Wednesday, June 10, 2020

Odd Reasoning

There has been a lot of commentary - more on Twitter and on comment threads than in full articles - angry at the hypocrisy of governments and supposedly responsible organisations which applauded protests even though they were breaking the CoVid rules they had insisted people follow only days earlier.  That's fair. I will give something of a pass to groups that are merely cowardly, not wanting to put their businesses and livelihoods in jeopardy over their lack of C19 advice when that's not part of their mission.  Those folks are mostly just saying "Don't hurt me," like the greengrocer in Vaclav Havel's "The Power of the Powerless." Sad, I suppose, that Americans have to begin to act as they did in Czechoslovakia (remember Czechoslovakia?), but there it is.

Others really are displaying that the protests seem a more efficient way to acquire power and/or punish enemies than the virus and are cynically striking one flag and raising another.  All this you know, and you can read about it from better writers than I many places these days.  It is already an unoriginal thought.  What has gone less-noticed is the response of those who already thought the response to the virus was excessive.  They had already fully moved to the position that it has been the government, not the virus that destroyed forty million jobs, because that fits their narrative of government and their political opponents wanting nothing more than control over them. That government is more likely stupid, run by risk-averse busybodies, as libertarians have been insisting for decades, is less inspiring somehow.  Like the protestors, they want to be heroes in their own minds, bravely resisting The Man.

Yet this has gone even one step further. I keep seeing comments that seem to regard the hypocrisy as proof that C19 was never dangerous to begin with. This may be related to my flyover country post. They didn't know anyone nearby who died of it, so therefore no one did. It was all a hoax from the start.  I have seen the word hoax, repeatedly, yes, and not confined to the one extreme prediction of deaths before we had instituted any protective measures, but to the current situation. It was not merely a badly wrong decision in their eyes.  It has to be worse than that.

Let's review.  I suspect, as a non-expert, that whether the virus recurs every year is no longer in our control if it ever was.  If it becomes a yearly event we will just have to live with adjust to it, as we have adjusted to bad events all of human existence.  A second yearly illness, worse or not worse than the yearly flu, will simply be our lot, and our adjustments will be at the edges, of another vaccine if we are lucky, fewer shopping trips and social events if we are older or compromised, and less contact with older people if we are young, more frequent masks and hand-washing, less touching, hugging, handshaking - that's about it. That may not sound so bad compared to the intense avoidance of each other's contagion we are now engaged in, but please note these are real changes, and they will have a real economic impact on many livelihoods until we develop workarounds or substitutes.  There's a lot of culture and habit tied up in those things, too. Ask the grandmothers who can't see and hug their grandchildren.  It ain't nothing.

And this will be on top of what is already a sunk cost of death and disability. By September 1st we will have 150,000 deaths, if we are lucky. The number of people severely disabled or chronically compromised is unknown, but already noticed by professionals (though routinely ignored even by the people who warn us to remain cautious). I guess we'll notice when we start getting the bill for those disability checks. That is more than the Hong Kong flu over three years, about 2.5x the worst flu year in the last twenty (61,000), and more than six times the average flu year of 24,000. That's without a resurgence or reemergence, and after severe protective measures.


Harold Boxty said...

I see no reason to trust their 150,000 COVID-19 deaths number.

Assistant Village Idiot said...

It's not "theirs," it's mine. We are at 115,000 now, so 35,000 to go. The numbers are slowly going down, but we're still at 800 deaths a day, even without a resurgence. 80 days from now, 35,000 deaths...easy. My estimate is conservative and it will likely be more. It's showing as a long tail already, not the down side of a bell curve.