In this Jan. 21, 2021 file photo, Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, speaks with reporters at the White House, in Washington. Credit: AP / AP

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“We’ve done worse than most any other country,” said Dr. Anthony Fauci in an interview with ABC over the weekend.

This message is one we have heard a lot, not just from Fauci but from a myriad of politicians, bureaucrats, and public health officials, all of whom seem to be taking a particular amount of satisfaction in ridiculing the United States.

To them, America, it seems, is a backward land of irrational fools who willfully sacrifice themselves on the altar of selfishness and antiquated notions of freedom and self-determination. If only Americans would learn to hand over their decision making to large, centralized state authorities, and do what they were told, we would not be the embarrassment of the world today.

In the very same interview, Fauci claimed that the United States had reached the milestone of 500,000 COVID deaths because of “disparate responses of different states versus the unified approach.”

In other words, we would’ve done much better if we handed over all the power to Fauci and his friends in Washington.

Statements like his are repeated so often now that they have gained the status of accepted truth. There is perhaps no more universally held fact among the elites today than the belief that the United States is humiliating itself, and that the cause of our humiliation is Federalism.

Unsurprisingly, both of these beliefs are lazy, uninformed myths.

The United States is a geographically massive country with radical mixtures of highly urbanized megalopolises, and nearly deserted wilderness. The amount of cultural, religious, political, and geographic diversity in the United States is unparalleled.

We are also the third most populous country in the world. This makes all comparisons with European countries — which seem to be quite popular with the public health intelligentsia these days — completely inappropriate.

The United States has roughly 332 million people living in it today. In comparison, Germany has a population of only 83 million. France and the United Kingdom both stand around 67 million. Spain only has 47 million people.

Comparisons outside of Europe are just as absurd. Canada is a country of 38 million people with a population density of 10.2 people per square mile, which ranks 185th in the world. The state of California alone has 39 million people, with a population density of 253.6 people per square mile.

When you start to try to put together more appropriate comparisons, the arrogant ridicule of America starts to look pretty foolish.

If you were to combine the countries of Italy, France, the United Kingdom, Germany, Spain, and Portugal into a single political unit, the combined population of these countries is about 334 million, which is about equal to the population of the United States.

As of the time I am writing this, those countries have reported 456,203 deaths, compared to the 515,017 reported in the United States. Less, to be sure, but I think we can all agree that the numbers are comparable enough to conclude there is little meaningful difference in the results.

Western Europe has reported about 17 million COVID cases, compared to 28.8 million here, which might make you think that despite the comparable deaths, they have a better handle on stopping the spread of the virus.

Then again, the Europeans have only done 266 million tests, compared to 351 million in America. Given their positivity rate, if they had done as many tests as we have, they would have shown roughly 23 million cases, once again very similar to our own.

Perhaps more importantly, though, many European countries — despite their vaunted socialized health systems and the heavy handed, centralized government strong arming — have a higher rate of death for COVID patients than we do.

In the industrialized first world, the marginal differences we see are attributable to dozens, if not hundreds of interlocking variables.

If Fauci’s dream scenario — a unified pandemic response run entirely from Washington — was the reality, there is no evidence that America’s COVID results would have been all that different from what they are today. Given that, I’m glad I live in a country that allows New Hampshire to respond to a pandemic differently than New Jersey.

Matthew Gagnon of Yarmouth is the chief executive officer of the Maine Policy Institute, a free market policy think tank based in Portland. A Hampden native, he previously served as a senior strategist...