10th March 2023
Balaji Srinivasan’s comments on freedom contradict his support for lockdowns
Michael Senger has put out a fascinating analysis of Balaji’s foresight and support for lockdowns and other measures: https://michaelpsenger.substack.com/p/balaji-srinivasan-the-man-who-couldnt
At least some of this seems to be based on extrapolating what China was doing. He seems to have closely followed news agencies from China. And he might have had some insights from people he knew in WHO etc.
There’s another set of comments I quickly searched for which indicate strong support for freedom. It is therefore a big question why Balaji did not oppose lockdowns. Instead, he supported them: “And this may actually work to stop the spread” –
Sometimes a solution creates the next problem.
My rough forecast of the future: the coronavirus results in quarantines, nationalism, centralization. And this may actually work to stop the spread.
But once under control, states will not cede their powers. So, we decentralize.
— Balaji (@balajis) February 3, 2020
He reminds me of some extreme libertarians for whom finding ways to hide from government (crypto/ Patri Friedman style seasteading, etc.) is important, but who also actively supported restrictions on movement and got personally terrorised by covid.
A mobility freeze — like what China has done with endless lockdowns and exit denials — is comparable to a cash seizure.
Both are state infringements on freedom. https://t.co/XYRJt0gGkT
— Balaji (@balajis) November 5, 2022
As for what Elon does, I'm cautiously optimistic. Let's see what happens. Early signs are good. Bans are already getting reversed.
I do think we'll need decentralization to protect global freedom of speech, but if we're lucky this gets us some breathing room…
— Balaji (@balajis) October 28, 2022
Patri and his illustrious family were true pioneers here.
Milton Friedman defended free markets when they were most at risk. David Friedman literally wrote the book on the Machinery of Freedom. And Patri himself drove key concepts like dynamic geography & competitive government. https://t.co/osV5rSFFcz
— Balaji (@balajis) March 20, 2022
It's worth stepping back to realize just how controlled speech & markets were in the US till recently.
A nominal right to freedom of speech didn't matter if you didn't own a newspaper. Nominal access to free markets didn't matter as much if it was too costly to start a company.
— Balaji (@balajis) February 21, 2022
Doing the best I can to fund free speech and free markets, in collaboration with @naval, @cdixon, @FEhrsam, @matthuang, @emiliemc, @brian_armstrong, and so many other friends and colleagues.
It will be nice if it all makes money, but the goal is to make freedom. https://t.co/UzetA4Q5PH
— Balaji (@balajis) November 11, 2021
It's unlikely that the vehicle for this is the US as we know it. It might be states within, or without.
But our interest should be in defending universal values — freedom of speech, free markets, protection from search & seizure, etc — as distinct from American supremacy per se.
— Balaji (@balajis) October 26, 2021