All I’m Going to Say About COVID-19

Boy the COVID pandemic sure makes me want to go colonize Mars. Between the dripping condescension over people who make different risk/benefit calculations and conclude reopeners only want to kill grandma and the “But muh rights!” crowd, get me off, please.

I’m very pro-individual rights, but the government has long had considerable power to halt the spread of communicable disease during active epidemics. All this has happened before: business closures, travel restrictions, mask mandates, etc. Fines for spitting in public were particularly severe during the 1918 Spanish Flu. I don’t think the current lockdown is sustainable economically, but for opening back up to not cause a second wave of infections, everyone’s going to have to make some sacrifices for the common good. This doesn’t mean we haven’t seen government acting like petty tyrants. When they exercise power for power’s sake, unrelated to stopping disease, the courts and people should punish them harshly.

But if the state mandates masks in an area with active outbreak, what’s it to you? Anywhere from 20%-50% of infected people are asymptomatic. That means you can’t just quarantine the sick, because we don’t know who the sick are. There aren’t enough tests to sustain the level of testing needed to sort that out. The mask isn’t to protect you so much as it’s to protect everyone else from your crud in case you’re one of those asymptomatic carriers. It’s not perfect, but it doesn’t have to be. It just needs to make the virus successful at transmitting less often.

By the same token, we can’t keep everyone locked down for many more months, and a lot of places just aren’t all that affected by the pandemic. A lot of the people pushing for extended lockdown are financially well off and can afford it. It looks very different to people who aren’t, or who are facing failure of their businesses. Why wouldn’t you expect they’d make a different risk assessment? There’s only so much money you can print and borrow, and our political system will extract a heavy price in graft to keep those checks coming. There aren’t any good choices here, so why lecture people who make a different bad choice and accuse them of wanting to murder people? Not helpful.

18 thoughts on “All I’m Going to Say About COVID-19”

  1. First, I absolutely agree that making this about “murdering grandma” is counter-productive and inappropriate.

    On the issue of masks, the problem I have with the current mandate is that it’s clearly not necessary.

    Once you factor in the typical incubation period of the virus, the typical period from onset of symptoms to the onset of symptoms requiring hospitalization, and the typical period from hospitalization to release, the current downward trend of “the curve” predates pretty much every mask mandate.

    In practice, the trend we are currently seeing in terms of hospitalization & mortality statistics is the result of things that we’ve been doing since March.

    With that in mind, mandating that everyone wear a mask while out in public (particularly by threatening ruinous fines and/or imprisonment for non-compliance) is clearly not necessary for the population as a whole.

    Mandating that businesses must set specific hours to serve only vulnerable populations, and that masks must be worn by all present at those times might be reasonable.

    Mandating that everyone wear masks at all times outside of that is a problem. Mandating that ALL workers must wear masks at all times (except when eating while on break) is not reasonable.

    As an aside, if this were really as bad and as deadly as the panic-porn purveyors want us to believe, I’d expect that grocery stores would be having a hard time finding cashiers to replace all of the cashiers they’d be losing to the virus.

    1. Correct, the current downward trend of “the curve” predates pretty much every mask mandate. It is entirely due to the shutdown and many staying at home! Do you want the shutdown and stay-at-home orders to continue or be a responsible American and wear a mask when needed? If we had been wearing masks when needed in January and February, thousands of lives would have been saved and our economy would not have been hit that hard.

  2. All true enough. And excellent point about perspective of risk assessment.


    I’m not sure months long suspension of church and assembly has been tested, even during Spanish Flu. It seems to me that 1A took a massive hit here and sets a bad precedent going forward. You can he damn sure the media would have been ALL OVER a single instance where freedom of press was infringed because of virus.

    I’m not religious at all, but I certainly appreciate a quote out of Colorado that I saw “Pot shops and abortion clinics are “essential” and open, but my church is not”. That’s very fair objectively let alone her point of view.

    It’s fine with me, I’m well off, and haven’t suffered at all during any of this. I could go another couple weeks before I get bored. But I sure as hell see the irony in people saying Trump is a dictator and also to please make them stay home. Nothing we aren’t used to, the same people want “Hitler” to disarm them.

    1. With regards to “Trump is a dictator” — he’s been handling it very poorly as a dictator. He has deferred to Governors a lot (that one time he said “The President alone has the authority to call this off” a lot of Governors — particularly Democratic ones — stood up and said “Hey, no, Mr. President, we’re in charge of *our* States” — to which he calmly backed off — makes me think he did that on purpose, to reinforce Federalism — but with Trump, it’s hard to be sure). He has avoided emergency powers, and to the extent he has used his emergency powers, he has acted to cut bureaucratic red tape and waive laws. He has encouraged private businesses to step up and help.

      I like this precedence that President Trump is setting. Here’s to hoping that it sticks for the next emergency!

  3. Given that the involvement of astroturf “conservative” organizations (including the DeVos family) and social conservative fraudsters in the recent Shutdown Liberation Rallies has been surprisingly transparent, what do you suppose the real motive behind those is? It doesn’t seem likely that a simple difference in perspective is all that’s involved. Here in Pennsylvania we had a gun rights fraudster from Ohio come in to instigate the capitol demonstration. What was his motive? Anything having to do with guns, do you think? Figure that out and you will have figured out a lot.

    1. The key difference between leftist astroturf and the sort of “astroturf” you point to is funding.

      True/leftist astroturf is funded from the top, and the goal is to spend that money in order to make it look like lots of people support a particular agenda.

      The sort of “astroturf” you’re pointing to is a completely different breed of astroturf: The agenda already has popular support, but has no central organization. The “astroturfers” in this paradigm exist to give people a tiny shove in the direction they already want to go, and to then hit them up for donations.

      In other words, leftist astroturf is about spending billionaires’ money to make it look like their ideas have broad popular support (when they don’t), while anti-leftist “astroturf” is about giving large groups of people who share an anti-leftist idea the opportunity to feel like they’re actually doing something productive, when all they’re really doing is giving money to some scumbag.

      1. “The “astroturfers” in this paradigm exist to give people a tiny shove in the direction they already want to go, and to then hit them up for donations.”

        Anyone in either camp who believes the identical things aren’t true for their own camp is totally delusional.

        “Tiny shove.” Heh.

        I won’t repeat any of my Old Stories for now, but I knew more-or-less personally some of the gun rights scammers who have expanded their horizons to this “shutdown” issue, and I know they regarded their “memberships” as “morons” that they were farming like cattle. I can’t believe they have acquired a more altruistic attitude in the 12 – 13 years since I walked away. One of them was involved in the Kent Sorenson bribery scandal of the Ron Paul campaign in Iowa.

      2. “One of them was involved in the Kent Sorenson bribery scandal of the Ron Paul campaign in Iowa.”

        Check out the Wikipedia article about Sorenson.

        I knew Dennis Fusaro, the whistleblower cited in that article. He was my handler when I was a de facto regional spokesman (without portfolio) for GOA back in the ’90s.

        Through Fusaro I became associated with Aaron Dorr of Iowa. He had essentially drafted the proposal for the bribe ($37,000?) paid to Sorenson to switch from Michelle Bachmann’s campaign in Iowa to Ron Paul’s campaign.

        Aaron Dorr’s brother Chistopher is the gun rights scammer in Ohio. You can check out what Buckeye Firearms Association has to say about his “Ohio Gun Owners.”

        The Dorrs (there are three brothers and a father that I know of) are a social conservative scamming dynasty in Iowa, I guess now moving farther afield.

        The Pennsylvania Firearms Association is part of the scamming network. All of the “associated” groups at that link are part of NAGR’s network. I once was assocated with most of those groups, and know their DNA. All are something other than they present to be. But it has been more than a decade since I walked away, so I’m sure I don’t know everything, despite still having some loose, indirect contacts.

  4. Jeez, an actual rational person. The crazy is really deep out there to the point where I have mostly stopped interacting. At one level, the crazy is just a continuation of the cold civil war which has been moved closer to a hot one. At another level, I am seeing a substantial fracture in conservative opinion. Perhaps, that is an artifact of the places I go to on the internet or perhaps it is real. Who knows? At any rate it is disturbing.

    1. “I am seeing a substantial fracture in conservative opinion.”

      My theory is that, as with the NRA, what you see emerging is competition between factions that have competing interests; they could all wrap and conceal their private, selfish motivations (with the main one being “political power”) in a broad but phony “ideology” at one time, but it was inevitable that eventually competing self-interests would out.

      It maybe isn’t the best or most attractive analogy, but there were two Russian revolutions in the 1910s, the “February” or “Kerensky” revolution, and the “October” or “Bolshevik” revolution. Arguably the Kerensky revolution was broader-based, but the Bolsheviks that overthrew it had only their own narrow personal issues of acquiring power in mind, and were brutal in imposing it.

      That is an example from the left, but the same principles apply independent of ideology. It is among reasons the gun rights movement has become top-heavy with scammers.

      1. Perhaps. And there were a large variety of socialists/communists running around too. Not only the Kerenskyites and the Bolsheviks but the Mensheviks and the SRs, not to mention the anarchists who are largely communist today but not back then. Of course the Whites were equally fractured and may better fit your analogy of factions.

        1. “not to mention the anarchists who are largely communist today but not back then.”

          We could argue about that historically, because I’m pretty sure the early 20th century anarchists’ utopian fantasies involved achieving collectivism; though they mainly eschewed using the power of the state as a path to their utopia. We embraced a similar fantasy during my days with the Libertarian Party, i.e, that doing things like privatizing prisons would lead to the state “withering away”, rather than providing an incentive to build yet more prisons and to pass the laws necessary to fill them. (See, “Project Exile.”)

          For a snapshot of what early 20th century anarchists believed I’d suggest reading up on Emma Goldman. She fascinates me in being one of very few people who rubbed shoulders with Lenin and Trotsky (after she was deported to Russia) but then was the first prominent leftist to call bullshit on the Bolsheviks. She lost most of her old friends and supporters for doing that, and that took balls.

          A long time ago I saw a TV documentary — only once — on something like the History Channel, that offered the analysis that the reason the U.S. and England invaded the Soviet Union in 1919 was to ensure that the Black Russians (anarchists) wouldn’t win the Russian civil war. They preferred the Whites, but when there was a tossup between the Reds and Blacks, they would support the Reds. The Reds, who obviously believed in (their own) government, were considered preferable to the Blacks, who were sincere in wanting to “smash the state”, and had been calling bullshit on the Bolsheviks from the start.

          As mentioned, I never saw that documentary or analysis repeated again, and I remain open to any documented history that refutes it.

          1. One of the major reasons why there a so few of the traditional anarchists around today is that the Communists killed vast numbers of them. At the dawn of the Bolshevik era, the two biggest concentrations of anarchists were in Ukraine and Spain. In both cases, the Bolsheviks got control of the security forces and did their thing.

            Cannot disagree with your dismissal of libertarian fantasies. The great revealing in the Age of Trump has IMHO shown them to be useless in a fight. CV has been even worse as Sebastian noted.

  5. “…the Communists killed vast numbers of them.”

    True. A good, later example is that the “Stalinists” in the Spanish Civil War largely oppressed and subverted every other of their supposed “allies”, including the anarchists, in that conflict. There even is a body of opinion that Stalinists did more to defeat the Republicans than Franco’s fascists ever did.

    George Orwell wrote about it extensively in his book “Homage to Catalonia.” He went to Spain to fight as a member of the POUM and was badly wounded. I forget what POUM stood for, but the “M” was for “Marxist.” Most people believe that all terms on the left are synonymous, but there were a number of groups that identified as “Marxist” that were vehemently anti-“Stalinist” and anti-“Trotskyist”.

    Those things in history interested me more, as analogies, when I realized how many competing factions existed on the right, of which the NRA’s current paroxysms are probably a symptom. Usually the common denominator in political organizations is competition for raw political power; but secondarily to that is the competition for money, which both precedes and results from raw political power. Anyone who believes it is competition traceable to “ideology” is deluding themselves.

  6. Reopeners don’t necessarily *want* to kill grandma, but there’s definitely a “some of you may die but I’m willing to take that chance” mentality involved.

    1. “some of you may die but I’m willing to take that chance”

      I remember that mentality well, from the Vietnam Era.

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