The case for reopening the country now

10 April 2020

6:57 AM

10 April 2020

6:57 AM

More and more people, I suspect, are padding about muttering lines from Psalm 13: ‘How long, O Lord,…How long must I take counsel in my soul/ and have sorrow in my heart all the day? How long shall my enemy be exalted over me?’

These are good questions. Right now, however, we do not have a reliable answer.

You might think that the reason we don’t have an answer to these questions is because we don’t really know the insidious strength of the enemy, the new coronavirus that, with the help of the Chinese back in December and January, has made its way around the world, sickening hundreds of thousands, from Prime Minister Boris Johnson on down.

I think that is only part of the answer. As becomes clearer by the day, there are two camps responding to this latest Chinese import. On one hand, there are those who have been subjected to what one wit called a 30-day free trial of socialism, replete with mind boggling government spending and hastily constructed regimens of social control. Very few of these guinea pigs will want to renew their subscriptions once the trial period is up.

But will they have a choice? Whatever else can be said of Vladimir Lenin it has to be acknowledged that he had a lively appreciation of the vital difference between the nominative and the accusative cases. The essence of politics, he remarked, can be distilled simply in the formula ‘who-whom?’ The aspiring despot keeps that distinction in the forefront of his mind and endeavors to remain always on the nominative side of the equation. Thus it is that we find a large contingent of people who long to perpetuate the crisis in order to perpetuate the servitude of those whom they now exercise control.

Wash your hands. Wear a mask. Close your business. Stay inside. Shun your friends and neighbors. Report them if they disobey.

These are the mantras of the busybodies and petty tyrant who fill the corridors of power at every level, from the federal government right down to your local police force, mayor’s office, school board, and neighborhood association.

As I write, there are some 16 million people out of work. This happened over the course of a few weeks. Who know how many more jobs will be sacrificed on the altar of ‘flattening the curve’? Who knows how long it will take to repair the economy and the way of life it nourished? Who knows how many lives will be blighted or extinguished altogether by the assault of our self-imposed suffocation?

President Trump began by soft-peddling the danger posed by the coronavirus. This is not to say he downplayed the danger. He didn’t. He simply noted that the seasonal flu killed tens of thousands each year and that the way to deal with this new virus was to take reasonable precautions while also going about the business of everyday life. At the same time, he took concrete steps to protect the country, the most important of which was probably banning air travel from China on January 31. In response to this action action, Congress looked up briefly from its impeachment effort to condemn his decision as an overreaction that was ‘racist’ and ‘xenophobic’.

Sensing a mounting hysteria, and noting the media and the Democrats busy behind the scenes manning the bellows to fan the flames, the president convened a ‘coronavirus task force’ full of experts, medical and otherwise. For about a month now the nation has been subjected to near daily press conferences at which said experts discuss various models and projections of the course the disease might take. The numbers on offer have varied from millions dead in the US alone down to, just yesterday, tens of thousands. When this is all over, there are many people who will echo Tucker Carlson’s question: how did the experts screw up the coronavirus models so badly?

Meanwhile, hospitals across the land, having turned themselves almost overnight into factories bent on dealing almost exclusively with victims of the virus, found their wards empty and their coffers hemorrhaging cash, as nearly all non-emergency procedures were postponed in order to deal with the floods of COVID-19 patients that, in many places, never arrived.

Let me pause to acknowledge that COVID-19 is a dangerous virus, especially for the elderly and infirm. One of my best friends — now recovering, I am happy to say — had a nasty bout. But this observation by a former New York Times writer is to the point:

‘Nobody says COVID-19 is not real, that it can’t tax hospitals or kill people, esp. if they are over 75 or have co-morbidities. But right now the best CURRENT projection is for 61,000 US deaths. That was the 2017 flu season. Why have we shut the country?’

‘Why have we shut the country?’ That question is now being repeated with increasing urgency across America. I should also note that that 61,000 figure is probably too high, since the CDC is now recommending that everyone who dies who can plausibly be thought to have been exposed to the disease be declared a victim of it. Julie Kelly cites a typical case: ‘an 86-year-old female non-ambulatory stroke victim who developed a fever and cough days after being exposed to a sick family member later diagnosed with COVID-19. Even though the decedent wasn’t tested, the coroner nonetheless determined that the woman’s underlying cause of death was COVID-19’.

There are signs that President Trump is tiring of his romance with Drs Fauci and Birx. That would be a good thing. Public health experts are well and good in their place. Their place is not running the country.

The political philosopher James Burnham once observed that civilizations die more often from suicide, not invasion. He was thinking of the rot of progressive politics, which is the politics of fecklessness and surrender. Our response to the coronavirus has been a version of that spiritual inanition. We must reopen the country. We must start today.

See the full story of The case for reopening the country now on Spectator USA.

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