Ricochet is the best place on the internet to discuss the issues of the day, either through commenting on posts or writing your own for our active and dynamic community in a fully moderated environment. In addition, the Ricochet Audio Network offers over 50 original podcasts with new episodes released every day.
The coronavirus crisis put Americans to the test. Could we function in a sane, scientifically informed, non-partisan manner to rationally protect the public while encountering a newly discovered viral disease?
The answer is no. Goaded on by in unrelenting hysterical media, our leaders have inflicted far more economic and societal pain on Americans than was warranted.
The practice of public health is founded on calibrating the cure to the disease. There are a lot of threats out there. But the worn-out phrase “out of an abundance of caution“ can be used to justify any overreaction. Sound cost/benefit analysis is replaced by sloppy thinking and simple anxiety reduction.
For example, look at my state of Arizona. During the influenza epidemic of 2017-18, worse by orders of magnitude than the coronavirus so far, Arizona public health officials were pushed by the CDC to close our schools. But they refused on the basis that almost no school children were sick from the virus and closing the schools was a major disruption with no known benefit. It was the right decision.
This time, with the stress level sky-high, political considerations prevailed. State health officials again advised against shutting down schools, based on Arizona‘s specific level of exposure to the disease, but they were overridden. Public health specialists advised against shutting down our businesses too.
But instead, our economy took a gut punch and 1 million school children sit at home in a state where a few hundred people have contracted a flu-like illness and five people who were already sick have died. Yet Gov. Doug Ducey is criticized for not doing more.
The politicians, to be fair, have a dilemma once the seeds of fear are sown. Contagious disease caseloads always grow initially. When they do, those advocating a conservative course are blamed. Later, when the inevitable drop occurs, activists take the credit, regardless of cost. In politicsville, all the arrows point to “Do Something.”
Amidst the panic and chaos, politicians seized the opportunity to jockey for position in the 2020 election. Democrats accused Trump of calling the virus a “hoax,” defunding the CDC, refusing test kits from the WHO, and intentionally coughing on Pelosi. OK, that last one was made up but the others were all part of an extensive false litany intended to prove the crisis was Trump’s fault.
Trump at first attempted a calming, rational approach but it was soon apparent that he faced an existential political threat if he persisted. He parried with a mix of sound science and overkill, probably saving his skin but also confirming the general sense of despair.
The coronavirus clearly has not run its course. As testing becomes more widespread, more infections will be discovered. But it seems likely that this “worst crisis since WWII” was in response to a viral outbreak that is far from the worst ever. It’s not even the worst this year.
As of this writing, there are just 55,081 confirmed cases and 785 deaths from coronavirus in the US. Meanwhile, the CDC reports 45 million seasonal influenza cases with 46,000 deaths. That’s 58 deaths from influenza for every one from coronavirus.
In 1794, James Madison referenced the “old trick of turning every contingency into a resource for accumulating force in the government.” Now comes the real danger zone, when Washington dives in to alleviate the economic pain we have inflicted on ourselves.
Madison’s insight lives today in the replay of the 2008-09 stimulus that didn’t stimulate. Once again, left-wing groups are attempting to exploit a crisis to advance their agenda.
Rather than job-preserving tax cuts and deregulation, they want to incentivize non-work with paid leave for workers not working, unemployment insurance and Medicaid expansion. Rather than helping businesses survive, they’re going the opposite direction with cash handouts and mandated minimum wage increase.
Collective bargaining for federal workers, corporate board diversity requirements, student loan and US Postal Service bailouts, and expansion of wind/solar tax credits are just some of the proposed ransom demands from the left.
National emergencies and wars have often resulted in government permanently expanding, liberties lost. Americans now must be hypervigilant to avoid damage that will persist long after the coronavirus has receded.Published in