In my podcast, I talk about "the absurd over-reaction" to coronavirus . Let me enlarge on that.
You all know about the reaction, whether or not you agree with me that it's been an over-reaction. You know about the lockdowns and quarantines, the shuttering of restaurants, bars, and gyms. You've probably seen some of the protests against it all, like the big one in New York City's Staten Island midweek.
You've also seen the hypocrisy of our ruling class on flagrant display:
I know how I feel about these hypocrite politicians. I'm just having trouble imagining what you think of them if you are the owner of a small business you spent years building up, that has now been put out of business by their crazy regulations.
Isn't it all necessary, though? Wouldn't a lot more people die without those regulations? How do I feel about the possibility that I might be one of them? Or someone I love?
This is where I find myself thinking something's wrong with our deepest instincts. There is a point of balance to be found between carefree carry-on-as-normal and control-freak absolutism. We have not found that point.
Take traffic fatalities as a comparison. The U.S.A. suffers around 35,000 traffic fatalities a year. Every one is of course a heartbreaking tragedy to wives, husbands, parents, children, lovers and friends. Couldn't we get the number down somewhat?
Sure we could. We could go for control-freak absolutism: implement a nationwide no-exceptions speed limit of fifteen miles per hour. That's four times faster than walking: should be fast enough for anybody. Traffic fatalities would drop to a few hundred a year.
So why don't we do this, and spare ourselves those tens of thousands of tragedies? Because Americans wouldn't stand for it. The economy would be crippled: businesses can't move goods at fifteen miles an hour. Even just ordinary citizens would be up in arms: "What, I have to spend four hours driving to check on my granny sixty miles away?"
Sure, we take sensible measures to reduce the toll: speed limits, vehicle inspections, seat-belt laws. In the final analysis, though, we accept that normal life includes some number of deaths, possibly deaths of ourselves or our loved ones. We like normal life, even if it costs many deaths. We don't like control-freak absolutism, even if it saves many lives. We have found the point of balance.
In the case of the coronavirus, we haven't. Instead of seeking for it in a reasonable way, we have defaulted to control-freak absolutism, along with all those displays of hypocrisy from the absolutists.