by William Sullivan, American Thinker:
Consider, for a moment, what ideas Americans seem to have generally accepted in the last few weeks.
First, there seems to no longer be a question as to whether or not the government has a responsibility to ensure health care for American citizens. The prospect of some hospitals, in some specific locales, exceeding health care capacity has caused the bulk of the American economy, at the behest of government, to simply stop functioning in order to avoid it. In other words, the health of a comparative few is of far greater importance than the personal, financial, and social interests of the many. If we accept that as gospel and the creed of our governance, as it seems we have, then how is Medicare-for-All anything less than a moral imperative?
Secondly, there no longer seems to be any question as to whether our government needs to act swiftly and decisively to defend against an invisible threat which presents an unknown, and unknowable, future impact, even if that means destroying American free enterprise, and the lives and livelihoods of countless millions. Green New Deal, anyone?
Thirdly, this crisis appears to have nullified any devotion to the concept of individual liberty among Americans. A friend in Chicago tells me that he and his young daughters daren’t risk even walking to the park that his tax dollars built, as he risks a $500 fine for doing so. The stiffest resistance encountered by the government officials imposing these infringements upon law-abiding citizens is the quiet grumbling that exists beneath all these loud sermons about “social distancing” and “flattening the curve.”
And finally, as Americans are left unable to care for themselves because the government is prohibiting their free association in the economic marketplace, the government is now facilitating a massive transfer of wealth from taxpayers as cash payments to Americans below certain income thresholds.
While I do think that provisions should be allocated to help individual Americans at this time who are struggling, we should understand that it is the economic fallout of the government response to this pandemic, and not the physical ravages of the virus, that is likeliest to inflict long-term and catastrophic damage to the free market and the Americans’ financial security. It should go without saying that this devastating economic shutdown (and the resulting spike in unemployment) will be a crushing blow to the tax revenues that sustain countless social programs, like Social Security, or that a two-trillion-dollar stimulus isn’t, in fact, free. There is a hefty cost to all of this, and the ripples of this ferocious bear market might easily become the waves leading to the next recession or, God forbid, a depression.
It is not a coincidence that the greatest economic depression and the greatest expansion of the federal government’s power in American history occurred at precisely the same moment in time (see: New Deal Era). Once you understand that, why American progressives seem all-too-willing to sacrifice Americans’ economic prosperity while promising government-issued security blankets during the crisis shouldn’t be a mystery to anyone.
Americans are being asked to not only accept unnecessarily rigid social restrictions, but to also accept an indefinitely disabled economy for as long as the government sees fit, even though its continued disability has the potential to destroy our free enterprise system and fundamentally alter the American citizen’s relationship with the government.
To justify all of this, Americans are routinely presented the false metaphor that we are at war, and that this war requires sacrifices on our part. But millions of Americans aren’t enduring economic strife, social anxiety, and government-imposed quarantines because modern-day Nazis are looking to enslave humanity. No, we are enduring all of those things as a result of our blanket government policy responses to this pandemic, which apparently require bigger, broader, and more dangerous government policy responses to rectify.
Along with this false metaphor comes a false dichotomy which is reminiscent of the formulaic arguments that progressives offered for nearly everything after 9/11. For example, “either we allow a mosque to be built at Ground Zero, or the terrorists will have won!” Today, it is argued that either we allow the government to prohibit economic and social activity at the cost Americans’ happiness, millions of jobs, trillions in wealth, and unquantifiable measures of American liberty, or the coronavirus will have won.
But there’s always been a third option between such draconian social and economic restrictions and our doing nothing at all. Actions could certainly have been more tactically calculated and undertaken. After all, the public has been well aware of who is most at risk from COVID-19. The rest of the public outside that demographic is, comparatively, very mildly affected by the infection.
As David Katz writes at the New York Times, the data from South Korea, which have been “by far the best” in terms of tracking the number of cases, “indicate that as much as 99 percent of active cases are “mild” and do not require specific medical treatment.” And among the one percent that requires specific medical treatment, we know precisely which demographics are most at risk.
“Other things being equal,” he writes, “those over age 70 appear at three times the mortality risk as those age 60 to 69, and those over age 80 at nearly twice the mortality risk of those age 70 to 79.” Child deaths due to the virus have been very rare, which is “not true of infectious scourges like influenza.” And on top of this, the number of deaths in America, especially relative to the number of deaths caused by other such scourges, is an extremely “small data set from which to draw big conclusions.”