Here are some headlines normal people find disturbing:

One person who may not be perturbed by these headlines is Mr. Jeffrey Tucker, the former Editorial Director for the American Institute for Economic Research, the founder of the anti-vaccine misinformation group the Brownstone Institute, and the chief organizer of the Great Barrington Declaration (GBD), which promised that herd immunity would arrive in under 6-months, if only 250 million unvaccinated Americans contracted COVID simultaneously in October 2020. Mr. Tucker did more than assemble the epidemiologists (Drs. Martin Kulldorff, Jay Bhattacharya, Sunetra Gupta, and Stefan Baral), journalists, and camera crew at the signing of the GBD. He said he was “there while it was being drafted” and “I made a couple of suggestions here and there.”

According to his Wikipedia entry, Mr. Jeffrey Tucker:

Is an American libertarian writer, publisher, entrepreneur and advocate of anarcho-capitalism and Bitcoin. For many years he worked for Ron Paul, the Mises Institute, and Lew Rockwell. With the American Institute for Economic Research (AIER) he organized efforts against COVID-19 restrictions starting in 2020, and he founded the Brownstone Institute think tank in 2021 to continue such efforts.

Mr. Tucker also has some views that most doctors, especially those concerned about the well-being of children, would find disturbing. Prior to the pandemic, he wrote an article that encouraged children to smoke.  He said:

The time to smoke is when you are a teen. It’s when your lungs are strong, and your body is prepared to fight back the ill effects. It’s also when you can gain the maximum advantage of the fact that smoking is very cool and enjoyable. I see no reason why parents shouldn’t encourage it, while warning that they will probably have to stop after graduating college. And of course this is opposite of what the government says! The anti-smoking campaigns for young people are based on its supposed addictive quality. The fear is that once you start as a teen, you will never stop. But I’ve never understood what is meant by addictive. It’s not like cigarettes take away your free will.

In addition to extolling the benefits of cigarettes for teens, Mr. Tucker also encouraged them to drop out of school and start working. In an article from 2016 titled Let the Kids Work he wrote:

The Washington Post ran a beautiful photo montage of children at work from 100 years ago. I get it. It’s not supposed to be beautiful. It’s supposed to be horrifying. I’m looking at these kids. They are scruffy, dirty, and tired. No question.

But I also think about their inner lives. They are working in the adult world, surrounded by cool bustling things and new technology. They are on the streets, in the factories, in the mines, with adults and with peers, learning and doing. They are being valued for what they do, which is to say being valued as people. They are earning money.

Whatever else you want to say about this, it’s an exciting life. You can talk about the dangers of coal mining or selling newspapers on the street. But let’s not pretend that danger is something that every young teen wants to avoid. If you doubt it, head over the stadium for the middle school football game in your local community, or have a look at the wrestling or gymnastic team’s antics at the gym.

Mr. Tucker further explained how he felt public schools damaged children and that working in fast food would be an improvement for them. He said:

And I compare it to any scene you can observe today at the local public school, with 30 kids sitting in desks bored out of their minds, creativity and imagination beaten out of their brains, forbidden from earning money and providing value to others, learning no skills, and knowing full well that they are supposed to do this until they are 22 years old if they have the slightest chance of being a success in life: desk after desk, class after class, lecture after lecture, test after test, a confined world without end…

If kids were allowed to work and compulsory school attendance was abolished, the jobs of choice would be at Chick-Fil-A and WalMart. And they would be fantastic jobs too, instilling in young people a work ethic, which is the inner drive to succeed, and an awareness of attitudes that make enterprise work for all. It would give them skills and discipline that build character, and help them become part of a professional network.

Presumably, parents who can afford to send their children to private schools should not encourage them to quit school and work flipping burgers. Chick-Fil-A and WalMart needs CEOs after all.

Mr. Tucker concluded his article by saying:

Then we look at pictures of newspaper boys from 1905 and say, “Oh how sad that these kids had jobs. We are so much more humane now!” It’s time we stop congratulating ourselves for taking away opportunity from kids. It’s time to let the kids work again.

Mr. Tucker remains proud of this article. After I shared a screenshot of it on social media, he said his article was “very compelling” and chastised me for not linking to the article itself. Journalist Walker Bragman further revealed Mr. Tucker’s enthusiasm for getting kids out of the classroom and into the workforce, in his article Leaked Brownstone Institute Emails Reveal Support for Child Labor, Underage Smoking. In one email, Mr. Tucker says:

I would fully repeal the 1936 “child labor” law .  It’s cruel and robs kids of a good life.

In another email, Mr. Tucker shared an old picture of smoking adolescents and declared “these kids seem happier than kids today.” Reflecting this philosophy, the Brownstone Institute has published articles defending the vaping industry, such as The Attack on Juul Is a Scandal.

It’s sobering to realize that someone with this worldview had a profound influence on our pandemic response, especially with regards to children. What’s more disturbing is that Mr. Tucker’s failed quest for herd immunity through the mass infection of unvaccinated youth was aided and abetted by many prominent doctors, who themselves had access to powerful politicians, especially in Florida, where headlines now read Rollback Of Florida Child Labor Laws Gets Its First Committee Seal of Approval.

So why were these doctors, who purported to be very concerned! about the potential- often imagined– harms of remote learning, so eager to team up with a man who encouraged my son to drop out of school so he can smoke with his friends during his break from his shift at Chick-Fil-A?

You’ll have to ask them, of course.

I, however, am of the opinion that doctors shouldn’t lend the credibility of the medical profession to pro-tobacco, child-labor advocates. How sad that this is controversial.





  • Dr. Jonathan Howard is a neurologist and psychiatrist who has been interested in vaccines since long before COVID-19. He is the author of "We Want Them Infected: How the failed quest for herd immunity led doctors to embrace the anti-vaccine movement and blinded Americans to the threat of COVID."

Posted by Jonathan Howard

Dr. Jonathan Howard is a neurologist and psychiatrist who has been interested in vaccines since long before COVID-19. He is the author of "We Want Them Infected: How the failed quest for herd immunity led doctors to embrace the anti-vaccine movement and blinded Americans to the threat of COVID."