Wednesday, October 7, 2020

Be Afraid. Be Very Afraid

Franklin Roosevelt once intoned: “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.”

The commentariat rose up as one person and cheered lustily. They had never heard anything so inspiring and so brilliant.

Donald Trump recently expressed the same thought: “Don’t be afraid of Covid. Don't let it dominate your life.”

Commentators rose up to express their extreme dismay. They had never heard such an irresponsible statement. The Antichrist was at it again. Trump was trying to kill people. 

By their dim lights, we are living in a horror movie. You know, David Cronenberg’s film, The Fly. To it we owe this inspiring line: “Be afraid. Be very afraid.”

Of course, Trump was trying to throw a little optimism into the mix. He was advising people not to panic, not to lose their minds over a virus that only kills less than 1% of its victims. 

As for the science, the new goddess to which senile old Joe Biden bows down, there is no real consensus. Scientists have different opinions. They offer different solutions. Not all scientists are in favor of lockdowns. Not all of them are even in favor of mask-wearing.

A trio of important epidemiologists has offered this, via the New York Post:

On Oct. 4, 2020, three preeminent experts — Dr. Martin Kulldorff, professor of medicine at Harvard University; Dr. Sunetra Gupta, an epidemiologist at Oxford University; and Dr. Jay Bhattacharya, a physician and epidemiologist at Stanford University — delivered the following declaration, calling for a different approach to dealing with the novel coronavirus than the lockdown model:

As infectious-disease epidemiologists and public-health scientists, we have grave concerns about the damaging physical and mental-health impacts of the prevailing COVID-19 policies and recommend an approach we call Focused Protection.

Coming from both the left and right, and around the world, we have devoted our careers to protecting people. Current lockdown policies are producing devastating effects on short- and long-term public health.

The results (to name a few) include lower childhood-vaccination rates, worsening cardiovascular-disease outcomes, fewer cancer screenings and deteriorating mental health — leading to greater excess mortality in years to come, with the working class and younger members of society carrying the heaviest burden. Keeping students out of school is a grave injustice.

This to say that the scientists are not in agreement. To say that we should trust science when scientists are not of one mind, tells us nothing.

Nothing, that is, except for the simple fact that we are in the midst of a political campaign. And that the mainstream American media will do anything-- including lying and cheating-- to ensure that its favorite candidate will win. By bringing back senile Joe Biden, it will return to the halcyon days of the Obama presidency. Life will not really return to normal, but it will for them. They will no longer feel the need to be consumed by hatred and to slant every news story to make the president look bad. They will slant every news story to make the president look good.

After all, they no longer believe in objective fact. So, it’s all appearances, and they own the marketplace of appearances.

Wholesaling fear has produced precisely the outcome that is most likely to throw the election to Joe Biden. As long as the media and the Democrats can happily blamed Donald Trump for everything that has gone wrong during the pandemic.

Heather Mac Donald explains (via Maggie’s Farm):

The United States has wiped out decades of hard-won prosperity by following the spirit-crushing injunction to “stay safe.” The lockdowns have destroyed the dreams of thousands of entrepreneurs and have put millions out of work, leaving cities like New York moribund ghost towns. The school closures are consigning millions of children worldwide to stunted lives due to delayed, if not now permanently deferred, acquisition of reading, writing, and socialization skills. Children are being inculcated into a culture of fear.

Are we qualified to say that this was done on purpose? We are not. And yet, even if those who have wanted to lock down the country and to shut down businesses everywhere are perfectly sincere, their efforts have produced a result that makes Trump look very, very bad. And this is true even though local authorities, in New York and New Jersey, have been more than happy to destroy the local economies-- the better to make Trump look bad. Dare we mention that these two states lead the nation in the percentage of coronavirus deaths-- for which neither governor will ever take responsibility.

So, we have Trump vs. Biden-- the president who is out among the people and who is conducting rallies and even public ceremonies. And then we have the candidate who is hiding in his basement-- surely a way not to be infected-- an important consideration given his age and brain defects-- but who is setting a bad example for the country.

Mac Donald writes:

Though Trump has not been entirely consistent in his position on lockdowns and social distancing, he has emphasized the need to reopen the economy and get people working again. Biden, on the other hand, has never stopped arguing that getting the virus under control through moratoria on ordinary human activity is the precondition to reopening the economy (even as he blames Trump for the unemployment caused by lockdowns). The fate of these two individuals tells us nothing about the overall wisdom of their respective positions, which must be evaluated in terms of larger populations and tradeoffs. Making policy based on Trump’s recent infection would, ironically, replicate his own oft-decried narcissism. And if Trump’s infection is determinative, why shouldn’t the death of someone who failed to get treatment for late-stage cancer during the medical shutdowns be determinative as well? The validity of any given policy choice that affects thousands must be judged based on averages, not individual cases.

Life, she continues, is about trade-offs and risks. We know that we can drastically reduce the number of automobile accidents if we reduce the speed limit to 15 mph. We do not do so because no one will likely respect such a slow speed limit and because the cost in efficiency and wasted time would not be worth it.

As for the coronavirus, the death toll is less than 1%, so how much damage are you willing to do to everyone’s life to reduce the number?

It is not even clear that a more work-friendly policy would lead to more deaths. While the profile of the typical coronavirus decedent has been known for months—median age 80, suffering from co-morbidities that likely would have killed the person anyway—the exact path of transmission remains mysterious. There is no correlation globally between degree of lockdowns and coronavirus death rates. Countries such as Britain that imposed strict lockdowns have massively higher death rates than many countries, such as Japan, that mandated no lockdowns. Deaths and hospitalizations are going down in localities that were more commerce-friendly. There is still no uncontroverted evidence on mask-wearing. Thousands upon thousands of people who have assiduously worn masks have gotten the virus; thousands upon thousands who have not worn masks have not gotten it. Countries with extensive mask-wearing show no better results than several where people breathe free outdoors. What we do know is that transmission occurs overwhelmingly in poorly ventilated indoor spaces, between individuals who have been in close contact for a considerable period of time—15 minutes, in the CDC’s contact-tracing guidelines. The viral load in circulating outdoor air is too low to pose a risk to people passing one another in ordinary street interactions.

The Trump-Biden division represents the division in our political ethos. Readers of this blog have read of it before. America’s political parties have divided into the Boy Party and the Girl Party.

Mac Donald presents the division well:

Under today’s safetyism mentality, sacrifice and risk-taking become unthinkable. The martial virtues of courage and stoicism have been sidelined and pathologized. When Trump briefly left Walter Reed on Sunday in a motorcade to greet supporters, a doctor at the hospital complained that the Secret Service agents in Trump’s limousine “might get sick. They may die.” These are the same Secret Service agents who are expected to take a bullet for a president. They were behind a plexiglass barrier in the car; all occupants were masked. Under our feminized ethos, showing resoluteness during a crisis, reassuring the public about one’s well-being, are no longer positive traits in a leader; they are violations of maximal risk aversion. (Of course, medical information about a president’s condition should be transparent.)

In truth, the virus works well for the party that rejects all risk. It works well for the party that promises, like your mother, to care for you, to provide for you, to do everything for you. It works well for the party that wants the values of the home-- like the empathy that is so useful when dealing with babies-- to prevail in the marketplace. The Democratic Party now defines Americans as weak and vulnerable, needing to be afraid, but ready to be coddled and swaddled.

The virus does not work so well for the party that values competition in the open market. It does not work so well for the party that requires courage and fortitude, that wants us to get out of our Zoom wombs and into the world.

Mac Donald concludes:

Trump is now modelling masculine leadership at its best: upbeat, rational, and unbowed.

The problem is: it hasn’t been working. It’s possible to be a little too macho for your own good.


Sam L. said...

The worst disease in the U.S. now is the Trump-Hate disease. It's insidious, and a killer of intelligence.

Anonymous said...

No one would come to rallies for Biden or Harris. Trump has enthusiastic crowds chanting "We love you!" at his rallies. I've never heard such a thing in my life! There are car parades in California! There is a weekly Trump rally in *Beverly Hills,* a Democratic stronghold. His approval went way up with Hispanics after the debate with Biden. Don't be too sure masculine leadership isn't working.

David Foster said...

Surely, *anyone* who has held a significant executive position has had the experience of having his own experts give him different (and passionately-believed) recommendations. So why doesn't Biden...?

Oh, that's right...Biden has never held a significant executive position.

Ignatius Acton Chesterton OCD said...

This whole safety charade is one gigantic lie.

Someone needs to cross-examine these “experts.”