I’m on everyones email list. Left and Right, smart and whaky, serious scientists and conspiracy theorist idiots and sages. I follow them all. Our world is going through the COVID 19 crisis for which there are so many unknowns, I can not categorically say anyone is right or wrong. Even our top experts change their minds and its not because they are stupid. Reliable knowledge can only be built on data and this virus has only been known to the world for a few months. Despite heric efforts, that is just not enough time to gather all the data we need. We are having to make momentus life and death decisions based on best guesses.
Everyday web sites publish authoritative maps and charts showing exactly the number of COVID 19 cases in different locations. But in the U.S. we have only tested about 2% of the population and most of those tests have been focussed mainly on symptomatic people so really we have no idea how many cases there are. I don’t envy our leaders that have to make momentous decisions on fragmentary information. The last thing we need to do is attach political labels to these decisions. Self disclosure – I am politically on the right. But I see no logical reason that should influence how I think about what we should do.
On the one hand, I see the terrible things the disease has done and how little we know about what it might do. As a society we a balance life and death decisions all the time. For example, driving speed limits, whether to release new drugs that have potentially deadly side effects, allow activities – such as sky diving, that are dangerous. Though these decisions can be difficult and contentious, they are usually based on a sound body of data. While we are learning quickly about COVID 19, we are still largely groping in the dark. The worst predictions could come true and the most flippant naysayers could be right. For this reason, I think the more cautionary approach we have taken is justified and we can become more nuanced as we gain more knowledge and tools.
I also see how people are very anxious to get back to normal life – especially people who need to get back to earning a living. So many businesses were shut down to prevent the spread of the virus but many families have been economically devistated. As a generaous society we have taken a number of actions such as the relief checks – but that can only go so far. Over time the wealth of society can only continue if people make things and provided services. The economic impact is hadest on the poorish and least privilaged in out society. For these reasons I am in favor of cautiously returning the work world gradually back to normal.
Some prominent people have said very wise and very stupid things at various times. I don’t see the point in pointing fingers. Both many prominent Republicans and Democrats at first dismissed the danger and later panicked in the other direction. And then, of course, called each other stupid, unsympathetic, evil, or whatever. Sometimes I think one side takes a position only because it is the opposite of the other side’s position. The way I see it, everyone, including me, has had to react with incomplete and in some cases inaccurate information so I place no blame on anyone.
So let’s start discussing like grown ups. We can shout and argue, but it should be about the true issues and the life and death decisions we need to make, not trying to advance our own petty causes.