The Coronavirus crisis has proven to be a generational event that has gripped the world. Drastic measures are being taken by governments, markets are roiled, and our individual lives have been significantly impacted.

We are still in the early stages, with well-informed experts disagreeing on how this matter will unfold. The certitude of major disruption, however, is not in doubt.

Despite all this, we bear witness to politicians and partisans doing what they can’t help but do. Bernie Sanders tells us that, if we had socialized medicine, things would be better. Biden starts by criticizing Trump, then tells us not to politicize the matter. Pelosi and the rest of the House larded up the emergency legislation with irrelevant crap they figured would sneak by a panicked electorate. And, social media partisans have already decided that Trump is either doing great and will lead us out of this or has totally bungled the matter.

There certainly are things to criticize, in Trump’s response, in other politicians’ actions, in the behaviors of our institutions and those who head them up, and across all levels of government. But, and this needs to be stressed:

There is no reality in which this crisis vanishes because leadership acts perfectly. Leaders and those they’ve appointed to run public agencies could get everything right, and there will still be many more deaths.

Life is a perpetual struggle against Mother Nature, who wants to kill you. It is in her quest to kill you that evolution happens. Fortunately, we have evolved into a technological society, that has succeeded in countervailing Mother Nature’s murderous ways to an enormous extent. Still, we have to deal with diseases, both common and rare, floods, hurricanes, heat, cold, tornadoes, and, in this case, a new virus strain. We deal with it as best we can, individually, as communities, as societies, as nations, and as a planet. And, even when we get it right to the second and third decimal places, people still die.

The perpetual debate lies in how we deal with it, and within that debate are those who will leverage emotion to advance agendas, even in the face of contrary evidence. And, sure as water is wet, I already witness the proclamations that socialized medicine would have saved us from this crisis, that big, authoritarian governments are better able to respond to such events, and that America is going to be unique in ****ing it all up, because we aren’t civilized enough to grant government ultimate authority over our health care.

Meanwhile, socialized-medicine China bollixed up her initial response, used her authoritarian power to jail the whistle-blower doctor and press him to recant publicly, and delayed telling the rest of the world until the figurative cat got out of the bag. Socialized-medicine UK and Italy are overwhelmed with cases, with Italy facing the terrible prospect of having to triage the infected according to age and survival probability.

Here in the US, we can point a finger of blame at government bureaucracy and red tape, at the Federal and state levels, for some of the problems that may arise.

On the other hand, Taiwan has used Big Data and a system laid out after the 2003 SARS outbreak to control propagation, with good success. Whether their plans and actions could be emulated here in the future is a matter that warrants deep, rational investigation, after the crisis has passed.

Epidemics are complex matters. They unfold rapidly, they put us in a position of having to act quickly with imperfect and sometimes incorrect information, and no matter what is done, or how sage and perfect the response, people die. Our lizard-brain instincts make things worse, as is evinced by the lemming-like rush to buy mass quantities of toilet paper (a – Coronavirus does not produce gastric distress, b – take a moment to ponder how many rolls of TP you’ll need to get through the next month or two). This matter also serves to highlight those among us who are prone to hypochondria and infection-hysterics. Just watch your social media feed and you’ll see what I mean.

There are rational behaviors we should all engage in. Wash your hands, a lot. Concentrate on not touching your face when out in public. Reduce social physical contact as much as possible. Stay out of places with large groups in close proximity. If you’re sick, stay home. And, above all, maintain separation from the elderly and those with compromised immune systems, who are the most prone to suffer and die from this virus. But, don’t internet-scream at someone who goes out to buy groceries, or goes to a restaurant, or dares simply venture out in public.

All that is part of doing your part. As for blanket pronouncements of the need for sweeping and permanent public policy changes, just… stop. We don’t know how this will all unfold. I can understand, as a matter of abundant caution, the cancelling of sporting events, concerts, and other large gatherings. I can understand short-term restrictions on air travel. I can understand all sorts of in-the-moment responses. Even as a libertarian, I recognize that there is a legitimate governmental role in public health crises. The “clean hands” principle and the non-aggression principle cover infectious diseases, and it is an initiation of force to knowingly go out in public and make human contact when you’ve got a communicable bug that can kill people.

What I refuse to accept is the rush to declare that this proves we need socialized medicine, or massive new government bureaucracies, or new and permanent limits to liberty. It doesn’t prove shit at this time, because we don’t know how it will unfold. And, even if it does grow to a pandemic that will mirror or exceed the the 1918 flu, we still won’t be informed of the glories of socialized medicine. The arguments against don’t go away because a new virus hit the scene.

There will be plenty of time to assess, deconstruct, and debate the matter, including the various forms of response around the world, after the dust has settled. So, stop trying to be “I told you so!” guy. It’s not productive, and it’s distracting.

As for the politicians? They can’t help themselves. Most of them are opportunistic shits who, no matter what they publicly declare, wholly embrace Rahm Emanuel’s declaration:

You never let a serious crisis go to waste. And what I mean by that it’s an opportunity to do things you think you could not do before.

Relying on emotion-based panic to impose your will on an otherwise-resistant public is the behavior of scoundrels, and we should call them out when and if they try to leverage this Coronavirus matter in that way.

Peter Venetoklis

About Peter Venetoklis

I am twice-retired, a former rocket engineer and a former small business owner. At the very least, it makes for interesting party conversation. I'm also a life-long libertarian, I engage in an expanse of entertainments, and I squabble for sport.

Nowadays, I spend a good bit of my time arguing politics and editing this website.


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