Alex Donner is President of Alex Donner Entertainment. You can find him on the web here.
What if we win the Coronavirus battle and lose the economic war? What if the medical mavens have their way on a lengthy shutdown, but we end up in a depression? Nations around the globe have moved to impose strict isolation protocols on compliant populations, where fearful people have failed to question not only the wisdom of the decision but also the necessity. In today’s world, it appears short-term government thinking is the remedy, while the individual’s intelligence, judgment, and foresight are left to languish.
The United States is celebrated as the home of the brave and the land of the free, a culture of rugged individualism – but in an era when those on the political left demand state intervention in copious amounts, this may be less and less true.
In Sweden, the country repeatedly touted by Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT) as a socialist paradise, the authorities have empowered individuals to make their own decisions. Bars, restaurants, and offices are open, as are sporting events. Dr. Anders Tegnell, the Tony Fauci of Sweden, who received his medical training in the U.K., is “disappointed with the British lockdown,” and states, “unemployed people are a great threat to public health.” He further adds, “I am very skeptical of lockdowns altogether, but if you ever do them, you should do them at an early stage … if you do them, you are just pushing the problem ahead of you.”
After the stock market crash in 1929, it took more than twenty years for the market to recover. It would surely be in the United States’ best interest to perform a thorough analysis of the costs and benefits of a virtual lockdown of its people before plunging us into another economic downturn. Are we as a people able to recognize that this country is on the verge of making decisions that could irrevocably harm America’s future; perhaps it’s time to re-evaluate?
The Intelligence of the Individual
Why do we not let individual Americans determine whether to assume the risks and go back to work? Perhaps a few examples are in order. Because 40,000 Americans die in traffic accidents annually, should the government preclude us from driving our cars? Sure, we have speed limits, seat belts, and traffic lights, just like we have masks, gloves, social distancing, and testing coming in more significant numbers. But we don’t require people to keep their cars in their garages until we can find a way to flatten that curve. The oft-repeated analogy to real war against a dedicated enemy who wants to conquer us is false. Moreover, this is rapidly becoming a self-inflicted crisis coupled with an unprecedented voluntary submission to governmental power caused by the state’s own unpreparedness to handle the load in U.S. hospitals.
A doctor’s job is to tell us what to do to maximize our health. Do you always do precisely what your doctor says? More likely, you make a cost/benefit analysis. Those most at risk from this virus are the elderly and particularly those with severe medical conditions. Do we not trust them to make their own informed decisions about this?
The predictive models on which we rely have been consistently ineffective in predicting the number of cases and deaths but very effective in scaring the public and the stock market. What the government declares “essential services” like Amazon, construction, and grocery stores go on day after day, but we hear nothing about unusual numbers of sickness in those sectors.
Are we not smart enough to decide who should operate remotely from home and whose presence is necessary in the office? Are factory and restaurant owners not sufficiently intelligent to reconfigure their floor plan as needed to socially distance, or require masks and gloves for workers?
Triggering a Depression?
We now wait for an infrastructure bill on top of the trillions of dollars granted to the public in the first COVID-19 relief packages. The America I grew up in was a hard-working country. There is no telling what damage a long term shut down will do to our national work ethic as people get used to government-backed freebies. Yet the left continues to push for more federal control of the Coronavirus effort, which appears little more than an attempt to shift the blame for all the problems now faced in a few pockets of the country from governors and mayors to the president. “Call it the Trump virus,” The New York Times opined on Feb. 26.
We look at graphs each day that show us the Coronavirus curve. At the same time, we should be looking at charts from financial experts that give us their best estimate of the permanent growing damage to our economy. Maybe we can even amalgamate those graphs to make an educated cost/benefit analysis of locking down the population in their homes. As the number of Coronavirus cases falls and our economy moves toward a recession, and potentially depression, it may be time to ask whether the cure is worse than the disease.