Brian Allen: Is Phil Scott in over his head?

Editor’s note: This commentary is by Brian Allen, of Arlington. He is an art historian and the art critic for National Review.

Is Gov. Phil Scott in over his head? The answer is yes. The jobs governor I voted for twice has turned into Governor Fear, Governor Depression and Governor Oops. Believing tidbits from CNN and science fiction, he’s strangled Vermont’s economy. According to the Tax Foundation, using census bureau figures, Vermont’s unemployment rate is 19.7% and growing.

And for what? Governor Scott is muddled on his facts and his goals.

I suspected there was a problem when I read the transcript of an April 6 VPR interview with Commissioner of Financial Regulation Michael Pieciak. “The best research out there now contends that about 19% of those that fall victim to the virus will need some form of hospital care,” he said. This was false then and patently false now.

As early as March, there was a big split among epidemiologists and virologists on Covid-19’s toxicity. Nobel laureates and other leaders from Stanford and Oxford correctly predicted, using data, that almost all infections were asymptomatic. Testing was confined to people who were sick or hospitalized.

Gov. Phil Scott at a regular COVID-19 media briefing.

It was very clear then that Covid-19 was a big problem for nursing homes everywhere and in New York City. Then and now, that’s about 70% of US deaths. Nationally, as of this week, 12 children under age 14 have died with a Covid-19 infection.

Was this data ever considered by Governor Scott in fashioning a policy for Vermont? I see no evidence that it has.

In March, there was speculation — gossip — that 19% of infections in one small part of Italy required hospital care. Combining naïveté and ignorance, Governor Scott’s team did no research on whether these numbers were even remotely correct. They continued using Italy’s Covid-19 experience to project Vermont’s.

Never use Italy as a model for anything related to health care. Its health care system is a mess. It collapsed during the 2018 flu season. It aggressively rations care. Air pollution in Italy is awful. Men smoke like chimneys. Living conditions are very different. Italian record-keeping isn’t reliable. Both Italians and Vermonters are older but that’s all they have in common.

Governor Scott and his team didn’t use “the best research.” They used panic research. They relied on secret computer models designed by academics with no practical medical experience. Science informs, and scientists disagree. Governor Scott relied on bad information, ignored science that contested that bad information, and made the most reckless and radical decisions.

Before a governor takes the reckless, never-been-done-before step of quarantining healthy people and trashing the state’s economy, he needs to question all data ruthlessly and to analyze costs and benefits. I see no such rigor.

Governor Scott closed the schools with no evidence Covid-19 threatens young people, telling teachers to “be creative.” I thought, “what planet is this guy from?” He dumped homeschooling on unprepared parents. He’s oblivious to basic issues like computer access, connectivity and special needs kids.

What’s the truancy rate? Does he even know it? What’s the increase in opioid, alcohol, spousal, and child abuse since Governor Scott crashed the economy? Has he asked? What’s he doing about it?

“Did anybody anticipate there’d be 90,000 people unemployed in a month and a half,” Governor Scott asked in a recent VTDigger interview, surprised at the devastation he created. “I dare say no.” I read this in complete astonishment. “Duh. Don’t you know how many people work in Vermont,” I wondered. Didn’t he ask any questions about the impact of his decisions?

If an active Covid-19 infection threatens others for as many as 14 days, why were 630,000 healthy Vermonters put in lockdown for 60 days? I was as Covid-19 free on day 15 as I am today. I don’t think Governor Scott can explain with data why crashing an economy for 30 or 60 days more led to better health outcomes. We know it killed hundreds more businesses.

“We need to beat the virus,” Governor Scott tells us. Doesn’t he know that we can’t? Covid-19 is with us. There might be a vaccine in a year but that might not happen. Does he understand there’s no vaccine for any coronavirus? After 40 years, there’s no AIDS vaccine. What is his endgame? Will he keep closing everything down? Who’s going to invest in Vermont if we have flaky leadership?

There are currently only five people in Vermont hospitalized “with Covid-19” among the 21,676 people who have been tested. A total of 81 people have been hospitalized “with Covid-19.” We now know that 98% of Covid-19 infections produce no or mild symptoms, we don’t know whether these 81 people “with Covid-19” were actually hospitalized “because of Covid-19.”

What has Governor Scott and his team learned? It seems like they’ve learned nothing. His last press conference focused on masks and xenophobia. Given the mess he’s made, I understand why, but we need to know how he’s going to protect the most vulnerable and bring the economy back from the clobbering he gave it through poor, sloppy decision-making.

Vermont isn’t Queens or Brooklyn but Governor Scott is acting like it is. He continues to use fear to gain compliance with pointless mandates. He’s not pleading with people who’ve deferred check-ups, screenings and cancer treatments to see their doctors. He’s frightening them with talk of “one false move, and we’ll ignite a spark into a flame.”

It’s leadership by fear. Now we have a $400 million deficit and near 20% unemployment. Obviously, Governor Scott didn’t see either coming. That’s not what I call competence.

15 thoughts on “Brian Allen: Is Phil Scott in over his head?

  1. Governor “Doodles” has walked all over himself by reiterating his hatred for Pres Trump. What does reminding the people of VT do for the well being of the state to utter such drivel and blather when he is holding his hand out for the $Billions sent to VT for recovery of the economy? Vermonters are smart enough to know that these back-handed slaps do absolutely nothing only drive Doodles into the slot the wedge has created, a little further. This guy is the biggest farce that has ever occupied the Governor’s office in my lifetime. I am 80 yrs young. The troubles you have, Governor Doodles, are largely brought on by you and your D/P friends. You are beyond saving, you have intentionally squandered your right and ability to garner another term, and if you do,by chance prevail, it will be done by people other than myself and many of my close friends. We have had enough of the non-sense.

  2. The only candidate from the beginning to say what Scott was doing was wrong is Kevin Hoyt because he saw that the constitution was not being followed.

  3. Is the Governor in over his head with this Wuhan Virus, the answer is “YES ”
    but so is the rest of the world, he’s following the liberal Game Plan and that’s
    to bring the Country & the State to its knees.

    The political atmosphere in Vermont is a disgrace with its liberal nonsense, I have
    voted for Phil Scott in the past, but since he has found his left-leaning friends in
    the statehouse, he’s done as far as my VOTE.

    Before the Wuhan Virus the state was already in turmoil, overtaxed, no jobs and
    the Unfunded Liabilities hanging over everyone’s heads !!

    We should not see any new legislation from Montpelier that increases any tax base
    until they get a handle on the debt the state has already, you can blame this Wuhan
    Virus, but the name of the virus killing this state is called ” Progressive Legislators ”
    wake up, people.

    Governor Scott quit listening to fear-mongering, Small business owners will use
    common sense to open there lively hood, something missing in the Statehouse.

  4. Gov Scott is under the influence of sinister agents who all wish to change the world into a command and control planet in Communist fashion. Underground coming into force, thru the Bernie’s, the WHO, the political health scholars.
    as a race car driver, Phil goes as fast as he can in straight lines, but when that becomes impossible, he swerves to the left.
    Gov Scott is fully under their indluence and care. STOP health care for everything but a virus. 1% served, 99% can wait and fade into memory. Constitutions in a time capsule buried somewhere

  5. I respectfully suggest Brian doen’t have a clue as to what he is talking about. If he is unaware, the last time I looked there were no courses on dealing with a 100 year pandemic taught in academia. Like all governors, Gov. Scott is doing the best he can with the hand he’s been dealt. That not only applies to Republicans but Democrats as well. Governor Scott keep up the good fight!!!!

    • For the COVID19 response I would give him a fair grade. He following the pack. But for running the state we’re in trouble. Pre wuhan virus. We can argue the tried old r vs d, but job growth, wage boosts, and population are all stagnant even in a HOT economy. School budgets, lawsuits, governmental policies and economic policies are either out of control or simply not helping Vermonters.

    • No. We know that the infection fatality rate for Covid is 0.41%, as the high-end estimate by the Cambridge Center for Evidence-Based Medicine, and we also know that given the age distribution of Covid deaths in the US, the IFR for those under 65 is 0.1% or less, and gets lower the younger a person is. Perhaps someone better at math than I am can figure out what the infection fatality rate for different age groups is, given the data for April 18 (the peak of deaths in US) and assuming an overall IFR of 0.41%. This information would be important and it seems to me that so far we haven’t gotten it out. It argues that those under 65 years of age need no protection, as for them the IFR is in-line with that of a normal flu, and resources should have been, and should now be, directed at those most vulnerable, who would have a high IFR (if the death counts are indeed reliable.) This is what the evidence is telling us and this is what some physicians and public health experts have been arguing all along.

      • There are no courses dealing with pandemics. But are there any dealing with the Constitution? Is ignorance of how to respond to a virus and excuse for ignorance over the appropriate limits of government power? Because there ARE courses on those — but many people don’t seem interested in even knowing what the constitution says — it is being thrown out the window with the COVID-19 bathwater. That’s why this is an excellent article. It doesn’t pretend that there is a simple, singular path — it asks people to weigh economic costs to health as well as pandemic threats to health. Both are real, and thus valid areas of inquiry.

  6. We had the answer to the Covid problem all along, ever since data came out from China in February: the elderly and frail were hit hardest by Covid, children hardly at all. Italy confirmed this. A strategy then advocated by many was to protect the small percentage of the population most affected while allowing healthy younger workers– that is, those under age 65– to go about life unrestricted. If it had been made perfectly clear to Americans and the world that we, together, must work to protect those most vulnerable during our daily lives, I have no doubt that the good people of the world would have taken up that torch without hesitation.

    Instead we had a recommendation– from where exactly? The WHO?– to shut down everything. Around the world countries heeded that call with rare exceptions. Reason and common sense were usurped by wild unjustified fear, and that fear was being pushed out from the very top.

    If we stop and ask ourselves how we could possibly get into a state of affairs wherein the public is constantly bombarded with messages of fear and panic and voices of calm and reason are ignored, then the answer would be either that grossly incompetent worldwide authorities were unable to get the real message out, or that the fear and panic are deliberate.

    Are we now seeing a final nail in the coffin of reason, truth, and common sense? Phil Scott is indeed in over his head, as he has taken the fear and panic hook, line, and sinker. The cost of protecting those most vulnerable to Covid would have been far less than the cost of blanket shutdown that harms everyone and does possibly irreparable harm to our liberties.

    The path ahead of us is clear: protect those most vulnerable and leave the rest of Vermonters free to do whatever they want to. If we make a plan to protect those most vulnerable I have no doubt that the good people of Vermont will get behind it in manpower and resources. If the state can’t handle it then we, the people, can and will.

    • Spot on!

      Note that the largest backer of the WHO is Bill Gates who is obsessed with rolling out a vaccine for 7.7 billion people (so all humans can be tracked). The WHO is also pretty much owned by pharma. I read that the WHO declared a pandemic after a large donation from Gates.

      COVID-19 is a relative nothing burger. And, as the cases go up, the death rate has been going down which means the infectious mortality rate is even lower. COVID-19 isn’t even as contagious as measles and we never shutdown the economy for measles, even back in the days when 3 to 4 million were infected annually (aka it was a normal event every few years).

      But where the COVID-19 agenda looms YOOGE is that it will be the excuse for all changes such as digitized money, an economic reset, universal basic income (tied to vaccines and good behavior), etc. It will also lay the foundation for the one world government run by the UN.

      Some of the goals discussed openly by the World Economic Forum, Council for Foreign Relations, UN, WHO, etc. under Agenda 2030 are moving people into so-called sustainable cities/mega regions where we will be maintained and monitored 24/7 by the internet of things.

      The long-term goal for the power elite is reduction of the human population by the end of the century with the idea that a sustainable level of humans is maybe 1 to 1.5 billion. That is only 80 years from now!

      But it gets worse. Below is a quote from the World Economic Forum, 4th Industrial Revolution.


      The very idea of human being some sort of natural concept is really going to change. Our bodies will be so high tech, we won’t be able to really distinguish between what’s natural and what’s artificial.

      With the ability to visualize brain activity, for example, through a simple consumer-based EEG device, it gives us access to ourselves in ways that we’ve never before thought possible. It unlocks the black box that is the brain and enables us to really truly be able to realize an identity that is aspirational.

      One of the things that I think is so essential to free and open societies is freedom of thought. And up until now, the conversation we’ve been having is around freedom of speech. Once we can access peoples’ thoughts and access to peoples’ emotions, we have to create a space that enables people to think freely, to think divergent thoughts, to think creative thoughts.

  7. Gov Scott was in over his head the first time he was elected. He is the D/P best friend, just look at his record.
    Vermonters coming out of the woodwork as they did when the aftermath of civil unions was in play, can put a stop to his governance .
    There is a candidate who will set the state right, and get us back to a Vermont we once knew…… that is John Klar. He is our man.

  8. I agree! It’s like they don’t really prepare well for their briefings! I wonder what they do all week? It seems like only a few of them are actually prepared with the facts. And when the hell are Vermonters going to get to ask questions, and not just the press?? I feel like I know more of the facts then our “ Leaders” do.
    After watching one of the briefings I do not feel confident that Vermont will return to some type of normalcy. I feel like the “spigot”, ugh, will never be open!

  9. And yet, he pushes the lock-down for another month. Governor Scott, “stop listening to the progressive leftists that have tainted our state offices.” They’re still collecting a pay check, we’re NOT.

  10. Governor Scott is a self proven liar and has violated his oath and thus not fit to serve, not to mention he being in over his head,he is a disgrace.

    I voted for him once in his initial election but will never vote for him since or in the future as I don’t cast my ballot for proven liars or the left of either party.

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