Mandated Shutdowns, the Ratchet Effect, and The Barstool Fund


  • Jeffrey Carroll University of Virginia, United States



Perhaps the most contentious part of the response to the Covid-19 pandemic has been the decision by governments to mandate—or effectively mandate—the shutdown of certain businesses. The justification for doing so is broadly consequentialist. The public health costs of not shutting down are so great that potential benefits from allowing businesses to open are dwarfed. Operating within this consequentialist framework, this paper identifies an underappreciated set of social costs that are a product of the present public policy that pairs mandated shutdowns with government subsidies. Such policy is prone to being an instance of what Robert Higgs calls the ratchet effect. Given that ratchets tend to be both costly and sticky, it is best to avoid allowing them to come into existence. This paper identifies a way of circumventing this particular ratchet; namely, by replacing governmental subsidies with support from private charitable funds like The Barstool Fund.

Author Biography

Jeffrey Carroll, University of Virginia, United States

Jeffrey Carroll is a PhD candidate in Philosophy at the University of Virginia. His research is in social and political philosophy and PPE. More specifically, he often works on methodological issues concerning justice-theorizing and democracy. His published work appears in The Journal of Politics, Social Theory and Practice, HEC Forum, and The Independent Review.




How to Cite

Carroll, J. (2021). Mandated Shutdowns, the Ratchet Effect, and The Barstool Fund. Erasmus Journal for Philosophy and Economics, 14(1), 47–57.