To Them, You Are a Machine to Be Managed
Posted January 10, 2022
In defense of regulatory mandates during oral arguments, the following words were spoken by Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor: “Why is a human being not like a machine if it’s spewing a virus?”
For her, it is a simple matter: regulatory impositions rule the machine world so why not the human one too? The question came across to listeners (millions heard these arguments for the first time) as shocking. How can anyone think this way? Human beings carry pathogens, tens of trillions of them. Yes, we infect each other, and our immune systems adapt as they have evolved to do. Still, we have rights. We have freedom. These have granted us longer and better lives.
The Bill of Rights doesn’t pertain to machines. Machines don’t comply with Constitutions. Machines have no volition. Machines are things that must be powered by external sources, programmed by humans, and behave exactly as they are managed to behave. If a machine doesn’t do what is expected, it is broken and therefore repaired or replaced.
All this seems incredibly obvious and undeniable, so much so that one can only stand back in awe that anyone would doubt it, particularly a judge who holds the fate of human liberty in her hands. It seems utterly astonishing that such a person would not quite grasp the difference between the human experience and a mechanized widget.
And yet, what she said is actually not out of left field. It wasn’t a point she made up on the spot. The presumption that people should be managed like machines has been a baseline assumption pervasive in pandemic planning for the better part of 15 years. The delusion was born in the heads of a handful of people who happened to be close to power, and it has grown ever since.
In other words, treating people like machines is not a radical idea and it is not purely the cranky invention of an ideologically motivated court judge. What Sotomayor said isn’t unusual at all, at least not in the confines of her intellectual bubble. She offered up a summary statement concerning many of the presumptions behind lockdowns and now mandates.
It has been part of the agenda for a very long time, a view held by some of the world’s leading intellectuals that gradually gained influence within the epidemiological profession over the last decade and a half. It had already poisoned economics. The technocratic fallacy then invaded even the subject of virus control.
Have a look at Michael Lewis’s mostly awful book on the topic. For all its failings, it does a deep dive into the history of pandemic planning. It was born in October 2005 at the urging of president George W. Bush. The innovator was a man named Rajeev Venkayya, who today runs a vaccine company. Back then, he was head of a bioterrorism study group within the White House. Bush wanted a big plan, something similar to the big vision that led to the Iraq War. He wanted some means to crush a virus. More shock and awe.
“We were going to invent pandemic planning,” Venkayya announced to the staff. He recruited a group of computer programmers who had zero knowledge of viruses, pandemics, immunity, and no experience at all in the management and mitigation of diseases. They were computer programmers and their programs all presumed exactly what Sotomayor said: we are all machines to be managed.
Among them was Robert Glass from the Los Alamos lab, who cobbled together the idea of social distancing with the help of his middle-school-aged daughter. The idea was that if we all just stayed away from each other, the virus would not transmit. What happens to the virus? It was never clear, but they believed that somehow a virus that could not find a host would then somehow disappear into the firmament, never to return.
None of it ever made sense, except in the models. In the world of computer modeling, everything makes sense according to the rules as set up by programmers.
You can read the original Glass paper on the CDC website, where it still lives today. It is called Targeted Social Distancing Designs for Pandemic Influenza. It’s a central plan that removes all human volition. Everyone is mapped according to their likelihood of spreading disease. Their choices are replaced by the plans of scientists. The model is based on a small community, but it applies equally to an entire society.
Thus pandemic planning was invented, contradicting a century of public health experience and a millennia of knowledge concerning how pandemics really end: through herd immunity. None of this mattered. It was all about the models and what seemed to work on their computer programs. Venkayya then went to work for the Gates Foundation and spread his preposterous vision to the whole world through malicious philanthropy.
As for human beings, yes, in these models, they are machines. Nothing more. When you hear the claims reduced to preposterous quips by a judge, they are laughable on their face. Or scary. Regardless, they are plain wrong. Surely every intelligent person knows the difference between a person and a machine. How can a person believe this?
But in a different context, you can take that same worldview, throw up some colorful charts, back it by a Powerpoint presentation, add variables that can change the model’s workings based on certain presumptions, and you can generate what appears to be a highly intelligent computerization that reveals things we otherwise would not see.
Blinded by science, we might say. Many people in the White House were indeed blinded. And the CDC too.
Back To George W.
In 2006, I had speculated that disease planning was a new frontier for state control of the social order. “Even if the flu does come,” I wrote, “the government will surely have a ball imposing travel restrictions, shutting down schools and businesses, quarantining cities, and banning public gatherings. It’s a bureaucrat’s dream! Whether it will make us well again is another matter.”
At the time, most people just ignored all this as so much noise. It was just another White House press conference, just another wacky bureaucratic dream from which our laws and traditions would protect us. I wrote about it not because I believed they would attempt it. My alarm was that anyone could dream up such a crazy plot to begin with.
Fifteen years later, that noise became the calamity that has fundamentally destabilized American liberty and law, wrecked trade and health, shattered countless lives, and thrown our future as a civilized people into grave doubt.
Let us not turn away from the reality: all of this was a product of intellectuals who did and do think exactly as Sotomayor. We are not humans with rights. We are machines to be managed. In fact, if you look back at the March 16, 2020, news conference at which these lockdowns were all announced, Dr. Birx said just in passing the following sentence: “We really want people to be separated at this time.”
Why did reporters not ask more questions? Why did people not scream that this whole cockamamie scheme is inhumane and deeply dangerous? How could people have sat calmly listening to this gibberish and pretend it was normal?
It’s sheer madness. But madness can transverse the decades so long as its creators live within intellectual bubbles, enjoy generous funding, and never have to confront the results of their schemes.
This is the story of what happened to liberty in the US and all over the world. It was shattered by fanaticism, all rooted in a core presumption that we’d be far better off as human beings if our ruling class regarded us as no different from machines spewing sparks.
What Justice Sotomayer said strikes us now as both dangerous and delusional. It is. And yet her conviction is widely shared, and has been for at least 15 years, among the class of intellectuals who gave us lockdowns and pandemic controls. It’s their template. At their parties and conferences for all these years, such thoughts were considered normal, responsible, intelligent, and wise.
Now that they have had a go at it, where are they to defend the unspeakable results?
“Madmen in authority,” wrote John Maynard Keynes, “who hear voices in the air, are distilling their frenzy from some academic scribbler of a few years back.” Sometimes that very distillation is what reveals precisely what we’ve tried so hard for so long to ignore. Sotomayer revealed the existential threat, in a way that was mortifyingly ridiculous, but also encapsulated everything that has gone wrong in our times.