Dictatorship of the immunocompromised?

As America teeters on the brink of a planned catastrophic economic collapse, it is time to rethink our response to the deadly coronavirus that is afflicting us.

There has to be an exit strategy out of this national suicide attempt that is being accomplished through lockdowns and the imposition of quasi-martial law.  Responsible, enlightened governance requires tradeoffs that don't look like one-size-fits-all collective punishment imposed from above.

We got to this place because wildly overstated projections by monomaniacally focused experts stampeded policymakers into ordering draconian crackdowns on the general population, instead of focusing on the most vulnerable members of the population.  These politicians have been tripping over each other as they race to see who can be the most severe and despotic.

Is all of this justified?  The Chinese virus may be scary, but, so far at least, the doomsday scenarios forecasted by so many so-called experts are not playing out.

Shutting down the economy to protect those vulnerable to the coronavirus that causes COVID-19 is not a winning strategy, as some officeholders — even New York's Maximum Leader, Andrew Cuomo — are beginning to admit.

It's a profoundly dumb idea and terrible public policy.

After all, why are we prioritizing — or, as some like to say, "privileging" — the health of one bloc in society over the well-being of everyone else?

As Joy Pullman writes at The Federalist: "Is it right for the nation to require our children's futures be destroyed to keep alive less than 1 percent of our population until the next flu season?  Could we not attempt to keep them safe by less disastrous means?"

She's right.  This lopsided focus on protecting one segment of society at all costs makes no sense.

America must not become a dictatorship run exclusively for the benefit of the immunocompromised minority. 

The burden must be shifted.  Expand testing massively.  People who are at risk or who might have the virus should be quarantined so the rest of society can function.  Keep them safely away from others.  Maybe taxpayers should subsidize them temporarily.  Anything that allows a significant portion of Americans to get back to their jobs immediately is better than the status quo.

Changing the rules now in effect will allow people to return to gainful employment, perhaps not all at once and perhaps with new safety protocols in place where possible.  Free individuals can decide if they want to work.  Employers can offer danger pay.  Herd immunity will probably develop.

Some people will die.  But people will die no matter what we do.  They are dying now.

Remember that social distancing isn't a cure for COVID-19.  The strategy presumes that a large portion of the population will eventually become infected.  The goal is to "flatten the curve" to spread infections out over time to prevent the health care system from being overwhelmed.

But the destruction of our liberties and way of life to combat a currently underperforming plague is too great a price to pay.

If we destroy the economy, we will all suffer dearly.  Plenty more people will die.

Americans need to reject thought-paralyzing clichés like "if we can save only one life," which have no place in a serious discussion of what the nation should do.

They also need to ignore the pungent sanctimony of those who say "stay at home or you are selfish and greedy" or "close everything until it's over."  This kind of sloganeering, often used by people who don't have to worry about money, is the modern-day equivalent of "let them eat cake."

America needs to get back to being America, not this nightmarish dystopia we are rapidly becoming.

Image credit: Pixabay, public domain.

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