A successful effort to eliminate risk from the human equation would also obliterate what makes us human. From Bill Bonner at bonnerandpartners.com:
Week 9 of the Quarantine
Fauci be not proud, though some have called thee
Mighty and dreadful, for thou are not so;
For those whom thou think’st thou dost overthrow
– Bill Bonner, with apologies to John Donne
SAN MARTIN, ARGENTINA – We are about to reveal a completely unorthodox, unapproved, and probably unwelcome view of America’s war on the coronavirus. In preview, we should give peace a chance. Continue at your own risk…
Yes, we are on a long, lonely trail… wandering around between life and death… between six feet apart and six feet under… between looking out for our sons and daughters… and looking out for Number One…
But here on the high ground, we have come to see the Universal Lockdown as not merely a mistake or a crime, but as something worse – a sin against our species.
The excuse for locking everyone in his home is to “save lives.” But Federal Reserve policies will save no lives; not a single one. We will all die anyway. The question is when…? And how? And therein weaves our treacherous path.
So let’s mount up and get moving. It won’t be easy, we warn you… The air is thin, the path is full of traps and pitfalls… and what we are looking for is more elusive than a sepo hidden in 10,000 acres of wilderness.
What we are looking for is the meaning of life itself, hidden somewhere in the vast, dark universe.
To give you a little hint of where we’ll end up, if humans’ No. 1 goal was to save lives, we would never have come down from the trees. It was (relatively) safe up there. We would never have ventured out of Africa into the cold of Europe. The Siberian tribes would never have crossed into America… and Columbus would never have ventured across the Atlantic.
“Be safe,” say the billboards and email salutations. But if safety were the only thing, we wouldn’t go to war… we wouldn’t get married… we wouldn’t have children… we wouldn’t risk our money by investing… we wouldn’t build factories, drive cars, or fly airplanes… we wouldn’t explore space… we wouldn’t allow our children to ride bicycles or play sports… We wouldn’t smoke cigars, drink whisky, or dare to do anything that might cause harm, pain, or loss.
In short, we would not be human. Instead, we would be like zoo animals, kept alive by the experts and authorities, allowed to breed… but with the zookeepers watching to make sure we didn’t hurt each other.
It is cage life – behind bars, in a fake nature – that the experts now offer. They will protect us from the virus by ordering us to stay home. And they will feed us with their fake money… like giving sawdust soup to prisoners of war.
Human life is necessarily a risky undertaking. From cradle to grave, we are always in danger – of losing the ones we love… losing our honor… losing our liberty… losing our money… losing our nerve… losing our dignity… and losing our place in Heaven. Losing our lives is inevitable… and the least of our worries.
Life always ends the same way: in death. The important thing is not to avoid it; that is impossible. Instead, the important thing is to accept the risks of real life… and to try to make the best of it…
…and when our time comes, not to whine and cower, but to die with grace and dignity. That is why pneumonia is called “the old man’s friend.” It helps him into the grave, before he needs tubes and bedpans. That is also – at least, it appears to be – the charm of the C-virus. It is a friend to the old and infirm, not an enemy.
But let’s go back to the simple math. We’ve looked at the downside of the Universal Lockdown. What’s the upside?
There are so many numbers flying around – often trailed by decimal points! – that we could choose almost any we want. But we promise not even to mention infection rates, mortality rates, or any of the statistical arguments that are overloading the internet.
Since neither the medical profession nor the feds, nor even Dr. Fauci, can actually “save” a life, the real question is how many more years of life can their policies provide?
The average age of those who have died in the U.S. from the coronavirus = 78. That is almost exactly the same as the average age at which most people die in the U.S. anyway. So, on the surface of it, it seems that COVID-19 does not do anything that “normal” patterns of life and death don’t do. Normally, people die at 78. The C-virus kills them at 78, too.
But wait. A “normal” person – even someone with a health issue – of 78 years of age may still have a few more good years ahead of him. Statistically, he can expect to live another eight years.
So, if the disease carries off 100,000 people who would otherwise NOT have died this year, as a nation, we will lose about 800,000 years of life.
But not so fast… A third of the dead were already in nursing homes or assisted living communities. To how many of these people did the virus merely give a timely assist? We don’t know. And many died from multiple causes. Should COVID-19 get all the blame? Again, we don’t know.
But according to The New York Times, deaths from non-COVID-19 causes are rising, too. These are often younger people. The average age at which people decide to kill themselves is 49. So, each suicide death deprives the nation of about 29 years… or more than three times as much life as a COVID-19 death.
In the Great Depression, suicide rates went up 50%. Last year, 48,000 Americans committed suicide. If this lockdown causes the same effect as the Great Depression, it will push another 24,000 off the ledge… for a total of extra years lost of 696,000.
Meanwhile, cancer, heart disease, and lung-related deaths also seem to be on the increase. Perhaps amid the COVID-19 hysteria, people are reluctant to seek treatment of any sort. Treatments for heart attacks and strokes, for example, have declined by 60% since the lockdown began.
And unbelievably, in the midst of the biggest health crisis of the last 100 years, hospitals report an increase in empty beds. Nurses are being laid off. And doctors report such a dive in their business that many are unable to pay their rents.
Also, as people are made poorer because of the lockdown, they have less money to go to the doctor or dentist… or to spend on nutrition and sanitation.
How that will affect their lives, we don’t know. But a headline at Fox News this morning says a UN report warns that “economic devastation could cost more lives than virus.”
Fast and Painless
Another friendly feature of COVID-19 is that it is a relatively fast and painless way to go. There are many worse ways. Starvation, for example.
The most dramatic losses will probably be in poor countries. There, people live on the margins already. Colleague George Gilder sees “mass starvation” coming in India. He cites UN World Food Program estimates that as many as 260 million people could face starvation. And he quotes Michael Levitt, a Nobel Prize winner in chemistry: “There is no doubt in my mind that when we look back on this, the damage done by the lockdown will exceed any saving of lives by a huge factor.”
All we know for sure is that we know nothing for sure. But the payoff from the lockdown is no sure thing, either. And it’s very possible that lockdown initiatives will increase, not decrease, the number of years of life lost in America.
Quality, Not Quantity
But wait… there’s more to life than just not dying. There is also the “living” part… and we do that in many ways that Drs. Fauci and Birx cannot begin to tally.
It’s not just a matter of time. Suppose you spent your whole life “brain dead,” kept “alive” by pumps and drugs. What would your life be worth then?
It may be sacred in the eyes of God, but man would apply a discount. A life in a coma is just not the same; and to most people, it’s not worth as much.
The trouble with epidemiologists – like economists – is that they can count, but they can’t figure. They can measure quantity, but not quality.
Quality can only be measured by human choices. And human choices – whether it is interest rates, mountain climbing, hairstyles, love matches, or art – can only be registered if humans are allowed to make them.
Two men may be told that COVID-19 is running wild in their city… They may know that if they contract the disease, given their identical age (both are 75) and physical condition (both have diabetes… and both meant to go on a diet years ago), they have a one in 10 chance of dying.
One, comfortable… well stocked with liquor and an agreeable companion… may decide it is not “worth” it to venture out. The other, miserable… driven half-mad after being cooped up at home, may find the odds fetching. Each makes his choice and takes his chances.
By disallowing choice, the authorities undermine the quality of life as well (probably) as the quantity of it, as measured in time. Both men get the same restrictions, even though only one would choose them.
And the authorities, do-gooders, and world-improvers – emboldened by Fauci, fame, and power – don’t stop there. They apply the same rules to everyone, even though the over-85 geezers are 15,000 times more likely to die from COVID-19 than the under-15 kids.
So now, we are all locked away – old and young, healthy and sick… like toothless old lions in the Baltimore zoo.