COVID-19 reveals the greatest threat to America

Summary: Recent news stories about COVID-19 reveal much about America. About us. They point to the greatest threat we face, and show how we can win.

Broken chain on white background.
By Zozulinskyi. AdobeStock – 195208734.

News about those perfidious Chinese

Fox News: “Chinese epicenter Wuhan raises number of virus dead by about 50 percent.” Red emphasis added.

“China raised Wuhan’s coronavirus death toll by nearly 50 percent Friday following weeks of allegations that officials were underreporting the numbers to make the situation there look better than it actually was. The city where the coronavirus outbreak is believed to have originated is now reporting 3,869 deaths after adding 1,290 to its previously-announced figure. Numbers of total cases in the city of 11 million were also raised by 325 to 50,333, accounting for about two-thirds of China’s total 82,367 announced cases.

“Chinese state media claimed Friday that the reason for the sudden leap was that medical facilities were overwhelmed during the peak of the outbreak and because of that, ‘belated, missed and mistaken reporting occurred.’ …

”’Due to the insufficiency in admission and treatment capability, a few medical institutions failed to connect with the disease prevention and control system in time, while hospitals were overloaded and medics were overwhelmed with patients,’ the official Xinhua News Agency reported, attributing the comments to an unidentified official with Wuhan’s epidemic and prevention and control headquarters. The new figures were compiled through a comparison of data from Wuhan’s epidemic prevention and control big data system, the city funeral service system, the municipal hospital authority’s information system, and the nucleic acid test system to “remove double-counted cases and fill in missed cases,’ the mystery official added. …

“‘Well, well, well: After repeatedly defending the accuracy of their data, Chinese officials revise the coronavirus death toll in Wuhan,’ tweeted Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas.”

This is high grade spin! The “Chinese state media claimed”! A “mystery” official said. This from Fox, whose highly paid stenographers uncritically print announcements from US government officials who routinely lie on the record about vital matters (see the Big List of Lies) – and gleefully repeats statements from “anonymous” officials without a hint of skepticism (I have never seen calculations on the rating of lying in these “leaks”, but it is probably mind-blowingly high).

More evil deeds reported by the Right

The Right-wing intertubes burned for days with this news: “NYC Officials Just Artificially Increased Their COVID Death Total by 57%” by Joe Saunders at the Western Journal.

“If a national catastrophe isn’t bad enough, make it worse. That appears to be the thinking behind a decision by New York City officials this week that sent the number of dead attributed to the coronavirus outbreak in the city soaring to more than 10,000 — a 57 percent increase over the previous count. And these are numbers Americans are supposed to trust forevermore. Unfortunately, in a United States where the mainstream media daily shows itself to be ever more corrupt, trust is in short supply.”

Joe goes on like this for quite a while. For a more rational report of this news, turn to the NY Times: “N.Y.C. Death Toll Soars Past 10,000 in Revised Virus Count.”

“New York City, already a world epicenter of the coronavirus outbreak, sharply increased its death toll by more than 3,700 victims on Tuesday, after officials said they were now including people who had never tested positive for the virus but were presumed to have died of it. …

“The city and the state have at times differed in their counts of the dead in New York City. As of Monday, the state said that 7,349 had died of the virus in the city. City officials have complained that they are at the whim of the state, which has been slow to share the data it receives from hospitals and nursing homes. The state Health Department explained on its website that the discrepancy is caused by the city and state using ‘different data systems.’”

Fun fact! The NYC numbers were increased on April 14, a city of 8 million increasing its count of fatalities by “more than 3700.” On April 17, China increased its fatality count by 1,290 for a city of 11 million – a proportionally smaller increase. But the journalists reporting the story about China had amnesia about the NYC news from three days ago, although that gives important context for the China story.

Also note the effect of the large, complex, and often conflicting reporting systems in China and America. When this causes confusion (or chaos) in the US, it is business as usual. When it happens in China, conservatives growl about those untrustworthy yellow people.

Extremists undermining our society

The final numbers for employment and GDP take over a year to produce in the US, with its vast and expensive accounting apparatus. Expect only unreliable numbers during a pandemic by doctors trying to save lives (including their own), with accounting a lower priority.

Also, complex phenomena are not counted like apples – whether CPI, GDP, or deaths from COVID-19. The definitions and accounting systems for all of these are constantly in motion, changed to reflect new knowledge and new collection systems. Before test kits were widely available (January in China, April in the US), clinical data were used to distinguish COVID-19 from the flu. Shifting to test kits changed the nature of the numbers.

Serological tests are far more sensitive than test kids, and so a larger set of new numbers are coming. For example, see a CNN story about a new study, and Nature article about these tests. We will be told that these bigger numbers show that all those experts were lying when they used the kits they had and not the serological tests that were coming in the future! Trust only us, not the mainstream media liars.

Skillful propaganda is a fast track to fame and fortune in a decadent America. But unless read by a skeptical public, they erode the trust that produces social cohesion. Strong social cohesion has been one of America’s greatest strengths, and allowed us to survive many difficult times. I fear we no longer have it. Low trust societies tend to function poorly and collapse under stress.

Steel wire about to break.
By Tiero. AdobeStock – 147620435.

The most serious threat to America

Every society anywhere and anywhen faces many existential threats. Natural disasters, foes foreign and domestic, and changing circumstances to which it cannot adapt. Those who warn of these perform a valuable service, for as Andy Grove (the CEO who helped build Intel) said …

“Success breeds complacency. Complacency breeds failure. Only the paranoid survive.”

I too have written about the many threats to America, and proposed a first step to rationally cope (see We face so many threats, like pandemics. Let’s prepare.) – with recognition being the first step. James Howard Kunstler’s new book is a collection of threats: Living in the Long Emergency. They are all real, of varying probability and severity.

But the past year has changed my view about our greatest danger, the weak link in America. It is us. America was built by the first few Founding generations to be run by active citizens. The farmers, craftsmen, and merchants who read the Federalist Papers and listened to the three-hour-long Lincoln-Douglas debates in 1858 (see the transcripts). People who cared about America, and therefore read the news seriously – not as entertainment.

I fear that we have become weak and easily led like sheep, a gift to our rulers. Since 2003, I have run scores of posts deconstructing current propaganda stories. The common link is that their audiences, Right or Left, do not care if these stories are false. They flee fact-based rebuttals like vampires running from the dawn. News has become tribal in much of America. We like propaganda, and so that is what the news media gives us. The press is a business in a free-market economy. They must provide what consumers want, for the same reason McDonald’s serves salty high fat food. A sign of our decay is that we blame businesses for giving us what we want.

We can change. Revival is an inherent capacity of every society and individual. We might not have much time remaining to do so, as the 21st might provide challenges greater than we have seen in a long time.

For More Information

Ideas! For some holiday shopping ideas, see my recommended books and films at Amazon. Also, see a powerful and disturbing story about “Birth of a Man of Steel …for the Soviet Union.

If you liked this post, like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter. See all posts about Reforming America: steps to a new politics, about propaganda, about the importance of clear vision, and especially these…

  1. Important: Our leaders so often lie, but we still believe them.
  2. Swear allegiance to the truth as a step to reforming America.
  3. We live in an age of ignorance, but can decide to fix this – today.
  4. Ways to deal with those guilty of causing the fake news epidemic.
  5. The secret source of fake news. Its discovery will change America.
  6. We have been blind, but can learn to see.
  7. A new phase of the epidemic begins with propaganda.
  8. COVID-19 is a harsh teacher. Let’s learn from it.

Two new books about out perilous future

Living in the Long Emergency by James Howard Kunstler (2020) – “Global Crisis, the Failure of the Futurists, and the Early Adapters Who Are Showing Us the Way Forward.”

Seeing into the Future: A Short History of Prediction by Martin van Creveld. “From the ancients watching the flight of birds to the murky activities of Google and Facebook today, Seeing into the Future provides vital insight into the past, present, and – of course – future of prediction.”

Living in the Long Emergency: Global Crisis, the Failure of the Futurists, and the Early Adapters Who Are Showing Us the Way Forward
Available at Amazon.
Seeing into the Future: A Short History of Prediction
Available at Amazon.


28 thoughts on “COVID-19 reveals the greatest threat to America”

  1. I normally deeply appreciate your writing — but on this one, I think you have come down on the wrong side. There are many indicators the death toll is being dramatically overcounted to justify the radical actions politicians have taken. In fact, this is precisely what I would expect — when someone overplays their hand, they will do whatever is necessary to make it look like they are right. For instance, social isolation and job loss should cause the number of deaths via heart problems to dramatically increase–yet the rate seems to be decreasing very quickly in NYC, just about in proportion to the number of Wuhan Virus deaths being reported. Coincidence? Everyone who would have normally died from a heart condition “just happens” to be catching the Wuhan Virus and dying from that instead?

    I seriously doubt it.

    The models were right? After decades of the global climate change models being wrong, and multiple times of epidemic models being wrong, I don’t have any trust for the models any longer.

    So I do think trust is being eroded — but I think you’re pushing us towards a progressive future now, where we should “trust all experts,” and give ultimate powre to the state. This seems to be a compete turn away from where you’ve been in the past for some reason.

    1. Anon,

      I see people with bold certainty that the numbers are exaggerated. And other that the numbers are undercounted. I see little evidence for either, and believe that kind of conspiracy is impossible.

      Data in most nations is collected locally, often sent to a state-regional-province, then to the nation. The number of people involved is too large for secrecy.

      Nor are all those involved of one political tribe.

      As for p,along with the numbers, I’ve seen amateurs confidently doing so incorrectly for months and have lost interest in even reading them. When I and others point out simple basic errors, like Annan’s misunderstanding of R0, supports fume like paper mache volcanoes.

      Life is too short to waste on this.

      Accuracy of the models is a different subject entirely. As I have said, the ones predicting massive numbers got all the attention. And there are clear if tentative indications that they were off by two orders of magnitude.

      I plan to write about this. I had been waiting for someone competent to do so, but with climate science it seems only bystanders are willing to ask about the emperior’s clothes.

    2. A classic instance of the fog of war is occurring in the UK. There are two different systems for collecting death statistics. One is from hospitals, who record every death where the patient has tested positive from Covid-19. These numbers come in with a few days lag from the various hospitals which make up the UK socialized medicine system.

      So on any given day, the authorities announce a number of deaths in the last 24 hours. These were indeed the deaths reported in that period. But only a small fraction will have occurred in the last 24 hours. The others will have happened in the days before, but are only now coming into the stats. So, take an arbitrary number, they report 1,000 deaths. Probably only 200 happened in the last 24 hours. The rest were spread out a few hundred a day for the last three or four days.

      If this were not bad enough, you then have the care home and community numbers. These are mostly not confirmed by testing, but are based on doctors’ death certificates where the attending doctor has made a clinical judgment absent any test. And because there are so many care homes and doctors, these results trickle in with a much greater lag than the hospital deaths.

      If you look at this with a paranoid eye, you could make up some mad story about concealment and falsification, but all that is really going on is that it takes time to get numbers in from lots of sources and properly verified and cleaned up. What we are getting in the daily reports is the data in a raw state, as it comes in. Its still valuable, the numbers are still roughly comparable, because the same process has been used from the start, you can still use them to get a rough idea of the trend. But you can’t expect definitive and precise numbers instantly and revisions as they get cleaned up are not grounds for suspecting conspiracies.

      I agree with Larry. We have a very strange cultural crisis, in which the population appears to pick sources to trust and to be suspicious of almost at random. Or at least with no obvious rationale. And sometimes the same media or government agency is deemed a trustworthy source at one time and then rejected as the lying MSM on another topic.

      The scale of this volatility is I think historically very unusual. Maybe its occurred in febrile periods just before institutional collapse in other periods. But not often, and not often if ever as big and bad as it is now. Very, very serious and very dangerous.

      1. Henrik,

        Thank you for the report from the UK.

        If you were reporting about China, right-wing fanatics in the US would call you an apologist covering up for their fake numbers.

      2. We have a very strange cultural crisis, in which the population appears to pick sources to trust and to be suspicious of almost at random. Or at least with no obvious rationale. And sometimes the same media or government agency is deemed a trustworthy source at one time and then rejected as the lying MSM on another topic.

        My working theory on a lot of stuff for this is that the way in which people often engage in social activity and organization now, is a lot closer to “fandoms” – like the Star Trek fandom, and so on – but a lot of these fandoms have sufficient rhetorical and image-based overlap with older models, that they get mixed up. (And the older models didn’t disappear – there are still plenty of genuine patriots, and genuine devotees of ancient religions – but the topmost and most recent layer is fandom.)

        In addition, these fandoms in many cases don’t recognize that that’s what they are. So there are a lot of people in the “conservative media” fandom, or the “Trump” fandom, etc.

      3. SF,

        I agree. I, as others do, call them “tribes.” Tribal truths, tribal beliefs, tribal memberships.

        But your view of them as fan clubs is thought provoking. It touches on something I’ve noticed but never integrated or even made sense of: the lack of seriousness in much of this behavior.

        There are dedicated on the left and right. But as we saw in the Tea Party and Occupy movements, there is a lot of cosplay and other fun play in them. Intensity, like that seen in some sports fans.

        Much of this is entertainment by alienated people, for whom the burden of citizenship is a foreign concept.

        This ties in with something else I’ve long said: the talk of revolution by this people isn’t serious. These are not people who will risk their lives and fortunes (they lack honor) in the trials of revolution.

        Thanks for sharing that insight! It is worth some thought!

      4. Here is a specific example:

        Of the 482 new deaths announced in England today:

        118 occurred on 18 April
        243 occurred on 17 April
        62 occurred on 16 April

        The figures also show 56 of the deaths took place between 1 April and 15 April, and the remaining three deaths occurred in March, with the earliest new death taking place on 20 March, NHS England said.

        From the Guardian. Of course the numbers are tentative at first and subject to revision. The question is, would we rather be given them as they came in, or with the delays necessary to clean them up?

      5. Henrik,

        “The question is, would we rather be given them as they came in, or with the delays necessary to clean them up?”

        I don’t believe that is a useful question. All numbers are tentative until far after the fact, whether economic or medical. They all have their uses to people who understand what they mean.

        All can be used by over-confident people with inadequate training in their use. This is commonplace in economics, with right-wing practitioners of faux economics making bold predictions for decades – all using actual economic data, all wrong. So it has been with COVID-19, with everyman an epidemiologist. Why do we even have grad schools, since anyone can write with confidence about medicine, economics, or climate science?

      6. Larry: I see what you mean with tribes. I think the fandom model may be stronger, because these are relatively fluid identities. The entire “red state/blue state” thing that we take as gospel now is slightly less than 20 years old. I am reasonably confident that the thing Trump had that the probably-smarter, certainly-richer, very-likely-more-functional billionaires who have given this thing a shot, did not, is both experience in “working” a fandom (see all his branding exercises) and a pre-existing media platform, so people outside of the NYC area were widely aware of him. (I think without that exposure he would have gone over more like Tom Steyer.)

        I think fandoms are inevitable given the human perspective and the modern media landscape. The challenge will be how to integrate them into citizenship. I actually am fairly hopeful here because they may be in the same general psychological space as the old voluntary associations people were iin.

        But this gets off on a very different tangent. I don’t know if it can rebuild America.

      7. SF,

        “The entire “red state/blue state” thing that we take as gospel now is slightly less than 20 years old.”

        No. Strong regional identities go back to the Founding.

        “I think fandoms are inevitable given the human perspective and the modern media landscape.”

        Nope. The essence of fandoms, rather than political allegiances is (which are ubiquitous) is, IMO,that they are deeply held but unserious.

        We saw this with the festivals pretending to be political movements called Occupy and The Tea Party.

        “The challenge will be how to integrate them into citizenship.”

        That would be impressive. My guess is that real movements will arise, making these fanclubs disappear as shadows do when one turns on the lights.

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  4. Rumor flourishes where facts are in short supply.
    The CoViD19 is almost purpose built to foster rumors. It is quite infectious, but most people are not seriously or even perceptibly ill as a result. However, for the less lucky, it can easily be fatal or near fatal.
    In short, it is potentially life threatening, yet we have no speedy reliable tests to measure the extent of the disease. Worse yet, because it sometimes hits the body so hard, it kills many who are in poor health already, which makes treating the virus even more chancy, as the treatments are themselves stressful to the body.
    Plus it is statistically harder to tease out the effective treatments if 85% of the patients recover on their own.
    The implication is that the data is subject to major uncertainties, even the mortality numbers are suspect.
    In that environment, anyone with a good plausible story can create a belief and back it up with statistics, It reflects the knowledge vacuum that still persists.
    Consequently rumor will remain a major factor in the public perception of the outbreak, because the hard facts are few and the authorities actions have not prioritized factual justification. That opens the door wide to political and tribal spin artists, of whom the country has a surfeit.

    1. Etudiant,

      I agree! Of course, wars and epidemic have in common a shortage of information (we knew little about diseases until the 20th C, esp after WWII). So rumors rule.

      But this isn’t 1900. We can do better at sorting out rumors, and esp. relying on actual experts.

      But this post is about something else. COVID-19’s origins are as yet unknown (or disputed). I don’t know if it is a weaponized virus. But the stories about China are weaponized rumors deployed by our elites to manipulate us.

      For another part of this campaign, see As in this …

      Quite a load of bs. As usual for hawks, McMasters ignorantly assumes that China won’t push back – and ignores the risk of this conflict spiraling out of control. After all, McMasters is calling for the US to shape China’s destiny. We would not let them do that to us, and I’m sure vice versa is so.

      But this is terrifying:

      “ China has become a threat because its leaders are promoting a closed, authoritarian model as an alternative to democratic governance and free-market economics.”

      Promoting their system makes them a threat to us? That sentence reminds me of the opening to Thucydides’ History of the Peloponnesian War: the war was caused by the “growth in power of Athens, and the alarm which this inspired in Sparta.”

      1. “Promoting their system makes them a threat to us?”

        No, and that is taken a bit out of context. The piece as a whole is pretty reasonable when you get to why he says that. What makes them a threat, and not just to the US, is that you have a huge country run by a regime which is currently a party dictatorship, and which has been within living memory a genocidal party dictatorship. And which has serious ambitions for domination outside its borders.

        This is the thing to focus on. Its not about whether its morally good or bad. Its irrelevant whether its better or worse than America or Europe in various respects. That is just what-aboutery.

        Look hard at China, the way it is, how its evolved, what its record is in the last 50 years, and focus on that and only on that.

        Its a threat all right. What to do about it, if anything, and whether existing policies make any kind of sense, all that is a different issue (they probably don’t, but its irrelevant). The thing to focus on at the moment is what kind of a regime it is and what kind of a threat it represents.

      2. henrik,

        “No, and that is taken a bit out of context.”

        That is the context, as it was for Thucydides.

        (1) Much of China’s aggression results from building a defensive zone against us. For over a decade, the US military has made preparing to attack China one of its top priorities. Considering how many nations we have attacked (see below), they would be fools to not take strong defensive action.

        (2) You and McMasters appear to have amnesia. China is described as “aggressive” by those of a nation that has a long history of military force against other nations with little or no provocation.

        Small scale attacked (destroying property and killing only a few), such as Clinton ordering the destruction of the Al-Shifa pharmaceutical factory in July 1997 to steal headlines from the Monica affair. The 1983 invasion of Grenada, based on lies about the airfield and fictional claims about danger faced by US medical students there.

        The lies about the Tonkin Gulf resolution, justifying the Vietnam war – which devastated that nation. The lies about Saddam’s WMDs, leading to our invasion and occupation – causing vast damage to Iraq. The long history of our interventions in Afganistan since 1980 – which have done incalculable damage to it (including the 2001 invasion, based on lies).

        Our support for the overthrow of Libya, based on nothing – which has devastated that nation. Our support for the Saudi’s war with Yemen, which has devastated that nation.

        “Look hard at China, the way it is, how its evolved, what its record is in the last 50 years, and focus on that and only on that.”

        I suggest that you do the same for the US, and try leaving other people alone for a while. “When you point a finger at someone, four fingers point back at you.”

      3. Larry, the question of US conduct and lies, both current and historical, is an interesting and important one. But it has no bearing on the question about China. That is about China, not the US. That question is, what’s the nature of the regime, what policies is it pursuing, are they (and is China) a threat, and if so of what kind?

        It is completely irrelevant whether the US lied about the Gulf of Tonkin and other matters. It has no bearing on whether China is a threat and if so of what sort.

        Nor does the question of how best to react have any bearing. The first thing to do is establish whether there is a threat.

        My own feeling, and I think yours too probably, is that US conduct internationally has been counter-productive. But the time to get into that is also after having settled the nature of the threat, if any.

        One argument would be, there is no threat. There are only entirely natural defensive reactions to US aggression. I do not think the historical record of the last 50 years makes that at all plausible, but its an argument that would logically lead to a simple solution: just stop the aggression, and the reaction will probably stop also. If that is what you think, you should state it clearly, and give evidence. Changing the subject to the US doesn’t answer the question.

        I think that genocidal authoritarian regimes are really, really dangerous, especially when they have access to enormous industrial poower and weaponry. The problem is the lack of limits, which is what enables them to become genocidal in the first place.

        The problem for the China apologists and those arguing for entire US responsibility for deteriorating relationships is that there is a track record. Whether there is a US track record, whether its worse or better, that’s irrelevant. Focus on the Chinese track record of the last 50 years. That is the country the world has to deal with now. The only thing that matters at this stage is its nature and direction.

        You say ‘try leaving other people alone for a while’. I don’t know what that means, I’m not aware of doing anything to China. It is true that I am reading about its recent history, thinking about it, and commenting here about it. What is wrong with that? Its probably the most important country on the planet for the next 100+ years. We all of us read think and write about lots of countries. Is there something about China that says no, not about them?

      4. henrik,

        “the question of US conduct and lies, both current and historical, is an interesting and important one. But it has no bearing on the question about China”

        What a weird comment, even by the high standards of weirdness in your comments. I was replying to your own logic:

        “Look hard at China, the way it is, how its evolved, what its record is in the last 50 years, and focus on that and only on that.”

        “And which has serious ambitions for domination outside its borders.”

        First, China is a nation. It does not have “ambitions.” It does have leaders, and you have not the slightest idea as to their ambitions.

  5. Very good article, Larry.

    The quote from Andy Groves reminded me of a book I wanted to recommend to you, “How the Mighty Fall” by Jim Collins.

    It shows how complacency in companies can creates a self-destructive corporate culture and how some companies fail while others recover. Collins general recommendation is to either go back to what used to work for you or to find something new that you can be the best in the world at doing.

    The weakness of Collins’ advice to the question of how to right the sinking US ship is that he studies very large corporations; which are, by definition, not democracies. But there’s still a lot of useful observations and advice in a small book.

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  7. Rather than fandom or tribes, I believe that it is non-essentiality that lies at that heart of western cultural purposelessness, especially since the COVID-19 lockdown classifies almost 85% of our citizenry as ‘non-essential’.

    And what do these non-essential people do?

    They LARP. They indulge in Live_Action_Role_Playing because nothing they do matters. They dress up & discard identities like the Ghost Shirt Society in Vonnegut’s ‘Player Piano’. They shop; they consume; and they derive benefit from a body politic to which they do not contribute.

    They are citizens in name only.

    1. Perhaps that reflects bad political design more than LARP characters.
      The governments we have are quite indifferent to the desires of their citizens and quite willing to quash any thoughts of independence. That discourages civic purpose very effectively.
      Blaming the victims for being discouraged seems unproductive.
      Interestingly, the social structure built around such a state of affairs is greatly at risk of upheaval if the 85% LARPs somehow coalesce around a cause.
      The case of LI Wenliang in China illustrates the problem, the authorities hounded him to his deathbed and then were more afraid of him after his demise than while he was alive. The social controls held in that case, doubt that that will always be true.
      Non participatory citizenship is convenient for the ruling elites, but that convenience appears dearly bought.

      1. Etudiant,

        “Blaming the victims for being discouraged seems unproductive.”

        How sad. You appear to believe that liberty is something we get because of our awesomeness.

        I recommend that you read The Founders, and the philosophers on whose work they built America.

        They were clear that liberty comes to those who fight for it. It needs to be recovered every generation. Those willing to do so, lose it.

        You are probably unhappy with that. Too bad.

  8. John F Pittman

    Please be more specific Monk. Your comment is self descriptive, ranting incoherently: complaining of visuals in a word based argument, lack of argument as to why the ideas are dogshit.

    Surely you could do better!

    1. John,

      I’ve read the 67 thousand comments posted here in the past 18 years, and answered most of them. This has taught me much. There is nothing to be gained by replying to comments like Monk. You’ll get nothing in the way of rational fact or logic from them. They are internet trolls in the original sense of the term.

      This isn’t grade school show and tell, where people vent their feelings and everyone applauds. There are countless other places to do that. I just delete them and move on.

  9. I’m here today to comment on the insanity of an unknown percentage of the US population.

    The COVID-19 virus has now killed more Americans than the Korean War. At the current death rate, it will surpass the Vietnam War sometime next week.

    According to the Johns Hopkins Coronavirus website, the US has consistently averaged about 28,000 infections reported per day for the last few weeks. The “Shelter in Place” orders from 45 of the state governors are a bit uncomfortable, but are also obviously the best defense against the virus.

    And yet a small but increasing number of my fellow Americans are urging for us to abandon this strategy before the number of infections has dropped. They also have the vocal support of the US President.

    What will they say if the restrictions are loosened and the number of cases spike? I used to think I could reasonably the major responses of the US public, but reason is increasingly unwelcome to the US public.

    I know that the above statement is no news to the followers of the Fabius Maximus website but I never imagined that the public would fail to make such an obvious connection.

    There are two other sad trends that helps me understand the current political climate:

    I would argue that we’ve hit an inflection point in US history and the shape of the responsibilities of the US government needs to change. I don’t yet know whether the US Constitution also needs to change but the current “Federal government will do everything and the State and Local governments need minimal financing” model that has been in place since the 1970’s is not working this time.

    1. Pluto,

      I have not commented about the lockdowns, since my reporting has been purely conveying what experts say. My focus was on our actions in the critical first months, when we went from the best-prepared to one of the worst affected. This is rich with vital lessons for us.

      But I have never understood the use of lockdowns. Areas with few infections and suppress them with intense contact tracing and quarantines. Many nations have proven this works with COVID-19. Today that is most of the US. There is no need for lockdowns. Especially if there were clinical checks of incoming people at key points, such as RR and airport terminals. That would not, of course, catch everyone – but would help. Testing at those locations would be even more effective – but even in late April America still lacks sufficient testing capability for that.

      Lockdowns are warranted in areas where the infection spins out of control – such as Hubei Province and NYC. Using them in Kansas seems nuts to me.

      There is a second level to this. Much of this drastic response was fueled by models predicting Black Plague like casualties. These have been proven wrong, tentatively. Some poor nations have taken few drastic measures. These are test cases. Nobody has experienced the predicted level of infections, let alone deaths, predicted for COVID-19 if unsuppressed.

      Nobody wants to say these things, least a new surge or later resurgence of COVID-19 make them look like idiots. But some are starting to ask these questions. At some point answers will be needed.

      Remember Y2K. We were told that only our vast and expensive preparations saved civilization. But most Asian nations did far less and suffered not at all. COVID-19 is obviously a very different crisis. But I wonder if afterwards we might see similarities with Y2k. And, as I have said for months, with climate change.

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