By Steve McCann
The Wuhan Virus pandemic is not the most significant crisis in our nation’s history. It isn’t even the greatest public health crisis in our history. But with the imposition of a near total national lockdown it is undoubtedly the greatest marginalization of personal liberty in American history.
Over the centuries, in virtually all societies, people known to be infected by various deadly diseases were confined and isolated in order to mitigate the spread and protect the rest of society. Never have we confined the entire population ostensibly for the same objective.
Over the past 50 years, an ever-increasing percentage of the citizenry has been conditioned to look to the government to cure all societal and health related ills. The ruling classes have eagerly promoted this mindset as it abets their lust for permanent power. However, this obligates those in power to cure all ills, even a global pandemic. Thus, it follows that the State will inevitably claim that in order to do so it must take control of our lives against our will even if we are healthy, lest we fall ill and overwhelm the health care system.
Using exponentially flawed models and projections, not based on any actual evidence or experience with the virus, the government at all levels so terrified the populace that they eagerly embraced the concept of home confinement and the catastrophic collapse of the economy. But one question that the powers-to-be never asked themselves at the time was: How do we get out of this? Now they find themselves trapped by their own decisions.
Recently, both the federal government and states have proposed various goals that must be met before the lockdown is fully lifted. What is egregiously wrong with all these steps is that they are solely about health and arbitrary health related statistics.
Rather than look at the devastated economy as well as the unbelievable and potential life-threatening distress of the vast bulk of the American people, these politicians are hiding behind government scientist/bureaucrats, believing that focus on just Wuhan Virus statistics will shield them from criticism. The national leadership of the Democrat party are also hiding behind the scientists to not only avoid criticism but to prolong the lockdown in the hope that the economy and nation is still in shambles on November 3, election day.
The reality is the decision to reopen the nation is a political decision, not a scientific one.
It all boils down to one simple question. Has the lockdown been worth it? That depends only partly on science. There are also three other factors that must go into that answer: 1) economic consequences, 2) constitutional values and 3) moral judgements.
First, the medical aspect. The declared purpose of the lockdown was to mitigate what was projected to be a complete meltdown of available intensive care and hospital beds nationwide or in now common parlance “bend the curve.” At the height of the virus outbreak, the nation utilized less than 15% of available hospital beds and less than 20% of available intensive care beds for coronavirus patients. This curve has been bent for some time.
Deaths from nursing and senior care facilities homes now account for more than 50% of total recorded fatalities since the beginning of the epidemic. In some states it is as high as 80%. Over the past three weeks nursing home related deaths account for nearly 70% of reported fatalities. As Daniel Horowitz at Conservative Review recently wrote:
This revelation should change everything we know about the current state of affairs with coronavirus. Governors are still justifying the continued lockdown by pointing to rising deaths in many states and counties. But it now appears, using simple arithmetic, that in most states, the overwhelming majority of deaths are in nursing homes, and in some states and counties, nearly every new death is in a senior facility.
The implication is that there is no excuse whatsoever not to open up the country and throw all our resources at protecting nursing homes.
Numerous serology study results have been extrapolated to show when accounting for the true number of people who have gotten this virus, the infection fatality rate drops to 0.1% to 0.3% (about the same as the annual flu). A recent study at Truesdale Prison in Tennessee recorded that of 2,444 tests 1,299 were positive (53%) and 96% of those were asymptomatic (showing no symptoms). One inmate (67 years old) has died or a fatality rate of 0.07%.
Accounting for the fact that the deaths are lopsided among the elderly and chronically ill, the fatality rate among the younger population approaches 0.03%.
This virus will never disappear unless and until there is enough exposure to produce a collective immunity or an effective vaccine, available to everyone in the world, is produced. There is no scientific basis, centered on actual findings either in the United States or around the world, for continuing for weeks or months any full or partial shutdown of the general population on either the national, state or local level.
Second, the economic consequences. There has been the inevitable leftist decrying of any attempt to measure the mortality of the coronavirus against the economic and emotional cost of the chosen means of mitigating it. But this is nothing but empty rhetoric as well as hypocritical. All of us whether a tenured college professor and a grocery store clerk and a government bureaucrat and an over-the-road truck driver value and depend upon the economy to generate wealth.
Hundreds of thousands of businesses are on the verge of bankruptcy and permanent closure. 33+ million are unemployed, many are forced against their will to be dependent on government largess and the federal government is creating massive unsustainable debt in an attempt to keep the nation afloat. A thriving economy, the kind we are now destroying, is the source of our security, the financing of our health care system and our children’s future. Without it this nation as we know it will cease to exist. While our leftist brothers may sneer at this reality, it should also be remembered that poverty kills as well. And when it does not kill, it maims, mentally, physically and socially.
Third, the erosion of constitutional values. What are the limits to the things that the State can legitimately do to a people living in a constitutional republic originally established on the basis of guaranteeing individual freedom?
Lord Sumption, a former Supreme Court Judge in the United Kingdom, recently wrote:
To say that there are no limits is the stuff of tyrants. Every despot who ever lived thought that he was coercing his subjects for their own good or that of society.
We have to ask ourselves what kind of relationship we want with the State. Do we really want to be the kind of society where basic freedoms are conditional on the decisions of politicians in thrall to scientists and statisticians? Where human beings are just tools of public policy?
A society in which Government can confine most of the population without controversy is not one in which civilized people would want to live, regardless of their [politicians] answer to” Is it worth it?
My own answer is no. Guidance is fine. Voluntary self-isolation is fine, and strongly advisable for the more vulnerable. Most of them will do it by choice. But coercion is not fine. There is no moral or principled justification for it.
Lastly, on moral judgement. However valuable saving every life may be, it is not the only valuable thing to a society. A comparison is unavoidable between the lives that may be saved and the others lost in a massive national shutdown. Which includes those unable to access other lifesaving medical procedures, as many states effectively shut down hospitals and medical practices in order to theoretically mitigate the coronavirus epidemic.
Thus, it is empty rhetoric to regurgitate the talking point that every life is priceless whenever the subject of reopening the country is raised. These catch phrases are emotionally satisfying, but those that mouth them do not actually believe them, as many who fall back on these platitudes also promote and applaud abortion up to and at birth.
Societies and people make life altering choices all the time, be it going to war to protect the country, commuting two hours a day to work on crowded highways, travel by air, or working in a coal mine. These decisions are made as mankind is fully aware that there is more to life than the avoidance of death.
The answer to the question, “Was the lockdown worth it?” is a resounding no.
Ordering the citizenry to cower in their homes, harassing people for walking on an empty beach, and mandating small businesses close up shop regardless of their hygienic procedures has never, in the history of mankind, been demonstrated to be effective in combating any infectious disease. In summary, lockdowns do not work.
It was common knowledge by early March, based on the experience in Italy, South Korea and other nations, that this virus was problematic for the elderly with serious underlying conditions. (In Italy 85% of deaths have been among those over 70 with serious underlying conditions) Rather than focus and expend all available resources on that portion of the population, this nation decided, based on bogus science, to institute a state optioned complete or partial lockdown leaving that segment of society to essentially fend for itself — with disastrous consequences. All the while decimating the economy, people’s livelihoods and marginalizing freedom of speech, religion, and assembly.
This nation has made the biggest blunder in its history.
The time has come for the politicians from the President to the Governors and Mayors to stop hiding behind the scientist/bureaucrats and fully reopen the nation. Focus on that segment of the population most at risk, without compulsory isolation or de facto imprisonment. And restore the civil liberties that have been wantonly eroded.
Graphic credit: Sanu N