Determining the Lesser of Two Evils in the Coronavirus Pandemic.
The Here and Now...
Missouri just had its first death from Coronavirus on Wednesday March 18. Someone who had "traveled" although we do not know where they traveled just yet. Or how old they were. Or even if it was a man or a woman. These are crucial bits of information.
My wife works for the local school district. Our son attends the same school. Spring break has been extended from its normal March 13 through 23, until April 3. She is no longer with an income in her job as a substitute teacher.
Our middle son is a teacher in Kansas. His school is out for the rest of school year, preferring to administer online classes for the students.
I work for Silver Dollar City. We aren't opening until March 28 now. I am not working either until that date. I do get paid until that date, but after that...who knows?
Our youngest daughter works for Texas Roadhouse. She took a vacation and learned the day after she left that her place of employment is shut down for the foreseeable future. She has no more income.
Our eldest daughter and her husband are without employment until the end of the month as well because their employers are shut down; she works for a local university, he for a major retailer at a mall. Again, their income is in jeopardy.
Our eldest son has his job intact, but it has been affected as well. He was to fly overseas for a business endeavor of particular interest to his company. Due to the no fly restrictions, it has been postponed indefinitely.
Of our family of five children and ourselves, six of us are not working or attending school. I have to think this is the new normal our Government wants us to endure for the sake of minimizing the risks associated with COVID-19.
The CDC and our Government are "suggesting" doing this in order to "flatten the curve" of the virus, sacrificing the here and now for the long term prognosis. The Government is promising money to wage earners, some kind of a paycheck. We do not know the amount, nor the frequency of these monies: are they substantial? Are they ongoing? Are they coming soon, like this Friday? Or are they next month? I've read April 6th, my wife heard the end of April. No one knows anything for certain, except those who say,
"Stay inside, practice social distancing and we'll all be okay."
But what does "Okay" really mean?
Every member of my family has been hit with some aspect of this virus, and none of us are ill. Almost all of us are losing our income, and nothing immediate is coming to assist. For our family still at home, this could not have some at a worse time. We sacrificed so much of our savings in moving to buy a house, tweak it and bring my father-in-law to live with us so he could be cared for around the clock until he passed away. In moving to Nevada and buying the house there, then moving back to Branson and trying to resume our jobs here we are faced with the reality of trying to maintain both households until the Nevada house sells. Can we do it? Not for very long. We are not broke, but if we have to "hunker down" very long, we will be. We all have bills, we all have to eat, we all have to live somewhere. Will we be allowed to go back to work in a week or two? Or will we be told to "hunker down a little longer"? Will we be assisted in money to help tide us over? Will we be provided an opportunity for not paying our bills in order to purchase food and necessities in order to live without being penalized in one way or another? We literally do not know anything. And that is the worst of all.
The uncertainty of the situation might be the worst aspect of the virus currently blazing its way around the world as we speak. "Hunker down and make it through," we are told. How? How do we survive the economics of the virus, let alone the virus itself? The man who died in Boone County on Wednesday was diagnosed Tuesday, and 911 was called to his home on Wednesday morning and then he died. Damn, that didn't take too long. If he was that ill yesterday, why wasn't he taken to the hospital at the time of the positive test? He might be alive now if he had.
Are we doing the right thing, the best thing by "flattening the curve" and hiding? Are we going to be able to survive as a nation, will any nation doing this survive? Economically, I do not see how. By shutting down everything that is considered "nonessential" are we cutting our throats? Can the Government support everyone who needs assistance, every business who need assistance, every industry who needs assistance? The answer is a harsh "No". Not without mortgaging our future and running the National Dept to previously unprecedented highs, possibly doubling, tripling or even more that debt by the time this is over. The Stock Market could drop to levels not seen in three decades. Along with people's 401k, life savings and futures. These could be decimated, and for what?
So hospitals won't be overwhelmed all at one time, thus giving them the opportunity to care for a large amount of people over time (say, six months or so?) rather than having to turn people away because they are not ready, do not have sufficient means to care for the public when they are needed most.
To me, that is what this boils down to: sacrifice the many for the sake of the few.
So what am I saying?
I guess what I am saying is, maybe this isn't the best thing to do. Maybe this isn't the proper course to run at present. It might be the best way to minimize illness and deaths, but we could be committing economic suicide. Consider what this might mean to America.
No jobs, no income for months. Not since the Great Depression have we had the numbers of unemployed that will be without jobs or income that we could seeing should things stretch out until August, September, or even longer. In that time, small business owners will go under, people would be behind on their house payments to the point of possible foreclosure at the minimum, and bankruptcy a very real possibility. Credit cards defaulted on, credit ratings falling to points where getting another house disappears. Rental homes and even getting a job will be diminished to the point of being crushed emotionally and financially because credit ratings are now a part of this process.
Will we destroy the country by trying to save people in this country? That might be the very question we need to answer, and we might need to answer it sooner rather than very much later.
Unemployment rates at key times during the past century
Recession of '82
Termed "Goldilocks Economy"
3.5% Lowest in 50 years
April 9, 2020
COVID-19 Depression 1st 3 weeks
At this point, I am about to become very unpopular.
I might be called a heartless bastard, insensitive, uncaring, stupid, crazy, any number of adjectives that call into question my thought process. But hear me out: I have been successful in my working career by looking at things from the other side of the problem, and that is what I am doing here. Trying to look at the problem and determine if we as a country are going about this virus in a manner counterproductive to the nation at large in order to save the relative small number of people who will be adversely affected by it. Here is my idea.
Go about our lives as if nothing more is wrong than the flu, a cold or any other illness. If we get sick, so be it. Stay home, try to get better, go to the hospital whatever. But for those able to do so, even those who are asymptomatic, life goes on as close to normal as possible. Yes, the virus will spread everywhere. Yes, people will get sick. Yes people will die. But not everybody, and the nation will continue. Businesses will continue. The economy will continue. The Greater Good will have been served, the Greater Good being the country goes on as close to normal as possible. We will not see mass bankruptcy, mass defaulting of loans, mass riots for food and supplies, mass fear which will cripple our country.
And here is the most heartless part of all: if the elderly, infirmed and such are the group most effected, I am sorry.
It all boils down to what will serve the greater good the best: crippling the economy for everyone the world over, crushing the retirement of those who are invested in the stock market, halting work in order to try and stop the wave of illness, with no guarantee of success? Paying for businesses and people out of work to the tune of trillions of dollars? Creating another group of social and governmental dependents? Running up the National Debt even more? The virus will end at some point, with our help or without it. Every plague, epidemic, pandemic has before. It is the cost that the modern human has to look at, and determine if it is too high or not. What might come out of this work stoppage across the country could be a cost that is simply too high to pay.
So does that mean the cost of losing the elderly, the ill, the infirmed is less? Not necessarily less, but more in line with what will make our nation stronger, or at least less affected. Unfortunately, those who might be affected the most are those who have either lived a full and long life already, and are in the last few years of their lives, or are facing a future filled with pain and suffering in the near future. It might not be one that is staring them in the face in the next few months, but it is a reality soon to come.
Take me, for instance. I am over 60 years old, overweight, and have high blood pressure. Additionally, while I am not a smoker I was married to a smoker for close to 20 years, enjoyed bowling which put me in a smoking environment for more than 20 years, and as a result I more than likely have lung damage of some kind. It might not be something that is showing itself in the here and now but it could at some point. I very well might be a candidate for falling ill and suffering the ultimate cost of this virus.
Is the mortality rate lower than previously feared?
- Wuhan Coronavirus Death Rate Far Lower than Thought, with 1.4 Percent Mortality from COVID-19
News comes as the city announces no new cases for the first time in over two months.
The good of the many must outweigh the good of the few
As Spock famously said in Star Trek "The Wrath of Khan", "The good of the many outweigh the good of the few. Or the one." In this case, if the mortality rate is around 1.4%, then if 100 million people worldwide do become infected, which is perhaps a fair assessment in my eyes, then the number who might die would be 1.1 million. A large and terrifying number to be sure. Others believe this number infected could be even higher, maybe approaching half the world's population. That is a scary large number, people.
Other people believe this might be the new normal, that we could be permanently affected by the coronavirus from now on, seasonally. Again, a terrifying possibility for us to consider.
But a 20% unemployment rate, a very real possibility by none other than our Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin would mean 32 million out of work for a period of time we cannot predict. Finances would be destroyed for many, fortunes lost. Businesses gone, maybe never to return. Think about who will be affected by this: all the stores, businesses, restaurants, travel companies, vacation locales the world over; basically everybody across the globe. During the Great Depression we experienced unemployment rates of in excess of 10% for over a decade, and we didn't fall below 10% until the World went to war in 1941.
Are we ready for that? Our grandparents and great-grandparents were different from us. They had not lived in a land of plenty, of having such a comparatively easy life as we have had for the past few decades. Basically, I am saying our nation is not prepared to live through tough times as might be coming, that we have morphed into a population of less than tough people who expect life to be a certain way and if it is not, we panic.
While it is hard to say "What happens, happens" and write a fair percentage of our world population off, we might be better off for it. Our health and welfare might be better, our economy will definitely be better, our financial future will be better.
This might be a case where the good of the many must outweigh the good (health) of the few. Out future depends on us making the best choice, the choice that leads us not into another Great Depression, but to basic survival of the fittest.
Harsh, I know, but the alternative is even worse to consider.
Half the globe will be infected?
The new coronavirus will infect half of the global population and have a fatality rate of up to 3%, analysts said Wednesday.
I am not alone in this thinking
- Some Ask a Taboo Question: Is America Overreacting to Coronavirus?
As an America desperate to stem the coronavirus outbreak put in place sweeping restrictions last week on every facet of public life, the University of Wyoming economist Linda Thunstrom asked what felt like a taboo question: “Are we overreacting?’’
So, what are your thoughts?
Do we "sacrifice" some in order to maintain the majority? Do we sacrifice our future to save the now?
We need to decide, soon, and together. Our lives depend upon it.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
© 2020 Mr Archer