On Perspective, Context, and the Rational Response

 

It has been a while since I’ve posted anything… some (all of those “charter members”) might recall that I am often fairly long-winded. I recently added a series of comments to another post. Seems stupid to write 1,500 words in a comments section, so I’m just putting them all in this separate post. It’s not polished or written in essay form or anything like that. Just a very long comment all on its own.


I have recently engaged in some debate over how to correctly apply Thomas Sowell’s famous statement that “there are no solutions, only trade-offs” to our present situation with respect to COVID-19. I feel that it is being misapplied. Perhaps a more appropriate restatement in this context would be to say that “all solutions have a cost.”

I am not a doctor or a virologist, but I do spend every day working with a government system whose stated purpose is the mitigation of harm, and let me assure you, my views are not nearly so crass as “interventions are ok as long as they don’t impact my life!” Rather, taking a look at both the harm and the intervention, I am daily reminded that our best interventions are generally inadequate to eliminate the harm, yet they very often result in greater harms – like that old joke about punching you in the nose to help you forget the pain in your toe.

With respect to this virus, I tend to think of it in this way: I’ve represented three teenagers who ended up dying of cerebral palsy. All of them died as a result of some sort of infection or pneumonia. In talking with doctors about this, it really seems that that is what these sorts of diseases are all about. Everyone has to die of something, but rarely do people die of the thing they’re actually dying of. They die of pneumonia. Colds and flus, oddly, seem to serve that purpose. They are what gets you in the end. Or, rather, they are like the last straw.

It seems to me that COVID is essentially a new addition to that group of last straws. It will either burn out on its own, or it will become less virulent and stick around forever, acting like a seasonal bug. There is precious little we can do about that. It is not attacking indiscriminately, it is attacking elderly and infirm, just as other respiratory illnesses tend to do. It’s not that I consider human lives to be a “trade-off,” it is that I consider this disease to be, very likely, a newly-discovered part of our lives about which we can do very little. When we react as we have, the primary foolishness is in the idea that this is something we can actually control or eliminate. Also, we seem to be grossly overstating the impact that it actually has.

Yet, for some reason (and I think it is almost entirely media and social-media driven), we are reacting to this illness far more like the zombie apocalypse or invasion of the body snatchers than anything else. Our interventions are extreme, and our desperate need for interventions is unprecedented. Our willingness to give up basic freedoms and allow centralized control to self-interested politicians with no better access to data than anyone else, and our trust in self-proclaimed “experts” whose primary expertise is trial-and-error, and who tend to live in a very specialized bubble is, again, unprecedented. We have for some reason decided to compartmentalize, and magnify this single problem of human existence to far beyond every other problem we currently face, at the expense of our ability to deal with any of those other problems.

And consider the scale of what we’re actually dealing with. It is probably roughly on par with the flu – something that is hardly nothing, but (importantly) something that we have come to accept as a part of our lives. Saying that it is 2X “deadlier” than the flu is virtually meaningless, as it serves primarily the same function, seems to operate in roughly the same way, and again, “twice as deadly” must be taken in context. Twice as deadly as the flu (for a disease with no vaccine and few well-tested treatments) is still statistically on par with the flu. Not something to be totally ignored or disregarded, but also within the bounds of something we are going to need to consider to be a part of our lives for the foreseeable future.

But more importantly, what about the extremity of our actions? Here is where “everything has a cost” comes in. We could control the flu and even the common cold (which is also not 100% benign) in the same ways we are attempting to control COVID. We could cancel all sporting events, ban large gatherings, all deck out in PPE everywhere we go, wash our hands, sanitize, etc. It is up for debate whether this would do any good in the long run (our immune systems, for instance, are important), but we could do these things for illnesses we already have, and we don’t. Why don’t we? We recognize that the cold/flu operates as I discussed above. It is an inconvenience to most, and it is the last-straw that kills many. It is a problem that we keep in mind – but on the long list of problems (poverty, depression, cancers, domestic violence, heart attacks, obesity, international politics… domestic politics like immigration, abortion, etc…), it is not nothing, but neither is it so important that literally everything else is brushed aside.

So why are we doing this with COVID?

My response may seem selfish or callous or heartless… but that is only because this is right at the forefront of everyone’s minds, and it is being discussed in a vacuum. It is no more callous or heartless than our response to literally any other problem. Why are 70K lives lost to COVID an appropriate test of humanity while 60K lives lost to any other respiratory illness are simply a part of life? The only difference is that this is where our focus currently is, and when this newly-ADD-riddled global population gets its mind set like a laser beam on one problem, it loses all context and perspective. But context is everything.

So what would I do? What would I recommend with respect to COVID? That all depends. I would say that people need to think of COVID in exactly the same way they think of any other respiratory illness. If you are overweight, lose weight. If you are diabetic or have hypertension, get it under control (and probably lose weight). If you live in a big city, slap yourself in the face, get a life, and realize that stress is probably going to kill you… then, move out of the big city, start voting republican, and get a concealed-carry permit. If you are extremely old, realize that you have entered the phase of life where death is lurking around every corner. Enjoy every moment with your family and try to dust off the Bible that you received 70 years ago at your baptism. All of that sounds heartless, no? Not really. It is the approach we take with virtually everything, because we simply cannot live our entire lives in fear of death and illness. This latest illness is one that has just been added to the list of things that are trying to kill us. For the old and infirm, they should treat this exactly the way they do the flu – both can kill you. Half as deadly as “dead” isn’t much better…

But what should our national response be? I don’t think our response to COVID should be any different than anything else. It is a reminder to hospitals and governments that it would be a good idea to be better prepared for disaster and pandemics. Maybe we shouldn’t be so heavily in debt, such that we can actually afford to provide limited relief when something like this flares up. Maybe instead of spending billions on ridiculous pet projects, graft, and personal favors for individual politicians, we should incentivize research and innovation through grants and so forth (which will still be subject to graft and favors). When we see a massive problem in nursing homes (as COVID seems to indicate), maybe we should be attempting a more targeted response… there are books of regulations (and as a lawyer, I’ve read them!) for these facilities, and it may be that they need to be improved. Maybe, as individuals, we should focus less on our own careers and think about the extent to which we rely on these sorts of facilities to care for our elderly.

All that to say – what we really need to do is [expletive]-ing snap out of it. We are experiencing a major panic that is largely driven by media/social-media and fear of the unknown. This latest unknown has somehow led us into forgetting that our lives are absolutely chock full of unknowns, and whether this is twice or three or five times as deadly as the well-known and already accepted flu, that difference still exists on the margins, and COVID still falls into roughly the same category.

Somehow, we have decided that this latest hazard necessitates a complete shift in our way of thinking – it reminds me of the first Bolshevik revolution in 1917, which bubbled and stewed, and then just spread like a tsunami, resulting in decades of misery. COVID is the earthquake out in the middle of the ocean that started that wave, but the tsunami is now a thing all its own.

Consider what we’re doing. We’ve started with the absolute most extreme. Essentially, house arrest. Whether this is effective in stopping the spread of this particular disease is up for debate, of course, but I don’t think that is the most important consideration. If we were to look at anything in a vacuum, we could start to solve the problem the way we’re “solving” COVID. We could ban driving to cut back on automobile accidents, we could ban all guns to cut back on violence (whoops… I guess that’s a different post). So, people are pretty fed up with this solution, right? People suffering from other ills are fed up with this notion that we’ve taken this one problem and elevated it above literally all other problems. But we don’t get to open up that vacuum and let in the rest of life. This becomes a negotiation process, for some reason. What are you willing to compromise? What are you willing to give up? We still, apparently, need to stay laser-focused on this one problem… ok, so let’s start talking about privacy rights. You willing to give those up? We need extreme contact tracing, we need large-scale testing. Let’s start talking about individual rights. We need you all to put on this mask. Complain? Well, you don’t complain about having to wear pants, do you?! Nevermind that the two are in no way comparable. Do you want off this house arrest, or what?

All this over what? No – you can’t say that! If you say that, you are basically sacrificing lives. Too many wish to put it in those overly simplistic terms. My freedom at the expense of lives. Intervention is OK just as long as it doesn’t impact me directly, right?

No – the problem is that this is a fundamental shift in the way we solve problems…

The problem is not that I fail to recognize that this particular respiratory illness is to some degree more deadly than the other respiratory illnesses that we accept as a part of our lives… it is that we really do need to start focusing on limiting principles, because the fact is, this particular respiratory illness is not different enough from those other accepted illnesses to necessitate so drastic and fundamental a change in our underlying views of what are and are not appropriate responses to this category of harm.

So what’s my solution? Let grandma die? Shrug our shoulders just as long as we’re not personally impacted? No, you don’t get to accuse me of that, because the exact same accusation could be levied against anyone who isn’t fully on board with pushing every other harm aside in favor of your preferred harm. My solution is that we should handle this exactly the same way we handle literally everything else that we face on a daily basis. Smart people who are motivated to do so should continue attempting to work on the problem. Profit-driven drug companies should still hope to capitalize on people’s fears by providing effective treatments, innovating, and solving problems regardless of their motives for doing so. Doctors should continue to abide by the Hippocratic oath and do their best to save lives, continually updating treatment methods and discovering new ways to address not just this problem, but every other problem that their individual specialties point them toward. People in at-risk categories should continue to protect themselves from all the final-straws, perhaps keenly aware that some are more dangerous than others. People with at-risk loved ones should help out as much as they can. And all of us should focus our time and energy on trying to solve our individual problems, whatever they may be.

As a lawyer, I spend my time working with teenagers who are abused or neglected. That’s a problem. It has lasting effects on their lives. Some will die because of lifestyle choices resulting from trauma or despair. Some will grow up and abuse their own spouses or children. If we all put down everything we’re doing and worked together, maybe we could help these kids. Maybe, though, we’d do more harm than good. Undoubtedly, we’d be putting down whatever else we otherwise would be doing. If a doctor stopped seeing patients in order to help me solve my problem, he wouldn’t be solving his own problems, and people would suffer as a consequence of that.

Interestingly, the free market still works, even with pandemics. There are still a million and one problems that need to be solved, the result of which lives are very much at stake. This notion that we should stop everything we’re doing to solve this one particular problem is taking us back to that Bolshevik revolution mindset that has been stewing for the past decade. My own governor, Jay Inslee, released his four-phase plan for release. We see posters up everywhere, ads on TV… everyone needs to work together.

He may just as well call it a five-year plan, and we can start producing the Yugo all over again, all in it together, all solving just one problem.

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  1. Hammer, The Member
    Hammer, The
    @RyanM

    @max; I have no idea why the formatting on this post is all weird.  It looks fine when I edit it, but the paragraphs change when it hit “post.”  Perhaps I am too stupid.

    • #1
  2. Percival Thatcher
    Percival
    @Percival

    Nobody gets out of here alive.

    • #2
  3. Old Buckeye Inactive
    Old Buckeye
    @OldBuckeye

    Agree! All the things that early on were recommended we do to curtail the spread (I’m talking pre-masking, pre-quarantine) were things I and my family already practiced: frequent hand washing; using a glove to pump gas (began this when I decided I hated to have my hand smelling like gasoline!) and wiping down carts at the store (usually I forgo using a cart altogether);  being aware, when out in public, of what you’ve touched and washing/sanitizing before touching your face or other things that you might spread germs/virus to, etc., etc. I’m 63 and have only sporadically (maybe 5-6 times) gotten a seasonal flu shot and I’ve never gotten the flu. Based on my own anecdotal experience, then, I’d say many people just haven’t been thoughtful in their personal hygiene and by changing habits, a LOT of virus spreading SHOULD be avoided. It doesn’t require a lockdown/quarantine to avoid getting sick. 

    • #3
  4. Susan in Seattle Member
    Susan in Seattle
    @SusaninSeattle

    “My own governor, Jay Inslee, released his 4-phase plan for release. We see posters up everywhere, ads on TV… everyone needs to work together

    He may just as well call it a 5-year plan, and we can start producing the Yugo all over again, all in it together, all solving just one problem.”

     

    I came across the following on another website, in a parody of the guv’s phases/plans and continued obtuseness.  I think it says it all: ‘We have a 4 phase plan to reopen the state.  The plan will be a phased plan that we will plan to utilize in phases.  The phases will be planned and the planning will be phased.  We will move quickly and slowly to open but remain closed.  I have created a staff of staffers who will plan the phase and planning while phasing their phases.  And that is our re-opening plan.’

    Nice to ‘see’ you again.

    • #4
  5. PHCheese Inactive
    PHCheese
    @PHCheese

    Pneumonia was referred to as the old man’s friend. My grandma died of the Spanish Flu in 1919 my grandfather died in 1966 of the flu. Grandma died quickly of a raging fever. Grandpa actually did die of Pneumonia however he was 97 years old. Grandma was I think 39. She had just two weeks before giving birth to my uncle. 

    • #5
  6. Hammer, The Member
    Hammer, The
    @RyanM

    PHCheese (View Comment):

    Pneumonia was referred to as the old man’s friend. My grandma died of the Spanish Flu in 1919 my grandfather died in 1966 of the flu. Grandma died quickly of a raging fever. Grandpa actually did die of Pneumonia however he was 97 years old. Grandma was I think 39. She had just two weeks before giving birth to my uncle.

    I don’t think we should write off all deaths with serious underlying conditions, of course.  But the flu is essentially, as I said, that last straw, which swoops in and finishes off people who other diseases are killing much more slowly.  If you remove those deaths, you still have a certain number of people who get extremely sick due to complications (probably the same numbers who get sick due to complications from anything.)  When I was a kid, my Mom spent 10 days in the hospital with pneumonia.  Complications from a cold or flu.  It happens.

    Covid is serving essentially the same function.  It is the last straw, and there is a lot of reason to suspect that it is more efficient than the flu at being the last straw.  If you remove all of those deaths, you still have cases where people die from complications (major difference being that we are hearing about each and every case, broadcast 24/7 and sent directly to our smart phones).  But take away all the noise, and you have a respiratory illness that is not extremely far outside the realm of similar diseases that we have simply learned to live with.

    (and, as I keep pointing out, with the flu we have proven treatments and vaccines.  Vaccines don’t mean you never get infected; they often mean that when you do get infected, your body is more efficient with respect to healing itself.  That effects the overall fatality rate, of course, but it has virtually no bearing on the virulence of the disease itself.)

    • #6
  7. Full Size Tabby Member
    Full Size Tabby
    @FullSizeTabby

    Hammer, The: The only difference is that this is where our focus currently is, and when this newly-ADD-riddled global population gets its mind set like a laser beam on one problem, it loses all context and perspective. But context is everything.

    This herd-like tendency to focus on one issue at a time (a tendency exacerbated if not driven by media mass and social) has been developing for a while. 

    Some years ago I noticed that among the awful characteristics of the regional Gannett (USA Today) owned newspaper in my area was that Gannett had for each day established the issue of the day for all their newspapers, and almost every story in the regional newspaper was chosen and written through the lens of the pre-established issue of the day. 

    Although as a lawyer I have never done courtroom work, I understand from my trial colleagues that juries hear testimony differently if it is in video form (on a television screen in which only one person appears on a screen, and so all attention is focused on the person on the screen) than in live form (in which the witness is not the only live person in the room and the witness is interacting with other people, things, and events in the room that the jurors also see and hear).

    As you say, when we focus on one item to the exclusion of its context we are likely to do the wrong thing. 

    • #7
  8. Mendel Inactive
    Mendel
    @Mendel

    Proud to be the one to trigger your relapse back to your old ways. Will read it through when I get enough time to digest all of this.

    ……i.e., in a few years.

    • #8
  9. Hammer, The Member
    Hammer, The
    @RyanM

    Mendel (View Comment):

    Proud to be the one to trigger your relapse back to your old ways. Will read it through when I get enough time to digest all of this.

    ……i.e., in a few years.

    That reminds me to delete your name.  It seems unfair to post a 50 page response to a comment that I don’t even quote!

    • #9
  10. MarciN Member
    MarciN
    @MarciN

    I have often said to myself, “In the end, we could say that everyone dies of a heart attack.” :-) 

    • #10
  11. MarciN Member
    MarciN
    @MarciN

    Hammer, The: So what would I do? What would I recommend with respect to covid? That all depends. I would say that people need to think of covid in exactly the same way they think of any other respiratory illness. If you are overweight, lose weight. If you are diabetic or have hypertension, get it under control (and probably lose weight). If you live in a big city, slap yourself in the face, get a life, and realize that stress is probably going to kill you… then, move out of the big city, start voting republican, and get a concealed-carry permit. If you are extremely old, realize that you have entered the phase of life where death is lurking around every corner. Enjoy every moment with your family and try to dust off the Bible that you received 70 years ago at your baptism. All of that sounds heartless, no? Not really. It is the approach we take with virtually everything, because we simply cannot live our entire lives in fear of death and illness. This latest illness is one that has just been added to the list of things that are trying to kill us. For the old and infirm, they should treat this exactly the way they do the flu – both can kill you. Half as deadly as “dead” isn’t much better…

    We are doing those things. The public does not need to keep harping on it.

    You should see the AARP’s advice to senior citizens.

    I wouldn’t worry about the old people being ready to die. They are.

    • #11
  12. CarolJoy, Above Top Secret Coolidge
    CarolJoy, Above Top Secret
    @CarolJoy

    I do not consider the response of the media and the governmental agency “experts” to COVID as something reminiscent of the Bolshevik revolution. Rather, it is the Bolshevik revolution, 2020 style.

    Given to my habit of living in Calif, I encounter progressives every day. Last Saturday while paying a bill, the woman taking my check said she was intrigued by the astrology of this occurrence and the governmental response.

    I like astrology. I am very good at it. I gave up making money at it as I never knew how to tell parents the child they were expecting was going to have a birth defect. Or the guy they were gonna marry would not make their life easier but due to his running around, he would make it harder. I had to always tell people I lost all information relating to the birthdates.

    But the young lady went off on the riff that we are in the age of Aquarius: that in this age, when we give up some normal situation for the purpose of the common good, then some deep spiritual transformation occurs. Aquarius is, she said, the age of miraculous and needed transformation.

    She continued. Consider the masks we should wear: we are giving up our right to let people know what we are feeling. Nor can we tell what others are feeling. Society is as a whole giving up its right to know when seeing someone else, whether that person recognizes us or not.

    I was hoping she would then say: “I have noticed how we are looking very zombie-ish. Nature did not intend for us to look this way.” But she did not.

    However, she went on: our eyes are still exposed, so it   is obvious the spiritual growth we will now experience will revolve around how we will now gaze into each other’s eyes!

    I didn’t know if I should laugh or cry. We may be only exposing our eyes – that is true. But we are also ordered to stand six feet away from people. How much deep spiritually transformative eye gazing can I do from six feet away?

    This inconsistency did not occur to her. However the whole encounter scared the life out of me. Someone is carefully teaching the Lefties  in my County to be willing to do as any authority states we need to do. The Lefties no longer even care if  the latest edicts relate to effectively suppressing COVID or not. Maybe they are pointless, but they will save our souls! As after all, these edicts occur in the Age of Aquarius and  the edicts  will usher in a new era of utopia complete  with members of society who all understand each other from hours of looking into the eyes, the gateway to the soul!

    Lenin and Trotsky would be so proud! They could have  not formulated a better way to enslave half of our society in mindless tripe if they’d spent a decade at it!

    • #12
  13. Henry Castaigne Member
    Henry Castaigne
    @HenryCastaigne

    Hammer, The: Yet, for some reason (and I think it is almost entirely media and social media driven), we are reacting to this illness far more like the zombie apocalypse or invasion of the body snatchers than anything else.

    The cruel reality of Covid destroys the leftist narrative that government can protect you and that ‘peoplekind’ can be as gods. We are weak and impotent agains the might of nature. Science has limits and can’t protect us from death. Also, communism is garbage. Rather than accept such unpleasant Truths, they wish to condemn Donald Trump and deify the state. 

    Same old, same old, really. 

    • #13
  14. Saint Augustine Member
    Saint Augustine
    @SaintAugustine

    One of the greatest Ricochet posts of all time.

    Hammer, The:

    We recognize that the cold/flu operates as I discussed above. It is an inconvenience to most, and it is the last-straw that kills many. It is a problem that we keep in mind – but on the long list of problems (poverty, depression, cancers, domestic violence, heart attacks, obesity, international politics… domestic politics like immigration, abortion, etc…), it is not nothing, but neither is it so important that literally everything else is brushed aside.

    So why are we doing this with COVID?

    Amen.

    • #14
  15. Arahant Member
    Arahant
    @Arahant

    Hammer, The (View Comment):
    Perhaps I am too stupid.

    No, WordPress is too stupid.

    • #15
  16. Saint Augustine Member
    Saint Augustine
    @SaintAugustine

    Hammer, The:

    Why are 70K lives lost to COVID an appropriate test of humanity while 60K lives lost to any other respiratory illness are simply a part of life? The only difference is that this is where our focus currently is, and when this newly-ADD-riddled global population gets its mind set like a laser beam on one problem, it loses all context and perspective. But context is everything.

    Amen.

    • #16
  17. Saint Augustine Member
    Saint Augustine
    @SaintAugustine

    Hammer, The:

    So what would I do? What would I recommend with respect to COVID? That all depends. I would say that people need to think of COVID in exactly the same way they think of any other respiratory illness. If you are overweight, lose weight. If you are diabetic or have hypertension, get it under control (and probably lose weight). If you live in a big city, slap yourself in the face, get a life, and realize that stress is probably going to kill you… then, move out of the big city, start voting republican, and get a concealed-carry permit. If you are extremely old, realize that you have entered the phase of life where death is lurking around every corner. Enjoy every moment with your family and try to dust off the Bible that you received 70 years ago at your baptism. All of that sounds heartless, no? Not really. It is the approach we take with virtually everything, because we simply cannot live our entire lives in fear of death and illness.

    Amen. Amen. Amen.

    • #17
  18. Saint Augustine Member
    Saint Augustine
    @SaintAugustine

    Hammer, The:

    Maybe we shouldn’t be so heavily in debt, such that we can actually afford to provide limited relief when something like this flares up.

    Amen!  PREACH!

    • #18
  19. Saint Augustine Member
    Saint Augustine
    @SaintAugustine

    Hammer, The:

    Maybe instead of spending billions on ridiculous pet projects, graft, and personal favors for individual politicians, we should incentivize research and innovation through grants and so forth (which will still be subject to graft and favors).

    Here, for a change, I withhold agreement. I don’t like grants. I think they draw teachers further and further away from teaching, and for that matter they draw researchers further from research as such, encouraging them to think “government funding” means “good work.”

    Those aren’t synonyms.

    But I don’t know much.  And even I can see an argument for grants in sciences: That stuff can be expensive, and individual scientists and their employers don’t always have money to run expensive experiments.

    • #19
  20. Saint Augustine Member
    Saint Augustine
    @SaintAugustine

    Hammer, The:

    All that to say – what we really need to do is [expletive]-ing snap out of it. We are experiencing a major panic that is largely driven by media/social-media and fear of the unknown. This latest unknown has somehow led us into forgetting that our lives are absolutely chock full of unknowns, and whether this is twice or three or five times as deadly as the well-known and already accepted flu, that difference still exists on the margins, and COVID still falls into roughly the same category.

    Amen.

    Consider what we’re doing. We’ve started with the absolute most extreme. Essentially, house arrest. Whether this is effective in stopping the spread of this particular disease is up for debate, of course, but I don’t think that is the most important consideration. If we were to look at anything in a vacuum, we could start to solve the problem the way we’re “solving” COVID. We could ban driving to cut back on automobile accidents, we could ban all guns to cut back on violence (whoops… I guess that’s a different post). So, people are pretty fed up with this solution, right? People suffering from other ills are fed up with this notion that we’ve taken this one problem and elevated it above literally all other problems. But we don’t get to open up that vacuum and let in the rest of life. This becomes a negotiation process, for some reason. What are you willing to compromise? What are you willing to give up? We still, apparently, need to stay laser-focused on this one problem… ok, so let’s start talking about privacy rights. You willing to give those up? We need extreme contact tracing, we need large-scale testing. Let’s start talking about individual rights. We need you all to put on this mask. Complain? Well, you don’t complain about having to wear pants, do you?! Nevermind that the two are in no way comparable. Do you want off this house arrest, or what?

    Amen.

    I don’t understand why conservative podcasters think some phone-tracing and quarantine for people with the disease would be such an unthinkable violation of rights, but ENDING THE RIGHT TO WORK for everyone who DOESN’T have the disease is thinkable.

    • #20
  21. Saint Augustine Member
    Saint Augustine
    @SaintAugustine

    Hammer, The:

    Interestingly, the free market still works, even with pandemics. There are still a million and one problems that need to be solved, the result of which lives are very much at stake. This notion that we should stop everything we’re doing to solve this one particular problem is taking us back to that Bolshevik revolution mindset that has been stewing for the past decade. My own governor, Jay Inslee, released his four-phase plan for release. We see posters up everywhere, ads on TV… everyone needs to work together.

    Then there’s that insightful line from Von Mises about what sort of society really knows how to work together.

    The level of social cooperation that makes a pencil efficiently is MASSIVE. But no single individual human knows how to make a pencil efficiently.

    Our politicians who think “working together” means being organized by the government–perhaps they would like to order a freeze on the entire pencil industry, round up all the employees in a big warehouse, assign them various tasks, and lecture the workers on how to do their jobs.

    • #21
  22. Percival Thatcher
    Percival
    @Percival

    Good post, Ryan.

    • #22
  23. Hammer, The Member
    Hammer, The
    @RyanM

    Saint Augustine (View Comment):

    Hammer, The:

    All that to say – what we really need to do is [expletive]-ing snap out of it. We are experiencing a major panic that is largely driven by media/social-media and fear of the unknown. This latest unknown has somehow led us into forgetting that our lives are absolutely chock full of unknowns, and whether this is twice or three or five times as deadly as the well-known and already accepted flu, that difference still exists on the margins, and COVID still falls into roughly the same category.

    Amen.

    Consider what we’re doing. We’ve started with the absolute most extreme. Essentially, house arrest. Whether this is effective in stopping the spread of this particular disease is up for debate, of course, but I don’t think that is the most important consideration. If we were to look at anything in a vacuum, we could start to solve the problem the way we’re “solving” COVID. We could ban driving to cut back on automobile accidents, we could ban all guns to cut back on violence (whoops… I guess that’s a different post). So, people are pretty fed up with this solution, right? People suffering from other ills are fed up with this notion that we’ve taken this one problem and elevated it above literally all other problems. But we don’t get to open up that vacuum and let in the rest of life. This becomes a negotiation process, for some reason. What are you willing to compromise? What are you willing to give up? We still, apparently, need to stay laser-focused on this one problem… ok, so let’s start talking about privacy rights. You willing to give those up? We need extreme contact tracing, we need large-scale testing. Let’s start talking about individual rights. We need you all to put on this mask. Complain? Well, you don’t complain about having to wear pants, do you?! Nevermind that the two are in no way comparable. Do you want off this house arrest, or what?

    Amen.

    I don’t understand why conservative podcasters think some phone-tracing and quarantine for people with the disease would be such an unthinkable violation of rights, but ENDING THE RIGHT TO WORK for everyone who DOESN’T have the disease is thinkable.

    I think contact tracing can be a serious infringement of rights, and it takes us dangerously close to a big-brother situation from an already eager-beaver nanny-state.  Another note on Inslee – his proposal for the opening of restaurants in WA state is to require all restaurants to take the contact information of each patron on entry (and, apparently, save it all in some sort of database?) for the purposes of contact tracing.  Contact tracing for a respiratory illness…  this from the same people who think this spreads so easily that we need everyone to wear masks.

    • #23
  24. Saint Augustine Member
    Saint Augustine
    @SaintAugustine

    Hammer, The (View Comment):

    Saint Augustine (View Comment):

    Amen.

    I don’t understand why conservative podcasters think some phone-tracing and quarantine for people with the disease would be such an unthinkable violation of rights, but ENDING THE RIGHT TO WORK for everyone who DOESN’T have the disease is thinkable.

    I think contact tracing can be a serious infringement of rights, and it takes us dangerously close to a big-brother situation from an already eager-beaver nanny-state.

    Sure. But in itself worse than telling all the citizens they’re not allowed to work unless they happen to have a computerized job? I don’t see any evidence for that.

    If it’s a worry about what it leads to in the future, I imagine I could be sold on the argument for phone-tracing being worse than massive infringement of the right to work.

    Another note on Inslee – his proposal for the opening of restaurants in WA state is to require all restaurants to take the contact information of each patron on entry (and, apparently, save it all in some sort of database?) for the purposes of contact tracing.

    [Shudder.]

    • #24
  25. Full Size Tabby Member
    Full Size Tabby
    @FullSizeTabby

    Saint Augustine (View Comment):

    Hammer, The:

    Maybe we shouldn’t be so heavily in debt, such that we can actually afford to provide limited relief when something like this flares up.

    Amen! PREACH!

    Been hanging around Baptists have we? (-:

    • #25
  26. Saint Augustine Member
    Saint Augustine
    @SaintAugustine

    Full Size Tabby (View Comment):

    Saint Augustine (View Comment):

    Hammer, The:

    Maybe we shouldn’t be so heavily in debt, such that we can actually afford to provide limited relief when something like this flares up.

    Amen! PREACH!

    Been hanging around Baptists have we? (-:

    All my life.

    • #26
  27. Hammer, The Member
    Hammer, The
    @RyanM

    Ok, it is very silly that I cannot edit a post on the main feed. It is impossible to read your own post without finding mistakes.  

    • #27
  28. MarciN Member
    MarciN
    @MarciN

    Hammer, The (View Comment):

    Ok, it is very silly that I cannot edit a post on the main feed. It is impossible to read your own post without finding mistakes.

    This is my fault. There we were for years and years happily editing our posts that had gone to the Main Feed. Then one day a few months ago, someone posted something, and the editors made a change the author didn’t like, and he or she wanted the editors to change it back. The author wrote a post about it. There was a spirited conversation in which I commented, “Gee, just go in and change it. I do it to mine without any problem.”

    Apparently, Max did not know that we writers could do that. So he suddenly disabled that capability.

    I understand that the editors want to be sure they’ve read everything that is on the Main Feed. But they can trust us.

    The whole incident makes me think of a time on Cape Cod when some legislature got excited about licensing private boat owners. The state wanted to be able to arrest drunken boat drivers. I said, “Gee, you’ve never had a problem before, have you?” “No. That’s exactly why we have to act now. We don’t want a problem to start now.” :-) That is not a good foundation for new laws. :-)

    Please, Max, you can trust us. We promise not to insert any non-CoC-compliant copy in our upvoted posts. We just want to correct typos and grammar issues. OK?

    And Max, the last time I was in New Hampshire, I saw lots of little piles of wood for sale outside people’s homes with a box for people to put their payment in. New Hampshire people are not about to sit outside all day. It’s called the “honor system” up there. You can get tomatoes, a loaf of bread, an old chair, and an armful of firewood. :-)

    • #28
  29. Randy Webster Member
    Randy Webster
    @RandyWebster

    MarciN (View Comment):

    I have often said to myself, “In the end, we could say that everyone dies of a heart attack.” :-)

    You stole that from Heinlein.

    • #29
  30. MarciN Member
    MarciN
    @MarciN

    Randy Webster (View Comment):

    MarciN (View Comment):

    I have often said to myself, “In the end, we could say that everyone dies of a heart attack.” :-)

    You stole that from Heinlein.

    I really didn’t. I have never read his books. 

    It was joke I made to myself one day. :-)

    • #30
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