Musings from the edge of doom

News headline I just read, from our good comrades at The New York Times: “U.S. Now Leads the World in Confirmed Coronavirus Cases.”

The world-leading number of confirmed infections: 81,321.

“Oh my god, that’s so many people! What are we going to do?”

Well, the first thing you could do is consider this number: 40,000,000. For that is a rough estimate of the number of Americans infected with the flu each year.

“But that’s different! The flu is just a passing nuisance, not a deadly disease.”

Actually, I arrived at that forty million figure by comparing a mid-range estimate of the number of flu deaths in America each year to the most commonly cited flu mortality rate, 0.1%. In other words, I simply multiplied 40,000 (that’s the number of deaths) by 1,000.

Sadly, Patterico, whom I often cite here in Limbo, and who is one of my fellow victims of the Trump cult takeover of the so-called “conservative media,” has fallen prey to the media-hyped coronavirus panic pandemic. Today, he posted yet another article on his site declaring the inevitability of virus Armageddon, and then mocked all who would dispute his alarmism with this jab:

We need to get Americans back to work and infecting each other. Once we are overrunning hospitals and killing Americans by the hundreds of thousands, the economy will improve.

To which, with a heavy heart — it’s hard to watch good people losing their souls to the establishment body snatchers — I respond by restating a point I made a couple of days ago, in answer to the official sentimentalism that we have to go into isolation chambers and shut down the global economy indefinitely “in order to protect the elderly.”

Here, first of all, is how I expressed the point in my previous article:

Am I saying that we should not care about the risk to the health of our seniors? Of course not. I would say, however, that if I were elderly or otherwise weak, I hope I would have the pride and dignity not to expect my entire society to impoverish itself and abandon all pretenses of human rights merely in order to keep me from getting a virus that could threaten my compromised immune system. I hope, in other words, that I would be reasonable and adult enough to say, “My health is my concern. I hope my loved ones and neighbors are conscientious about staying away from me if they have a contagious illness, but otherwise, I have to make my own best choices in life and accept the consequences of those choices.”

In fact, the older people I have known well personally in my life have all taken exactly that position toward their own failing health, tacitly or explicitly. My hopes for my own future, as outlined above, are based on their dignified examples.

The following is a further reiteration of the same idea, in the form of a direct reply to Patterico’s ironic stab at those of us who are refusing to follow him over the edge.

Patterico’s opening salvo:

We need to get Americans back to work and infecting each other. Once we are overrunning hospitals and killing Americans by the hundreds of thousands, the economy will improve.

Do you have that same attitude about the common flu season each year, during which Americans “kill Americans” by tens of thousands? Do you recommend that the economy be shut down, and hundreds of thousands of families lose their material security, in order to “prevent” those “killings”?

And the difference between your “hundreds of thousands” dead from coronavirus and my “tens of thousands” dead from the common flu, of course, is that my number is a real, verifiable statistic calculated annually for decades, whereas yours is pure speculation based on fear of the unknown and, if I may say so, a certain susceptibility to media saturation bombing.

Most young healthy people will not get sick from this virus, or will get only a normal “flu-like” illness. During that process, they will develop antibodies to fight it off better next time around, as with normal flu viruses.

Honest question: Have you ever personally known an older, more vulnerable person (I mean ever in your life) who, if informed that, in order to protect him or her from a virus that is more dangerous for the elderly, the entire society (including his or her own family, grandchildren, etc.) was going to have to impoverish itself, stop creating wealth, destroy its savings for a generation, and become increasingly dependent on paternalistic government to keep it alive — I ask you, have you ever known an old person who, if faced with that prospect, would say, “Yes, I want you all to be poor, unemployed, and to lose all your savings in order to protect me from getting this virus”?

Seriously. Have you ever met an old person like that? Because that is the kindest rendering I can find of the reasoning behind this “shut it all down” approach to combatting this virus outbreak.

I have never met an old person like that — quite the contrary in fact. And I hope and pray to every god available that when I myself am old, and in that vulnerable group, I have the courage and dignity to respond to that scenario like all the old people I have known, namely, “Don’t be a fool! Of course I don’t expect anyone to give up their own lives to protect me from anything. I’ll be fine, and if the Lord has decided I’ve been around long enough, and it’s my time to cave in, then that’s life.”

How would you reply to that scenario, if you were the old person for whose sake (supposedly) the entire civilized world was offering to reduce itself to ashes?

How the elderly really think

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