Tuesday May 19, 2020
Politicians and government health officials’ justification for decreeing shutdowns of vast swaths of American life has been deterring the spread of COVID-19. According to Federal Reserve chairman Jerome Powell, almost 40 percent of households earning less than $40,000 per year have a member who has lost their job in recent months. Depression, drug abuse, and suicide are spiking as a result of the lockdowns and “shelter-in-place” commands.
Infection rates and deaths have soared despite severe restrictions on daily life. However, politicians and government health officials continue to claim victory because otherwise more people would have been infected by COVID-19. Most of the media coverage applauds politicians and officials who champion extending lockdowns regardless of the collateral damage to American life.
The political response to COVID-19 is eerily similar to Civil War surgeons’ rationales. Amputation was the most common surgical practice during that war, and more than fifty thousand soldiers had limbs hacked off after battles. Amputation was a reflexive “solution,” because limbs were sometimes shattered by Minié balls and also because that was the only trick that many untrained “surgeons” knew. Surgeons were derided as butchers and were usually utterly negligent about hygiene, leading to far more unnecessary deaths.
Surgeons justified fetching out their hacksaws, because otherwise many soldiers would die from their gangrened wounds. It didn’t matter how many soldiers died from unnecessary or botched amputations as long as surgeons didn’t get blamed for deaths from gangrene.