Hammering and Dancing Our Way to Normalcy

Freedom by its very nature brings risk but also great reward. Indeed in 1787 Thomas Jefferson said he preferred “dangerous freedom over peaceful slavery.”

A.J. Kaufman

Observers of contemporary society will note that coronavirus opinions have become ideological. What’s common sense and necessary to someone is dangerous and foolhardy to another.

While I avoid fearmongering and hyperbole, I am disappointed that some Americans appear untroubled by more control from, as Ronald Reagan said, a little intellectual elite in a far-distant capital.

Many Democrats readily admit they enjoy using state power to enforce laws to combat crises, real or imagined. And if you read execrable pro-China disinformation efforts at The Atlantic and Politico lately, they’re keen on lauding totalitarians and curtailing free assembly. If you’re not on board with central commands and perpetual panic, you are “anti science,” one of the most fatuous clichés imaginable. In California, Gavin Newsom and Nancy Pelosi are particularly fond of the conversation-stopping term lately.

Even with a Republican president, Leftism remains the dominant force in America, due to an unrelenting crusade by media, academics and the broader culture. Being a progressive has long been the easiest route to take for callow folks.

As a journalist who prefers logic, I agree with Jonah Goldberg recently musing that, “Any model is only as good as the data fed into it. With imperfect information — partly thanks to outrageous dishonesty from the Chinese government and grave missteps of the World Health Organization — it was inevitable that the models would never be more than best guesses.”

Sinophiles like Bill Gates or Google executives may blanch at this — they still trust corrupt governments over their neighbors — but the aforementioned is hardly debatable.

COVID-19 remains a hot spot crisis more than nationwide. I reside in the county currently with the highest average daily rate of cases in America. But I also realize we’ve ruined lives and economies from Wyoming to Mississippi, mainly because New York City couldn’t shut down their filthy subways 10 weeks ago. As of this writing, half our states still have fewer than 7,000 coronavirus cases and roughly three-fourths thankfully count fewer than 1,000 deaths.

A Joy Behar or Stephen Colbert probably don’t realize many states never had stay-at-home orders or that most have lifted some; or that in addition to ongoing protests at state capitols, fed-up small businessmen are suing paternalistic governors over executive orders limiting which sectors of the economy can operate.

A return to normalcy depends upon easing restrictions where the coronavirus is not as prevalent and trusting people, not bureaucrats, to make the right decisions.

Experts agree we “flattened the curve” sooner than they imagined. While restrictions kept health care facilities from ostensibly being overwhelmed, those cannot completely “crush” the curve and prevent people from getting sick. As we sheltered in place and followed guidelines successfully, negative side effects proliferated. Hospitals lost billions and cut staff. Patients missed critical health care to make room for potential coronavirus patients, even as ventilators went unused and ICU beds remain empty.

A “Hammer and Dance” approach that combines aggressive action followed by a period of vigilance is necessary. We used the Hammer for two months. These measures gave our medical system time to ramp up, scientists time to research, and allowed testing capability to get up to speed. The lockdown kept matters from getting out of control; we remained patient and sacrificed our economy to protect our most vulnerable citizens.

America cannot continue this way in perpetuity. We cannot test 330 million people nor move the goalposts every fortnight. Now we “dance” and keep the lethal virus contained until there’s a vaccine or therapeutic.

A reflexive response, often from our kombucha-sipping media and those with large incomes or pensions, is to condemn anyone supporting a gradual re-opening as “wanting to kill people.”

Such intellectually lazy folks seemingly believe we should shut down the world until we have zero cases. Do they care about the deleterious effects on the food supply chain, which disproportionately hurt the third world? The “if it saves one life” mentality is a nice idea but is naive and not legitimate policy. The Wuhan virus isn’t going away.

This type of person also boasts about listening to NPR and swallows it holus-bolus. They don’t mind a lack of social gatherings or society collapsing. They are keen to authoritarian control and don’t want that to slip away. They’re the self-righteous busybodies who read Paul Krugman, live in rent control apartments and make “citizen arrests” in parks. They flourish in this atmosphere because the virus gives these misanthropes moral justification.

Freedom by its very nature brings risk but also great reward. Indeed in 1787 Thomas Jefferson said he preferred “dangerous freedom over peaceful slavery.”

We need to limit the enormous harm coming from isolation, since isolation prevents broad population immunity and prolongs assorted problems. Recovery will come from behavioral changes, not government edicts. When this tragic story concludes, hopefully human behavior triumphs over a remorseless enemy.