by Jeffrey A. Tucker
The American Institute for Economic Research
World War II had ended four years earlier and the U.S. was trying to return to peace and prosperity. Price controls and rationing were ended. Trade was opening. People were returning to normal life. The economy started humming again. Optimism for the future was growing. Harry Truman became the symbol of a new normacy. From Depression and war, society was on the mend.
As if to serve as a reminder that there were still threats to life and liberty present, an old enemy made its appearance: polio. It’s a disease with ancient origins, with its most terrifying effect, the paralysis of the lower extremities. It maimed children, killed adults, and struck enormous fear into everyone.
Polio is also a paradigmatic case that targeted and localized policy mitigations have worked in the past, but society-wide lockdowns have never been used before. They weren’t even considered as an option.