Category Archives: Ethics

I’m No Lockdown Fan, BUT Matt Labash Won The Day On The Science

COVID-19, Ethics, Iraq, Logic, Republicans, Science

All the points and math covered by Matt Labash, below, are discussed in my home, but never shared on larger platforms. There is no point. Rightists (check) are expected to follow the Republican party-line and say anything to back The Leader. Unsuited to obedience, this writer didn’t think like a Republican on Iraq, fatalities and invasion. And I won’t do it with COVID.

On March 5, I wrote “Unmasking Statist, Socialist Propaganda About ‘Face Masks’”. This was a full month before the CDC and WHO (so-called experts) reversed their asinine illogic on so basic a prophylactic measure as a mask. This negligence cost thousands of lives.

Imagine if my column, predictive for 20 years, was in the WaPo, instead of the lick-spittle establishment piffle currently littering that and other op-ed pages.

As young men died like flies for nothing in Iraq, the Republican establishment celebrated “mission accomplished.” None of its followers in the media mentioned the obscene loss of life. Anyone who did, suffered a fate equivalent to being cancelled and de-platformed today.

Thus, Matt Labash, whom I appreciate, is wasting his time.

From “The big debate: is lockdown wrong? May 26, 2020“:

* “the US has lost 100,000 people in roughly two months. (That number will rise again as soon as I’m done typing this sentence.)”

* “‘no more deadly than a bad bout of the seasonal flu.’ Not in our parts. Our very worst flu season of the last decade was 2017-18, which resulted in 61,000 deaths. And it took an entire flu-year to kill that many people.”

“In April of this year alone, COVID was responsible for 58,705 deaths. So we essentially had the equivalent of the worst flu year in recent history, in just one month. So far this month, with just two-thirds of it passed, we’ve had 37,829 more deaths. And that’s just as of this writing, something I will likely say a lot, because the death knell keeps ringing. (Remember when I said 95,058 people had died several hours ago? Now we’re up to 96,354.) Ask any doctor who has treated it, and that’s the meanest sonofabitch ‘flu’ they’ve ever seen. And they’re not usually worried about dying themselves when treating the common flu. They’re scared to death of COVID-19.”

These aren’t my numbers. These are the numbers.

*”America’s leading killer, according to the CDC, is heart disease. Or at least it was heart disease. It’s responsible for one out of every four deaths. Good for around 647,000 deaths a year. In just one month, as previously stated, the coronavirus killed 58,705 people. Heart disease, on average, kills 53,916 people per month. So this virus that none of us knew existed six months ago, is now killing more people in our country per month than does our reigning champion killer, heart disease. And heart disease, unlike COVID-19, isn’t contagious. No matter how you slice it, no matter how bad the unemployment rate is, no matter how many other unintended consequences result from the lockdowns (all of which we can debate, but plenty of which I concede straightaway), that’s a lot of dead people.”

* “As for co-morbidities? Two of the three leading co-morbidities named in COVID-designated deaths are obesity and hypertension. That’s right: fat people with high blood pressure. Guess what? That describes half of America. Almost literally. Nearly 40 percent of Americans are considered clinically obese. And about 46 percent of adults have high blood pressure. Probably more, now that at least one out of every five adults are currently unemployed.

As for COVID being an old person’s disease, ask your own fine Prime Minister [Boris Johnson]  (who I’m actually a big fan of) about that. It nearly killed him. And he’s 55, not 85. With no known underlying conditions, unless randiness and dipsomania count.”

*”The Asian Flu pandemic of 1957-58 is thought to have killed 70,00-116,000 Americans. COVID-19 is already long past 70,000, and since it’s now at 98,750 deaths and counting — still dispatching well over 1,000 people a day on most days — it will likely surpass the Asian Flu’s upper estimate within about two weeks, probably sooner. And it’s made short work of that many people in roughly two months, keeping in mind that the US had only just reached its 1,000th death mark on March 25.”

* “Another big boner was the White House’s decision to scotch its own reopening guidelines, because Emperor Stable Genius preferred a rosier model than the gloomy predictions of epidemiologists. According to the Washington Post, he preferred a model hatched by adviser Kevin Hassett, an economist by trade, who predicted ‘deaths dropping precipitously in May, and essentially going to zero by May 15.’ Someone ought to point out to Kev that we’re running well behind schedule.

“As for free’n’easy Sweden, invoked nearly as often as DeSantis’s Florida for its miracle curative COVID powers (hate to be a turd in the punchbowl, but just a few days ago, Florida saw its highest number of new daily cases since April 17) , the mythology doesn’t hold up. While Sweden’s population is less than twice that of its Scandinavian neighbors, Finland and Norway, it has seen 13 times more deaths than Finland, and 17 times more than Norway. Perhaps Sweden was relying on Kev’s model, too.”

* Spain and Italy both test at a higher per capita rate than we do. Yet Spain’s death toll among diagnosed cases is 10.1 percent. Italy’s is 14.2 percent. And while I respect your skeptical (or sceptical) propensity to ask some tough questions, I wouldn’t rest easy if I were you, either. The UK’s current death rate among identified cases is a whopping 14.1 percent.

Again, any honest accounting of what has or hasn’t been worth doing should also factor in the unfortunate realities you highlight — from deaths of desperation to the financial ruin caused by businesses being required to shut down. These are not small concerns.

However, I’ve found it difficult, when sparring with skeptic combatants, to get an honest accounting out of them when clocking just how lethal the virus that precipitated the lockdowns is. There is some very hard denial going on in that camp.”

“Are all those in the let-‘er-rip school really OK with 14 out of 100 people who are diagnosed with COVID dying from it? Or would they pretend that’s not dangerously deadly? Seems a lot higher chance than getting struck by lightning.

If that’s the conclusion they’re coming to, they might have already developed something like emotional herd immunity.”

*For a little historical context, this not-very-deadly, slightly-more-robust-equivalent-of-the-flu, as many of you skeptics have it, has now come just 16,000 or so deaths shy of the entire American death toll in World War One. If the current clip holds, we’ll easily lap that by early to mid-June. At least World War One took a good year-and-a-half to wreak that kind of havoc (since America didn’t enter the war until 1917). But COVID-19 will have done it in a little over two months. Still…nothing to see here, folks! Don’t believe your lying eyes, believe the seroprevalence projections!”

*”Virology 101 tenets — which nine out of 10 or so epidemiologists seem to concur with — dictate that if you keep uninfected people away from infected people, there are fewer infections. This was widely practiced during Spanish Flu a century ago, it’s not a new concept. It is also known as ‘common sense.’ Fewer infections mean fewer deaths.”

From “The big debate: is lockdown wrong? May 26, 2020.”

* Lockdown Courtesy Spectator, USA

UPDATED (4/27/020): INDIA And COVID-19

Environmentalism & Animal Rights, Ethics, Etiquette, Healthcare

The Covid-19 case count in India is, so far, low. Or, rather, Indians are not getting infected in the numbers one would expect! The country’s population count is just shy of 1.4 billion.

The number of Indians presumed to be infected with COVID-19 is a mere 26,283. Total deaths stand at 825.

Perhaps the disease has “yet to hit India in a widespread way.” Perhaps it arrived in India late and has yet to climb its deadly curve.

If Indian coronavirus fortunes persist, we might look into their eating habits.

A large number of them don’t eat cows, they worship them. And they absolutely love their anti-inflammatory Curcumin, Tumeric, Curry and Cumin spices.

India has more vegetarians than the rest of the world put together.[62] In 2007, UN FAO statistics indicated that Indians had the lowest rate of meat consumption in the world.[63] India, the world’s second most populous country, has over 500 million vegetarians.

UPDATE (4/27/020):India coronavirus: The ‘mystery’ of low Covid-19 death rates.”

UPDATED II (4/30): NEW COLUMN: The Ethics of Social Distancing: A Libertarian Perspective

Ethics, Healthcare, Individual Rights, libertarianism, Liberty, Logic, Paleolibertarianism, Republicans, WMD

NEW COLUMN IS “The Ethics of Social Distancing: A Libertarian Perspective.” It is currently on WND.COM and The Unz Review.

This column is an honest examination of some highly complex questions and issues, without resorting to the smug self-satisfied SIN OF ABSTRACTION: “I’m so ideologically pure, look at me.”

As I say, “If I appear to be struggling with the ethics of this emergency—it is because I am. I must. This is vexing stuff.”

But readers do not want an honest struggle and a multi-faceted, nuanced examination of the issues. They want dogma; their own. Actually, the objections one critical reader mouthed are simplistic Republican dogma, sounded by almost all creedal Republicans; BUT NOT necessarily by all libertarians.

When libertarians begin to sound like Republicans all the time, it’s time to “check your premises.”

In any event, here is a short excerpt. Follow the hyperlinks to the website of your choice:

I was running up the mountain the other day. A couple was walking down it. I quickly crossed over, so as not to expirate all over them. To my surprise, they thanked me profusely.

I’m healthy; they looked fit. Distancing may not have been necessary in this case. Yet, in this simple act of conscious distancing, in the epochal age of a terrifying, communicable disease—my neighbors and I had come closer than ever before. Fear gave way to fellow feeling.

Having lived in both the developed and underdeveloped world, I have always associated social distancing with civility and civilization.

Cultures that honor personal boundaries have always seemed better than cultures which don’t—more genteel, refined and respectful.

Ditto people who keep a respectful distance: They have more merit than those who get in your face.

Which is why the wish expressed by so many freedom-loving protesters to violate the personal space of others is vexing.

Which is why comments such as the following are anathema:

“Your ‘health’ does not supersede my right.”

“Give me liberty or give me COVID-19.”

“I am not required to descend into poverty for you.”

In the absence of clinical therapies or a vaccine for coronavirus, the successful return to work rests, very plainly, on the willingness of the citizenry to cover up, keep clean and keep a distance. Why would anyone wish to infringe on another’s personal space, when the stakes are clearly so high?

Insisting on unfettered freedom to come and go as one pleases, sans protection, comes at a grave cost to others—it could constitute aggression against innocent others.

By the same token, the shuttering of private property by the State is an incontrovertible violation of private property rights. …

... READ THE REST. NEW COLUMN, “The Ethics of Social Distancing: A Libertarian Perspective,” is currently on WND.COM and The Unz Review.

UPDATE I (4/24): Some responses to readers. These should give you some idea of the intellectual climate out there:

@der einzige

What do we have here? Pointless, filthy, foaming at the mouth, directed at a writer; foul cuss words and hysterics utterly unmoored from the text “addressed.”

This is what my impartial examination of a “vexing” situation from different angles did to you.

The advice of Humphrey Bogart, playing Rick Blaine in “Casablanca,” should be considered: “I never saw a dame yet that didn’t understand a good slap in the mouth …”

You (male or female) qualify. Settle down. Give yourself that slap in the mouth. I write a column. You stepped into its space. Step out. Bow out. You have nothing reasonable or well-reasoned to add. Never will.

But no, you would rather anything that causes YOU cognitive dissonance be removed.

@Weston Waroda

Glad you admit, at least, that you are “railing,” and that, what you wrote, to quote, “wasn’t so much disagreement with [me] anyway as [your] own personal anguish.”

The unfortunate state of “thought” on this thread is that it demands a certain dogma to cheer on.

To thinking libertarians, the pandemic presents dilemmas. To tinny ideologues it doesn’t. I’m not a tinny ideologue. Too easy, too dishonest.

I could offer up rah-rah dogma to those who feel anguish and anger. I won’t.

In addition, I am not “advocating” any position, as you asserted; I am explaining positions. Distortions of my text are of a piece with the hysterical tone that develops on the threads to my articles.

There has been no advocacy for tyranny here and there is no applause for the State; only an honest examination of some complex questions and issues, without resorting to the smug self-satisfied SIN OF ABSTRACTION: “I’m so ideologically pure, look at me.”

Actually, what the reader mouths is the simplistic Republican dogma, sounded by almost all creedal Republicans; BUT NOT necessarily by all libertarians.

See: https://apnews.com/cfcdd563167c5ba60aa0e9011f4446cd

When libertarians begin to sound like Republicans, it’s time to “check your premises.”

It’s odd that an honestly conflicted look at the COVID-19 issues from all sides elicits such outrage. Is this the “Closing of the American Mind,” or what?

I recommend hearing from this New Yorker, who is in the thick of it. Warning: nuanced, closely reasoned thinking:

https://www.nyu.edu/projects/sciabarra/notablog/archives/002826.html
https://www.nyu.edu/projects/sciabarra/notablog/archives/002814.html
https://www.nyu.edu/projects/sciabarra/notablog/archives/002811.html

https://www.nyu.edu/projects/sciabarra/notablog/archives/002800.html

https://www.nyu.edu/projects/sciabarra/notablog/archives/002806.html

all the best,
ilana

@Exile

Thanks for the polite comment, in general, and this sharp observation, in particular:

The reason I as an ex-Objectivist still read Ilana Mercer is that she is one of the few libertarians who know [sic] the difference between anarchy and a functioning government that still prioritizes libertarian freedoms.

Your observation comports with my consistent attempts to avoid “that sin of abstraction.” Reality is the ultimate adjudicator of truth, in my thinking.

I presume, then, that you’ve read “Libertarian Anarchism’s Justice Problem” (2015):

http://www.ilanamercer.com/2015/04/libertarian-anarchisms-justice-problem/

Thanks for your thoughtful feedback.
ilana

• Replies: @Exile

 

Exile says:

@ILANA Mercer

That’s another good piece on the “is-ought” dilemma of libertarianism.

I like your citations above re: Republicans as well. The GOP has co-opted many libertarian concepts in the “tactical” fashion I mentioned to WW above, to the discredit of serious thinkers and the concepts themselves.

It’s in the common interest of all anti-establishment thinkers from libertarians to sincere Leftists to nationalist-populists to discredit and ultimately marginalize both major U.S. parties. The GOP is the lowest-hanging fruit. GOP delenda est, then on to the Democrats.

UPDATED II (4/30): If you dare honor the dead …

American Leaders, Political and Corporate, Outsourced Life To China

China, Donald Trump, Ethics, Foreign Policy, Healthcare, Homeland Security, Labor, Outsourcing, Trade

Unless major shifts are taken by the West to stop outsourcing life to China—it is Western leaders who must be considered traitors to their people. China is just being China. Ultimate retributive action against China must come from our leaders. Ire must be directed at our leaders if they continue to outsource life to China, which includes manufacturing as well as energetically replacing American workers with Chinese workers.

It’s not enough to agonize “aloud, about how [the West] found [itself] so dependent on a country like China.

Via The Economist’s Chaguan column:

“On March 29th the Mail on Sunday, a British newspaper, quoted government ministers blaming Chinese secrecy over covid-19 for ruining the world economy. How could Britain [and the U.S.] not now review Sino-British [and Sino-American] ties?”

Easily, unless the people hold their leaders responsible for reckless endangerment …

European and American elites “were [so] confident of ‘change through trade’; that commerce with China will nudge that country towards openness and democracy.”

a propaganda campaign [is] under way inside China to stress that most new infections involve cases imported from abroad. Though almost all of these involve Chinese nationals, curbs on foreigners are tightening. The border has been shut to most of them. On March 27th the government shocked embassies in Beijing by declaring a halt to the issuing of new identity cards for most grades of diplomat. This was apparently in response to the flouting of virus controls by a Western envoy. Embassies, in effect, face a ban on staff rotations until at least mid-May.

…during this pandemic, POTUS seems strikingly unmoved by ethical questions about China’s conduct. Asked about Chinese propaganda accusing America of infecting China with covid-19, which his own aides have angrily denounced, Mr Trump shrugged. “Hey, every country does it,” he told Fox News

On April 19, Trump suggested that Chinese culpability for mass murder would depend on the presence of intent: “If it was a mistake, a mistake is a mistake. But if they deliberately carried responsibility for it, that’s what I mean, then there must be consequences.”

I agree with President Trump that the “autocracy called China” is characterized by “ruthless self-interest” that is praise-worthy. More so than America is China likely to act in the interest of its own people.