While I was taking a grief break, a handful of states – including my state of Tennessee – decided to leave BizarroWorld and begin opening back up for business. This sparked outrage among people who’ve spent three years screaming that Trump is a fascist dictator, but now want him to act like a fascist dictator instead of allowing governors to decide what’s best for their states. The term the perpetually-outraged crowd kept tossing around was putting the burden on the states.
Ohhhh, I see. Freedom to make your own decisions is a burden now. Well, no worries … there are plenty of politicians who will gladly lift that burden from you.
As soon as Georgia, Tennessee, Texas and a few other states announced they were phasing out the lockdowns, The Twitter universe exploded. The perpetually-outraged crowd tweeted their usual pearls of wisdom … you know, stuff like Well of course, these Republican governors don’t mind sacrificing people’s lives just so businesses can get back to making money! and This just proves southerners are stupid!
Nothing amuses me quite like stupid people calling intelligent people stupid. That’s why my all-time favorite Twitter exchange is this one:
Him: Your stupid.
Me: I believe you mean “you’re stupid.”
Him: No I’m not! YOUR STUPID.
The satirical news site The Babylon Bee captured the Twitter reaction quite nicely:
Satire, sure, but pretty close to what I saw online. For example, this tweet could certainly pass for satire, but it wasn’t – it was a real, honest-to-god tweet by one of the enlightened, blue-checkmark journalists on Twitter:
Boy, that held up well. The blue-check journalist made this bold prediction on April 20, nearly four weeks ago. The Georgia bloodbath failed to materialize. This shouldn’t surprise anyone, because the apocalyptic predictions were based on assumptions we know aren’t true. Namely …
1. COVID-19 is an especially deadly virus
2. Only a small fraction of the population has been exposed, thanks to the lockdown
The second incorrect assumption prompted the first incorrect assumption. If you count the number of deaths and then assume the only people who’ve been exposed are those who show up in hospitals needing treatment, the death rate will appear high. But the enlightened, blue-check journalists seem to have missed the news about the actual exposure rate. This article, for example:
A team at the University of Bonn has tested a randomized sample of 1,000 residents of the town of Gangelt in the north-west of the country, one of the epicenters of the outbreak in Germany. The study found that two percent of the population currently had the virus and that 14 percent were carrying antibodies suggesting that they had already been infected — whether or not they experienced any symptoms. Eliminating an overlap between the two groups, the team concluded that 15 percent of the town have been infected with the virus.
Other studies have found even higher exposure rates:
Nearly one third of 200 Chelsea residents who gave a drop of blood to researchers on the street this week tested positive for antibodies linked to COVID-19, a startling indication of how widespread infections have been in the densely populated city.
The Mass. General researchers ― who excluded anyone who had tested positive for the virus in the standard nasal swab test ― found that 32 percent of participants have had COVID-19, and many didn’t know it.
Yes, ladies and gentlemen, we’re tanking the economy, bankrupting businesses, and putting people out of work to protect ourselves from a virus that’s sooooo deadly, people can have the antibodies in their systems and be totally unaware they were ever exposed.
Dr. John Ioannidis – one of the voices of sanity from the beginning – also conducted a study to see how many people in a California county had already been exposed. Based on those results, he calculated the death rate. Are you ready?
Wait for it … the death rate among people exposed to coronavirus appears to around 0.1% — which is pretty close to the death rate for seasonal flu. And yet the bed-wetters want to stay locked down as if the Super Flu from Stephen King’s novel The Stand is out there waiting to pounce on anyone who goes outdoors.
To be clear, I’m not saying going into lockdown in March was a mistake. We didn’t know how deadly or widespread the virus was at the time, and the fear of overwhelming the medical system was legitimate. We’re past that now, and yet many people – including politicians — seem to have forgotten why we went into lockdown mode in the first place. A professor from Stanford recently summed up the situation nicely:
Policymakers and the public have not received several key messages that are critical to alleviate fear and guide a safe reopening of society. That has led to a gross failure in policy at the state level:
There has been a failure to remind everyone that the stated goal of the policy – total lockdown and whole-population isolation – has been accomplished in most of the United States, including the epicenter of New York. Specifically, two curves, hospitalizations per day and deaths per day, have flattened. The goal was to prevent hospital overcrowding and, aside from a few in the New York area, hospitals were not overcrowded. Today, most hospitals stand under-filled, necessitating layoffs of personnel. More importantly, it was never a policy goal to eliminate all cases of COVID-19. That is impossible, unnecessary and illogical, when 99 percent of infected people have no significant illness from it.
There has been a failure to reassure everyone that we fully anticipate more cases will occur, whether we test or not, with continuing relaxation of today’s isolation. Since millions of people have the highly contagious infection, and half are entirely asymptomatic, that spread is fully expected. Even though we will see headlines sensationalizing the next projection, the models are already set to adjust upward for less strict isolation.
There has been a failure to educate the public that the overall fatality rate is not only far lower than previously thought but is extremely low in almost everyone other than the elderly… While somehow escaping attention, updated infection fatality rates (IFR) are less than or equal to seasonal flu for those under 60 in France, Spain and the Netherlands. Less than 1 percent of deaths occur in the absence of underlying conditions. Of the exceptionally rare deaths in children in New York City, only one tragic case out of 15,756 COVID-19 deaths – 0.006 percent – was a child without a known underlying condition.
The medical system was successfully saved from being overwhelmed, but in the meantime, the bed-wetters moved the goalposts. They no longer talk about flattening the curve. Now they want us to stay locked down UNTIL IT’S SAFE!
Say what? Until it’s safe?! They apparently believe if we just stay inside long enough, the virus will disappear, and then we can all come out to play again. They haven’t the grasped the fact – and it is a fact – that the virus is here, it’s not going away, and it will spread. I’ll say that again for the slow-witted: the virus is going to spread. And one more time: THE VIRUS IS GOING TO SPREAD. Most of us will be exposed at some point, just as most of us are exposed to cold and flu viruses every year. And just like every year, the vast majority of us will be fine.
When I’ve bothered to debate the issue online, I’ve noticed a curious psychology at work: despite the increasingly good news, some people are very, very wedded to the idea that everything is awful and we’re in the middle of an unprecedented disaster. You simply cannot get these people to accept any good news.
For example, I posted a picture The Older Brother snapped of the ER waiting room at the hospital in Illinois where they took my mom. Here’s your “overwhelmed” hospital:
No line whatsoever at the emergency room. That’s good news, right? But a guy on Facebook jumped through mental hoops so he could continue believing the hospital was, in fact, overwhelmed with COVID-19 cases.
They don’t take Covid cases into ER. Most hospitals take Covid cases into different area to avoid spreading the infection. At my local hospital there are huge signs outside saying “Don’t enter if you suspect you have Covid”. Arrow direct you to a different area of the hospital.
Good grief. I’d finally had enough of his doomsday attitude, so I got a bit nasty in my reply:
Ahh, I see! The hospital where my mom was taken is, in fact, overwhelmed with COVID cases, but we’re just not seeing it in the picture because those people entered by a different door. Whew! Thanks for figuring that out. For a moment there, I was afraid we actually had a hospital in the U.S. that isn’t swamped with COVID cases. That would blow our entire world-view, and we can’t have that.
Nice try. My brother has been following the situation in Springfield. The hospitals are not overwhelmed with COVID cases, period. People are not dying for lack of treatment. The entire county of nearly 200,000 people has had 53 cases total, and four deaths — two women in their 70s and two men in their 90s.
Sorry, I can see you really, really, really don’t want to accept that there are many areas in no danger of being overwhelmed, but I’m afraid the good news is what it is. Sometimes we just have to take our lumps and accept the good news, no matter how emotionally attached we are to believing it’s all disastrous everywhere. Keep your chin up … maybe some really, truly, horrible disaster will come along eventually to confirm your world-view and brighten your day.
I’m especially amused by the brave souls who’ve been telling us since 2017 that they’re members of something called #TheResistance – equating themselves with people who risked their lives to sabotage fascist military operations. Now we have politicians actually behaving like fascists … issuing orders to arrest and fine people for daring to be outside without a mask, encouraging citizens to snitch on each other, etc. The mayor of Los Angeles even announced the city will cut off water and electricity to any “non-essential” businesses operating without the city’s blessing.
As far as I can tell, members of #TheResistance don’t see a problem with all this authoritarian overreach. In fact, they’re outraged that people are actually resisting the authoritarian overreach. Those danged protestors want to kill people, doncha know.
All of this was, of course, entirely predictable. As I’ve written in several posts and explained in my Diet, Health and the Wisdom of Crowds speech, The Anointed always follow the same pattern:
To solve a problem, they come up with a Grand Plan, which nearly always involves spending more of other people’s money and restricting more of other people’s freedoms. Check.
Because they are so supremely confident in their own intelligence, The Anointed don’t feel the need to provide evidence the theory behind the plan is correct, and will happily dismiss any evidence the theory is wrong. Check.
Once The Anointed come up with a Grand Plan, the plan is now The Good, so people who oppose the plan aren’t just opposing a plan … no, they’re opposing The Good itself, and they would only do that for one of two reasons: 1) they’re stupid, or 2) they’re evil. Check.
This just proves southerners are stupid … these Republican governors don’t mind sacrificing people’s lives just so businesses can get back to making money.
I began using the term The Anointed after reading Thomas Sowell’s terrific book The Vision of The Anointed. Although I don’t talk about it as often, he also spelled out the alternative vision in the book. He calls it The Tragic Vision. That may sound like an oh, life is awful philosophy, but it’s not. In fact, I’ve found that people who share The Tragic Vision are generally happier than those who share the attitudes of The Anointed.
That’s because while The Anointed are forever dissatisfied and constantly trying to force their version of The Good on us (often making things worse in the process), The Tragic Vision accepts that life on earth will always be imperfect. Those with The Tragic Vision understand that our choices in life are rarely between The Good vs. The Bad; our choices are usually between alternatives that are neither all good nor all bad. That’s just how life is. If you accept and embrace that, you’ll be happier. You may even find yourself engaging in what author/philosopher Joseph Campbell called joyful participation in the sorrows of the world.
The coronavirus is here, it will spread, and it will kill people. That’s bad. However, that doesn’t mean staying in lockdown is The Good. Life has to go on. We’ve faced worse pandemics without panicking and trashing our economy. A nasty flu killed perhaps 80,000 Americans in 2017-2018, but we didn’t shut down the world. In 1969, a flu came along that killed somewhere between a million and four million people worldwide, including more than 100,000 Americans – and that was when our population was only 205 million. The same death rate today would translate to 160,000 dead Americans. But life went on.
Much as The Anointed and the bed-wetters would like to believe the lockdown is about The Good (savings lives!) vs. The Bad (opening up society again just so some greedy business owners can make money), the issue isn’t so childishly simple. Yes, when we start mingling with each other again, more people will become infected and a small fraction of those people will die – and that will happen whether we end the lockdown today or two years from now. It sucks.
But if you really want to see a spike in deaths, just wait until we social-distance ourselves into a worldwide economic meltdown. And unlike COVID-19, which is mostly killing people who are already old or frail, an economic meltdown will end up killing people of all ages.
If you’re afraid the coronavirus will pounce on you and kill you the moment you step outside, here’s the solution: stay home. Lock yourself in your mom’s basement UNTIL IT’S SAFE! (But don’t forget to tweet about how you’re a brave member of #TheResistance. )
Meanwhile, don’t expect the rest of us to stay locked down, and don’t whine about how stupid and evil we are for calling for life to return to normal. It’s time to leave BizarroWorld. Some of us have already left … and despite the predictions of those genius blue-check journalists, we lived to tell the tale.
I’ll close with a quote from the Stanford professor:
The total lockdown may have been justified at the start of this pandemic, but it must now end — smartly, without irrational, unnecessary requirements contrary to medical science, common sense and logic. The goal of the strict isolation was accomplished in the overwhelming majority of places … It’s time to stop the cycle of becoming frantic as we see what are totally expected changes in hypothetical projections. Instead, let’s use empirical evidence and established medical science.
The time of failed leadership must end, or we are committing national suicide.