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OpEdNews Op Eds    H3'ed 4/27/20

Lifting the Lockdown; Easy Does It

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From Unz Review

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Can we admit that we were wrong? Can we admit that the coronavirus is not going to kill "hundreds of thousands or even millions" of Americans? Can we admit that the public health system is not going to buckle and collapse? Can we admit that we fashioned our public policy on flawed computer models that proved utterly worthless? Can we admit that the number of people infected is significantly larger than the official numbers? Can we admit that the percentage of fatalities is going to be significantly lower? Can we admit that the majority of people who have died are over 60 with serious underlying conditions like high-blood pressure, diabetes, obesity etc? Can we admit that there is no "historical scientific basis" for using "lockdowns" to fight a pandemic? Can we admit that "social distancing", "shelter in place", "self isolation" and "self quarantine" are arbitrary directives aimed at social control and not science-based remedies derived from serious research? Can we admit that the new data and the hard science do not support the existing policy but suggest that savaging civil liberties, decimating the economy and keeping the entire population in a perennial state of hysteria, is a gross overreaction that has done incalculable damage to the country, to our economic well-being, and to our tattered credibility as a responsible nation?

The bottom line is this: The data and the science do not support the current policy. That alone should give us pause.

The lock-down was conjured up by made-for-TV infectious disease experts who based their recommendations on the results of discredited computer models that don't square with reality. In short, their calculations were wrong, thus, the policy they cobbled together, is also wrong. This is not a liberal vs conservative issue. This is not a Democrat vs Republican issue. The issue is whether policy should be shaped by data and science or by fake computer models and the relentless fear-mongering of the media. That is the heart of the matter. Check out this clip from an article by Dr. Scott W. Atlas:

"Tens of thousands of Americans have died, and Americans are now desperate for sensible policymakers who have the courage to ignore the panic and rely on facts. Leaders must examine accumulated data to see what has actually happened, rather than keep emphasizing hypothetical projections; combine that empirical evidence with fundamental principles of biology established for decades; and then thoughtfully restore the country to function.

"Vital population immunity is prevented by total isolation policies, prolonging the problem".We know from decades of medical science that infection itself allows people to generate an immune response antibodies so that the infection is controlled throughout the population by 'herd immunity.' Indeed, that is the main purpose of widespread immunization in other viral diseases to assist with population immunity. In this virus, we know that medical care is not even necessary for the vast majority of people who are infected. It is so mild that half of infected people are asymptomatic... By transmitting the virus to others in the low-risk group who then generate antibodies, they block the network of pathways toward the most vulnerable people, ultimately ending the threat. Extending whole-population isolation would directly prevent that widespread immunity from developing."("The data is in stop the panic and end the total isolation," The Hill)

Think about that. He's not just saying that the lock-down is preventing low-risk people from developing the antibodies they need to fend-off the infection, he's also saying that the policy is actually putting vulnerable people more at risk. Isn't that worth mulling over?

The virus isn't something we choose or don't choose, and it's certainly not something that can be avoided by bolting the door and hiding under the bed. There are only two paths to immunity: Vaccine or the natural immune response of antibodies. That's it! There is no third path. Self quarantine is not a solution, at best it's a temporary fix. Eventually, everyone will have to emerge from their respective spider-holes and reenter the real world. What other choice is there?

Have you wondered how the government will respond to a second or third wave of the virus if there's another outbreak next fall or spring? Do you think they'll shut down the economy, send millions of workers home, and burn through another $8 trillion or so a second time around?

Hell no. That was a "one shot deal" and they blew it. They could have settled on a less expensive, less radical policy that kept parts of the economy open while younger, low-risk workers continued at their jobs gradually building up their immunity they'd for future outbreaks. Instead, they bet the farm on their goofy shelter-in-place theory and came up snake-eyes. That means the next time the virus hits, most people will have to suck it up and go to work or stay at home until the money runs out.

It makes you wonder why the media has been so critical of Sweden's approach, when they clearly settled on a strategy that not only saves lives without shutting everything down, but their plan also doesn't break the bank. The fact is, they got it right and we got it wrong. At the same time, according to CNBC, "Sweden's chief epidemiologist said...that 'herd immunity' could be reached in the capital Stockholm in a matter of weeks," which means the majority of the people will have developed at least some immunity to the virus by mid-May. In contrast, the Trump administration's projections were way off, the economy has been put on ice, and self isolation has prevented healthy people from developing the antibodies they need to achieve some partial immunity to the infection. If we were keeping score, the US would be deep in the red, but this isn't a competition. It's a struggle to find a smart and sustainable policy that saves lives while avoiding a second Great Depression.

The economy isn't a light switch that can be turned on and off. It is a complex ecosystem that creates a myriad of tiny niches where people can eke out a living by providing services and products that the public wants. The lock-down has dealt a deathblow to that fragile system. Along with the millions of people who are now headed for the unemployment lines, the lock-down has taken a sledgehammer to the thousands of small and mid-sized businesses that are the very heart and soul of the country. Many of these businesses will be unable to muddle through the protracted freeze, and will be forced to draw the blinds and call it quits. That's going to be devastating for the country and for the thousands of small towns that owe their survival to the revenues produced by these small businesses. It's going to change everything; where people work, where people shop, and where people call home.

Aside from the pain that will be inflicted on businesses and workers, you can bet that elites will use the crisis to impose another version of the "Shock Doctrine" just like they did following the 2008 meltdown. That means more consolidation, more privatization, more austerity, more cuts to social programs, fewer public services, much higher unemployment and an explosion of homelessness, hunger, alcoholism, drug abuse, crime and social unrest. You know the drill.

They'll point to the widening deficits and demand more belt-tightening for the proles and more zero rates and multi-trillion dollar liquidity injections for Wall Street. They'll use the debt as an excuse to restructure the labor force just like Obama's chief economic advisor Lawrence Summers did following the last crisis. Summers slashed the fiscal stimulus in half in order to produce a sluggish, under-performing, permanently-stagnant economy (1 to 2% GDP) that kept a thumb on wages (to prevent inflation) so that interest rates could be kept at zero indefinitely while trillions of dollars were pumped into the financial markets. That's how the system was set up. The Fed launched three iterations of QE to keep Wall Street's coffers brimming while working people experienced the weakest recovery in the post-war era. Meanwhile homeless camps popped up in cities across the country and long-term unemployment forced 35% of the workforce into low paying, no benefits, service sector jobs in the so-called "gig" economy. This is how Summers deftly restructured the labor force without anyone even noticing.

Check out this clip from an article written in 2016 by the world Socialist Web Site:

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Mike is a freelance writer living in Washington state.

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