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Determining the Lesser of Two Evils in the Coronavirus Pandemic.

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I am old, and growing older. It is a fact of life that the days ahead are far outnumbered by the days behind.

determining-the-lesser-of-two-evils-in-the-coronavirus-pandemic

The Here and Now...

Missouri just had its first death from Coronavirus on Wednesday March 18. Someone who had "traveled" although we do not know where they traveled just yet. Or how old they were. Or even if it was a man or a woman. These are crucial bits of information.

My wife works for the local school district. Our son attends the same school. Spring break has been extended from its normal March 13 through 23, until April 3. She is no longer with an income in her job as a substitute teacher.

Our middle son is a teacher in Kansas. His school is out for the rest of school year, preferring to administer online classes for the students.

I work for Silver Dollar City. We aren't opening until March 28 now. I am not working either until that date. I do get paid until that date, but after that...who knows?

Our youngest daughter works for Texas Roadhouse. She took a vacation and learned the day after she left that her place of employment is shut down for the foreseeable future. She has no more income.

Our eldest daughter and her husband are without employment until the end of the month as well because their employers are shut down; she works for a local university, he for a major retailer at a mall. Again, their income is in jeopardy.

Our eldest son has his job intact, but it has been affected as well. He was to fly overseas for a business endeavor of particular interest to his company. Due to the no fly restrictions, it has been postponed indefinitely.

Of our family of five children and ourselves, six of us are not working or attending school. I have to think this is the new normal our Government wants us to endure for the sake of minimizing the risks associated with COVID-19.

The CDC and our Government are "suggesting" doing this in order to "flatten the curve" of the virus, sacrificing the here and now for the long term prognosis. The Government is promising money to wage earners, some kind of a paycheck. We do not know the amount, nor the frequency of these monies: are they substantial? Are they ongoing? Are they coming soon, like this Friday? Or are they next month? I've read April 6th, my wife heard the end of April. No one knows anything for certain, except those who say,

"Stay inside, practice social distancing and we'll all be okay."

determining-the-lesser-of-two-evils-in-the-coronavirus-pandemic

But what does "Okay" really mean?

Every member of my family has been hit with some aspect of this virus, and none of us are ill. Almost all of us are losing our income, and nothing immediate is coming to assist. For our family still at home, this could not have some at a worse time. We sacrificed so much of our savings in moving to buy a house, tweak it and bring my father-in-law to live with us so he could be cared for around the clock until he passed away. In moving to Nevada and buying the house there, then moving back to Branson and trying to resume our jobs here we are faced with the reality of trying to maintain both households until the Nevada house sells. Can we do it? Not for very long. We are not broke, but if we have to "hunker down" very long, we will be. We all have bills, we all have to eat, we all have to live somewhere. Will we be allowed to go back to work in a week or two? Or will we be told to "hunker down a little longer"? Will we be assisted in money to help tide us over? Will we be provided an opportunity for not paying our bills in order to purchase food and necessities in order to live without being penalized in one way or another? We literally do not know anything. And that is the worst of all.

The uncertainty of the situation might be the worst aspect of the virus currently blazing its way around the world as we speak. "Hunker down and make it through," we are told. How? How do we survive the economics of the virus, let alone the virus itself? The man who died in Boone County on Wednesday was diagnosed Tuesday, and 911 was called to his home on Wednesday morning and then he died. Damn, that didn't take too long. If he was that ill yesterday, why wasn't he taken to the hospital at the time of the positive test? He might be alive now if he had.

Are we doing the right thing, the best thing by "flattening the curve" and hiding? Are we going to be able to survive as a nation, will any nation doing this survive? Economically, I do not see how. By shutting down everything that is considered "nonessential" are we cutting our throats? Can the Government support everyone who needs assistance, every business who need assistance, every industry who needs assistance? The answer is a harsh "No". Not without mortgaging our future and running the National Dept to previously unprecedented highs, possibly doubling, tripling or even more that debt by the time this is over. The Stock Market could drop to levels not seen in three decades. Along with people's 401k, life savings and futures. These could be decimated, and for what?

So hospitals won't be overwhelmed all at one time, thus giving them the opportunity to care for a large amount of people over time (say, six months or so?) rather than having to turn people away because they are not ready, do not have sufficient means to care for the public when they are needed most.

To me, that is what this boils down to: sacrifice the many for the sake of the few.

So what am I saying?

I guess what I am saying is, maybe this isn't the best thing to do. Maybe this isn't the proper course to run at present. It might be the best way to minimize illness and deaths, but we could be committing economic suicide. Consider what this might mean to America.

No jobs, no income for months. Not since the Great Depression have we had the numbers of unemployed that will be without jobs or income that we could seeing should things stretch out until August, September, or even longer. In that time, small business owners will go under, people would be behind on their house payments to the point of possible foreclosure at the minimum, and bankruptcy a very real possibility. Credit cards defaulted on, credit ratings falling to points where getting another house disappears. Rental homes and even getting a job will be diminished to the point of being crushed emotionally and financially because credit ratings are now a part of this process.

Will we destroy the country by trying to save people in this country? That might be the very question we need to answer, and we might need to answer it sooner rather than very much later.

Unemployment rates at key times during the past century

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin reportedly said with the coronavirus pandemic the US unemployment rate could rise up to 20% without lawmaker action. That would be 32 million people out of work.

YearEventUnemployment %

1933

Great Depression

24.9%

1931-40

Great Depression

14%

1982

Recession of '82

10.8%

October 2009

Great Recession

10%

2019

Termed "Goldilocks Economy"

3.5% Lowest in 50 years

April 9, 2020

COVID-19 Depression 1st 3 weeks

14.7%

At this point, I am about to become very unpopular.

I might be called a heartless bastard, insensitive, uncaring, stupid, crazy, any number of adjectives that call into question my thought process. But hear me out: I have been successful in my working career by looking at things from the other side of the problem, and that is what I am doing here. Trying to look at the problem and determine if we as a country are going about this virus in a manner counterproductive to the nation at large in order to save the relative small number of people who will be adversely affected by it. Here is my idea.

Go about our lives as if nothing more is wrong than the flu, a cold or any other illness. If we get sick, so be it. Stay home, try to get better, go to the hospital whatever. But for those able to do so, even those who are asymptomatic, life goes on as close to normal as possible. Yes, the virus will spread everywhere. Yes, people will get sick. Yes people will die. But not everybody, and the nation will continue. Businesses will continue. The economy will continue. The Greater Good will have been served, the Greater Good being the country goes on as close to normal as possible. We will not see mass bankruptcy, mass defaulting of loans, mass riots for food and supplies, mass fear which will cripple our country.

And here is the most heartless part of all: if the elderly, infirmed and such are the group most effected, I am sorry.

It all boils down to what will serve the greater good the best: crippling the economy for everyone the world over, crushing the retirement of those who are invested in the stock market, halting work in order to try and stop the wave of illness, with no guarantee of success? Paying for businesses and people out of work to the tune of trillions of dollars? Creating another group of social and governmental dependents? Running up the National Debt even more? The virus will end at some point, with our help or without it. Every plague, epidemic, pandemic has before. It is the cost that the modern human has to look at, and determine if it is too high or not. What might come out of this work stoppage across the country could be a cost that is simply too high to pay.

So does that mean the cost of losing the elderly, the ill, the infirmed is less? Not necessarily less, but more in line with what will make our nation stronger, or at least less affected. Unfortunately, those who might be affected the most are those who have either lived a full and long life already, and are in the last few years of their lives, or are facing a future filled with pain and suffering in the near future. It might not be one that is staring them in the face in the next few months, but it is a reality soon to come.

Take me, for instance. I am over 60 years old, overweight, and have high blood pressure. Additionally, while I am not a smoker I was married to a smoker for close to 20 years, enjoyed bowling which put me in a smoking environment for more than 20 years, and as a result I more than likely have lung damage of some kind. It might not be something that is showing itself in the here and now but it could at some point. I very well might be a candidate for falling ill and suffering the ultimate cost of this virus.

Is the mortality rate lower than previously feared?

The good of the many must outweigh the good of the few

As Spock famously said in Star Trek "The Wrath of Khan", "The good of the many outweigh the good of the few. Or the one." In this case, if the mortality rate is around 1.4%, then if 100 million people worldwide do become infected, which is perhaps a fair assessment in my eyes, then the number who might die would be 1.1 million. A large and terrifying number to be sure. Others believe this number infected could be even higher, maybe approaching half the world's population. That is a scary large number, people.

Other people believe this might be the new normal, that we could be permanently affected by the coronavirus from now on, seasonally. Again, a terrifying possibility for us to consider.

But a 20% unemployment rate, a very real possibility by none other than our Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin would mean 32 million out of work for a period of time we cannot predict. Finances would be destroyed for many, fortunes lost. Businesses gone, maybe never to return. Think about who will be affected by this: all the stores, businesses, restaurants, travel companies, vacation locales the world over; basically everybody across the globe. During the Great Depression we experienced unemployment rates of in excess of 10% for over a decade, and we didn't fall below 10% until the World went to war in 1941.

Are we ready for that? Our grandparents and great-grandparents were different from us. They had not lived in a land of plenty, of having such a comparatively easy life as we have had for the past few decades. Basically, I am saying our nation is not prepared to live through tough times as might be coming, that we have morphed into a population of less than tough people who expect life to be a certain way and if it is not, we panic.

While it is hard to say "What happens, happens" and write a fair percentage of our world population off, we might be better off for it. Our health and welfare might be better, our economy will definitely be better, our financial future will be better.

This might be a case where the good of the many must outweigh the good (health) of the few. Out future depends on us making the best choice, the choice that leads us not into another Great Depression, but to basic survival of the fittest.

Harsh, I know, but the alternative is even worse to consider.

Half the globe will be infected?

I am not alone in this thinking

So, what are your thoughts?

Do we "sacrifice" some in order to maintain the majority? Do we sacrifice our future to save the now?

We need to decide, soon, and together. Our lives depend upon it.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2020 Mr Archer

Comments

Mr Archer (author) from Missouri on April 09, 2020:

Our unemployment rate has now reached a point not seen since the Great Depression, standing at 14.7% as of today, April 9, 2020. State after state are experiencing backlogs in filing and approving unemployment for the masses who are out of work. Banks are closing, people are still expected to hide in their homes, and wait this out. Businesses are not receiving funding which would allow them to offer assistance to their employees, people are hoarding food and supplies at an unprecedented rate, and fear and panic are beginning to settle in to the country.

Our leaders, both medical and political, change their stances multiple times a day/week, and it has become a will we/won't we can we/can't we world where the only constant is that our economy is tanking and we are standing by its grave wringing our hands, watching as it goes down in flames.

Yes, people are dying; yes, some young people (under 50 years of age) are dying; but when those who are trying to support their families are not receiving any income, not able to work, and have to look at their hungry children do you think they are going to be worried about someone who might die, or their child crying right in front of them?

I understand caring, I understand helping your neighbor, I do not understand letting tens of millions suffer because of tens of thousands. That does not make sense to me. If that makes me a horrible person, then I am a horrible person. Crucify me for thinking about the bigger picture here.

Edward Lane from Wichita Falls, Texas on April 01, 2020:

Mr Archer,

Thanks for the well-written article. Dan Patrick, the lieutenant governor of Texas, appeared on national tv, and agreed with your point of view. You could probably find it on youtube. It’s gone viral. I would hope people would act more responsibly. Thanks again, Edward Lane

Halemane Muralikrishna from South India on March 25, 2020:

Mr Archer, let the speculations and scepticism remain on one side. Let us think of survival. Please find some time for reading my article for overcoming viral malady: http://hub.me/anpsx

JC Scull from Gainesville, Florida on March 24, 2020:

https://www.vox.com/2020/3/24/21191557/trump-coron...

https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2020/mar/24/tr...

https://www.cnn.com/2020/03/24/politics/donald-tru...

JC Scull from Gainesville, Florida on March 24, 2020:

https://eand.co/why-britains-coronavirus-strategy-...

https://www.theatlantic.com/ideas/archive/2020/03/...

https://theintercept.com/2020/03/20/us-coronavirus...

Mr Archer (author) from Missouri on March 24, 2020:

What would you choose for your children? Crush their ability to earn an income for perhaps ten years in another Great Depression? Take a chance on them running out of food, a place to live, heat? Putting them on the streets because we might save a few percent of a population?

Or allowing this virus to run its course, allowing the remaining population to gain badly needed antibodies which might be passed on, securing the future for those who have one?

If your children were standing before you, and your parents or grandparents, and you could only save one group: which would it be? Those whose future is ahead? Or those whose life is behind them? As terrible as it seems, that might be just the question we have to answer. Save a million or two who are primarily older people, people like myself? Or sacrifice the ability to earn an income for those whose lives are yet to be lived? A decade of another Great Depression, or a year of sadness and death?

Damn, that is a hard choice! But I for one will sacrifice myself for my children's lives; every single time!

And as for the young being at risk in this pandemic, yes some are. But if I am correct, they are mostly recovering or having lesser symptoms, right? They will survive. If a bunch of 80 to 90 year old people have to die a month or two earlier than a heart attack might occur, or a kidney shut down, or cancer take them in order for the young to earn a living and the economy to keep going forward, then call me a heartless bastard because I believe that is the right thing to do.

At any rate, I believe that the virus is sufficiently entrenched in the world that we will not be able to do much to halt the spread or the severity. We will not have a vaccine in time to matter much, and by this time next year we will know just where we stand. The question will be:

Are we in a depression such as we haven't seen in nearly a century? Or are we not?

JC Scull from Gainesville, Florida on March 24, 2020:

The problem with this virus is not just its mortality rate among the old. The young are at risk also, People within all age brackets, not just here in the USA but also in China, Italy, France, Germany, etc., have fallen severely ill and died due to the ensuing respiratory illness brought on by covid-19.

The Spanish flu killed 100 million people between 1918 and 1920, The world population at the time was a mere 1.8 billion. It also killed 675,000 Americans, at a time when this country had a population of 105 million. Less than half of what it is today.

Even with 21st century medicine this particular virus, if unchecked could kill hundreds of thousands of Americans.

The likelihood of a total collapse of our healthcare system under the pressure of large numbers occupying hospital beds, respirators, emergency rooms and the care of medical personnel will affect other non-covid-19 patients seeking critical care.

Undoubtedly we are living through some very trying times filled with uncertainly and fear. However, we need to use critical thinking and determine the best course forward. But more importantly, we need to plan for the future. This is not the first pandemic the world has experienced and it is not going to be the last one. Moving forward, we will need a functional government that can act in a way that mitigates future catastrophes such as this one.

We need to think carefully of how we, as a nation, will take on this challenge. The approach that this administration is about to propose in order to purportedly "save the economy", could be quite dire.

Shauna L Bowling from Central Florida on March 20, 2020:

Mike, I understand what you're saying, but I don't think it'll come to another Great Depression situation. Hopefully, once the exposure levels out and we are better equipped to test and treat, life will resume to normal.

My place of business is operating as usual but we are taking preventative measures. Each office has Clorox wipes and hand sanitizer, staff meetings have cancelled (updates received via email), company events are on hold and we're practicing social distancing, which is easy since we each have our own office.

I really don't think we're looking at a national shutdown. Closing borders to unnecessary travel will help keep contaminated people from coming in. I don't think the entire nation will be sequestered to indoors; it's just the confirmed cases that are to stay indoors for two weeks.

Take precautions, but don't stop living life. Everything will work out. It always does.

Mr Archer (author) from Missouri on March 19, 2020:

I understand your thought process, but if we do what is being suggested, not only the old but the middle and young will all be sacrificed in order to stretch out the onset of this virus in order to allow hospitals to not be overwhelmed. We cannot allow everyone to go down with the Titanic after we toss off the lifeboats. It makes no sense. Personally, I will not sacrifice my children in order for me to not get ill. They are worth more than me.

Doris James MizBejabbers from Beautiful South on March 19, 2020:

Mr Archer, by your reasoning, "The good of the many outweigh the good of the few. Or the one." would mean sacrificing the older people who have worked hard to put this country where we are today. We would be sacrificed for the "good" of the young gimmie welfare generation who expect perpetual handouts from the government. How long would the government last by keeping up our socialist-leaning younger generations? Think about it.