*Note I’m not doing an April Fool’s Post this year, because I think as a society we’ve had it up to HERE with pranks, right about now.
Note also that I woke up sans sense of smell or taste (when you have a 21 year old incontinent cat, you can tell when you lost your smell, and Russian Caravan, the tea you drink with a forkTM tastes of nothing. Even with sweetener and lemon it tastes only like vaguely sweet water.
This is universally reported as the first symptom of Wu-flu. (I have a runny nose and a sore throat.) No, I don’t expect to die — not out of the question, with asthma, compromised lung function, etc — but I’m pissed at the prospect that I’m coming down with it, because I already lost two months this year to “mysterious, flu like illness.”
Even if I get very very ill, though, my opinion is the same. Short of actual black death numbers, what we’re doing to the economy is more dangerous than the disease. And will ultimately cost more in lives blighted and ended- SAH*
I think it’s very important to talk of the lives that will be destroyed or lost to this insanity of locking ourselves in our houses for fear of a virus. (Let me explain again, in quarantine, you lock up the sick. When you lock up the healthy it’s called house arrest. Yes, I am aware that there have been quarantines in the past. This is NOT — repeat not — a quarantine. Economic suicide. Collective insanity. Unprecedented violation of civil rights in peace time. It is all of that and more. It is not a quarantine.)
We’ll point out the obvious: there are people losing businesses they spent their lives building. There are people — I know some — who had just got a job which is now revoked. There are students who have just finished/are about to finish training, and who will be unemployed and crushed under student debt, no matter how sensible their training.
There is a risk of some number of these people committing suicide. That will be “visible deaths” coming from this particular insanity.
But there will be also any number of hidden deaths. Like the squid farms on Mars, which we hypothetically don’t have because we chose to fund the “Great Society” instead, these losses are invisible because they were never actually actualized. They were merely things that might be, and were in fact likely until governments (mostly state and local) decided it was a great idea to take the wheels off the economy, possibly because they were suffering from a terrible case of Orange Man Bad and knew they couldn’t elect their spokeszombie in the face of a thriving economy. You know, things like people getting jobs, with good training, in a thriving economy. People making enough money to marry, afford a house and kids. People getting that first job, that eventually leads to other, better jobs.
But Sarah, you say, if this never happens, how can it cost us anything, much less lives?
It can cost a lot of things and yeah, lives. Perhaps not in the sense that people die, but in the sense that lives are not what they should be or even are wasted
As the mother of an unmarried young man about to finish his training with two engineering degrees and minors in another form of engineering, plus math and physics, yes, I am concerned that he’ll stay in the basement and never marry. While I come from a culture in which the younger child is often expected to stay home and look after the parents, that is not what I want or expect of my sons.
But it could be less dire than that and still bad: he is a jack leg programmer, and he might be able to make a living coding on a gig basis, and make do, more or less. But he’ll never do what he loves and spent 7 years training for. Whatever contributions he might eventually have made to aerospace engineering will be lost.
And I hear you say that all of us took paths we didn’t expect and many of us — or the most interesting ones of us — are doing things we didn’t train for and which would shock our younger selves. And I’m going to say “granted.” And in most cases, those youthful dreams were misguided or not realistic. (Do you see me ruling the world and leaving it strictly alone?)
And I’ll grant you that too. But most of us are at least doing something adjacent to what we thought we would be doing (Journalist/novelist. Though I trained for translator and — rolls on floor laughing — diplomatic service.)
When this type of destruction hits an economy at the level we’ve inflicted in March 2020, what you see is a lot of diminished lives. Which in turn causes a lot of loss of interest/hope/etc.
Alvin Toffler might or might not be right about future shock. He was, however, absolutely right about cultural trauma caused by sudden and unexpected/unforeseen change, particularly when that change was negative.
Note there is credible reason to say Europe is dying from WWI.
On top of that, we were already dealing with extreme technological change, at a pace that was causing psychological problems. Weirdly — this isn’t unusual when the wheels come off, so it shouldn’t be “weirdly” but most people think of a society being ruined as stepping back to an earlier level of technology. Unless the ruin continues to be enforced by government — Venezuelization or Cubanization — in fact ruin tends to accelerate technological driven societal change — this will only make the changes we were experiencing faster, because a lot of the digital revolution makes things cheaper/more streamlined. Which means we’re more likely to go in that direction in hard economic times.
And a lot of us are over fifty. Not as many as in Europe, but still a lot of us. Which means these changes will be hitting at just the right time to give a lot of people Unemployed Middle Aged Man Syndrome. (Note “man” because most women have other sources of “self” than job. But not all. And my generation of women is more like men on that.) What this means is that some number of people will simply be unable to cope with changed work/life circumstances brought on by this insanity.
Yes, some will perhaps kill themselves, and those are visible. The invisible ones are the ones who go pottering into the sunset, alive but no longer able to contribute anything to society.
In that group, stress will also cause new and interesting forms of disease, including cancer, which a broke society might or might not be able to treat.
When people say we should stay “quarantined” (It’s not) till July, or for a year, or till the cows come home, “if it saves even one life.” this is what they and we must weight it against.
It’s all very well to say you won’t die FOR Wall Street. But will you die of the economy?
Because Wall Street is retirement plans. It is investment and innovation funds. It is rainy day funds. All of these for middle America. More than that, the economy and its ability to allow people to work for pay or find the food they need, or whatever IS lives.
Money is lives. All of us trade away some portion of our lives to produce goods and services which in turn get paid for and allow us to continue living. It has always been so. Since we’ve had money, money is simply a symbol, a way to keep track.
Money, and food and goods and services, and “simple” things like stores being open and stocked are LIVES. They’re hours and investments of people’s time and creativity.
How much of that do we burn to save lives. Where is the balance?
I don’t know. I know it’s possible to lose 1/3 of the population, particularly when that population is very old and forge on. Sure, we’ll lose institutional memory, but we’ve already lost that, having decided to indoctrinate the last three generations in an utter vacuum of history or hard facts. (Sorry, but you know it’s true.)
Look, I don’t want to die more than the next person, and the next person is playing with the peaches of immortality. It’s not that I want to live forever, or live for its own sake. But I want to live long enough to write 100 novels, cuddle four grandchildren, and … well, I want to live while I have things to do.
On the other hand, I know I’m 57 and not in perfect health. And I’ve survived expectations at birth for 57 years. So far so good. (Said the man as he fell past the 20th floor.)
I think a lot of our response to this is our fear of disease and death writ in sky high letters.
None of us is going to live forever. We’ve been dying since the day we’ve been born.
Sure, we have things to do and places to go. BUT it does no good to pay for our diminished future with the future of the entire society.
This fake quarantine isn’t free. Life isn’t free. Nothing is free.
There ain’t no such thing as a free lunch, in anything. And the smart person asks the price before dipping a hand in the supposed freebies.