By Jason Pappas
Originally published at the American Thinker
When the state suddenly establishes a totalitarian grip on the economic activity of our fellow citizens, the rationale given should be critically examined with a great deal of skepticism. Liberty forged by the blood, pain, sacred honor, and very lives of our forefathers should not be allowed to slip away during a sudden wave of hysteria. Be wary of those who exploit an emergency and tell us that “this time is different.” We should not submit so easily.
Liberty has survived the scourge of epidemics far worse than today’s. Those of a century ago occurred without antiviral and antibiotic medicine, and when medical technology was comparatively primitive. We did not surrender our liberty then. How bad is today’s alleged plague? The fatality rate could be as high as Italy’s 7.9% but a 1% to 3% range is more commonly given. Keep in mind that the lack of testing undercounts the mild and asymptomatic cases. Germany has a fatality rate of 0.3%, according to the Telegraph, as Germany’s wide-spread testing captures many of their benign cases. Better testing could lower the rate even further, perhaps comparable to the 0.1% rate of the seasonal flu. The infection rate of the coronavirus appears to be 2.2 compared to the 1.3 rate of the seasonal flu, which brings a potentially greater lethality.
Who is at risk from coronavirus? According to an article in Bloomberg, 99% of those who died in Italy had other illnesses; their median age was 80.5 years old. So far the youngest death in the UK is a 41 years old. Europe’s youngest is a 21 year old with leukemia. The CDC reports there are currently no deaths for those under the age 19 years of age in the USA. By and large, this is an illness that kills those with health problems and the elderly on death’s doorstep. Prudence dictates that those at risk self-isolate. Such a limited prescription is not the policy of our self-appointed guardians.
Our political class has completely shut down the functioning of our society and crippled our economy in what can only be called economic bloodletting. This is destroying small businesses established by the hard work, long hours, and life savings of those who worked years to create better lives for themselves and their customers. Young people, who are at negligible risk, are seeing their jobs and careers destroyed; their education is interrupted; and they face a diminished future in a country that will be significantly poorer. We in the older generation are leaving them with $23 trillion in federal debt that is being increased by the trillions with every so-called stimulus package — while we rob them of the means of paying if off.
What are the young being told in the face of these demands for their sacrifice? “Don’t be selfish!” A constant chorus of condescending finger-wagging pundits, politicians, and members of the usual guilt-ridden Hollywood class continue to berate our youth to give up their lives and hopes to protect the vulnerable, particularly the elderly boomers. But who is it that is being “selfish” here? Never in my worst nightmares could I have imagined my generation asking the youth of our nation to make such a sacrifice for our sake. Have we no self-respect to assume the responsibility to take prudent measures to keep ourselves from being exposed to this illness?
What are we getting for this mass self-immolation? Let’s consider Europe, as they took this route first. It is two weeks since Italy has closed its shops and streets. Two weeks is the incubation period, yet the carnage is continuing in Italy. Why would we expect better here? We are told to “flatten the curve,” to replace the scenario where the contagion reaches a sharp peak in a short period, for a scenario with a lower peak of twice the duration. One doesn’t have to use integral calculus to notice the graphs have the same area under the curve. In other words, just as many will become ill. As the governor of New York put it “40% up to 80% of the population will wind up getting this virus. All we’re trying to do is slow the spread, but it will spread.” Will the longer duration, requiring even greater economic destruction, reduce the strain on our healthcare system enough to justify the massive economic carnage and violation of our rights? By what calculation?
If history is any guide, expect our youth to rebel once they realize how their lives are being used as fodder for a futile anti-viral crusade that is allegedly for the collective good. In terms of the future of our young and their right to their lives and liberty, the cost is too great to impose on those we have already saddled with large burdens. We have deprived them of affordable housing; we require a huge educational debt to enter a career; we saddled them with unfunded government mandates and an absurd national debt. Now this!
The dangers of Covid-19 are real. The long-term fatality level could reach a million if we were to fail to take prudent measures, which can be achieved by the self-isolation of our seniors and those who are health impaired. However, the indiscriminate incarceration of everyone is immoral and unsustainable. After the Great Depression and Second World War there was a shared sense of sacrifice that could be summed up in President Kennedy’s words, “Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country.” His successor called for the self-sacrifice of our nation’s youth to fight for freedom and democracy in the least hospitable hellhole on the other side of the earth. It fractured the nation.
The illusion of shared purpose rarely lasts. Lyndon Johnson was elected by a landslide and boasted of a consensus for his policies—a consensus that evaporated before his term was over. George W. Bush, with a bipartisan consensus in a “united we stand” moment, soon found his nations-building efforts falling out of favor first with the Democrats and ultimately across the political spectrum. Calls for unity won’t last long; the sacrifice of our youth is setting the stage for a generational fissure not seen since the 1960s. They may not have adequate intellectual leadership but in their gut, they know they’re getting screwed.