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Brownstone Institute

Fauci and the CIA: A New Explanation Emerges

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From the Brownstone Institute

BY Jeffrey A. TuckerJEFFREY A. TUCKER  

Jeremy Farrar’s book from August 2021 is relatively more candid than most accounts of the initial decision to lock down in the US and UK. “It’s hard to come off nocturnal calls about the possibility of a lab leak and go back to bed,” he wrote of the clandestine phone calls he was getting from January 27-31, 2020. They had already alerted the FBI and MI5.

“I’d never had trouble sleeping before, something that comes from spending a career working as a doctor in critical care and medicine. But the situation with this new virus and the dark question marks over its origins felt emotionally overwhelming. None of us knew what was going to happen but things had already escalated into an international emergency. On top of that, just a few of us – Eddie [Holmes], Kristian [Anderson], Tony [Fauci] and I – were now privy to sensitive information that, if proved to be true, might set off a whole series of events that would be far bigger than any of us. It felt as if a storm was gathering, of forces beyond anything I had experienced and over which none of us had any control.”

At that point in the trajectory of events, intelligence services on both sides of the Atlantic had been put on notice. Anthony Fauci also received confirmation that money from the National Institutes of Health had been channeled to the offending lab in Wuhan, which meant that his career was on the line. Working at a furious pace, the famed “Proximal Origin” paper was produced in record time. It concluded that there was no lab leak.

In a remarkable series of revelations this week, we’ve learned that the CIA was involved in trying to make payments to those authors (thank you whistleblower), plus it appears that Fauci made visits to the CIA’s headquarters, most likely around the same time.

Suddenly we get some possible clarity in what has otherwise been a very blurry picture. The anomaly that has heretofore cried out for explanation is how it is that Fauci changed his mind so dramatically and precisely on the merit of lockdowns for the virus. One day he was counseling calm because this was flu-like, and the next day he was drumming up awareness of the coming lockdown. That day was February 27, 2020, the same day that the New York Times joined with alarmist propaganda from its lead virus reporter Donald G. McNeil.

On February 26, Fauci was writing: “Do not let the fear of the unknown… distort your evaluation of the risk of the pandemic to you relative to the risks that you face every day… do not yield to unreasonable fear.”

The next day, February 27, Fauci wrote actress Morgan Fairchild – likely the most high-profile influencer he knew from the firmament – that “be prepared to mitigate an outbreak in this country by measures that include social distancing, teleworking, temporary closure of schools, etc.”

To be sure, twenty-plus days had passed between the time Fauci alerted intelligence and when he decided to become the voice for lockdowns. We don’t know the exact date of the meetings with the CIA. But generally until now, most of February 2020 has been a blur in terms of the timeline. Something was going on but we hadn’t known just what.

Let’s distinguish between a proximate and distal cause of the lockdowns.

The proximate cause is the fear of a lab leak and an aping of the Wuhan strategy of keeping everyone in their homes to stop the spread. They might have believed this would work, based on the legend of how SARS-1 was controlled. The CIA had dealings with Wuhan and so did Fauci. They both had an interest in denying the lab leak and stopping the spread. The WHO gave them cover.

The distal reasons are more complicated. What stands out here is the possibility of a quid pro quo. The CIA pays scientists to say there was no lab leak and otherwise instructs its kept media sources (New York Times) to call the lab leak a conspiracy theory of the far right. Every measure would be deployed to keep Fauci off the hot seat for his funding of the Wuhan lab. But this cooperation would need to come at a price. Fauci would need to participate in a real-life version of the germ games (Event 201 and Crimson Contagion).

It would be the biggest role of Fauci’s long career. He would need to throw out his principles and medical knowledge of, for example, natural immunity and standard epidemiology concerning the spread of viruses and mitigation strategies. The old pandemic playbook would need to be shredded in favor of lockdown theory as invented in 2005 and then tried in Wuhan. The WHO could be relied upon to say that this strategy worked.

Fauci would need to be on TV daily to somehow persuade Americans to give up their precious rights and liberties. This would need to go on for a long time, maybe all the way to the election, however implausible this sounds. He would need to push the vaccine for which he had already made a deal with Moderna in late January.

Above all else, he would need to convince Trump to go along. That was the hardest part. They considered Trump’s weaknesses. He was a germaphobe so that’s good. He hated Chinese imports so it was merely a matter of describing the virus this way. But he also has a well-known weakness for deferring to highly competent and articulate professional women. That’s where the highly reliable Deborah Birx comes in: Fauci would be her wingman to convince Trump to green-light the lockdowns.

What does the CIA get out of this? The vast intelligence community would have to be put in charge of the pandemic response as the rule maker, the lead agency. Its outposts such as CISA would handle labor-related issues and use its contacts in social media to curate the public mind. This would allow the intelligence community finally to crack down on information flows that had begun 20 years earlier that they had heretofore failed to manage.

The CIA would hobble and hamstring the US president, whom they hated. And importantly, there was his China problem. He had wrecked relations through his tariff wars. So far as they were concerned, this was treason because he did it all on his own. This man was completely out of control. He needed to be put in his place. To convince the president to destroy the US economy with his own hand would be the ultimate coup de grace for the CIA.

A lockdown would restart trade with China. It did in fact achieve that.

How would Fauci and the CIA convince Trump to lock down and restart trade with China? By exploiting these weaknesses and others too: his vulnerability to flattery, his desire for presidential aggrandizement, and his longing for Xi-like powers over all to turn off and then turn on a whole country. Then they would push Trump to buy the much-needed personal protective equipment from China.

They finally got their way: somewhere between March 10 or possibly as late as March 14, Trump gave the go ahead. The press conference of March 16, especially those magical 70 seconds in which Fauci read the words mandating lockdowns because Birx turned out to be too squeamish, was the great turning point. A few days later, Trump was on the phone with Xi asking for equipment.

In addition, such a lockdown would greatly please the digital tech industry, which would experience a huge boost in demand, plus large corporations like Amazon and WalMart, which would stay open as their competitors were closed. Finally, it would be a massive subsidy to pharma and especially the mRNA platform technology itself, which would enjoy the credit for ending the pandemic.

If this whole scenario is true, it means that all along Fauci was merely playing a role, a front man for much deeper interests and priorities in the CIA-led intelligence community. This broad outline makes sense of why Fauci changed his mind on lockdowns, including the timing of the change. There are still many more details to know, but these new fragments of new information take our understanding in a new and more coherent direction.

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  • Jeffrey A. Tucker

    Jeffrey A. Tucker is Founder and President of the Brownstone Institute. He is also Senior Economics Columnist for Epoch Times, author of 10 books, including Liberty or Lockdown, and thousands of articles in the scholarly and popular press. He speaks widely on topics of economics, technology, social philosophy, and culture.

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Brownstone Institute

Is the Overton Window Real, Imagined, or Constructed?

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From the Brownstone Institute

BY Jeffrey A. TuckerJEFFREY A. TUCKER 

Ideas move from Unthinkable to Radical to Acceptable to Sensible to Popular to become Policy.

The concept of the Overton window caught on in professional culture, particularly those seeking to nudge public opinion, because it taps into a certain sense that we all know is there. There are things you can say and things you cannot say, not because there are speech controls (though there are) but because holding certain views makes you anathema and dismissable. This leads to less influence and effectiveness.

The Overton window is a way of mapping sayable opinions. The goal of advocacy is to stay within the window while moving it just ever so much. For example, if you are writing about monetary policy, you should say that the Fed should not immediately reduce rates for fear of igniting inflation. You can really think that the Fed should be abolished but saying that is inconsistent with the demands of polite society.

That’s only one example of a million.

To notice and comply with the Overton window is not the same as merely favoring incremental change over dramatic reform. There is not and should never be an issue with marginal change. That’s not what is at stake.

To be aware of the Overton window, and fit within it, means to curate your own advocacy. You should do so in a way that is designed to comply with a structure of opinion that is pre-existing as a kind of template we are all given. It means to craft a strategy specifically designed to game the system, which is said to operate according to acceptable and unacceptable opinionizing.

In every area of social, economic, and political life, we find a form of compliance with strategic considerations seemingly dictated by this Window. There is no sense in spouting off opinions that offend or trigger people because they will just dismiss you as not credible. But if you keep your eye on the Window – as if you can know it, see it, manage it – you might succeed in expanding it a bit here and there and thereby achieve your goals eventually.

The mission here is always to let considerations of strategy run alongside – perhaps even ultimately prevail in the short run – over issues of principle and truth, all in the interest of being not merely right but also effective. Everyone in the business of affecting public opinion does this, all in compliance with the perception of the existence of this Window.

Tellingly, the whole idea grows out of think tank culture, which puts a premium on effectiveness and metrics as a means of institutional funding. The concept was named for Joseph Overton, who worked at the Mackinac Center for Public Policy in Michigan. He found that it was useless in his work to advocate for positions that he could not recruit politicians to say from the legislative floor or on the campaign trail. By crafting policy ideas that fit within the prevailing media and political culture, however, he saw some successes about which he and his team could brag to the donor base.

This experience led him to a more general theory that was later codified by his colleague Joseph Lehman, and then elaborated upon by Joshua Treviño, who postulated degrees of acceptability. Ideas move from Unthinkable to Radical to Acceptable to Sensible to Popular to become Policy. A wise intellectual shepherd will manage this transition carefully from one stage to the next until victory and then take on a new issue.

The core intuition here is rather obvious. It probably achieves little in life to go around screaming some radical slogan about what all politicians should do if there is no practical means to achieve it and zero chance of it happening. But writing well-thought-out position papers with citations backed by large books by Ivy League authors and pushing for changes on the margin that keep politicians out of trouble with the media might move the Window slightly and eventually enough to make a difference.

Beyond that example, which surely does tap into some evidence in this or that case, how true is this analysis?

First, the theory of the Overton window presumes a smooth connection between public opinion and political outcomes. During most of my life, that seemed to be the case or, at least, we imagined it to be the case. Today this is gravely in question. Politicians do things daily and hourly that are opposed by their constituents – fund foreign aid and wars for example – but they do it anyway due to well-organized pressure groups that operate outside public awareness. That’s true many times over with the administrative and deep layers of the state.

In most countries, states and elites that run them operate without the consent of the governed. No one likes the surveillance and censorial state but they are growing regardless, and nothing about shifts in public opinion seem to make any difference. It’s surely true that there comes a point when state managers pull back on their schemes for fear of public backlash but when that happens or where, or when and how, wholly depends on the circumstances of time and place.

Second, the Overton window presumes there is something organic about the way the Window is shaped and moves. That is probably not entirely true either. Revelations of our own time show just how involved are major state actors in media and tech, even to the point of dictating the structure and parameters of opinions held in the public, all in the interest of controlling the culture of belief in the population.

I had read Manufacturing Consent (Noam Chomsky and Edward Herman; full text here) when it came out in 1988 and found it compelling. It was entirely believable that deep ruling class interests were more involved than we know about what we are supposed to think about foreign-policy matters and national emergencies, and, further, entirely plausible that major media outlets would reflect these views as a matter of seeking to fit in and ride the wave of change.

What I had not understood was just how far-reaching this effort to manufacture consent is in real life. What illustrates this perfectly has been media and censorship over the pandemic years in which nearly all official channels of opinion have very strictly reflected and enforced the cranky views of a tiny elite. Honestly, how many actual people in the US were behind the lockdowns policy in terms of theory and action? Probably fewer than 1,000. Probably closer to 100.

But thanks to the work of the Censorship Industrial Complex, an industry built of dozens of agencies and thousands of third-party cutouts including universities, we were led to believe that lockdowns and closures were just the way things are done. Vast amounts of the propaganda we endured was top down and wholly manufactured.

Third, the lockdown experience demonstrates that there is nothing necessarily slow and evolutionary about the movement of the Window. In February 2020, mainstream public health was warning against travel restrictions, quarantines, business closures, and the stigmatization of the sick. A mere 30 days later, all these policies became acceptable and even mandatory belief. Not even Orwell imagined such a dramatic and sudden shift was possible!

The Window didn’t just move. It dramatically shifted from one side of the room to the other, with all the top players against saying the right thing at the right time, and then finding themselves in the awkward position of having to publicly contradict what they had said only weeks earlier. The excuse was that “the science changed” but that is completely untrue and an obvious cover for what was really just a craven attempt to chase what the powerful were saying and doing.

It was the same with the vaccine, which major media voices opposed so long as Trump was president and then favored once the election was declared for Biden. Are we really supposed to believe that this massive switch came about because of some mystical window shift or does the change have a more direct explanation?

Fourth, the entire model is wildly presumptuous. It is built by intuition, not data, of course. And it presumes that we can know the parameters of its existence and manage how it is gradually manipulated over time. None of this is true. In the end, an agenda based on acting on this supposed Window involves deferring to the intuitions of some manager who decides that this or that statement or agenda is “good optics” or “bad optics,” to deploy the fashionable language of our time.

The right response to all such claims is: you don’t know that. You are only pretending to know but you don’t actually know. What your seemingly perfect discernment of strategy is really about concerns your own personal taste for the fight, for controversy, for argument, and your willingness to stand up publicly for a principle you believe will very likely run counter to elite priorities. That’s perfectly fine, but don’t mask your taste for public engagement in the garb of fake management theory.

It’s precisely for this reason that so many intellectuals and institutions stayed completely silent during lockdowns when everyone was being treated so brutally by public health. Many people knew the truth – that everyone would get this bug, most would shake it off just fine, and then it would become endemic – but were simply afraid to say it. Cite the Overton window all you want but what is really at issue is one’s willingness to exercise moral courage.

The relationship between public opinion, cultural feeling, and state policy has always been complex, opaque, and beyond the capacity of empirical methods to model. It’s for this reason that there is such a vast literature on social change.

We live in times in which most of what we thought we knew about the strategies for social and political change have been blown up. That’s simply because the normal world we knew only five years ago – or thought we knew – no longer exists. Everything is broken, including whatever imaginings we had about the existence of this Overton window.

What to do about it? I would suggest a simple answer. Forget the model, which might be completely misconstrued in any case. Just say what is true, with sincerity, without malice, without convoluted hopes of manipulating others. It’s a time for truth, which earns trust. Only that will blow the window wide open and finally demolish it forever.

Author

  • Jeffrey A. Tucker

    Jeffrey Tucker is Founder, Author, and President at Brownstone Institute. He is also Senior Economics Columnist for Epoch Times, author of 10 books, including Life After Lockdown, and many thousands of articles in the scholarly and popular press. He speaks widely on topics of economics, technology, social philosophy, and culture.

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Brownstone Institute

Did Lockdowns Set a Global Revolt in Motion?

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From the Brownstone Institute

BY Jeffrey A. TuckerJEFFREY A. TUCKER 

It does seem like the backlash has empowered populist movements all over the world. We see them in the farmers’ revolt in Europe, the street protests in Brazil against a sketchy election, the widespread discontent in Canada over government policies, and even in migration trends out of US blue states toward red ones.

My first article on the coming backlash – admittedly wildly optimistic – went to print April 24, 2020. After 6 weeks of lockdown, I confidently predicted a political revolt, a movement against masks, a population-wide revulsion against the elites, a demand to reject “social distancing” and streaming-only life, plus widespread disgust at everything and everyone involved.

I was off by four years. I wrongly assumed back then that society was still functioning and that our elites would be responsive to the obvious flop of the whole lockdown scheme. I assumed that people were smarter than they proved to be. I also did not anticipate just how devastating the effects of lockdown would be: in terms of learning loss, economic chaos, cultural shock, and the population-wide demoralization and loss of trust.

The forces that set in motion those grim days were far more deep than I knew at the time. They involved a willing complicity from tech, media, pharma, and the administrative state at all levels of society.

There is every evidence that it was planned to be exactly what it became; not just a foolish deployment of public health powers but a “great reset” of our lives. The newfound powers of the ruling class were not given up so easily, and it took far longer for people to shake off the trauma than I had anticipated.

Is that backlash finally here? If so, it’s about time.

New literature is emerging to document it all.

The new book White Rural Rage: The Threat to American Democracy is a viciously partisan, histrionic, and gravely inaccurate account that gets nearly everything wrong but one: vast swaths of the public are fed up, not with democracy but its opposite of ruling class hegemony. The revolt is not racial and not geographically determined. It’s not even about left and right, categories that are mostly a distraction. it’s class-based in large part but more precisely about the rulers vs. the ruled.

With more precision, new voices are emerging among people who detect a “vibe change” in the population. One is Elizabeth Nickson’s article “Strongholds Falling; Populists Seize the Culture.” She argues, quoting Bret Weinstein, that “The lessons of [C]ovid are profound. The most important lesson of Covid is that without knowing the game, we outfoxed them and their narrative collapsed…The revolution is happening all over the socials, especially in videos. And the disgust is palpable.”

A second article is “Vibe Shift” by Santiago Pliego:

The Vibe Shift I’m talking about is the speaking of previously unspeakable truths, the noticing of previously suppressed facts. I’m talking about the give you feel when the walls of Propaganda and Bureaucracy start to move as you push; the very visible dust kicked up in the air as Experts and Fact Checkers scramble to hold on to decaying institutions; the cautious but electric rush of energy when dictatorial edifices designed to stifle innovation, enterprise, and thought are exposed or toppled. Fundamentally, the Vibe Shift is a return to—a championing of—Reality, a rejection of the bureaucratic, the cowardly, the guilt-driven; a return to greatness, courage, and joyous ambition.

We truly want to believe this is true. And this much is certainly correct: the battle lines are incredibly clear these days. The media that uncritically echo the deep-state line are known: SlateWiredRolling StoneMother Jones, New RepublicNew Yorker, and so on, to say nothing of the New York Times. What used to be politically partisan venues with certain predictable biases are now more readily described as ruling-class mouthpieces, forever instructing you precisely how to think while demonizing disagreement.

After all, all of these venues, in addition to the obvious case of the science journals, are still defending the lockdowns and everything that followed. Rather than express regret for their bad models and immoral means of control, they have continued to insist that they did the right thing, regardless of the civilization-wide carnage everywhere in evidence, while ignoring the relationship between the policies they championed and the terrible results.

Instead of allowing their mistakes to change their own outlook, they have adapted their own worldview to allow for snap lockdowns anytime they deem them necessary. In holding this view, they have forged a view of politics that it is embarrassingly acquiescent to the powerful.

The liberalism that once questioned authority and demanded free speech seems extinct. This transmogrified and captured liberalism now demands compliance with authority and calls for further restrictions on free speech. Now anyone who makes a basic demand for normal freedom – to speak or choose one’s own medical treatment or to decline to wear a mask – can reliably anticipate being denounced as “right-wing” even when it makes absolutely no sense.

The smears, cancellations, and denunciations are out of control, and so unbearably predictable.

It’s enough to make one’s head spin. As for the pandemic protocols themselves, there have been no apologies but only more insistence that they were imposed with the best of intentions and mostly correct. The World Health Organization wants more power, and so does the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Even though the evidence of the failure of pharma pours in daily, major media venues pretend that all is well, and thereby out themselves as mouthpieces for the ruling regime.

The issue is that major and unbearably obvious failures have never been admitted. Institutions and individuals who only double down on preposterous lies that everyone knows are lies only end up discrediting themselves.

That’s a pretty good summary of where we are today, with vast swaths of elite culture facing an unprecedented loss of trust. Elites have chosen the lie over truth and cover-up over transparency.

This is becoming operationalized in declining traffic for legacy media, which is shedding costly staff as fast as possible. The social media venues that cooperated closely with government during the lockdowns are losing cultural sway while uncensored ones like Elon Musk’s X are gaining attention. Disney is reeling from its partisanship, while states are passing new laws against WHO policies and interventions.

Sometimes this whole revolt can be quite entertaining. When the CDC or WHO posts an update on X, when they allow comments, it is followed by thousands of reader comments of denunciation and poking fun, with flurries of comments to the effect of “I will not comply.”

DEI is being systematically defunded by major corporations while financial institutions are turning on it. Indeed, the culture in general has come to regard DEI as a sure indication of incompetence. Meanwhile, the outer reaches of the “great reset” such as the hope that EVs would replace internal combustion have come to naught as the EV market has collapsed, along with consumer demand for fake meat to say nothing of bug eating.

As for politics, yes, it does seem like the backlash has empowered populist movements all over the world. We see them in the farmers’ revolt in Europe, the street protests in Brazil against a sketchy election, the widespread discontent in Canada over government policies, and even in migration trends out of US blue states toward red ones. Already, the administrative state in D.C. is working to secure itself against a possible unfriendly president in the form of Trump or RFK, Jr.

So, yes, there are many signs of revolt. These are all very encouraging.

What does all this mean in practice? How does this end? How precisely does a revolt take shape in an industrialized democracy? What is the mostly likely pathway for long-term social change? These are legitimate questions.

For hundreds of years, our best political philosophers have opined that no system can function in a sustainable way in which a huge majority is coercively governed by a tiny elite with a class interest in serving themselves at public expense.

That seems correct. In the days of the Occupy Wall Street movement of 15 years ago, the street protesters spoke of the 1 percent vs. the 99 percent. They were speaking of those with the money inside the traders’ buildings as opposed to the people on the streets and everywhere else.

Even if that movement misidentified the full nature of the problem, the intuition into which it tapped spoke to a truth. Such a disproportionate distribution of power and wealth is dangerously unsustainable. Revolution of some sort threatens. The mystery right now is what form this takes. It’s unknown because we’ve never been here before.

There is no real historical record of a highly developed society ostensibly living under a civilized code of law that experiences an upheaval of the type that would be required to unseat the rulers of all the commanding heights. We’ve seen political reform movements that take place from the top down but not really anything that approximates a genuine bottom-up revolution of the sort that is shaping up right now.

We know, or think we know, how it all transpires in a tinpot dictatorship or a socialist society of the old Soviet bloc. The government loses all legitimacy, the military flips loyalties, there is a popular revolt that boils over, and the leaders of the government flee. Or they simply lose their jobs and take up new positions in civilian life. These revolutions can be violent or peaceful but the end result is the same. One regime replaces another.

It’s hard to know how this translates to a society that is heavily modernized and seen as non-totalitarian and even existing under the rule of law, more or less. How does revolution occur in this case? How does the regime come around to adapting itself to a public revolt against governance as we know it in the US, UK, and Europe?

Yes, there is the vote, if we can trust that. But even here, there are the candidates, which are that for a reason. They specialize in politics, which does not necessarily mean doing the right thing or reflecting the aspirations of the voters behind them. They are responsive to their donors first, as we have long discovered. Public opinion can matter but there is no mechanism that guarantees a smoothly responsive pathway from popular attitudes to political outcomes.

There is also the pathway of industrial change, a migration of resources out of legacy venues to new ones. Indeed, in the marketplace of ideas, the amplifiers of regime propaganda are failing but we also observe the response: widened censorship. What’s happening in Brazil with the full criminalization of free speech can easily happen in the US.

In social media, were it not for Elon’s takeover of Twitter, it’s hard to know where we would be. We have no large platform in which to influence the culture more broadly. And yet the attacks on that platform and other enterprises owned by Musk are growing. This is emblematic of a much more robust upheaval taking place, one that suggests change is on the way.

But how long does such a paradigm shift take? Thomas Kuhn’s The Structure of Scientific Revolutions  is a bracing account of how one orthodoxy migrates to another not by the ebb and flow of proof and evidence but through dramatic paradigm shifts. An abundance of anomalies can wholly discredit a current praxis but that doesn’t make it go away. Ego and institutional inertia perpetuate the problem until its most prominent exponents retire and die and a new elite replaces them with different ideas.

In this model, we can expect that a failed innovation in science, politics, or technology could last as long as 70 years before finally being displaced, which is roughly how long the Soviet experiment lasted. That’s a depressing thought. If this is true, we still have another 60 plus years of rule by the management professionals who enacted lockdowns, closures, shot mandates, population propaganda, and censorship.

And yet, people say that history is moving faster now than in the past. If a future of freedom is ours just lying in wait, we need that future here sooner rather than later, before it is too late to do anything about it.

The slogan became popular about ten years ago: the revolution will be decentralized with the creation of robust parallel institutions. There is no other path. The intellectual parlor game is over. This is a real-life struggle for freedom itself. It’s resist and rebuild or doom.

Author

  • Jeffrey A. Tucker

    Jeffrey Tucker is Founder, Author, and President at Brownstone Institute. He is also Senior Economics Columnist for Epoch Times, author of 10 books, including Life After Lockdown, and many thousands of articles in the scholarly and popular press. He speaks widely on topics of economics, technology, social philosophy, and culture.

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