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I can think of four pretty straightforward arguments in favor of ending the mandated shutdown. The first three will fall on deaf ears for those of the “even one death is too many” way of thinking: it’s fundamentally un-American to take away the people’s rights without an overwhelming and existential justification; the US economy and critical infrastructure are being wrecked, with serious long-term consequences that will likely exceed the cost of the disease itself; and the shutdown is likely shifting unavoidable illness a bit into the future at an enormous and largely avoidable cost.
A fourth argument for ending the shutdown might gain some traction with our friends on the left. At the very least, it’s likely to be harder to answer with the usual you’re-putting-money-before-lives accusation.
The shutdown, in the US and globally, is going to doom literally millions of the world’s poorest to suffering and death. Millions are going without essential medical treatment for diseases like malaria, tuberculosis, AIDS, and a host of normally manageable conditions. Scores of millions, perhaps hundreds of millions, are being pushed from marginal situations into serious malnutrition; scores or hundreds of millions more, already malnourished, will be pushed into literal starvation. However frightening, inconvenient, and sometimes tragic this disease is here in the west, it is a horrific humanitarian disaster for the billion or so who, until a couple of months ago, were on a long slow climb from crushing poverty. More people will die because of the shutdown than will be saved by it but, because they are far away and have no voice, their suffering is easy to ignore: they get no memes on Facebook.Published in