It was Monday morning on March 10, 2019, when Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302 lurched away from the gate, rolled to a sprint, and peeled its wheels off the runway for the last time. Aboard, 157 souls including eight Americans and one veteran on vacation doing missionary work, were flying.
Six minutes after takeoff, Flight 302 plunged back to earth, trailing white smoke across the sky until reaching its terminus near Bishoftu, Ethiopia. All aboard perished when the Boeing 737 Max 8 aircraft screamed into the ground at nearly 700 miles per hour, leaving a massive crater with wreckage driven up to 30 feet deep into the soil.
What happens to a government when the consent of the governed breaks down? History has many instances of this some ending with peaceful transformation, others with successful revolution as in our own history and still others with military crackdowns as we currently see in Hong Kong.
Thomas Jefferson wrote in our nation’s founding document, the Declaration of Independence, which was written as a series of reasons why the American colonists no longer accepted the rule of King George III. The opening two paragraphs of this seminal document used to be memorized by school children as part of their school exercises, a practice which was largely abandoned in the 1960s. So as a refresher, here is what Jefferson penned:
Some 100 million people in China are now back in lockdown as fears of a second wave surge. Now that the US and the rest of the world is opening up, the probability of infection will most likely go up, as will the number of infections. What does that mean for the economy?
First, uncertainty and fear of another lockdown will negatively influence business decisions and overall economic recovery. Even if your business survived the first wave, would you be willing to go all in, invest, rehire people, renew leases, etc., if you think you will be shut down in the autumn?
Perhaps the most unserious response to the coronavirus pandemic has been the facile assertion that lockdowns, the destruction of the economy, and the suppression of our historic freedoms are all justified if they “save just one life.” As Joe Biden put it on Twitter, “I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: No one is expendable. No life is worth losing to add one more point to the Dow.”
While every person is unique and has an immortal soul, we do not do anything and everything to save lives from all hazards, nor should we. Adults know that there are no easy solutions to most problems, and real life consists of tradeoffs.
As the debate between those who want an unlimited lockdown and those who want to reopen America as quickly as possible becomes more clangorous every day, months of intensive study and sad experience with the coronavirus enable us to determine the best course and resolve the argument.
The shutdown must end in all but severely afflicted areas. Its original purpose was to “flatten the curve.” In the early stages, the number of coronavirus reported cases and deaths in the United States was doubling every few days. Horrifying projections based on the scanty evidence available and hyped by the anti-Trump media to put as much pressure and blame on the president as possible for his initially somewhat casual treatment of the subject, stirred fears of millions of deaths and of a universal vulnerability to an almost untreatable fatal illness.
One of the most important principles of epidemiology is weighing benefits and harms. A failure to do this can make virtually any medical treatment seem helpful or destructive. In the words of Ronald C. Kessler of the Harvard Medical School and healthcare economist Paul E. Greenberg, “medical interventions are appropriate only if their expected benefits clearly exceed the sum of their direct costs and their expected risks.”
Likewise, a 2020 paper about quarantines published in The Lancet states: “Separation from loved ones, the loss of freedom, uncertainty over disease status, and boredom can, on occasion, create dramatic effects. Suicide has been reported, substantial anger generated, and lawsuits brought following the imposition of quarantine in previous outbreaks. The potential benefits of mandatory mass quarantine need to be weighed carefully against the possible psychological costs.”
Across the country governors, county commissioners and executives, and city and town officials have announced “lockdowns” or stay-at-home orders of dubious constitutional validity. The result of these orders is the bizarre situation in which jails are being emptied of criminals while individuals engaged in their ordinary business at appropriate social distance have been arrested for the crime of being outside their home.
One of the most high-profile examples of this inverted constitutional order happened in California, where a paddle boarder was arrested near the Malibu Pier for ignoring orders from lifeguards to get out of the water. CBS News Los Angeles reports the unidentified man spent 30 to 40 minutes paddling in the ocean waters off Malibu Beach after refusing to heed orders from L.A. County lifeguards to go ashore. LASD Harbor Patrol brought in a boat, at which point the paddleboarder voluntarily swam in and was taken into custody.