Prelude To “The Pandemic Creates A Classic And Difficult Ethics Conflict, But The Resolution Is Clear, Part II”

No, I am not satisfied with the current draft of Part II, but I trust it’s obvious what the resolution referred to is. The lock-down has to end, and before vaccines, cures, or adequate medicine are available. One of the components of my research has been reading as many of the pro and con articles as I can stand. It is quite striking: the arguments for continuing the lockdown indefinitely are almost entirely authored by progressives, and are without exception characterized by bad logic, emotionalism, manipulated facts, biased analysis, fearmongering, and suspect motives. The majority of the arguments for opening up the economy soon are markedly more logical, unemotional, and based on sound statistics and analysis. Certainly one cannot choose between two options based on the quality of the advocates for each. Nonetheless, the divide is striking.

Ann Althouse chose such an essay today to critique, “Whose Freedom Counts?/Anti-lockdown protesters are twisting the idea of liberty” by Dahlia Lithwick, who has periodically been discussed here, the first time in 2010. It is e fair to say that her mind and mine run in different metaphorical riverbeds, not that there’s anything wrong with that. Lithwick’s article endorses yet another one of the  same ilk, Ibram X. Kendi’s  current piece in The Atlantic called “We’re Still Living and Dying in the Slaveholders’ Republic/The pandemic has brought the latest battle in the long American war over communal well-being.”

Ann makes short work of both, writing,

Aha! We see what you’re doing! What a distraction! But I suppose that because slavery was invoked, I’m expected to listen without protest while Kendi’s solemn, censorious lecture is promoted by an over-excited Lithwick. I resist. Sorry. I do hear what you’re saying, and I see how well it works to justify depriving us of all freedom. There’s never enough freedom from all the things in the world that might hurt us if we’re not kept in eternal lockdown.

Excellent. Althouse is a liberal, much as she tries to hide it, but she is not an aspiring totalitarian, like such a large swath of the current mutated progressives and Democrats. Her last sentence echoes two of my favorite quotes, “In order to have enough liberty, it is necessary to have too much,”  (Clarence Darrow), and “Those who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety,” (Benjamin Franklin).

I have another screed to deconstruct: a New York Times editorial  by Charlie Warzel titled “Open States, Lots of Guns. America Is Paying a Heavy Price for Freedom,” or in my print edition, “Will We Get Used To The Dying?” I’ll let you read it first without my comments, here. That’s only fair.

***

Done? Maybe you don’t even need this: eviscerating Warzel ‘s analysis shouldn’t be too hard. Rebutting most of these essays isn’t hard.

Away we go…

The coronavirus scenario I can’t stop thinking about is the one where we simply get used to all the dying. I first saw it on Twitter. “Someone poke holes in this scenario,” a tweet from Eric Nelson, the editorial director of Broadside Books, read. “We keep losing 1,000 to 2,000 a day to coronavirus. People get used to it. We get less vigilant as it very slowly spreads. By December we’re close to normal, but still losing 1,500 a day, and as we tick past 300,000 dead, most people aren’t concerned.”

How old is Warzel, 15? We accept the mortality of modern life, just as our ancestors accepted the mortality of their own periods. That tweet is simply making sinister the adjustments that human beings have to make to get on with civilization. To that, it adds scaremongering, and Warzel joins in the virtue-signalling. Anyone who isn’t willing to keep the lockdown in force indefinitely isn’t concerned.

That’s crap. I’m concerned: both my wife and I are in the high-risk category; so is my sister; so are most of our extended family. I do not advocate the destruction of American society for my own self interest, that’s all. That’s how members of a community and democracy are supposed to feel.

This hit me like a ton of bricks because of just how plausible it seemed. The day I read Mr. Nelson’s tweet, 1,723 Americans were reported to have died from the virus. And yet their collective passing was hardly mourned. After all, how to distinguish those souls from the 2,097 who perished the day before or the 1,558 who died the day after?

People die every day, and from predictable causes, many of them a direct result of our way of life and societal choices. The Times has been running a feature showing selected photographs of recently succumbed victims of the Wuhan virus with a biographical sketch. I have wondered each time I see it: why are these people more worthy of ostentatious memorials in the Times than anyone who has died in the same period? The answer is, they aren’t. This is part of the news media’s effort to build anxiety and hysteria, which will be weaponized for political purposes. Hardly mourned? Every American is supposed to mourn everyone who dies every day? We mourn our loved ones. I am still mourning Dennis Nollette, a former law school roommate who was among the best human beings I have ever had the honor of knowing.  He was carried off by the epidemic within a few days. That’s plenty for me right now. I’m not becoming callous because the deaths of strangers don’t hit me as hard as the death of a cherished friend.

Furthermore, it is not “plausible” that the pandemic will continue forever; pandemics don’t. And indeed, if they did, it would be an irrefutable reason to open up now.

Such loss of life is hard to comprehend when it’s not happening in front of your own two eyes. Add to it that humans are adaptable creatures, no matter how nightmarish the scenario, and it seems understandable that our outrage would dull over time. Unsure how — or perhaps unable — to process tragedy at scale, we get used to it.

Talk about complaining about an unchangeable feature of human life, sanity,  and reality! But that kind of lament is irresponsible progressiveness in a nutshell.

There’s also a national precedent for Mr. Nelson’s hypothetical: America’s response to gun violence and school shootings.

Here we go, down the rabbit hole.

We often talk here about incompetent analogies. This is a lulu. It is embarrassing that the New York Times would consider such a contrived and illogical argument to be published as an editorial—embarrassing, and signature significance.

You should skim the next part; I know my eyes glazed over. It’s standard CNN/Don Lemon/ David Hogg propaganda and emotionalism.

As a country, we seem resigned to preventable firearm deaths. Each year, 36,000 Americans are killed by guns — roughly 100 per day, most from suicide, according to data from the Giffords Law Center. Similarly, the Everytown for Gun Safety Support Fund calculates that there have been 583 “incidents of gunfire” on school grounds since 2013. In the first eight months of 2019, there were at least 38 mass shootings, The Times reported. Last August, 53 Americans died in mass shootings — at work, at bars, while shopping with their children. Some of these tragedies make national headlines; many don’t. The bigger school shootings and hate-crime massacres can ignite genuine moral outrage and revive familiar debates: over safe storage practices, gun show loopholes, red flag laws, bump stocks, comprehensive background checks, stringent licensing systems and, of course, the accessibility of endlessly customizable semiautomatic weapons like AR-15s. In every case, the death tolls climb but we fail to act. There are occasional marches and protests but mostly we continue on with our lives.

Yes, we are monsters for understanding the importance of the rights of self-defense and bearing arms to a functioning democracy. In reality, while there are usually, in hindsight, ways that any single abuse of firearms could have been prevented, gun deaths are not preventable as long as there are guns, law abiding citizens have access to them, and a police state doesn’t abuse its power to make us “safe.”

Notice that Warzel’s gun-virus analogy breaks down immediately. There is no societal value to pandemics. There is no right to get fatally ill. There are no Constitutional amendments preventing the government from eliminating a disease.

Changing our gun laws is politically untenable, we’re told. Gun lobbies are too strong and politicians’ hands are tied. Rather than address the root of the problem, we flounder to work around it, which is how we end up with high schools with hiding places and curved corridors to “reduce a gunman’s range.” Grudgingly, we learn to live our lives with the specter of gun violence hanging over us everywhere — when we walk into a Walmart, when we send our children to school, when we worship. Each time tragedy strikes, it feels both inevitable and completely avoidable.

Now the editorial has fully devolved into hyperbole and hysteria, as well as being misleading and irresponsible. If you are afraid to shop at a Walmart, then you should be more afraid to get into a car. If your kids are anxious about going to school, then someone, probably you, have unethically frightened them. The only way periodic gun violence would be “completely preventable” is to ban guns, and then have armed police go house to house to confiscate them. Even then, we would have gun violence.

This kind of paragraph so discredits the reasoning ability of any advocate that it renders his or her opinion on any topic dubious.

The coronavirus pandemic and gun violence are by no means perfectly analogous calamities.

YA THINK????

The federal government, which has the power to pass stricter gun laws, has more limited powers to control states’ public health responses to Covid-19. And while other countries have curtailed gun violence, most are struggling to contain the virus.

Then there are the other hundred or so reasons. Here is a  clueless pundit who thinks all nations, cultures and societies are the same, and the U.S. is behind the arc of history by stubbornly sticking to its quaint founding principles. Almost all of those other countries also “curtail” free speech, because they are willing to trade personal liberty and autonomy for safety and security, and there are few curbs on government power.

How much power the U.S. government has to tighten gun laws will be determined in the Supreme Court, and pretty soon the abuses of state governments in confining citizens to their homes indefinitely will also have to face the music.

But unlike many Western and Asian countries that are moving slowly to reopen and telling their citizens hard truths about the months ahead, the United States seems fixated on returning to normal, despite warnings from public health experts that it is too soon.  As with gun violence, the data medical professionals and governments are relying on during the pandemic is piecemeal. And, as with gun violence, we throw up our hands and deem it intractable.

As I discussed in Part I, health experts focus almost exclusively on health. Health is not the only priority involved in the policy trade-offs involving the lockdown. The health experts don’t care about the other issues—literally, they don’t care—because it isn’t their job to care about the economy, or unemployment, or ruined careers and diminished quality of life. They should care about increased suicides during depressions, and inadequate preventative health care, and the deaths those and other consequences of the lockdown will cause, but Warzel doesn’t seem to be aware of these. Like the health experts he thinks should be calling the shots, he also appears not to think the U.S. having a catastrophic expansion of its national debt is anything to be “concerned” about either. Hey, it’s only money!

The federal government could have moved swiftly like some in Europe to “freeze” the economy and commit to paying at least part of workers’ salaries if their companies don’t lay them off.

Hey, it’s only money!

Instead, our economic stimulus has been scattershot and underwhelming. And the Trump administration has largely pushed responsibility onto states, offering an amorphous plan for reopening barely rooted in reality of our testing and tracing capacities. Rather than provide cautious guidance to states, President Trump has encouraged far-right protests to pressure governors in political battleground states like Michigan.

It’s called federalism, buddy. Look it up. I forget: is this a “Trump is ignoring democratic norms” day, or a “Trump isn’t enough of an autocrat” day? You guys really should put up the schedule.

Nor are those who believe that protesting is an essential activity in a democracy where various executives are proving that power corrupts “far right.”

Left to their own devices, states are opening up — many anxiously and with little idea as to how it’ll play out.

Right: nobody knows how it will play out. We do know, however, how it will play out if we lock down the economy much longer, never mind until there’s a vaccine. To give a tantalizing preview of Part II, this is a perfect example of a Scylla vs. Charybdis choice. (Hint: Scylla is better.)

The White House could lean on governors to slow the reopening process or urge caution until we can fully establish test and trace strategies that have worked in countries like South Korea. Instead, the administration seems to be cheering on the reopening while internally preparing for a substantial increase of loss of lives.

Exactly as it should.

Someone please explain to Charlie that the United States isn’t South Korea, and why.

An internal document based on modeling by the Federal Emergency Management Agency obtained by The Times projects that the daily death toll will reach about 3,000 on June 1, a 70 percent increase from the May 1 number of about 1,750.

Here is another smoking gun on the author’s  competence. As noted at Ethics Alarms before, this was a model, a draft model, and one the scientist who created it has said that was not complete. Naturally, Warzel doesn’t mention any of this. All the news that’s fit to print! Democracy dies in darkness!

The  advocates for Forever Lockdown refuse to argue honestly.

Along the same lines, on April 30, the day after Mr. Trump told Americans the virus was “going to go. It’s going to leave. It’s going to be gone. It’s going to be eradicated,” NBC News reported that the federal government had recently ordered more than 100,000 body bags. Mr. Trump has since predicted that the death toll from Covid-19 could be as high as double his earlier estimate, but that hasn’t stopped the administration from encouraging reopening.

Again, exactly right. When a reasonable response is described with the assumption that it is res ipsa loquitur for a false proposition, you know a writer is aiming at a pre-biased audience.

Last summer, before touring the sites of two mass shootings that killed 31 people in 24 hours, Mr. Trump argued that there was “no political appetite” for a ban on assault weapons, though a majority of Americans support one. Those remarks bear resemblance to the president’s March comments that the coronavirus lockdowns were perhaps too onerous and that “we cannot let the cure be worse than the problem itself.” His “LIBERATE” tweets in support of the lockdown protesters suggested a similar lack of appetite to do the hard thing, even as national polls revealed that Americans are deeply concerned about their safety and worried about reopening.

Yes, let’s have government by poll, after the news media has manipulated public opinion. President Trump is doing the hard thing. He has to open the economy, and he is guaranteed to be attacked and blamed for every death–“Blood on his hands!”—when he does.

For Dr. Megan Ranney, an emergency physician and Brown University professor who works on gun violence prevention, the dynamics of the lockdown protesters are familiar.“This group has moved the reopening debate from a conversation about health and science to a conversation about liberty,” Dr. Ranney told me. “They’ve redefined the debate so it’s no longer about weighing risks and benefits and instead it’s this politicized narrative. It’s like taking a nuanced conversation about gun injury and turning it into an argument about gun rights. It shuts the conversation down.”

Now that’s “res ipsa loquitur.”  Imagine, these nut cases think preserving individual liberty is more important than maximizing safety and security!

Paging Dr. Franklin, Mr. Darrow, and Mr. Henry!

“Most of us in firearm injury prevention are not trying to ban guns…”

…though it is odd that the only way gun deaths become “completely preventable” is by banning guns….

…but the debate gets twisted by a small group of fringe extremists,” she added. “Most gun owners are smart and responsible and safety-conscious — just like most Americans want to do what’s right for public health. But the small minority dominates the conversation.”

One more time: there is more involved in the balancing act than public health.

As in the gun control debate, public opinion, public health and the public good seem poised to lose out to a select set of personal freedoms. But it’s a child’s two-dimensional view of freedom — one where any suggestion of collective duty and responsibility for others become the chains of tyranny.

Collective duty, Comrade!

All through this polemic, the author drops hints of his orientation. You silly proles don’t know what’s good for you, but we do! This is exactly what the Founders rejected with the Bill of Rights and the Separation of Powers.

This idea of freedom is also an excuse to serve one’s self before others and a shield to hide from responsibility. In the gun rights fight, that freedom manifests in firearms falling into unstable hands. During a pandemic, that freedom manifests in rejections of masks, despite evidence to suggest they protect both the wearers and the people around them. It manifests in a rejection of public health by those who don’t believe their actions affect others.

Ew, “this idea of freedom!” You can almost hear the sneer. Warzel isn’t smart enough to avoid unmasking his intentions. How, short of banning guns and discarding due process, do you stop guns from falling into unstable hands? Naturally, he wants the government to decide who is unstable….you know, like that crazy President Trump. Conservatives. Republicans. Those who do not see The Light. The Soviet Union thought unstable opponents of Communism were insane.

In this narrow worldview, freedom has a price, in the form of an “acceptable” number of human lives lost. It’s a price that will be calculated and then set by a select few. The rest of us merely pay it.

Freedom has always had a price. On this 75th Anniversary of V-E Day, it shouldn’t be hard to understand that lost lives aren’t acceptable just because the most rational, responsible policies involve unavoidable risk.

36 thoughts on “Prelude To “The Pandemic Creates A Classic And Difficult Ethics Conflict, But The Resolution Is Clear, Part II”

  1. They need the economy in tatters to have a prayer of beating Trump. At this point it’s their only hope. They’ve lied, cheated, corrupted law enforcement, falsely accused, tried to obviate the Constitution, and so many nuanced versions these it is sickening. This is their one bullet left.

    Every red and purple state governor should put an end to this charade. We need herd immunity. Safety is a perception at best and an illusion at worst. Let’s stop the madness before it aids, abets and elects the enemies of our representative republic.

    • “We need herd immunity.”
      And how do we know if herd immunity will work? I’ve seen many people calling for herd immunity in various blogs but we don’t even have any idea if anyone who has had the virus is immune and if they are then for how long. Also if people are immune then viruses have the nasty habit of mutating meaning that their immunity is no longer of any relevance.

      • There are already three strains. It’s quite possible that it’s just like the flu, that you can catch more than one strain. In which case, a vaccine will be hit or miss depending on the year, but will blunt the effects.

        The suicides are beginning here, since the extension of our Emergency Order until May 31. Small restaurant and business owners who can’t stay afloat for months without income are feeling desperate. The ranks of the homeless are increasing. Businesses like inns that have been operating for over 100 years are declaring bankruptcy. How much of this is ‘worth it’?

  2. Are we listening to the right folks? It seems to be mixed messages on everything virus-related from the medical professionals, but maybe the ones that also should have had input are the sociologist, anthropologist, psychologist, and even the philosophers. Now the time of extreme caution should be gone and life resumed. A social species cannot be confined indefinitely.

    When this first hit I saw three things – the Biogen conference, a cruise ship (name escapes me), and the nursing home situation in Washington state. My simple mind said easily transmitted and the ones in immediate danger are those in my age group (75). I will credit California for its stay in place order as it was effective while three major areas – NY, NJ, and MA did nothing of merit and paid the price.

    Now I am forced to wear a mask! That’s like giving birth control pills to a woman five months pregnant. I’ll take my chances and I might change my tune (probably not) if I am hooked up to a ventilator. I will not even get into the media BS with all of this as they have 100% terrorized my spouse.

    • A family member sent me a link the other night to a 25-minute video on Vimeo called “Plan-demic”. I watched it with an open mind and came away with a lot of questions running through my head. I won’t post the link, but if you have half an hour free, go find it and watch it…see what you all think.

      Before posting, I went and did another check…Vimeo, Facebook, YouTube and other video outlets have removed the video and banned it. Makes me put a little more credence in it than I previously did.

      • It’s a conspiracy video, expensively produced to look like a legitimate documentary. YouTube removed it under those guidelines. Far from being a preeminent researcher, she published a paper that had to be retracted because her results were due to cross-contamination. She was eventually fired, and she stole equipment and lab notebooks full of proprietary information. She has been an antivaxxer for years now (although she denies it in this video).

        https://www.sciencemag.org/news/2020/05/fact-checking-judy-mikovits-controversial-virologist-attacking-anthony-fauci-viral

        • Crella,

          Thanks for the clarification and more information. I appreciate it. Like I wrote, I didn’t know what it was when I started watching.

          I believe there’s a lot more to the Wuhan virus story we aren’t being told, but this woman may be the wrong person to deliver the message.

          • Joel, I agree that there’s a lot more to this than we’re being told. The Chinese are deflecting and rug-sweeping as fast as they can, and the WHO doesn’t seem to want to get to the bottom of this.

  3. My response, and the only economically rational response, to those that justify the lockdown as it saves lives is that I ask the person how much are they willing to pay for the health security they demand. Health security is an economic good just as is a loaf of bread or a movie ticket. One cannot demand to see a doctor for free simply because they want to so just how much are those wanting the lockdown to continue to pay in the form of cash. Are the essential workers and retirees willing to accept a 30% surtax on their incomes to offset the costs incurred by those whose livelihoods were temporarily legislated out of existence. Or do they simply want to be free riders and not any real financial hardship from the shutdown. We are all at risk no matter where we are so the marginal costs of the pandemic among populations is heavily weighted toward those suffering wage losses.

    The current unemployment rate is about 15%. That means that 85% of the labor force is continuing to be paid irrespective of the work output they contribute or sales they generate. Retirees and others with no labor incomes are generally unaffected by the economic shutdown so demanding others not be allowed to work should come at a price. So just how much are those who believe the economy must remain closed to ensure their safety willing to pay for that utility.

  4. I’m now convinced that overly emotional people should not be in charge of anything substantial, period. It’s a bad quality for leadership and too easily mistaken for empathy/compassion.

  5. Why is it that many who cry “if it ony saves ONE LIFE” are the same ones who support abortion on demand?

  6. People need to know that approximately 2.8 million people die each year (2017, 2018 CDC stats) in the US, of all causes. That works out to 58,300 (+/-) each week, or 7700 each day on average. The population of the US is approximately 330 million. One percent (1%) of that is 3.3 million. This info will help people put the “1700” virus deaths each day in perspective, especially since some jurisdictions are listing all kinds of deaths as “COIVD-19 related” without so much as a test to support that call.

    Liberty means that we are all free to pursue happiness, even though that might mean different things to different people. So if someone would prefer to take the risk of going out, or getting together with other people and is willing to accept some risk in doing so, then they should not need government’s permission.

    Those of us who are old (75) know that life is full of hazards and we know lots of people who did not make it this far due to various causes, and we all have those we still mourn. No one is guaranteed tomorrow and on a long enough timeline we are all dead. Let people get back to life, their version of it.

  7. 1. Althouse

    Ann makes short work of both, writing,

    “…But I suppose that because slavery was invoked, I’m expected to listen without protest while Kendi’s solemn, censorious lecture is promoted by an over-excited Lithwick.”

    I propose another version of Godwin’s Law, you know, the one that says that the longer a conversation thread goes “as an online discussion grows longer, the probability of a comparison involving Nazis or Hitler approaches 1.”

    I submit that this is a similar phenomenon. Whenever a protest not sanctioned by the Left happens, it will instantly be demagogued as “racist” no matter what the substance of the protest is. “Racist” is the new “Nazi” — It used to be that declaring someone a “Nazi” was all it took to shut down the conversation. Now, its “racist.”

    2. Warzel

    Let me give your fisking a some additional fodder:

    The coronavirus scenario I can’t stop thinking about is the one where we simply get used to all the dying.

    Like with the flu, or with suicide, or with automobile accidents? Yes, I suppose you’re thinking is correct.

    How old is Warzel, 15? We accept the mortality of modern life, just as our ancestors accepted the mortality of their own periods.

    Mortality is a fact of the human condition, although Warzel seems blissfully unaware of that. Being born a human is an absolute guarantee of mortality. Hell, being born an organic organism on planet Earth is a guarantee of mortality. While the current level of excess mortality is unusual in the West for the last half-century or so, it is by no means unprecedented, percentage of the population-wise, in modern history. It certainly isn’t unprecedented in other areas of the world in very recent history.

    Yet somehow humanity got through those others, and “got used to it.”

    The day I read Mr. Nelson’s tweet, 1,723 Americans were reported to have died from the virus. And yet their collective passing was hardly mourned. After all, how to distinguish those souls from the 2,097 who perished the day before or the 1,558 who died the day after?

    Maybe it’s just me, but I don’t try to distinguish “souls” from each other. That’s God’s job, not mine. Is Warzel comparing himself to God, or does he imagine it is the job of humanity to mourn every stranger who passes from a natural process like a disease?

    Good heavens, he would have to be God to have that kind of empathetic capacity. Would Dark Helmet have mourned Lone Star’s father’s brother’s nephew’s cousin’s former roommate?

    Such loss of life is hard to comprehend when it’s not happening in front of your own two eyes.

    What’s to comprehend, dude? People die. My mother-in-law died the other day from natural causes. It was easy to comprehend. We’ve had over 250 people in Kentucky die purportedly from the virus. I’ve had no problem comprehending that, nor the 1-3000 that die daily in the USA under current conditions.

    It’s called a “plague.” These events have happened throughout history, and almost always more severe than what is likely with this one.

    There’s also a national precedent for Mr. Nelson’s hypothetical: America’s response to gun violence and school shootings.

    Heh. I’m going to posit one of these things is not like the other.

    As a country, we seem resigned to preventable firearm deaths. Each year, 36,000 Americans are killed by guns — roughly 100 per day, most from suicide, according to data from the Giffords Law Center.

    There are occasional marches and protests but mostly we continue on with our lives.

    Help me out — 36,000+ people die on the highways every year. Those are totally preventable.

    But just like the freedom to keep and bear arms, the freedom to utilize vehicular transport is an American tradition. The only real difference is that it’s a) a much younger tradition and b)protected explicitly by the Bill of Rights.

    The federal government could have moved swiftly like some in Europe to “freeze” the economy and commit to paying at least part of workers’ salaries if their companies don’t lay them off.

    Hey, it’s only [other people’s] money!

    There, fixed that for you.

    I guess he thinks we’ll never run out of other people’s money.

    As in the gun control debate, public opinion, public health and the public good seem poised to lose out to a select set of personal freedoms. But it’s a child’s two-dimensional view of freedom — one where any suggestion of collective duty and responsibility for others become the chains of tyranny.

    Who gets to say what is the “public good?” You? I think not. Tyranny doesn’t look like people taking care of themselves — it looks like people being forced to “take care” of strangers by surrendering their liberty. The colonists felt so strongly about these “liberty” things that they fought a revolution against their former government and formed an independent country.

    When did we decide that those founders were wrong, that individual liberty must give way to submission to the collective will? I don’t recall deciding that.

    This idea of freedom is also an excuse to serve one’s self before others and a shield to hide from responsibility.

    The idea of freedom is a responsibility, not an excuse to provide for oneself and to allow others the same opportunity. The concept of charity, community and commerce drive some, but not all, free persons to provide for others that which they are unable to provide for themselves, either as charity or for compensation. That is true freedom, and something Wazel either doesn’t understand or doesn’t prefer.

    In this narrow worldview, freedom has a price, in the form of an “acceptable” number of human lives lost. It’s a price that will be calculated and then set by a select few. The rest of us merely pay it.

    The millions that fought in many wars over the history of this country to preserve the freedom that allows Mr. Warzel to write his poison are the price we paid, in blood and treasure. This plague will exact a toll which, in absolute plague terms may be less if we continue to hide in our homes, but will pale next to the depredations of hunger, despair, and chaos which will flow from a a collapsed economy.

    I say participating in the self-destruction of the country by hiding like cowards from the virus is a poor substitute for bravely going forth and knowingly risking our lives to return to a semblance of normality. Our predecessors in the Greatest Generation would expect no less.

  8. In every case, the death tolls climb but we fail to act. There are occasional marches and protests but mostly we continue on with our lives.

    Mike Bloomberg acted with stop-and-frisk.

    Did progressives support that?

    The only way periodic gun violence would be “completely preventable” is to ban guns, and then have armed police go house to house to confiscate them. Even then, we would have gun violence.

    How would progressive react once the first black man is shot to death by armed police going house-to-house to confiscate them?

    Rather than provide cautious guidance to states, President Trump has encouraged far-right protests to pressure governors in political battleground states like Michigan.

    Why does he think only the far-right lost their jobs due to these lockdowns?

    Last summer, before touring the sites of two mass shootings that killed 31 people in 24 hours, Mr. Trump argued that there was “no political appetite” for a ban on assault weapons, though a majority of Americans support one.

    There has been no political will to deal with inner city violence.

    Instead, the administration seems to be cheering on the reopening while internally preparing for a substantial increase of loss of lives.

    Decades ago, James Carville rigorously, mathematically proved that, “It’s the Economy, Stupid.”

    It is clear now that economists, not health experts, should have been the decision makers.

  9. South Korea is not a place we should emulate. Their surveillance and tracing protocols are leading to not only social rejection and breaches of privacy, but prejudice against certain ethnic groups. Warzel reminds me of the kind of progressive that cheers for countries that persecute homosexuals as long as they bad-mouth Trump.

    He also has the classic church lady Pearl clutch “think of the…dead people” going on. We get it dude, you hate guns and the Constitution and Trump and anyone who doesn’t think like you. You care and stuff. Yay!

    My favorite is this part:

    “In this narrow worldview, freedom has a price, in the form of an “acceptable” number of human lives lost. It’s a price that will be calculated and then set by a select few. The rest of us merely pay it.”

    Yes freedom like abortion, single parenthood, unprotected sex, black on black crime, putting children on health altering hormones because of feelings, driving fast, getting into fights, protest violence, domestic violence, smoking, and all the things legal and illegal that people do because they’re not on camera and not being traced – all that we pay for in lives and our wallets. It’s unfair. Life is unfair. Grow up dude.

  10. Someone please explain to Charlie that the United States isn’t South Korea, and why.

    Neither is it Australia.

    Yet the two are close in many ways. Not quite as close as Canada and the US, but the difference is not a lot greater than the differences between Texas, Maine, California and Ohio. Much less than the difference between Quebec and Alberta. Australia is a federation of states, more similar to the United States than the provinces of Canada.

    Back in January, Australia also blocked Chinese travel. Or at least, foreign visitors who had been to China. Australia had more detected cases of COVID-19 than the US. While Australia only has 1/13 of the population of the US, and in the same land area as the CONUS, if Sydney and Melbourne were in the US, they’d be #3 and #4 in terms of city size, and were major international travel hubs. Hundreds of thousands of Australians – many in the US – had to be repatriated, and they account for over half of detected cases. Australia declared the situation to be a pandemic long before the WHO grudgingly admitted it, based on the same information China gave to the US in January, and which appeared in Presidential Intelligence briefings in that month.

    At the beginning of February, Australia had more detected cases than the US, and the same exponential growth as Italy, the UK, and New York. Moreover, due to the lethal levels of air pollution from bushfires near major cities (50 times danger level) , the strategic stockpile of respirators for use in pandemics had been distributed to vulnerable groups in December and January.

    While Australia has no land borders with other countries, our sea border with Indonesia, 8 x our population largest Muslim country in the world, and where the virus is running rampant, is both narrower and more porous than the US sea border with the states of the Carribean. The last punitive expeditions against the headhunters from that area who sporadically raided Australian islands in the Torres Straight were in the 1920s.

    Result : https://www.worldometers.info/coronavirus/country/australia/

    Bear in mind that in just one city, Canberra (pop 400,000) where I live, excess mortality showed 30 deaths from the smoke in January, with hundreds hospitalised, some in ICU.

    Somehow, Australia ended up with results similar to South Korea, despite being as totally different from that country as the US is, and being about as similar to the US as any other country in the world could be.

    Ok, apart from the snakes, the crocs, the spiders the stinging trees, the jellyfish, the sharks, the drop bears..but they only go for tourists, and we banned those in February. Locked down the country, prohibited most travel between states, and even within some states. Depending on the local situation.

    Every US state has over double the death rate per head as Australia. We’re confident of our figures as they match excess mortality, they are neither dramatic over- nor under- counts. US ones don’t.

    You can perhaps still reduce the threat to manageable levels. Just not the way you’re going. It might require a cultural change, a reversion to the spirit of the 30s, 40s and 50s.

      • “We are all in this together”.

        Or, to quote Macauley:

        Then none was for a party; then all were for the state;
        Then the great man helped the poor, and the poor man loved the great.
        Then lands were fairly portioned; then spoils were fairly sold:
        The Romans were like brothers in the brave days of old.
        Now Roman is to Roman more hateful than a foe,
        And the Tribunes beard the high, and the Fathers grind the low.
        As we wax hot in faction, in battle we wax cold:
        Wherefore men fight not as they fought in the brave days of old.

        While there are rugged freedom loving ignorant selfish assholes like this being encouraged by politicians, no way.

        There are just as many ignorant assholes per head in Australia (possibly more). They get sat on though, not encouraged. Not worshipped. Greed is not good. Selfishness is not the ultimate virtue. Neither is ignorance.

        • No, I suppose not. Lying prostrate while the jack-boots stomp your guts is more the style, right?

          Self-reliance and resistance to stupid government edicts is what caused America to be formed. “We are all in this together” is a fine sentiment, but unfortunately, it is too often used to justify tyranny, as in the instant case. Let’s examine your video:

          1. If a business doesn’t want a person not wearing a mask to enter, all they have to do is post a sign. Most governors have issued edicts that businesses may refuse customers entry not wearing a mask if they want.

          2. Calling the police on someone for not wearing a mask is an unethical act. It utilizes public resources for no valid purpose. For weeks, we have been told that the police would not respond to simple burglaries or other minor property crimes due to the virus. Now, they are supposed to arrest mask protesters?

          3. The mask issue is simply a form of virtue signalling. Everybody with any medical training knows they have no significant effect on viral transmission, but the government thinks it will give people more confidence and reduce fear of infection. Making everybody do it is just a way to exercise power.

          This is where “we are all in it together” comes in. Everyone must be made to suffer equally, and critical thinking is not tolerated. This is how totalitarian states work. This is effectively a tenet of communist society.

          4. Wearing simple cloth or paper masks has no affect on the virus particles — they are much too small to be affected by such materials, unless expelled in a sneeze or cough where the aerosol is large enough to be caught. But that doesn’t mean the virus is caught – it isn’t. When the aerosol dries, any virus will be shed from the mask either into the environment or back into the airways of the person wearing it. This could potentially concentrate the viral load and make the wearer sick where he/ she wouldn’t have been otherwise.

          5. I have seen hundreds of people, approximately 40% of those I have encountered, wearing their masks incorrectly. This is actually more dangerous than not wearing one at all, and all but eliminates any potential theoretical benefit.

          The best that can be said for a mask is that it could prevent viral transmission if you sneezed or coughed on somebody at very close range. Where I come from, the simple expedient of staying away from people and coughing or sneezing into your sleeve works just as well.

          So by all means, let’s hearken back to the good old days, when people would willingly risk their lives for the chance to live free without the yoke of government heavy on their necks.

          • I have no objection to people risking their own lives.
            These covidiots are risking others’.

            As you said, surgical masks won’t protect you. They will stop droplets from coughing, sneezing and to some extent breathing from affecting others.

            Australians have rightly been accused of many sins. ” Lying prostrate while the jack-boots stomp your guts ” is not one of them. We don’t have US police for one thing, so that danger is small.

            • The covidiots are the ones who want to continue the shutdown.

              All businesses should be reopened. And the only social distancing needed is the type practiced during the Woodstock festival!

            • You didn’t read what I wrote. The masks won’t protect others from you either.

              The fact that Australia has mostly disarmed its populations (at least with effective weapons) argues against your third paragraph. I see no mass resistance to the absurd gun bans there. To me, that is prima facia evidence of a prostrate population.

              • Gun bans? My 18 yr old son is qualified on both 7.62mm Maximi and 5.56mm Minimi fully automatic weapons. I took him to a shooting range in his early teens to learn basic firearm safety shooting skeet.

                At his age, I preferred the Bren over the SMLE. While I was in the school rifle shooting team, I wasn’t much good. But with a Bren I could put every round of a 3 round burst in a quick reaction target the size of a dinner plate exposed for 5 secs at 200 yds. My eyes now mean I’d be lucky to hit a barn door from the inside

                We don’t have firearms in the house. No need. We have a competent police force, far better at dealing with crims than an old chook of 62 would be. Because firearms are well regulated, only bikie gangs have routine access to them, not the vast majority of crooks.

                Bans? Nope. Well regulated militia, yes. There are 3 million registered firearms in Australia, pop 25 million. Nearly all long arms on rural properties, or held in safes by numerous gun clubs.

                I fear you have been misinformed

                • Nope, not misinformed. We have an old saying around the US that is perfect for this discussion: “When seconds matter, the police are only minutes away.”

                  If you’re happy, I’m certainly not going to try to convince you otherwise. However, if you ever get broken in or robbed and lack the means of self-defense, you may find your lack of a firearm at hand an… inconvenience.

                  Hopefully, you’ll never have to worry about it. Here in America, many of us would prefer firearms for defense against both 2- and 4- legged predators, as well as a government who decides we don’t need our pesky rights anymore.

                  This pandemic has made gun believers out of an astonishing number of former gun-controllers. Like me, they have come to understand that individual freedom only exists where defense of them is actually possible.

                  The fact that people may defend their freedom and possessions do a lot to deter criminals. Defensive gun uses are estimated at 1-3 million per year, and only 18% of these burglaries involve an armed assailant. Most DGU’s involve the mere presence of a firearm displayed by the victim — there are relatively few cases where a person actually shoots the invader.

                  So again, if you’re happy living without arms, who am I to gainsay your preference? For me, I require a means of self-defense against the possibility it may be necessary. Hopefully, my firearms will never speak outside of a shooting range.

        • We stopped being “all in this together” when the shutdown was extended past mid-April.

          We stopped being “all in this together” when the shutdown became indefinite.

          We stopped being “all in this together” when we learned more about COVID-19.

          We stopped being “all in this together” when authorities enacted completely asinine regulations.

          https://ethicsalarms.com/2020/04/13/no-the-president-isnt-a-dictator-but-given-the-opportunity-these-elected-officials-might-be/

          This development, however, is not funny: a frightening number of governors, mayors and police officers have demonstrated how much of our democracy is currently entrusted to nascent totalitarians. I know, I know: to protect the public in a unique crisis, extraordinary measures must be taken, and because so many in our democracy don’t really possess the intelligence and sense of social responsibility that the Founders, in their idealistic fervor, decided to pretend they had (much less the common sense of the average meerkat), sometimes those measures must be accompanied by the force of law. However, because it is a democracy and one that begins with wariness of governments infringing on personal liberties, and will end with our governments being supported when they decided those liberties can be ignored on a whim and a hunch, the recent gusto with which elected officials and their police forces have felt justified in crushing those liberties are warnings that responsible citizens must not let go unpunished. I wrote about one example here, regarding Vermont’s governor’s move to stop the big box stores from selling items Maple Syrup big Brother considers “non-essential.” There are more.

          Ethics Alarms already covered the father taken away in handcuffs for playing T-ball on on otherwise empty field with his wife and 6-year-old child, but the Philadephia police pulling people off buses for not wearing masks, or the aspiring fascist officer who tried to chase down single jogger on an empty beach initially escaped my attention. There are so many examples, you see.

          Occasionally the courts have stepped in, though not nearly occasionally enough, (I think I’ll inject my “Where is the ACLU?” line now.) Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer—Guess what party?—issued an order last week prohibiting churches from gathering for Easter services even if congregants remained in their cars for a “drive-in” service.

          “We’re saying no church worshiping,” the mayor decreed. Before Easter, however, U.S. District Judge Justin Walker rebuked the mayor, and granted a local Louisville church, On Fire Christian Center, a temporary restraining order allowing the church and presumably others to hold modified Easter gatherings.

          “On Holy Thursday, an American mayor criminalized the communal celebration of Easter. That sentence is one that this Court never expected to see outside the pages of a dystopian novel, or perhaps the pages of The Onion,” Walker wrote. “But two days ago, citing the need for social distancing during the current pandemic, Louisville’s Mayor Greg Fischer ordered Christians not to attend Sunday services, even if they remained in their cars to worship — and even though it’s Easter. The Mayor’s decision is stunning. And it is, ‘beyond all reason,’ unconstitutional.”

          Well, of course it was. The question would be too easy for a 5th grade civics test, so why didn’t the mayor’s ethics alarms, never mind his First Amendment alarms, ring before he made such an offensive decision? What about his aides? What about law enforcement, none of whom appears to have cautioned him, “Sir, we can’t ticket people who stay in their cars”?

          Think about why.

          I should also mention that Walker is one of those horrible conservative judges that President Trump appointed and Kentucky’s own Mitch McConnell has fast-tracked to the bench. We have been told that these judges are part of the plot to take away Americans’ rights. More irony.

          Nevertheless, two churches in Greenville, Mississippi were holding drive-in services for Holy Week when police showed up and ordered churchgoers to leave or face a $500 fine. The city’s mayor, Erick Simmons, defended the ban by arguing that people might get out of their cars to use the bathroom. Yes, he really did. Also banning drive-in worship services were the 10-county area in south central Georgia (south and east of Macon), and Riverside County in southern California, though that one allowed an exception for Easter weekend–which makes no sense whatsoever. Democratic Nevada Governor Steve Sisolak issued a stay-at-home order on the Wednesday of Holy Week that specifically banned drive-in services.

          Then we have Michigan governor Gretchen Witmer, who has been prominently mentioned as a possible running mate for Joe Biden.

          As part of her ongoing impression of the revolutionary leader in Wood Allen’s “Bananas,” who declares upon seizing the presidency that the language of the small South American country is officially Swedish, Whitmer has decreed what items are and are not “essential” and what stores can and cannot sell as part of her totalitarian order issued last week.

          Among the banned products are fruit and vegetable plants and seeds. Lottery tickets, on the other hand, are still permitted, because addicting citizens to gambling for the benefit of the state is essential. Paint, flooring, garden centers and furniture are also considered non-essential, so you can’t buy them either in Michigan. Nor can you buy car seats for children. Why? Because the Governor says so, that’s why!

          Governor Whitmer also banned Michiganders from traveling “between residences” if they own a cottage or a summer home. For some reason, the ban only applies to Michigan residents, so an out-of-stater with a cottage could presumably still visit. The ban also still allows travel between states, so if a Michigander has a cottage in Wisconsin he can travel there without being arrested or fined by state police.

          We are not in this together.

  11. Here is a response to this article.

    http://www.quora.com/What-do-you-think-about-those-people-protesting-the-Shelter-In-Place-Order-in-some-states/answer/Dennis-Urban-1/comment/141937380

    Done with your rant? Good.

    First off, let me point out that there are issues only the FEDERAL GOVERNMENT can act on. Shutting down of NATIONAL BORDERS and INTERNATIONAL TRAVEL are one such thing.

    Second, it’s up to the STATE GOVERNORS to shut down, reopen, etc. Yet Trump CONTINUES to interfere in that matter. He’s actively incited civil disobedience and unrest and encouraged violation of emergency laws. Those are FACTS.

    Third, Trump and his administration have STOLEN supplies ordered by state and local governments and by hospitals. Yes that is the accurate word. FEMA has DELIBERATELY gotten into bidding wars with State and Local Governments and with Hospitals for PPE Supplies.

    Fourth, your downplaying the seriousness of this epidemic. We have WORLD WIDE information and exhibits for what happens when IMMEDIATE ACTION is not taken. We have only to look to Sweden for what happens when you follow the Republican and Trump plan of not shutting down, not sheltering in place.

    Fifth, we have the Republican’s and Trump arguing that the economy is more important then human lives. And guess what, you are once again ignoring history. What happened with the Black Plague and the economic system after it finally was done. Oh yeah.

    Sixth, states are slowly, EMPHASIS ON SLOWLY AND CAREFULLY, trying to reopen.

    Seventh, we have the Trump Adminstration trying to HIDE DEATHS. The CMS (Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services) has stated NO CORONA VIRUS DEATHS IN NURSING HOMES ARE REQUIRED TO BE REPORTED FOR ANY AND ALL DEATHS PRIOR TO MAY 16TH.

    Eighth, WE STILL HAVE NO COMPREHENSIVE TESTING IN PLACE. You can claim that the numbers are a fraction of what they are, but they’re dead wrong. We’re not testing widely, largely or comprehensively.

    Ninth, WE HAVE 91 PEOPLE in Mississippi, who were deliberately exposed, 84 of which were customers and 7 were co-workers where a person WENT TO WORK AT THE HAIR SALOON, AND WAS SHOWING ACTIVE SYMPTOMS THE ENTIRE TIME FOR A WEEK.

    Have done, an ethics instructor has zero standing in areas of medical expertise in how to handle a pandemic. IF we were discussing medical ethics of testing drugs, or whether a given medical procedure is ethical that would be a different matter. We’re talking SOLELY about how to contain and control a pandemic and minimize the number of deaths. Where is your ethics.

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