The Great War Against the Virus: Maybe It’s Time We Give Peace a Chance

I was saddened to hear the views online of some of the college students partying in Florida during spring break. Not just because they seemed so oblivious to the health risks we as a nation are trying to control, but also because they didn’t seem to be putting their generous student loans to the best academic use. Many of their faces are now on file, showing total disregard for the government’s request that we practice social distancing to reduce the spread of COVID-19. Well, I have a message for them, a warning to all reckless students and many of the rest of you as well: the government knows who you are and where you live, and soon someone from the government will be coming to your door. When they do, don’t try to hide, don’t try to run, but simply face reality and take what’s coming to you: a $1,200 check, delivered by the US Postal Service, courtesy of the thankful taxpayers of America.

That’s right, the government is going to catch up with you and give you a hefty check. And your student loans will probably be forgiven. So next time there’s a global pandemic, don’t go partying in Florida. Think about the Riviera or Hawaii instead. Maybe Thailand. Now you can afford it, and since you don’t owe anything to the rest of us anymore, you owe it to yourself to go enjoy.

I was also saddened while driving, listening to the radio, to hear President Trump speaking in a press conference where he talked about his plans to help big companies that are hurting. He said, “We’re going to back the airlines 100%. It’s not their fault…. We’ll be … helping them very much.” I was so puzzled. I rushed home and grabbed an aging copy of the Constitution from the bottom of my tightly-packed suitcase and scanned it again. Where did the Founders write that the President had power to dish out money to big companies if something unfortunate happened? Must have been written in invisible ink, like lemon juice, that only becomes visible when held over a candle. I was out of candles, but there was a gas stove in the kitchen where I was staying. I fired up a burner, gently held the Constitution over it, and suddenly it all became clear. Yes, the power of the President to do anything he wants, and for Congress to do anything they want, was clearly visible in the swirling wisps of smoke that arose from the ashes of that document.  So that’s how they justify the looting!

Bad things have happened to all of us with the corona virus. Our health is one casualty: even if you are virus free, the stress of an economic shutdown is enormous, not to mention the harms of decreased exercise with gyms closed, decreased health care for non-emergencies, increased suicide among the depressed and unemployed, etc. Other disappointments may include our jobs, our investments, our schools, or even our stale over-priced avocado toast while partying on a beach in Florida. It’s not our fault in most cases. So is the government supposed to take over everything to fix all our woes? But yes, I know what you’re thinking: poor Boeing! With their horrible mismanagement and disregard for safety that made the whole world fear their new wonder plane that kept crashing, their airplane sales have sunk. Mega owie! Of course they need 60 billion or so to ease their pain.

The whole country has been suffering, not so much from the few thousand cases of the virus which actually aren’t yet causing more illness or deaths than the flu does most years (but yes, of course, it’s more dangerous than the flu, perhaps largely because so few are immune to it), but from the extreme measures imposed by government. The unnecessary panic of the Federal Reserve Bank in slashing interest rates, resulting in extreme market fears and devastation to investors and corporation, coupled with the extreme attention to the virus by the media, have created as sense of panic. This is what those seeking power and attention love, for every crisis is a chance to grab more money, more power, more fame for taking a popular “leadership” role in the looting. Now it’s a race between parties and politicians all over the country to see who can “do more” to save the country by, say, shutting down the economy and taking control of more of the wealth of the nation to redistribute it their way.

Ever since the birth of this nation, however flawed its course has been at times, many Americans have taken pride in the desire to stand for freedom and liberty, even at the risk of life itself. While wicked men may have sometimes exploited those noble sentiments in
unjustified wars, America has been a land where liberty truly was a prized
goal sought by large numbers of its citizens and leaders (though, sadly, the chains of slaves were ignored too long). Better to abandon security and comfort than to surrender freedom and give power to tyrants. Many of our Founding Fathers were men of that caliber, in spite of serious flaws, and many put their lives on the line in opposing the tyranny of Great Britain in order to secure a chance for freedom for future generations. They went to war to secure liberty, and it would not be the last time Americans would be willing to die for their liberty or for the liberty of others.

Today we are in a new war, a war that may prove to be more costly and painful than most of our trials in the past. But instead of fighting for liberty, we are being asked in this war to surrender liberty for security. Hand more power to government and a vast chunk of the total GDP to allow them to pick winners, buy votes, and spend trillions in ways that can only prolong the pain.

A few weeks ago I heard Republicans were warning against the vile threat of Bernie Sanders, the socialist, who wanted to just send out checks for $1000 to everyone. This kind of inflationary redistribution of wealth would destroy the country and wreck the economy. Now the “fix” for the economy being touted by Republicans is to hand out even more money ($1,200 per partyer) in pretty much the same way. It’s a dream come true for the banksters who will profit enormously from the trillions they will handle. It adds incredible burdens to future generations — shackles of debt and government control. But we are supposed to trust our politicians, who won’t even read the massive 800-page spending spree bill they are voting on. Trust and comply, for the enemy is terrifying and has wiped out thousands, like over 3,000 among the 1+ billion people of China, unlike the flu that kills tens of thousands each year in the US. So scary that we have to shut down almost everything and let politicians take the reigns and loot the nation. Together we will win this
war and it will only cost you everything.

This patriotic war, one that calls us to surrender liberty for security and to trust the most untrustworthy people on the planet as they seize more and more power, promising to take are of us and make us more dependent on them, brings out the pacifist in me. When it comes to the Great War Against the Virus, maybe it’s time we give peace a chance.

Meanwhile, some hopeful possibilities are emerging. Here’s one, based on a study from Oxford. Are they right? I hope so, but don’t know. There’s also a follow-up discussion looking at fever rates in general. There is still much we don’t know for sure due to inadequate testing and lack of blood testing in particular. It’s why we might really need more data and time before we let government think pull a trigger that may be shooting ourselves in both feet.  I also was intrigued by the perspectives of Dr. Wolfgang Wodarg, a noted German physician (see Wikipedia’s page with commentary on his views), who argues that what the world is doing is a dramatic overreaction. His video discussion has English subtitles.

Dr. Wodarg is also one of several other medical experts speaking out against the excessive panic over SARS-CoV-2, a.k.a. the Corona virus. Many interesting observations there. Maybe we are plunging into ultimate disaster and need to shut everything down, but I prefer to be optimistic, and would rather that we act cautiously without surrendering too much to those who stand to profit from panic. Here’s a quote from one of those 12 experts, Dr. Joel Kettner, a professor of Community Health Sciences and Surgery at Manitoba University, former Chief Public Health Officer for Manitoba province and Medical Director of the International Centre for Infectious Diseases:

I have never seen anything like this, anything anywhere near like this. I’m not talking about the pandemic, because I’ve seen 30 of them, one every year. It is called influenza. And other respiratory illness viruses, we don’t always know what they are. But I’ve never seen this reaction, and I’m trying to understand why….

I worry about the message to the public, about the fear of coming into contact with people, being in the same space as people, shaking their hands, having meetings with people. I worry about many, many consequences related to that….

In Hubei, in the province of Hubei, where there has been the most cases and deaths by far, the actual number of cases reported is 1 per 1000 people and the actual rate of deaths reported is 1 per 20,000. So maybe that would help to put things into perspective.

Do continue preparing and washing hands. You might wish to
have some cash on hand, maybe enough for 1 or 2 month of expenses,
before banks and ATMs begin to fail (shutting down businesses means many
mortgages or rents aren’t being paid and this increases pressure on
banks). I hope they don’t, but it’s possible. Having some cash at home
or in a safe place outside of a bank is always a smart thing to have.

adding to your food storage. Supply chains that ought to be healthy are
precarious. Many “non-essential” businesses may play a role in supply
chains that our all-knowing politicians might overlook when they decide
who can do what, and the result in the end can be trouble. Shutting
flights down affects many shipments and can have unforeseen effects.
Financial strains can shut some things down unexpectedly. Be prepared. And enjoy your next break in Hawaii with the party money coming your way!

Further reading:

Singapore modelling study estimates impact of physical distancing on reducing spread of COVID-19” at, discussing a new study published in The Lancet looking at Singapore’s response and future options. Singapore has had just two deaths and has not chosen to implode its economy. May we learn from Singapore and Korea.

Coronavirus Deaths by Country

Author: Jeff Lindsay

23 thoughts on “The Great War Against the Virus: Maybe It’s Time We Give Peace a Chance

  1. Jeff, this was a disappointing read. Sarcasm, making light of real suffering, and all the while not offering any solutions, not producing any ideas for actually dealing with the current issues. Disheartening. And unfortunately, this post greatly colors how I view what I've read from you in the past.

    1. I personally like that this was a light article… People suffer from the flu every year-about 17000 died under the previous administration after he declared a national emergency, but nothing happened then that is happening now… Something to ponder.

  2. I agree with Jeff on this one. I might understand unemployment benefits, but giving nearly all households $3,400? Why? Does the government want them to spend it? The government wants to give people who did not lose their income, to stay home and find a way to spend an extra $3400? If the household income was not affected, why the bonus payment? If they have to stay home, how are they going to spend it? As for David Y., that $3,400 that went to people who did not suffered, but actually got time off, could have gone to people who really suffered.

    $2 trillion would have been better spent on universal flue vaccine, though I am sure another $2 trillions will be printed to fund that soon.

    Universal basic income has officially happened.

  3. While I think there's reasonable disagreement about the merits of handing out money, I'm genuinely surprised that you don't seem to grasp the concept of exponential growth, and that you're pushing the very, very wrong idea that COVID-19 isn't substantially worse than seasonal influenza.

    Seasonal flu does kill thousands of people per year, but thousands more survive it every year thanks to medical treatment. We're able to treat many of the flu patients because the infections are spread out over several months.

    SARS-CoV-2 (the virus that causes COVID-19) spreads far more rapidly than influenza. So even if they had similar mortality rates — and COVID-19 is at least ten times as deadly as the flu — the SARS-CoV-2 infections will pile up far more rapidly, causing excess deaths because there's not enough capacity in any country's medical system to treat all the infected people. Factor in the absence of a vaccine, effective antiviral treatments, or herd immunity, and you have a serious pandemic.

    So sure, criticize the economics of the response. There's lots of room for policy debate. But don't push demonstrably — and dangerously — false science.

  4. China got a very slow start in managing the virus and had 3000 die. Less than a normal flu season. Did you read about the Oxford study? It's worse than the flu, definitely, but does it require shutting down medical care for non-Corona cases, crushing the standard of living for millions, and increasing deaths in many other ways such as cancer from missed detection and late treatment, diabetes and heart disease from poor diet and sedentary living, suicides from depression, and a host of other problems that come from a devastated economy? The models of exponential deaths and chaos don't fit what is seen on the ground. There are good reasons for questioning the hype.

  5. David Y., your point is well taken, but there's a bigger picture here. The total global deaths from this virus so far are far less than many flu seasons in the US. Maybe it will get much worse than normal flu mortality. But in light of where we are and what China experienced, we need to realize that shutting down an economy has vast implications on the health, well-being, and personal liberty of millions that may not have been properly weighed here.

    There are people yearning for such a crisis to justify actions that give them vast control over others. Liberty requires vigilance in times like this. We are coached to think, "Hey, people are suffering, and hundreds are dying. We have to all be patriotic in this great battle and not question." But this is exactly the scenario where good people need to be vigilant and demand restraint, responsibility, respect for law, and consideration of the big picture, not just the imagery created by those who stand to profit from the panic.

    What if the Fed's reckless actions were not just stupidity? What if key influencers over the actions of both parties (e.g., the Secty. of the Treasury Dept. and Goldman Sachs guy who led the negotiations to get the "right" deal done) right now have not been made in good faith? Shouldn't we be able to question the motives of those who wish to play with the nation's purse in such an exorbitant manner? To ask who profits? To ask why it takes 800 pages of law that nobody is able to read before the vote if it's an honest law? Did you think about what $2 trillion means per job holder in the US? What will that much spending do to us when we are already so dangerously in debt? If this is crisis is near the peak, if we are facing 3000 to 10000 deaths only, is it worth it? And if so, why aren't we shutting down the nation over flu or over automobile deaths, both of which kill more and can be solved by just telling everyone to stay home?

    We are not supposed to surrender our sanity and our vigilance because there is a disease out there. It's not enough to say "at least Congress is doing something." Who are they doing it for? And to? Is it ethical? Legal? Sane? Sorry, any questions now would be heartless and insensitive.

  6. About "not producing any ideas for actually dealing with the current issues" — David, the idea is that we need to demand that our government leaders respect the Constitution, that we need not to be sheep who panic and surrender when told to give up liberty over a threat that may have been exaggerated, as some significant medical experts suggest. The disease is a crisis, but allowing government to go totally out of control can dwarf for decades what one year of disease can do. Asking questions, demanding responsibility, not panicking, not surrendering, and yet still wisely preparing — that's good advice for dealing with the current situation. What advice should have been given?

  7. You are so offensive. You must be living very comfortably to be able to be so dense, but there are many others facing $34000 bills for treatment of covid-19 without insurance, huge numbers of people who just lost a job, and many people trying to make snap (expensive) decisions about how to rearrange their families to stay safe for whom a one time UBI matters. There are workers with covid-19 but no access to test results who need to stay home sick for their own and everyone's good, but who are told they will be fired for staying home since they can't prove they have covid -19, who have rent to pay and need their health insurance now as much as ever. It's so ridiculously politicized and dishonest for you to frame an investment in people as a reward for partiers. I very much agree with others that you are foolish to ignore the simple facts of exponential growth in an immunologically naive population. You are doubly foolish to pretend that by ignoring the disease, crashing our health system, and losing millions of lives we could be economically comfortable. This is a time for problem solvers to speak and for you to be quiet.

  8. Lots of people are skeptical of the numbers being reported out of China for the fact of the number of cell phone service cancellations in China and the number of urns being reported in Wuhan. Also, coronavirus is much more virulent than the seasonal flu, shows no initial symptoms when the carrier is contagious, has a longer recovery time, and the critically ill have to be intubated for a longer period of time. All of this points to a more dire situation. The economy will recover but dead people will not.


  9. Every now and then Jeff lets loose with a political rant that reminds us he’s a bit of a historically and constitutionally challenged conspiracy nut.

    And Steve, you’re absolutely right that the “economy will recover but dead people will not.” I would add that the choice is not really between a wrecked economy (with fewer dead) and a healthy economy (with more dead). The economy will be just as wrecked (if not more so) by letting the epidemic run unchecked than by social distancing. The deathly ill are not very productive workers. Neither are corpses, and they don’t buy very many widgets either.

    — OK

  10. Marissa, you may be missing what the bill is doing. The paychecks to people are minor compared to what is being taken. Not just the millions of lost jobs, the thousands of crushed businesses, but the trillions being authorized for the Fed to spend. It comes from somewhere and it’s coming out of our economy. The tiny checks are a sweetener to help us overlook the looting and the loss of liberties. Those people without income and poor jobs need a healthy economy more than anyone for their long term well being. We don’t have to shut the nation down as we are learning from Singapore, Taiwan, and South Korea.

  11. Sounds like an advertisement for Freedom First or JBS. Beware of extremists. I will work with my elected officials. BTW, are you going to keep your check?

  12. I hope it will occur to you one day that removing Constitutional liberties, shutting down an entire economy (with the hundreds of thousands of deaths that can bring), seizing trillions of dollars and giving shadowy agencies vast new powers for decades to come might be an unprecendented act of extremists. Some of you folks can't imagine that the most dangerous "extremists" aren't lone troglodytes like me calling for preserving the freedoms we used to have, but powerful radicals seeking to take them away and give themselves nearly dictatorial powers.

  13. OK bemoaned this blogger as a "constitutionally challenged conspiracy nut." It's a conspiracy to think that Boeing and other behemoths who invest heavily in politicians are going to get massive infusions? There's a difference between a conspiracy and a tried-and-true business model.

    As for being "constitutionally challenged," can you explain how the removal of habeus corpus rights, as requested by the DOJ, or suspension any of the rights in the Bill of Rights is enabled by the Constitution? Or where in the Constitution the Federal Government is given the power to create 4 to 6 trillion dollars out of nothing and give it big companies? Just don't see that. No, the words "general welfare" do not mean "ignore all the restraints in this document as long as you can spin some good reason for seizing power and wealth."

  14. Congratulations, Jeff! By mentioning the Justice Department’s proposed legislation that would suspend habeus corpus, you did something you did not do in your rant: you actually mentioned something that would be unconstitutional! The stimulus bill does not qualify, as it’s covered under the commerce clause.

    As for the $1,000/month universal basic income (which would be perfectly constitutional), it was proposed by Andrew Yang, not Bernie Sanders. And obviously there’s a huge difference between a permanent and ongoing UBI and a one-time payout.

    — OK

  15. I think there are definitely political mistakes being made.

    I find it curious that there is no mention of what the Church has done. I am watching its signals and actions more than anything, and our leaders saw fit to take drastic action. Our prophet, a doctor, saw enough, it would appear, in the science, to take action.

    As a fellow Church member, I feel perplexed by the post. I GET the concerns about bailouts, etc. I do. I think there are mistakes being made. But I don't think the Church would have taken such action if they didn't see value in it, even while understanding that there is cost here with these choices to do the social distancing thing.


  16. I've praised the Church's action. It was wise and voluntary, as it should be. Individual organizations and communities freely choosing, volunteering, to cut back on meetings, have social distancing, wear masks, wash hands, close schools if they wish, shutter their businesses for a time, etc., all makes plenty of sense. It's responsible. That's completely different than having the government shut down most businesses, a compulsory deprivation of their rights without due process, or to arrest some for jogging outside. New York Governor Cuomo threatened to shut down a church permanently if the people there decide to hold a meeting. Yes, holding public meetings now would be irresponsible, but what gives him that authority to overthrow a church's religious freedom to meet and worship, and to impose a permanent shutdown? To say something bad could happen does not justify removal of liberty. Every meeting could have a bad outcome: the spreading of influenza, car accidents, a fire, a shooter, food poisoning, etc. But let the people decide how to protect themselves and let society decide what's socially acceptable in that community rather than imposing a crushing blow to the entire economy, costing millions their jobs.

  17. What gives the City Swimming Pool manager the right to impose their will on the individual? Better to let people decide for themselves whether to pee in the pool.

    — OK

  18. Oops, it was NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio threatening to shut down churches permanently, not Governor Cuomo.

  19. OK, the pool is a public service provided by the city. People choose voluntarily to go there and if they do, must comply with established safety rules. No diving in 3-foot water. No alligators. Basic safety and hygiene rules. If you don't like the rules, you don't have to be there. Nobody has a right to swim in any given pool. But meeting in a church is not a privilege provided by the city or the state. They can request cooperation, but have no power to withhold the established rights of freedom of assembly or religious liberty — unless the church for their worship service wants to meet in the city's pool and all dive headfirst into the shallow end as they toss in alligators. But that would be an interesting worship service.

    1. Jeff, maybe someday you’ll understand the concept of “metaphor.” When someone says “My love is a rose,” they’re not arguing for vegetable marriage.

      Also, of course, the courts have long (and justifiably) held that the free exercise clause does not always exempt religious organizations from generally applicable laws that have a secular purpose etc. etc.

      — OK

  20. Another angle to consider –

    April 3 (EIRNS)—President Trump has moved boldly to place the U.S. economy under emergency control, using dirigist methods which were once well known as the "American System" of political economy, as discovered and implemented by Alexander Hamilton and his followers, especially Mathew and Henry Carey and their German associate Friedrich List. Trump has galvanized both business and military leaders and institutions to impose a demand economy on American industries and infrastructure, to meet the emergency needs of a population facing an existential crisis unlike any in modern history.

  21. OK says "there’s a huge difference between a permanent and ongoing UBI and a one-time payout."

    That one-time payout sure became ongoing pretty quick.

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