile the Scots and Welsh have their lives constrained needlessly.

Michael Richardson
Michael Richardson
2 years ago
Reply to  J Bryant

From the UK side of the pond, I think you conclusion about the Scottish and Welsh governments is entirely correct.

Justin Clark
Justin Clark
2 years ago

…. but the local governments appear less competent…I think…would that be right?

Galeti Tavas
Galeti Tavas
2 years ago
Reply to  J Bryant

A stupid article of sophomoric psycho-babble and trendy yammering signifying nothing except to dance around the actual situation.

The truth is the Biden Administration tyrant is in power, either directing, or directed by, a Swamp full of Neo-Marxists out to destroy all who will not become one of the postmodernist group think useful idiots. The Plandemic is not about nudges and health mandates – it is about Fas*ism and crushing any resisting the redistribution of all power and money from the working to the ultra wealthy.

Andrzej Wasniewski
Andrzej Wasniewski
2 years ago
Reply to  Galeti Tavas

Except they are not neo Marxists. They are functionaries of the new world order: “You will own nothing and you will be happy”

Rob Britton
Rob Britton
2 years ago
Reply to  J Bryant

From the UK side of the pond it looks like Biden and Harris effectively declared war yesterday on 50% of the population of the USA, comparing the “coup” to Pearl Harbour and 9/11.

Andrzej Wasniewski
Andrzej Wasniewski
2 years ago
Reply to  Rob Britton

They have no choice. The gap between what their overlords (Soros, Gates, Zuckerberg, Bezos, WEF) want the US to become, a feudal state with most of the population serving the elite lofty goals, or on guaranteed income, and what the country is willing to accept, is not to be reconciled through the political process, they will always loose. But Democrats do not plan to have 2022 elections. They are planning something else, something that requires maximum polarization. Take a wild guess what it could be…

Last edited 2 years ago by Andrzej Wasniewski
D Ward
D Ward
2 years ago

Ooohhhhhh salacious

Andrew Horsman
Andrew Horsman
2 years ago

I swear they are getting so desperate they could play the “aliens” card. It’s the one trick that they have got left in their busted flush. What those of us who can now see quite clearly through this enormous facade of lies and fake and / or failing technocratic expertise must do is not allow ourselves to get suckered by that, tempting though it may be for some of a more sceptical or stoic bent to shout, “see, I told you the deep state had been covering up this thing since Roswell etc etc”. In my view, it’s all fakery designed as an escape hatch for a failing, flailing elite.

Jonathan Weil
Jonathan Weil
2 years ago
Reply to  J Bryant

Yup. And (fingers crossed) I suspect they have misjudged the moment. Certainly they will end up looking quite silly if England’s approach turns out to be right.

Cheryl Jones
Cheryl Jones
2 years ago

The Trump years were largely tumultuous because of Trump Derangement Syndrome rather than Trump himself.

Warren T
Warren T
2 years ago
Reply to  Cheryl Jones

Well stated.

Sharon Overy
Sharon Overy
2 years ago

Very good article. I’d like to add that everybody has seen that the authoritarians don’t believe their own catastrophism. Over and over we’ve seen them do other than they dictate for others.

There’s astonishing arrogance in their apparent belief that nobody has noticed or are too inattentive to remember.

Tom Jennings
Tom Jennings
2 years ago
Reply to  Sharon Overy

The Congressional covidians are vacationing maskless in Florida. They are not even trying to hide it.

Andrew Roman
Andrew Roman
2 years ago

This article describes an authoritarian approach that is by no means unique to the Biden administration. It is followed in many countries all over the world, including my country, Canada. I would be interested to know why the nudge is gone and the mandate is ubiquitous, and whether the mandate style of government will continue, such as with the fight against climate change, after fight against Covid is over.

Russell Hamilton
Russell Hamilton
2 years ago
Reply to  Andrew Roman

“I would be interested to know why the nudge is gone and the mandate is ubiquitous,” here’s a guess: politicians don’t want to held responsible for ‘not doing enough’ (i.e. deaths). The mandate looks like a serious policy measure, it looks like government is governing, and it clearly says ‘in this serious situation the government is doing all it can to reduce/prevent harm’. With a policy like mandates at least you can’t be attacked by the health experts for not having done enough.

Andrew Roman
Andrew Roman
2 years ago

Yes. It is done out of an abundance of caution. But caution has its costs. And an abundance of caution has an abundance of costs. But at least the government today looks good. By the time the historians review what was done today’s politicians will have retired.

Lesley van Reenen
Lesley van Reenen
2 years ago

They have to be seen to be doing something
 plus many are increasingly loving the power.

D Ward
D Ward
2 years ago

Not on my account they don’t. I just want them to butt and out of my life and leave me alone. But MSM loves s bit of drama – creating the news rather than reporting it


Tom Jennings
Tom Jennings
2 years ago

This is the method of someone who knows better than you and cannot rationally lay out the arguements to get your voluntary support. Either that, or they don’t think they should have to. My prediction is that the villagers will be out in force, with torches and pitchforks, for the 2022 elections.

Laura Creighton
Laura Creighton
2 years ago
Reply to  Andrew Roman

Over here in Sweden, early on in the pandemic, when Anders Tegnell was saying things to the press such as ‘the reason that we don’t have mask mandates is because they have never worked in the past and there is no reason to believe they will work now’ there were scientists and former government officials writing in to the newspapers saying that it is more important to go with the consensus, even if the consensus is wrong. It seems clear that a _lot_ of people believe this. I realise that this reads like ‘we should support mandates because mandates are the sort of thing we should support’ but I really think that, for a lot of people, this really is what counts.

Andrew Roman
Andrew Roman
2 years ago

I agree. If everyone else is doing this we should also do it it even if it doesn’t work, because this is not the time to go against the consensus.

Galeti Tavas
Galeti Tavas
2 years ago

The great mystery is how all the Western governments excepting Sweden (and Florida, Alabama, Mississippi, South Dakota and Texas) all took the same path, one which required they violate every national Citizen’s freedom and rights, and got away with it – wile globally also spending $30 – $50 Trillion to do so, raising debt to levels never, ever, seen before. (equal to twice the budgets of all the West!) which ensures the coming global depression, which will be greater than any ever in history.

Justin Clark
Justin Clark
2 years ago
Reply to  Galeti Tavas

WEF – Great Reset – Build Back Better etc… surely. Perhaps not enough Swedes in the Global Elite Davos Club

Tom Jennings
Tom Jennings
2 years ago
Reply to  Galeti Tavas

A coordinated effort to scare the bejesus out of people is what enabled this. That coupled with the willingness to bludgeon anyone who got out of line. No mystery.

Fran Martinez
Fran Martinez
2 years ago
Reply to  Galeti Tavas

And now Madrid…

Cheryl Jones
Cheryl Jones
2 years ago

Yes, I felt early on that the UK govt did go with the science, which was the Swedish approach, but changed course and locked down because that is what everyone else was doing and because the usual suspects were screaming that if they didn’t they were deliberately trying to murder granny. Of course those same usual suspects who clamour for open borders and say we’re racist also changed their mind as to whether we should have closed our borders too. When Trump did it early on he was ‘racist’, the WHO said it’s xenophobic, and the Democrats encouraged people to go to Chinatown to show their support. Later of course, Boris gets hammered for doing what the WHO advised and keeping the borders open.

Andrew Dalton
Andrew Dalton
2 years ago
Reply to  Cheryl Jones

It’s perhaps a great tragedy that Trump did not immediately order zero border controls alongside the most fascistic, totalitarian lockdown imaginable.

Warren T
Warren T
2 years ago
Reply to  Andrew Dalton

Interesting. You have point there.

stephen archer
stephen archer
2 years ago

In relation to the face mask issue it’s possible the same is now true of vaccines concerning the Omicron variant. If I’m to believe Robert Malone MD, which I’m fully prepared to do since he seems to posses more knowledge than most others on the virus and mRNA vaccines, then the vaccines are missing the Omicron spike protein target and looking for ones which aren’t present. So apart from not preventing spread they may be doing precious little to reduce the severity of the infection and if Omicron is as mild as predicted and as shown to be in S Africa then this could be the reason for the relatively low incidence of hospital cases irrespective of vaccination status. If you question this assertion then look to Israel, on their 4th dose and probably fifth sometime soon.
So we’re nearing the point where whole populations are being coerced and forced to have injections of a totally useless and potentially harmful biological substance, especially for those below the age of 65. Without the unvaccinated “control group”, we’ll never know the severity of the virus or the real effect of vaccines. What will be the consequences for myself and others who refuse to submit to this insanity? When will this nightmare end? My only hope is that in time, by May-June, the current wave will be over and not be superceded by another more potent one. Then there’s the issue if the totalitarian governments and the dark driving forces behind the vaccine snowball will back down? That’s what worries me most.

Last edited 2 years ago by stephen archer
Justin Clark
Justin Clark
2 years ago
Reply to  stephen archer

Great points.
There’ll always be another Winter…

Graham Stull
Graham Stull
2 years ago
Reply to  stephen archer

Continue protesting. Continue drawing attention to all these issues. Continue to resist.
Here in Brussels, we are doing another protest on Sunday (9th). And a global protest is set for the 23 January.

Martin Smith
Martin Smith
2 years ago
Reply to  stephen archer

Africa is the control group, and which continent has fewest cases?

B B
B B
2 years ago
Reply to  stephen archer

If the vaccines are judged safe, then why do the pharma companies insist on the governments being held responsible and liable for adverse events?

Elaine Giedrys-Leeper
Elaine Giedrys-Leeper
2 years ago
Reply to  stephen archer

Good evidence now from the UKHSA and ONS that double vaccination provides protection against hospitalisation if you go down with Omicron
Latest four weeks of @UKHSA data with ONS denominators shown with nice bar charts here :
https://twitter.com/PaulMainwood/status/1479166853192761348
Happily, as you say, the UK data confirms the SA numbers, to a degree (even with a much older, sicker general population in the UK), namely that the risk of ending up in hospital with an Omicron infection is about 1/3rd of that seen with the Delta variant. See https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/1044481/Technical-Briefing-31-Dec-2021-Omicron_severity_update.pdf
As long as there aren’t hundreds and thousands of new cases in the next couple of months hospital capacity will not be that overburdened. Hooray !

stephen archer
stephen archer
2 years ago

I’ve become allergic to sweeping statements from government bodies. My trust is them has all but evaporated since they have repeatedly failed to demonstrate a decent level of common sense or know-how in epidemiology or suitable measures for handling the pandemic. “Good evidence” and “double vaccination provides protection” are just a trigger to turn off, as are simplistic bar charts and curves which can be interpreted any way you like. What are all the underlying details and causes behind the stats? Double vaxxed, after 6 months, 9 months, booster after 2 weeks?? Take table 3 in your 2nd link where the proportion of unvaccinated admitted to hospital is at around 25% and that for vaccinated is over 70%. There’s not an awful lot of difference in the relative proportions compared to those vaccinated contra unvaccinated in the population. We could go on endlessly arguing over the statistics but I’d rather spend my time listening to experts in their field, most of whom have been cancelled in one way or another, who are deeply involved in digging down into the virology and what the effect of the vaccines appears to be. The faceless bureaucrats pumping out the sweeping stats as part of the propaganda machine are not worthy of serious attention. I know I sound like a conspiracy believer but this is the first time for me in approx. 50 years of adult life.

Elaine Giedrys-Leeper
Elaine Giedrys-Leeper
2 years ago
Reply to  stephen archer

Each to their own.
I prefer digging in to the stats myself as all experts have agendas of one sort or another.
If you don’t like bar charts you can just look at the numbers – Table 5 and 6 are the ones you should be looking at. Table 3 just shows that a lot of people have been vaccinated (more bar charts available showing this, by age groups elsewhere)
If of course you don’t trust any government agency or the ONS then you will indeed need to enjoy the smorgasboard of opinions available elsewhere.
I would recommend the Actuaries (you know, those people who deal with death and destruction every day of the week). Full unexpurgated explanation of the vaxxed / unvaxxed and hospitalisation figures here :
https://www.covid-arg.com/post/vaccine-effectiveness-and-population-estimates

Laura Creighton
Laura Creighton
2 years ago
Reply to  stephen archer

Among the things that would be really useful if we could factor out those for whom ‘it was deemed medically inadvisable not to vaccinate’. This group will obviously contain people who are most likely to die of covid should they contract it. Cross your fingers, and pray they don’t. But they aren’t evidence for how effective the vaccines are. And as more and more people are vaccinated, they become a larger and larger proportion of those who are not.

Andrew Dalton
Andrew Dalton
2 years ago

An appeal to popularity wrapped in an appeal to authority. Combining the two does not stop them being logical falacies.
If the conclusion from sound logic applied to well-sourced evidence does not exist, the argument is flawed no matter how many, or who, make it.

James Stangl
James Stangl
2 years ago

So those scientists arguing to go with consensus even if wrong
would they also reject germ theory and a heliocentric solar system?

Galeti Tavas
Galeti Tavas
2 years ago
Reply to  Andrew Roman

“. I would be interested to know why the nudge is gone and the mandate is ubiquitous”

because the tyrants are moving into stage two, and it is soon to get a whole lot more totalitarian.

Cheryl Jones
Cheryl Jones
2 years ago
Reply to  Andrew Roman

It’s just another endless war against Eastasia

Martin Smith
Martin Smith
2 years ago
Reply to  Andrew Roman

Covid? Over? Will it ever be?

yp54797wxn
yp54797wxn
2 years ago

I’m so damned tired of hearing about the tumultuous Trump era. 90% of what made it tumultuous was the media and democrat (but, I repeat myself) reactions to every small little blip and blurb. Talk about making mountains out of molehills, they made Everest out of a tee.

Last edited 2 years ago by yp54797wxn
Marcus Scott
Marcus Scott
2 years ago

There is a Guardian comment piece today by Gaby Hinsliff. The comments are extraordinary. The visceral hatred of the unvaccinated on display has me firmly convinced that if the governments of the world do not back off very shortly we are going to see very serious violence in this country and in others.
The underlying assumption of all these people is that the unvaccinated will remain completely passive as they are abused, restricted and criminalised in their own countries.
That is not how this will play out.
Many Guardian readers support confining the unvaccinated to their homes. Who is going to stand outside my home and stop me going outside? It won’t be the police. Perhaps a militia will be raised by the vaccinated to control us? Then the unvaccinated can raise our own militia and before anyone knows what is happening the country is in total and utter chaos as we have another Civil War.
I’ve gotten to the point where I think, “you know what Johnson, just get on with it. We might as well stop wasting time and you get the trains running and the unvaccinated can decide how to react to that policy.”
About 15% of the population is now a put upon, vilified, very united and very determined, single issue minority. The government’s is piling up the tinder dry wood of hate. Next comes a spark, I don’t know what that is but an example from our own history happened in 1972 in Northern Ireland. The final ingredient is leadership. Leadership of the unvaccinated emerges and throws petrol on the smouldering heap by giving the followers guidance as to what the right response is.
Before anyone anyone can react or even understand what is happening the entire country is one giant conflagration from end to end and the hatred that will unleash will not be reconciled in my lifetime.
Either we are led by fools who know nothing of history and little about human beings or this outcome is a price they are willing to pay. But pay for what? What is it that is important enough that they are willing to take this risk?
Or is seeing our once peaceful and tolerant country tear itself to pieces actually the objective of the syndicate of international criminals who we call our politicians?
I no longer know.

Last edited 2 years ago by Marcus Scott
Lesley van Reenen
Lesley van Reenen
2 years ago
Reply to  Marcus Scott

Well said. I am vaccinated (weighed benefits and risks and took the risk), but I stand completely with those that do not want to be vaccinated. What is happening is evil, especially as we now have a mild version of the virus and still these intolerant, wicked and indeed, stupid people are trying to create a rationale to force vaccine mandates on others.

Lesley van Reenen
Lesley van Reenen
2 years ago
Reply to  Marcus Scott

Oh and the Guardian is a dumb cesspit of hatred bereft of logic, discernment and curiosity. They just parrot corporate media news. I pop along from time to time for amusement. I’m fairly sure that Gates sponsors the Guardian, but stand to be corrected.

Marcus Scott
Marcus Scott
2 years ago

I am just old enough to remember when AIDS became a major public health issue. The language used then by some people, “I’ve got nothing against the gays but we have to put them on an island…” is more temperate than what I read in the Guardian.

Alexei A
Alexei A
2 years ago

Yes, you are correct. Gates funds much of the media, and Reuters controls most of the rest. Another tidbit – the Chairman of Reuters is on the board of Pfizer. No conflict of interest of course…..
https://www.mintpressnews.com/documents-show-bill-gates-has-given-319-million-to-media-outlets/278943/
Gates is literally everywhere, pushing climate policies, GMO crops, largest purchaser of US farmland, main contributor to the WHO and all over Africa pushing vaccinations.

Laura Creighton
Laura Creighton
2 years ago

He most certainly does. The Guardian is quite proud of the fact.
https://www.theguardian.com/info/2018/oct/02/philanthropic-partnerships-at-the-guardian

Lena Bloch
Lena Bloch
2 years ago
Reply to  Marcus Scott

I think it will be like in Nazi Germany. The thing is, the job to exercise administrative control must be given to most uneducated, low-life, low intellect people – they will be the best, the cruelest, the most sadist administrative enforcement. So the job to stand guard at your house and the job of catching the unvaccinated on the streets will be given to ordinary citizens. How it is in Austria. You know what is a perfect way to make a person a killer: force him to kill. This is like they make child soldiers and child bandits. This is how they are making the citizens into a fascist mob. I have seen these mobsters. They don’t have to be literally in a mob, it is enough for them to know that they are State-supported, State-encouraged, State-approved. The same is happening in Israel, when Jewish Israelis organize pogroms and killings of Palestinians and African refugees.

Martin Smith
Martin Smith
2 years ago

Given the rate at which ‘cases’ are breaking out in record numbers amongst the jabbed in nations where upwards of 70% of people are vaccinated, it is obvious that vaccine passports are purely political.

Last edited 2 years ago by Martin Smith
Elaine Giedrys-Leeper
Elaine Giedrys-Leeper
2 years ago
Reply to  Martin Smith

When you are doubly or triply vaxxed you are less likely to end up in hospital when you almost inevitably become infected with Omicron. See : Latest four weeks of @UKHSA data with ONS denominators shown with nice bar charts here :
https://twitter.com/PaulMainwood/status/1479166853192761348

Lesley van Reenen
Lesley van Reenen
2 years ago

Tell that to my next door neighbour, in his 40s, slim and previously healthy. Pericarditis and two heart attacks after his vaccines and a life altering vertigo condition – the name I forget.
Drug peddlers everywhere.

Last edited 2 years ago by Lesley van Reenen
Julian Farrows
Julian Farrows
2 years ago

The graphics you are referring to seem to say the opposite of what you’re claiming.

Martin Smith
Martin Smith
2 years ago

Maybe, but I thought the point of the vax mandates was to protect the vaccinated from becoming infected by the unvaccinated, using the same vaccine that doesn’t protect the vaccinated from infection… it’s the science.

Marcus Scott
Marcus Scott
2 years ago
Reply to  Martin Smith

But not in Nigeria which has a vaccination rate of about 2%.

Donn Olsen
Donn Olsen
2 years ago

Here in the U.S., one element is obvious and in full force: behind the closed doors, the pharmaceutical industry has agreed to fund the campaigns of Democratic Party politicians in the up-coming mid-term elections. This is clear and holds the greatest in explanatory power.

Dustshoe Richinrut
Dustshoe Richinrut
2 years ago

It’s a little bit worrying that a response coordinator can veer off up to the pulpit to issue a fire-and-brimstone message to those who decline or refuse to be vaccinated. His message, just before Christmas, to the tribes of the unvaccinated was basically, Be sure your sin will find you out! Suffering for you and your families will be your lot this winter!

The family of the vaccinated was, presumably, to look forward to Christmas. After all, that big family was not on the government’s naughty list. If there were no greetings of the season directed to it, specifically, then a little moderation must have been necessary since the hospitals were about to be overwhelmed (again).

This is a great article, and well worth a re-read. An image to my mind of the end result of this pandemic is of an overseer ending up on his haunches, with egg on his face, fists clenched and face pinched in extreme frustration at his plans being thwarted as the kids run riot gleefully in their rush out the door to sweet freedom. A scene in an old movie springs to mind but I cannot picture it or picture which one.

Dick Illyes
Dick Illyes
2 years ago

Excellent article. When will the investigations of the incredible profits for pharma by pushing vaccines.
The delays of testing technology are hard to explain except by corruption.
The casual pace for approving the new treatment drugs certainly look corrupt.
Dilbert creator Scott Adams latest idea is probably his best contribution to civilization if it catches on: While individuals are presumed innocent until proven guilty, government must be considered guilty until proven innocent. It is upon them to provide the information establishing their innocence. 
 Let the investigations begin.
Guilty until proven innocent for government is an idea whose time has come, it is the only solution.

Lena Bloch
Lena Bloch
2 years ago

I am in the US. My question is, WHO makes Zients and Sunstein GLOBAL. Whose hands are making their rhetoric, “behavioral science” and “nudge” global. Why the exact same message as Zients uttered, and worse, is being parroted by the governments of France, Italy, Germany, Austria, to name just a few. Why at exactly same time. Macron recently said that the non-vaccinated French people (whatever their reasons are) must have their citizenship revoked. It is Nazi rhetoric from the WWII era. Why Sunsten is issuing global orders, is my question. Who is behind the Gleichschaltung that is going on, the same thing, same policies, same keywords, same media rhetoric on a global scale. The goal post shifting has been also happening all at the same time, contrary to any decency and logic. I remember, a few months ago, everyone was promised to “return to normal” once vaccinated. Now not a single person is asking, where this promise is. The virus is “mutating”, so the vaccines don’t work. Has someone asked right in the beginning, how is it possible to propagandize the vaccine as the end of the pandemic, when it was clear that the virus mutates and makes vaccines useless? How is it possible to create a compulsory vaccine for a respiratory virus that constantly mutates? And, again, why this lie is happening on a global scale? Why in France there is an open propaganda that non-vaccinated are “right wing” and “Trump supporters”? IN FRANCE?? Is it now that the whole world is America, excuse me?

Alexei A
Alexei A
2 years ago
Reply to  Lena Bloch

So glad that someone is asking THE question. It certainly seems to be a concerted effort almost in synch by leaders of all countries worshipping at the WEF altar but doesn’t end there, as all the international institutions seem to be in lockstep as well as all of Big Tech, Big Pharma, the Gates-funded MSM and presumably Uncle Tom Cobley and all. The next question is what is the endgame….

Lena Bloch
Lena Bloch
2 years ago
Reply to  Alexei A

In my observation of the political reality since Patriot Act (also went global, BTW) is that it is Defense Industry, Military Complex that is doing it. Bill Gates is a “messenger” only. He is also doing what is being done in his “club”, which is a Military-Biodefence-Medical-Technological alliance. The State Of Exception was implemented in 2001, and it includes not just terrorist scare, but also biological emergency and climate emergency, imposed on society in order to perpetrate complete military control. And by “military” I do not mean just physical armies, it is not so anymore nowadays. Military, military occupation and military coup today is based on technology, AI, development of implantable and injectable tools to make a human being trackable, monitorable, traceable, manipulable – like a raw material object whose life and biological existence are used as a fodder to feed this very system to make it go on in the name of “progress” and “survival”. DARPA, DTRA, behavioral units, IARPA, HARPA (sorry for grotesque abbreviations, they REALLY exist and are really called that…)

Galeti Tavas
Galeti Tavas
2 years ago

A stupid article, it thinks this all is about health, and the government is out to help you through the covid issues but are incompetent, when the opposite is true:

““We can,” he (Biden) said in his inaugural address, “join forces, stop the shouting, and lower the temperature.” This may have been standard political pablum, but it reflected a genuine hope that a less divisive — even pleasantly boring — four years might follow the tumultuous Trump era.”

Genuine hope? Is this guy a psychic that he can see into the heart of Biden?

“Obama was motivated by a conviction that competent management, not visionary speeches, could unite the nation.”

Again the writer can see into the soul of men – that he saw the ‘Divider In Chief’ was out to unite the nation shows whose kool-aid he had drank.

No, this last couple years has all been entirely a ‘Mass Formation (psychosis)’ engineered much the same way Hi* ler or Stalin did to form their deranged society on a mission to change the world for the worse for ever. The Global elites are managing all this.

I recommend you watch today’s newest youtube on Dr Malone (creator of the mmR vaccine technology – and and listen to the actual truth on the global covid response. It begins its first hour establishing the good Doctor’s credentials, then skips around to the monster Fauci is, the utter corrupt system which is the FDA, CDC, NIH, the problematicness of the research University industry, the corruption, egos, and chicanery endemic to the Medical/Pharma Industrial Complex – touches on Mass Formation, and the utter corruption of the vaccine agenda, and is basically a necessary watch if you like the above stupid take on politics and covid.

as the video will most likely be deleted it will be on Odessy or some other, like all the fantastic Doctor Malone’s, and Dr McCullough’s are. Bret Weinstein has also had both on his ‘Dark Horse’ youtube channel – and they are also necessary to watch. Give the vile Netflix a miss and watch something real. Search Bret Weinstein and Dr Malone, Dr McCullough for much more of the truth…..

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y8XGBmorLmM

Russell Hamilton
Russell Hamilton
2 years ago
Reply to  Galeti Tavas

Youtube has removed the video.

Art C
Art C
2 years ago

For heavens sake people: STOP USING YOUTUBE ! Use Rumble, Odysee, Vimeo or the like. Big Tech is where all the rottenness starts … and ends!

Alex F
Alex F
2 years ago

Since the Obama Era started with the nudge, this was going to inevitably happen. Nudge becomes shove when someone is perceived as continuing to snore in spite of the gentle touch. The real problem is that technocrats proposed to nudge people who weren’t even asleep. That is the hubris which you fail to account for in this sudden realization of what went wrong. But hey, I’m not a progressive and never bought into the snake oil that Cass was selling for himself and his beloved Administration. Illibralism with the veneer of libertarianism. A good one.
Technocrats… what a presumptuous American brain fart.

Richard William Pitt
Richard William Pitt
2 years ago

That WH statement on Dec 17th was extraordinary in that it was virtually wishing death on a 1/3rd of the US population. I had to double check the source as even I thought it was not real. As commented in other articles on the reaction of the “progressive middle of the road left”, they generally love Covid-19 lockdown strategies. Look at the UK Labour Party and European parties, including the Greens. The left in its quest for mainstream acceptance and power, along with its fascination with the Cult of Scientism can’t see the Truth. That Covid-19 is basically a sham at this time – its all smoke and mirrors and as many authors have said – its a type of pseudopandemic to use Iain Davis’ title of his book. it would be good if more authors on Unherd are willing to really call it out and simply acknowledge the power grab that it is by global predators and being carried out by feckless politicians and fake scientists, who are obsessed now with their vaccine fetishes.

Elena Lange
Elena Lange
2 years ago

This brilliant piece rings with the effortlessness with which the technocratic class – two years into the “plague” – has succeeded everyone into compliance, no questions asked (elaborated on elsewhere: https://beefheart.substack.com/p/theyre-not-even-trying-anymore). But perhaps a more exact analysis of the “how” could weaponise the critics with better arguments. Authoritarian strategies never work on their own, they need a proper “framing”. As German psychologist Rainer Mausfeld, among others, has pointed out, decades of neoliberal linguistic conventions, the very “stuff that dominance is made of” have entered our language and led to confusion and the “inability to form a conviction in the first place” – what is left are pieces and bits of information and disinformation, the disavowal of truth, a blatant relativism – and blunt contradictions (“follow the science”/”there are 72 genders”, “vaccines are safe and effecrtive”/”the vaccinated are under constant threat of infection from the unvaccinated”). Though the way that logic and language have been systematically undermined especially during the Covid era, is not the only explanation, US/UK analysis needs to catch up on some fundamentals here. “Science is the systematically organised questioning of authority” (R. Feynstein). We need to get to the bottom of social critique via a critique of language.
(Still a great piece, Geoff. Hugs from Zurich).

Michael Horn
Michael Horn
2 years ago

I just found this forum and, for me, the relevance of the title is huge.
This disease could’ve been contained, controlled and conquered within about 5-8 months, had the warnings and recommendations in our first COVID-19 article on February 25,2020 (of now 184 in total), been heeded:
Harsh Truth from Plejaren About SARS-CoV-2 Pandemic
Since September 2020, we’ve published independent corroborations of our error-free information – which is always published BEFORE Fauci, CDC, WHO, etc. – in the:
New Online COVID-19 Test 
All of this is freely available at http://www.theyflyblog.com. I can only hope now that the readers of Unherd will not let our information go unread and
unheard, as has largely been the case.