Defenders of today’s near-global tyranny in response to a virus that has so far amassed fewer deaths in four months than a fairly typical common flu season are keen to exploit the metaphor of wartime measures to excuse their desire to suppress liberty and subject their neighbors to the risk of permanent material suffering and extreme emotional hardship. They speak of “defeating the enemy” and personify the virus as “this killer.”
Meanwhile, their alleged leaders are only too happy to exploit the moment to play “wartime president” for professional profit and victorious vanity.
All this talk of war collided in my mind today with the news of the U.S. Congress passing another 500 billion dollars in “relief” funds for the economic catastrophe they themselves are causing through their encouragement of panic and uncertainty, and their imposition (along with the individual states) of irrational and unpredictable restrictions on human behavior. And this collision of absurdities got me to thinking: How much does a real war cost?
The U.S. Federal Government has now spent almost 3 trillion dollars in “relief” funding related to this pandemic. The most expensive war in U.S. history, World War II, is estimated to have cost the country 4.69 trillion dollars in inflation-adjusted 2019 dollars. That WWII expense was incurred over the course of nearly four years, and provided for the defeat of imperial Japan and Nazi Germany, the development of the atomic bomb, the liberation of hundreds of millions of people, and the end of the systematic annihilation of the Jews in Europe. Today’s 3 trillion in coronavirus relief has been passed in under three weeks, and if it does anything to help anyone at all, it will only be as a bandage for bleeding caused by the government’s own coerced and unnecessary curtailment of economic activity.
Three trillion dollars in three weeks, for a “war” against an “enemy” that could have been defeated in far more spiritually satisfying and less materially destructive ways by a people not reduced to quivering jelly by fearmongering propagandists.
I believe that makes The Pandemic that Ate a Planet the single most costly metaphor in human history. Quite an achievement. I hope Mitch McConnell, his sock puppet Donald “Swamp-Drainer” Trump, and their “good friends across the aisle” in the Communist Party USA’s branch plant (nicknamed “the Democrats”), are proud of their great effort in this “war.”
And of course, that’s only the economy-busting financial cost. I am leaving aside here the much greater, and very non-metaphorical, war these dear leaders are currently waging against humanity, modern liberty, and the concept of natural rights. They are winning that one too, and much more decisively.