I’m 64 and have a congenital blood disorder. It causes pulmonary emboli – blood clots, especially in my lungs. Twice, it almost killed me. I have what the docs call “an underlying respiratory condition.”
Since I was diagnosed and began treatment with daily blood thinners years ago, this condition is manageable (so long as I avoid skiing into a tree which would likely cause me to bleed to death). In fact, I’ll probably live another 20 years. I’m not asking for sympathy, and I don’t need it.
Save your sympathy for our country and our world, especially for younger people like my daughters.
You know the story. The consumption of raw bats in China transmitted a bat virus to humans. The Chinese initially tried to conceal the severity of the outbreak, thereby allowing it to spread. Later they manufactured a story that it was planted by the American military.
Now the virus has spread around the world. It’s similar to other viruses of its type, but unpredictable in its virulence and lethality. A pandemic has been declared. That means the virus is worldwide and difficult to contain or treat. Bans on foreign travel into the United States initially lessened the impact here, but now we’re catching up.
So far, the virus has killed about 20,000 people including about 1,000 Americans. There are signs that the growth curve may be inflecting, or maybe not. The final worldwide death toll could be in the millions, but will probably be in the hundreds of thousands.
Older people with underlying respiratory issues – people like me – are especially susceptible. Roughly speaking, I might have about a 20% chance of dying if I contract the virus. A highly disproportionate number of the victims will be people like me.
Younger people typically (not always) develop only minor symptoms or none at all. Their death rate is apparently on the order of 1%.
To fight the virus, much of the world has shut down “non-essential” businesses. Here in Aspen, of course, that leaves open the liquor stores and pot shops. Until the governor ordered them to close, Aspen Skiing Company also continued to operate their ski mountains which they characterized as “a vital public service.”
This shutdown of the worldwide economy was noticed by the stock market. It went down about a third in the biggest monthly decline in history. It’s hard for businesses to make money when they’re closed.
Politicians moved to inject money into the economy. After fighting over the usual stuff, like whether the virus necessitated more money for taxpayer-funded abortions and same-day voting registration, they finally succeeded in passing legislation that borrows a few (more) trillion dollars from our children to spend now.
Fine, calamitous times call for draconian action.
But for how long? The economy cannot stay shut down forever. Everyone outside the Bernie Sanders campaign knows that we cannot just print money to buy groceries, cars, TV’s and computers forever.
Generating wealth requires work. The kind you can’t do from home.
Do we keep the economy shut down for a year? That would produce an economic apocalypse that would dwarf the Great Depression. How about a half year? That would require years or perhaps decades to recover from.
How about two months? Even that would produce tremendous hardship and dislocation on millions of people who are trying to manage their retirements, go to college or pay their mortgages.
Grandiloquent politicians say we should keep the economy shut down interminably if that saves “even one life.”
That’s demagoguery. Here in the real world apart from political posturing, we look at costs versus benefits. In the time that the virus has taken 1,000 American lives, we’ve lost over twice as many to traffic deaths and several times as many to the flu.
Nobody says we should stop driving in order to save a single American life on the highways. Nobody even says we should stop driving in order to save the 30,000 lives per year that we lose on the highways.
So stop the demagoguery. Or at least stop it on my account. I’ll be extra-careful.
My generation had it easy compared to our parents and grandparents. After a lifetime of comfort, it’s not too much to ask me and my old friends to avoid crowds. To wash our hands frequently. To use hand sanitizer.
If against all odds, I still get the virus, I’ll deal with it. If against even greater odds, I die from it, I’ll deal with that too.
The one thing I cannot deal with is destroying the country I love, the world I cherish and the opportunity for the next generation to similarly love and cherish.
So re-open our country soon. Re-open your lives. Re-open the world. A hunkered down life is no life at all.