The Logic of Deadly Decisions 3 - Pointless Pondering

Why aren't the American people allowed to decide on national suicide?

Most of us know someone in our family who has suffered from cancer and watched them be treated with chemotherapy or radiation.

We call these "treatments" out of habit and courtesy, but there's another more apt term: intentional poisoning.  The chemicals pumped into cancer patients, and the dangerous rays used for radiation, are known to cause grievous harm to living tissue.

That is, in fact, their entire point.  Why, then, do doctors use them and patients tolerate them instead of shouting for the police?

Because we believe, based on past research and records of patient outcomes, that the cancer will kill you if left untreated, and that the grave damage caused by the treatments will harm the cancer more than the harm done to the rest of you.  It's like jumping into the lake when you're covered with fire ants - if you stay underwater too long you'll drown, but the fire ants will drown first, and they'll kill you if you don't do something fast.

This is a disturbingly apt analogy to what is going on in the global economy today: Our leaders are intentionally shutting down everything that makes modern life pleasant or, in the long term, even possible.  If anyone tried to lock Americans in their homes, there'd be armed resistance; if some other country forbade American planes from leaving our shores, there'd be a war on.

Yet we're doing it to ourselves with nary a peep of complaint.  Why?  Because, we are told, if we don't we'll suffer a worse fate than impoverishment: actual death.

If a person who can't swim jumps in the lake because they're covered with fire ants, they've taken a dangerous but intelligent risk to save their lives.  If, in fact, they're not fire ants at all, just the ordinary harmless little black picnic ants, they're a fool and a plausible candidate for a Darwin Award.

As we discussed in the first article in this series, a month ago there was serious question whether we might perhaps be dealing with harmless picnic ants used as part of a plot by Communist China.  More recent evidence has shown that isn't true - these ants can definitely bite, but they mainly bite people who are 60 and older.  The worst fatality rate in that graph is 15% for Italian 70-year-olds and 24% for 80 and above.

Are these annoying bites we can deal with?  Or are they really a deadly fire ant swarm that will kill us all if desperate action is not taken?  President Trump is wrestling with exactly that question right now.

Suicide Is Painless?

Make no mistake, - what's being done to our economy is the equivalent of extreme radiation therapy.  It's being reported that the last two weeks have seen the worst economic slowdown on record - worse than the dot-com crash, worse than the property bubble bursting, worse than 9-11, potentially even worse than Black Tuesday that kicked off the Great Depression.  And unlike any of those fiscal disasters, this time we are doing it to ourselves on purpose.

Is it worth it?  Well, if otherwise 10,000,000 Americans would die, probably most of us would take a deep breath, sit down, and grudgingly say, "Yeah... I guess so."

What about if it saves only 100 Americans?  Obviously, it's not worth it - we lose that many people from hundreds of causes every year and nobody cares.  In fact, the CDC says that about 7,500 Americans die every day from all causes.

The same goes for a thousand, ten thousand, or even more.  We can be specific:

In the U.S. alone, the flu has caused an estimated 36 million illnesses, 370,000 hospitalizations and 22,000 deaths this season.

And the world doesn't stop for the flu, or even think about it.

At the bare minimum, in order even to arguably be worth the massive cost and destruction being wreaked, the coronavirus would need to otherwise kill at least a quarter-million Americans.  By comparison, WWII killed 418,500 of us.

That isn't the end of the story, though.  WWII killed largely Americans who were in the prime of life - our soldiers.

Thus far, it appears that the coronavirus is killing mostly people at the end of their lives - sometimes because they're old, sometimes because they're suffering from other ailments.  But it does not appear to generally kill people that, odds are, would have lived another 50 happy years.

A U.S. soldier fighting Hitler, in contrast, probably would have lived another half-century or more if he hadn't stopped a Nazi bullet.

Let's be even more extreme: Let us imagine that, if we didn't shut down our economy, the coronavirus were guaranteed to kill everyone over the age of 90.  Would it still be worth the price?  Presumably not - we'd sadly kiss our aged grannies goodbye, and they'd do the same in return.

How about 70?

How about 60?

At some point, the answer becomes a clear Yes.  But the cost of shutting down the economy is massive.  We know that, if half the country is thrown into poverty, there will be many, many other people who die from things other than coronavirus.

In fact, on current statistics, a few hundred Americans, maybe a thousand, have died from this plague, most of whom were already dying from something else anyway.  Meanwhile, the entire economy is on life support.

It's entirely plausible - maybe even probable - that the actions taken by our governments will end up killing far more Americans than the coronavirus did, has, or will - and, if instead of "deaths" you count "years of probable remaining life" because economic disaster kills young people too, it might be an order of magnitude greater.

Who Decides?

Of course, nobody knows the future - not the venomous talking heads in the media salivating at any possible attack on the hated Trump; not the doctors at the CDC; not the President himself; and, alas, not even the solons here at Scragged.

Yet, if we only ever made decisions where we had perfect knowledge of all the consequences, no decisions would ever be made - which, in itself, would be a cripplingly bad decision to make.  Somebody has to make the call.

In times of true national emergency, we have delegated that authority to the President.  If the radar says we're under nuclear attack, there's no time to take a vote - the President has to decide whether to push the button and unleash Armageddon, or decide that there's a bug in our warning systems and it's all a big mistake.

That is not the case here.  Is there truly no possible way that the American people can decide whether the deaths we are seeing are worth destroying the wealth, economy, and liberties of our nation?  As this American constitutional lawyer shows, we have already seen the First, Second, Fourth, and Fifth Amendments frivolously cast aside out of fear of an invisible virus that, so far, has a death count that's barely out of the range of individual serial killers.

We are told that we live in a democracy.  Based on the wisdom of our Founders, we shouldn't be - as Ben Franklin famously said, we're supposed to be living in a republic, which is quite different.

Whether we are in a democracy or a republic, we certainly are not supposed to be in an absolute monarchy.  How dare our leaders make this decision for us, with nary an input from We The People who, supposedly, are the true source of all power?  What sort of pusillanimous sheeple are we, to meekly walk like lemmings off the cliff?  There are plausible alternatives to our lockdown - indeed, we've described one of them.

On a decision of such magnitude and gravity as national suicide, where time is urgent (days or weeks) but not immediate (minutes), at the very least the public has a right to make the decision.

And yet, so far as we are aware, not one single national politician - no, not even Rand Paul or Donald Trump - has uttered the slightest suggestion that, just possibly, the American People should be asked for their opinion!

We have a right to be angry at the Chinese for lying and concealing what they knew about this plague when there was still time to stop it.  We have a right to be livid at them for blaming us for something that they caused.

New Yorkers have a right to be incensed at the incompetence of Mayor deBlasio, who failed to order supplies until two weeks ago and then blamed President Trump for the shortage cause by his own gross negligence.  All Americans have a right to be resentful at  Barack Hussein Obama, who used up America's emergency respirator reserves during the swine flu epidemic ten years ago and never bothered to restock.

But we have not merely a right, but a positive duty, to be incandescent with fury at our leaders, opinionmakers, intelligentsia, and every single other member of our power elites, who have arrogated to themselves the authority to command us all to march into poverty without so much as asking us whether that's what we want to do!

Should we be destroying American liberties, strength, power, independence, and the economy in order to save lives?  At this point, what difference does it make?  Nobody cares what we peasants think - our job is just to obey blindly.  Our ruling tyrants, with a bare handful of honorable exceptions, are far more deadly to America than the most virulent disease could ever hope to be.

Abraham Lincoln once prophesied:

As a nation of freemen we must live through all time or die by suicide.

Your humble correspondent has known and revered this quote for decades - but never dreamed to see it come to pass literally.  That day is today.

Petrarch is a contributing editor for Scragged.  Read other articles by Petrarch or other articles on Politics.
Reader Comments

I vehemently disagree with the idea that everyone should have input into this decision which the author, Petrarch, has asked about.

If we as a nation and as a people ask for the input in this decision, in effect, we are asking the for a decision one might expect of a direct democracy. But, if Petrarch would think about it, direct democracy is nothing more than 'mob rule'.

Here is what Sigmund Freud said about mob rule:

"A group is extraordinarily credulous and open to influence. It has no critical faculty... Anyone who wishes to produce an effect upon it needs no logical adjustment to his arguments; he must paint in the most forcible colors, he must exaggerate, and he must repeat the same thing again and again... The group respects force and can only be slightly influenced by kindness, which it regards merely as a form of weakness... It wants to be ruled and oppressed, and to fear its masters... And finally, groups have never thirsted after truth. They demand illusions and cannot do without them. They constantly give what is unreal precedence over what is real; they are almost as strongly influenced by what is untrue as by what is true. They have an evident tendency not to distinguish between the two... A group is an obedient herd, which could never live without a master. It has such a thirst for obedience that it submits instinctively to anyone who appoints himself as its master."

Politics illustrates an interesting view of the perception of groups. Political advertising and all such public political communications purposely and directly strives to pit one perception against another to split or divide groups into two or more ways of perceiving a thing.

Dividing groups is an aggressive action, and it reveals hardcore, emotionally driven perceptions with a take-no-prisoners attitude.
Groups of people will vote, or advocate, a certain way. And another group will advocate in a different, if not opposite, way. The beliefs that groups advocate are the perceptions that they have in common with other advocates about their candidate, their issue, and their ideology.

These are closely held perceptions, and the group is so emotionally tied to them they expand them beyond logic. Such groups will ignore variances in the details to maintain the larger perception. We’ve all seen this during any election and special issue voting. Even now, political groups have become quite divided over ideas – ideologies – that have not been historically divisive. Indeed, these groups have become very aggressive in their attitudes.

And as most people know, behavior follows belief.

March 27, 2020 5:13 PM

@Douglas Kelly

While there is some truth to your comment. One cannot allow the constitution that protects us from direct democracy AND monarchy to be disregarded to create a monarchy by fiat.

It becomes the question posed in the film 'The Patriot': Would you prefer one tyrant 1500 miles away or 1500 tyrants one mile away.

The difference being that out current batch of tyrants have greater reach and power than the British did then.

March 29, 2020 11:03 AM
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