Okay, so always good to step back, try to see the forest, not just the trees.
We had a new virus, it clearly infects a lot of people and causes serious illness and death in a few. We get new infectious agents all the time. The epidemic started in China and due in part to erroneous and incomplete numbers coming out of that country, supposed experts built models that showed huge numbers of deaths and the panic was on. Now it is apparent that in reality, aside from the very old who have underlying health conditions, there is very, very low risk of serious illness or death for the general population. Study after study is demonstrating this.
But we have largely shut down economic activity in response to this non-problem. We are heading toward 30 million unemployed people. Estimates are that economic output will drop by 30% or more. It is unheard of. This hurts everyone. It deprives governments of revenue they need to help those who did need to be protected. And we have shut down social life, depriving children of school and all of us of the interactions that drive much of the satisfaction in life.
None of this was necessary. We could have gone about business with an enhanced awareness of hygienic precautions and made sure we isolated and protected the obviously vulnerable populations. That is what we would have done in the past. But now our political leaders, from the President on down, have backed themselves into a corner and won’t want to admit that they made a mistake, over-estimated the threat and took truly excessive actions to stop the over-estimated threat.
How did we get here? We got here because in the world we live in today social and traditional media look for any little issue that they can endlessly hype and drive out of all proportion to reality and then political leaders feel impelled to react, usually in a thoughtless and panicked manner. And that is exactly what we see here, a stampede, a lemming rush over the cliff.
This is depressing. The shutdowns and the economic damage were so unnecessary and unjustified; it fills me with despair at times. The legacy we are leaving for our children and grandchildren isn’t able to be undone. Retired people are having their savings and income severely impaired. Children are missing necessary school time. Studies have demonstrated that college students who graduate during recessions suffer a life-long diminution of their income and quality of life. People are afraid to get health care. Just one bad thing after another from these orders.
But despair won’t help us do what we can to fix this as soon as possible. So I urge each of you to keep writing and calling legislators and to reach out to the media. Enough pressure can make things change. And please pass this blog on to others to help them see the need to change course immediately.