[This post is dedicated to Michael Ejercito.]
For months, veteran prolific Ethics Alarms commenter Michael Ejercito peppered the blog with various versions of the same question: “When are you going to finish “The Pandemic Creates a Classic and Difficult Ethics Conflict…”? He was referring to this post, which went up way back in May of 2020. The rest of the title was “…But The Resolution Is Clear.” It was designated as Part I, with a Part II supposedly coming soon that would explain what that resolution was and why. It never arrived.
Stalling, I posted a Prelude to Part II. It was so long and covered so much territory that I doubt anyone read it all the way to the end (except Michael). It didn’t inspire a single comment. Here’s a precis...
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….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…
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. Freedom has always had a price…
…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, [or]…the U.S. having a catastrophic expansion of its national debt… !
…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…On this 75th Anniversary of V-E Day, it shouldn’t be hard to understand that lost lives can be acceptable when the most rational, responsible policies involve unavoidable risk.
But “Part II,” when it arrived six months later, still didn’t deliver the promised resolution. Except for the (again, long) introduction, in fact, it was a dud, but a dud that illustrated the problem with the topic. I wrote about the non-media coverage of a Johns Hopkins study that seemed to indicate that the despite the daily lists of pandemic deaths, the total deaths had not varied significantly from the previous year. As it turned out, the study was flawed, and its conclusions were not supported, though the Ethics Alarms indictment of the bias and partisan agenda indicated by the news media’s lack of coverage still applies.
So what was going to be Part II was then going to be Part III, and again stalling, I wrote a prelude to that as well. This one was mercifully short, and endorsed a statement by then President Trump as the Ethics Quote of the Century. He had said via Twitter in October, “Don’t be afraid of Covid. Don’t let it dominate your life.” The post concluded,
“President Trump is among the Americans I would view most unlikely to utter an ethical statement, much less a great one, but this was a great statement, essential, inspirational, and right. I assume this is sufficient notice of what the conclusion of Part III will be.”
But there was no Part III, much to Michael’s disappointment and annoyance.