In April, I questioned the U.S. government shutting down the entire economy other than essential workers. Unsurprisingly, “essential workers” included all government employees (who never lost a paycheck), and private businesses essential to government revenue (pot shops, tobacco stores, liquor stores, etc.).
Unemployment reached 15 percent, greater than the unemployment rate during the Great Depression. Unemployment was concentrated in industries that provide in-person services. The leisure and hospitality industry experienced an unemployment rate of 39.3 percent. The 20-plus million “unessential” Americans hurt the worst were workers without a college degree, teens, women, Blacks, Hispanics and immigrants.
I wrote approvingly of Sweden’s approach to the coronavirus. Children continued attending school, and adults kept working and enjoying restaurants. There were no masks and there was no social distancing. Sweden took the logical approach by isolating the infected, quarantining the vulnerable and exposed, and carrying on with life as normal.
The predictions by the media and Daily News sophists were that Sweden would necessarily have the highest death rate in the world. The science is settled, right? Yet even today, Sweden is in 26th place for deaths per million. Ahead of them are masking and lockdown countries like Belgium (2nd), Italy (5th), Spain (11th), UK (12th), USA (14th), France (16th) and Switzerland (24th). It wasn’t until December, when the second wave of coronavirus hit the northern hemisphere, that Sweden recommended wearing masks on public transportation during peak times.
In that article, I cited a study commissioned during the economic depression of 1974-75 showing that for every 1 percent increase in unemployment, 40,000 people die. Additional studies looked at the effect of unemployment on suicides, heart attacks, strokes, alcohol poisoning, drug overdoses, violence, etc. I also discussed lockdown consequences such as domestic violence, failed marriages, childhood trauma, an increase in crime, drugs and alcohol abuse, canceled wedding ceremonies and funerals, and those dying of coronavirus forced to die alone. We have seen all of these during the last nine months.
Virgil has a famous proverb: “aegrescit medendo,” or “the cure is worse than the disease.” Case in point: strict lockdown San Francisco. In 2019, 441 people died from drug overdoses while in 2020, 621 died from drug overdoses and 173 from COVID-19.
In an April column, I argued that the data models the West acted upon were wrong. They predicted that 2.2 million Americans would die if we didn’t lock down. As I wrote then, because of the deaths onboard the cruise ship Diamond Princess (0.4 percent) and the USS Theodore Roosevelt (0.02 percent), we knew that those over 65 were 1,000 times more likely to die of COVID-19 than those under 40. Yet instead of protecting the elderly or those with co-morbidities, we treat everyone as infected.
In that article, since the virus follows flu season, I anticipated the second wave of coronavirus to hit in the fall. I encouraged politicians not to shut down “nonessential” businesses again, and instead let us gradually work together toward herd immunity. But here we are, back in lockdown until flu season ends in May. Notably, Joe Biden is expected to enact a nationwide masking requirement during his first 100 days in office, which would “coincidentally” expire when coronavirus, flu and cold season all naturally end. Expect him to take the credit for what Mother Nature does.
Finally, in my August column, I argued that schools needed to remain open, just as in Europe. Online government schooling is a farce – just ask parents.
What is the cost to a generation of kids with their education truncated for more than a year?
The same sophists argued that the University of Idaho would experience multiple deaths from having live classes, and that Washington State University going online was the scientific consensus. As it turns out, Pullman became the No. 6 COVID hotspot in the nation while the UI didn’t have a single case of coronavirus infection due to live classes.
What I wrote back in April and August has proven to be true, and those who believe likewise should not be treated like reckless idiots. The government said, “Sorry, your business went bankrupt due to lockdowns. Here’s $600. We’re all in this together.” If we were all in this together, then the lockdown would apply universally. Lockdowns wouldn’t last long if every politician and government worker were unemployed.
Dale Courtney served 20 years in nuclear engineering aboard submarines and 15 years as a graduate school instructor. He now spends his spare time chasing his grandchildren around the Palouse.