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I have a profound memory just after 9/11 of a Muslim imam in Britain being quoted as telling the West we would be changed: Either you grant us our speech and religious liberty and we will use it to destroy you, or you will deny us our speech and religious liberty and become something you do not want to be.
It seems to me that the COVID-19 epidemic and the Progressive-inspired responses represent the same challenge. Anyone other than a progressive (or a scared spitless person) understands that the response to the epidemic is a risk management problem. How do you minimize your total losses — direct losses in terms of life and health to the disease and indirect losses in terms of life and health from the alternative responses to the disease?
Progressives are pushing a “no risk” solution, which of course is not “no risk.” It goes like this: Do whatever it takes to ensure that no one dies; OK someone died, but let’s now do whatever it takes so that no one else dies; OK someone else died, but now do whatever it takes so that no others die; (wash, rinse, repeat). This maximizes, not minimizes, total losses. And yet it is being sold as the way to minimize loss. It sounds like a wonderful aspiration: we all work together to keep us all alive. But in practice, it is the best way to assure that more people die — if not as a direct loss to the disease, then as an indirect loss due to the response to the disease.
When we listen to our health officials at the local, state, and federal level we need to ask ourselves is their response really good risk management? Are they explaining their approach in a way that addresses both direct and indirect loss? If not, why not? To whose advantage would it be to win the battle but lose the war? The one bucking for near term promotion due to claimed “battle valor” and the one seeking more funding for their part of the war.
When you read critiques of President Trump’s performance in the epidemic you have to ask yourself is the criticism fair if you take a risk management approach to the epidemic, or only if you take a “no risk” approach to the epidemic? This lens changes everything. If you have the risk management approach you focus on overall national health now and in the future, if you take a “no risk” approach you focus only on the spread of infection. If you have a risk management approach you see Sweden and South Dakota as success stories. If you focus on “no risk” you lauded California’s, Texas’, and Florida’s earlier epidemic accounting and despair on its later growth in cases.
On the recent Ricochet podcast “London Calling,” Toby and Delingpole reminded me of Orwell’s statement in 1984 that the ‘Proles’ will save us.
Here is the full quote:
‘If there is hope,’ wrote Winston, ‘it lies in the proles.’
If there was hope, it MUST lie in the proles, because only there in those swarming disregarded masses, 85 per cent of the population of Oceania, could the force to destroy the Party ever be generated. The Party could not be overthrown from within. Its enemies, if it had any enemies, had no way of coming together or even of identifying one another. Even if the legendary Brotherhood existed, as just possibly it might, it was inconceivable that its members could ever assemble in larger numbers than twos and threes. Rebellion meant a look in the eyes, an inflexion of the voice, at the most, an occasional whispered word. But the proles, if only they could somehow become conscious of their own strength. would have no need to conspire. They needed only to rise up and shake themselves like a horse shaking off flies. If they chose they could blow the Party to pieces tomorrow morning.
We must rise up and shake ourselves. It is who we are.
[Links to all my COVID-19 posts can be found here.]Published in