The New York Times Lies and so Does the Dictator

By August 15, 2020 Commentary

The New York Times, supposedly the pre-eminent newspaper in the country, has totally given itself over to agenda-driven, partisan reporting, with no intention of dealing with facts or truth.  Today’s headline is a perfect example.  The lead article notes that there appear to be an excess of 200,000 deaths so far this year over what we might expect, but there are only around 150,000 reported coronavirus deaths.  (NY Times Article)  So, of course, the Times assumes that all the excess deaths must be due to coronavirus, and not one is attributed to the government responses–the lockdowns.   This is a pathetic attempt to make the epidemic seem even worse than it is.  Let us think about this for a moment.  To understand changes in death rates following a major event like an epidemic, you need to look at any changes in aggregate deaths by cause of death.  Some causes, like ones due to car accidents, may be down.  Others, like those due to the infectious agent itself, may be up.  There is a direct effect of coronavirus and there is the direct effect of actions taken to minimize the number of infections, which may increase or decrease deaths due to particular causes.

There are undoubtedly a large number of people in the US who have died from coronavius, but, we have in an unprecedented way attempted to identify the presence of the virus in any person who is ill and then attribute the death of that person to coronavirus and we have assumed that for some people if they had symptoms that might have been coronavirus and died, it was due to coronavirus.  If we did that for influenza, for example, the number of deaths attributed to influenza would be far higher than it currently is.  So we are casting a far wider net than is typical and we clearly are counting as coronavirus deaths, ones in which coronavirus played no role.  The most glaring example is that, according to the CDC, there are over 4000 deaths listed in the coronavirus count that are accidental in nature–poisonings, car accidents, etc.  That is just silly.

In addition, some governmental actions, talking to you Governors Cuomo, Murphy, Walz, etc., very likely directly increased coronavirus deaths–sending known coronavirus patients to nursing homes for care being the most prominent example.  So how should we count those deaths?  And other governmental actions, the lockdowns, the terrorization of the population, the closing of health care facilities to non-CV care, also had an impact on deaths.  There is now report after report of increased cancer, heart disease, overdose and other deaths due solely to people not being able to or being afraid to get care they needed.  Those deaths are directly the fault of the politicians who ordered those lockdowns and terrorized the population.  Those are coronavirus mitigation deaths.

It appears to me that the actual death toll from coronavirus illness, the cases in which it actually contributed to death, are probably in the range of 100,000 to 125,000 for the country.  At least 10,000 of those were probably caused by the stupidity of sending infectious patients to nursing homes.  I believe there are already likely to be at least 50,000 deaths that are due to the coronavirus mitigation efforts, and that death toll will mount for years as the consequences of missed care pile up.  This is consistent with new estimates out of England, which has begun to address issues around its count of deaths, showing that already the lockdowns have caused around two-thirds the number of deaths that coronavirus directly caused.  (UK Article)  So when I say that the lockdowns and fear-mongering will cause more deaths than the virus itself, that is not a rhetorical device or exaggeration; it is literally going to be true, particularly in developing countries.

Meanwhile, back in my home state of Minnesota, the daily briefing was cancelled, probably because there simply isn’t much to talk about but also so the Dictator could give a press conference largely focused on personnel changes.  He was asked a question about giving up his emergency powers and he again basically refused, saying his decisions and actions are just so necessary for us to respond appropriately and saying that the legislature had no alternative plan.  That is not true, legislative leaders have suggested several other and better approaches to the epidemic.  And the Dictator himself has no plan, nothing that has been articulated in any way that would help us understand what are the objectives and why do we still need his unilateral constraints on business, social, educational and other activities.  And of course we need at least one overt lie from him during any press conference and this time is was that Minnesota is and has been more open for business than Texas.  That is simply not true.  I would suggest that the Dictator have another look at the relevant statistics.  Despite having more dense population centers and a more at-risk population than Minnesota, Texas has a similar per capita death rate.  What it doesn’t have that is similar is an unemployment rate.  Minnesota’s is far worse and the decline in economic activity in Minnesota is much greater.  So he may want to be careful with the comparisons to Texas.

And on reflection, after listening to the Dictator for the first time in a while, I have decided that the title of Dictator is no longer sufficient or precisely descriptive.  Henceforth, throughout the land, the Dictator shall be referred to as the Incompetent Blowhard, due to his legacy of bad decisions in regard to a number of issues, and because he has an unprecedented ability to deliver a blizzard of vacuous words.

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