In Order to Form a More Panicked Union: Coronavirus, Government, and the “Freedom” to Fear (Part One)

Consider this hypothetical scenario: A new pandemic is sweeping the globe. It rivals or exceeds the worst in human history. It looks to infect the vast majority of the population; it has a 60, 70, or 80% mortality rate. In response, governments have completely shut borders, instituted draconian measures to control businesses, the economy, the stock market. People are out of work indefinitely, savings and retirement funds are quickly disintegrating, large-scale government money printing and massive debt are being incurred by the State to stave off total economic collapse, politcal rallies are canceled, future free elections uncertain, government control of healthcare and the means of production are only inches away, stay-at-home-orders are issued making social gatherings outside the home illegal, and punishable by stiff fines or worse. Shelves at stores are emptying at rates that exceed demand; basic necessities like cold medicines, paper products, household cleanears, diapers, and hand-satntizers, are nowhere to be found. Everywhere is panic; conspiracy theories abound—it’s a bio-weapon, it’s Gods’ punishment for our sins, it’s the Chinese waging war against the West; the media in all forms carpet bombs the headlines with warnings of the end of humanity, possibly, and certainly life as we know it.

What is your reaction to this?

Your upset. Anxious. Uncertain. But you understand. It’s a dangerous pandemic, after all. Perhaps we are overreacting, but you can never be too careful. It’s a scary and dangerous time, and we need to hunker down and do our part to get through it as best we can.

Now, imagine this hypothetical scenario:

A new pandemic has made its way around the world. There are pockets where it is more prevalent, even to the point of an 8% mortality rate, but in most places the morality rate is about 4%, with a few hundred or a few thousand only being infected so far. In the epicenter country, the numbers have leveled out, new cases are falling. In approximately six months, in a world of 7.8 billion people, and at the time of this writing, approximately only 360 thousand have been infected, with about 15,550 deaths, and in many, many countries the numbers of infected are below even 50; the pandemic is affecting a fraction of the global population which is so small that it pales in comparison to deaths from even things as common as smoking, car accidents, diabetes, and heart disease. It’s so small, in fact, that it’s barely worth talking about. Certainly there is a danger that the virus responsible for the pandemic could mutate and become much more dangerous, but for now the the trends concerning mortality rates, severity of the disease, and new cases, remains consistent.

The word’s response to this pandemic, however, is exactly the same as the more profound one described above. Exactly the same.

What is your reaction?

I’m crazy, you’d say. That could never happen. What a silly hypothetical scenario. Responses to crises are proportionate. You don’t put out a match with a firehouse, after all. Everyone knows that.

And yet here we are. What I mean is that scenario number two isn’t actually hypothetical at all. It’s happening right outside your window. Right now. Out there.

The pandemic is called Covid-19, a novel strain of the common family of coronaviruses. The response is called “government and humanity no longer being worthy of faith”.

END part one

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