To the editor:
When you are waist-deep in alligators, it may be hard to remember that your long-term objective is to drain the swamp. While we are waist-deep in measures against the coronavirus, it seems to be equally difficult for us to remember that there is going to be a post-virus future whose nature will very much depend on our ability to observe calmly, think clearly, and choose wisely. Let us control our panic, overcome our hysteria, and get a grip.
The suggested 100,000 death toll may be on the high side. If the coronavirus cases have been under-counted (because the symptoms were mild or non-existent), then both the fatality rate and the number of fatalities going forward have been over-estimated. For more on this, see the essay by two professors of Medicine from Stanford in the March 24 issue of the Wall Street Journal.
Suppose, however, that the 100,000 proves to be spot on.
According to the Center for Disease Control, resident deaths from all causes in the United States in 2018 were a bit over 2.8 million. (See https://www.cdc. gov/nchs/products/databriefs/db355.htm) One assumes that, absent the coronavirus, they would be about the same this year. If so, the 100,000 estimated coronavirus fatalities would amount to a less than 4% increase in our expected mortality rate for 2020, probably partially offset by decreases in mortality rates in the following years.
Although this would be unpleasant and perhaps even “staggering,” to use your word, not even a much higher number would be such a catastrophe that we are morally obliged to make a permanent surrender of our inherited liberties, our way of life, or even our livelihoods in a desperate and perhaps futile effort to prevent it.
Your suggestion that “the medical...should be our only worry,” seemingly to the complete exclusion of any and every other concern, is precisely wrong. Benjamin Franklin was wiser when he said, “Those who would give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety.”
Even as we proclaim “we can do it,” let us notice the obvious: many states and localities have suspended the Bill of Rights. They have shut down churches, thrown workers out of their jobs, closed down businesses, abolished freedom of assembly, and placed their citizens under virtual house arrest. Some of this, while painful, may actually be beneficial and justifiable, if it lasts no longer than absolutely necessary. Unfortunately, our “progressive” leaders, including our own governor, are probably not going to want to give up the powers that they have grabbed for themselves.
As the restrictions and impositions multiply with no end in sight, they look like the beginnings of a police state. And, even if we dodge the bullet for a while, we may not be so fortunate if the current crisis lingers or if another emergency (real or manufactured) comes along, especially if we have Biden or Sanders or some other Democrat in the White House. After all, in the words of James Clyburn, Democratic House whip and one of Nancy Pelosi’s senior stooges, “This is a tremendous opportunity to restructure things to fit our vision.”
In the meantime, our foreign rivals, including both Russia and China, must have observed that the prospect of civilian deaths in the U.S. drives us to adopt the kind of attitude once captured by that disgraceful slogan, “Better Red than dead.”
At home, Congress has been racking up unpayable debts with “stimulus” bills which, as always, will disproportionately benefit politically favored constituencies. The leftist media, having failed to impress us with their previous installments of fake news, have now found the right buttons to push to get us to grovel to our political masters and then to congratulate ourselves on the depth of our submission.
You wrote, “We’ll emerge in some kind of new world. But we’ll emerge with something that we must hold on to and never let go: hope.”
On my part, I hope and pray that the new world will be a restoration of an older and largely better America that we have lost during the last three generations. I also hope and pray that we can still find within ourselves the wisdom and strength to restore and retain the rights and freedoms that we have allowed to be taken from us during the current crisis.
Waclaw K. Bakierowski