Annual Essays

THE NEW YEAR ESSAY OF 2020

A YEAR AMERICANS COLLECTIVELY LOST THEIR MINDS

One thing separating our species from the rest of the animal kingdom is the ability to overrule emotions by reason. If everything works properly, a human should be able to rationally contemplate an action, and decide whether or not to undertake it based on the likely consequences. Experience in life makes such decisions more accurate. For that reason, one will probably not see many octogenarians on Ninja motorcycles weaving in and out of expressway traffic at 100mph.

There are periods of history where humans simply took leave of their senses. Russian Bolsheviks in the 1920s decided it would be better to rip children from their biological parents to instill a “new culture” in them. Germans in the 1930s decided society would become nirvana if they could just eliminate all the Jews. Chinese under Mao decided all farmland should be collectivized and it was advantageous for all citizens to dress exactly the same. Late 1970’s Cambodians obediently complied with the great Khmer Rouge idea of emptying the cities to employ the majority of the populace on inefficient communal farms. Human thought circuitry goes haywire occasionally in favor of group think.

Nothing makes the human psyche go berserk like the perceived fear of death, especially a protracted or uncomfortable one. Infections by viruses and microorganisms have been forever with us, and will be always a threat. We see new influenza and cold strains every year. To put things in perspective, during the siege of Athens in 430, a plague broke out and killed a quarter of the population during the next three years. The Bubonic plague in Europe eventually wiped out a third of the population, although over a longer period of time. Imagine the effect that had on real estate prices! Those were pandemics to really get excited over.

It is against this historical background that a new virus entered the scene, first identified in China. Obtaining information about anything politically damaging from that society is very difficult. Nevertheless, it did not stop a British researcher from assuring us the “U.S. would lose a minimum of 2 million people”, even if we responded perfectly to the new virus. Neil Ferguson had been right about previous epidemics less often than a stopped clock. The look-back data on non-accidental deaths during the period will eventually ascertain if the death tallies were even a tenth of that. Here is a summary of Ferguson’s Prediction Hall of Shame, recounted on the website:

https://statmodeling.stat.columbia.edu/2020/05/08/so-the-real-scandal-is-why-did-anyone-ever-listen-to-this-guy/

Nevertheless Ferguson got the world’s ear, and the fantastic overreaction to a virus with a mortality of 3 in 1000 began. To be honest, while the virus was not very lethal to the majority of people, it was very dangerous to subsets of the population. For some reason, people of Latin American descent exhibited a much higher mortality rate.

Worldwide whole economies were decimated, and individual liberties along with it. Some countries went so far as to even prohibit farmers from leaving their house to tend their crops! As a result, deaths have risen from malnutrition as food supplies evaporated. All manner of other social maladies increased from the imposed isolation – like drug addiction, depression, and child abuse. These added to the death toll that the dire lockdown measures were intended to decrease.

Education, especially in technical schools was suspended. Despite the fact that mortality amongst children and young people from the virus is practically non-existent. Economies that were already suffering from excessive debt have now been pushed over the limit. Worldwide destruction of savings will be one of the results. Nevertheless, statist true-believers continue to assert that any action is justifiable, if only to save one life.

“Never let a good crisis go to waste,” quoth a famous Chicago politician. After various narratives to undo an elected president failed, the one that finally succeeded was “We would not be in this predicament were it not for President Trump mishandling it.” To further this narrative, deaths from other causes were blamed on the new virus. Eventually, the truth will come out by tallying non-accidental deaths for 2020 versus 2019. But not before one of the hardest-working presidents in history was defeated in an election. Nothing like politicizing a virus! This will be strategy that will prove very handy in the future of the enemies of the US. Just by planting propaganda with “facts” about a dangerous new pandemic, a foreign enemy can cripple the industrial base of the US.

Every year, the normal flu season culls about 12,000 to 61,000 of our oldest and weakest members of the population. (Source: CDC.org.) But the history of previous viral pandemics did little to stop the COVID-19 hysteria. News was focused on the mortality in New York, where a governor had unwisely ordered nursing homes to house recovering patients, with predictable mortality. By far the epicenter of death was New York, Massachusetts and New Jersey. These were all atypical densely populated areas where use of public transit is common.

In short order – the lethality of a new virus was overplayed because of its prevalence in the epicenter of journalism and academia. COVID-19 became a universal excuse for every shortcoming. When I asked why no ice was available in a restaurant, the reason given was “the pandemic.” A McDonald’s clerk related they no longer mixed different sodas in the same cup due to “safety issues.” Even though the customer never touches the self-serve soda fountain, the dispensers have been idled.

So much gasoline is burned up waiting in drive-through lines for everything. I guess that is good, or petroleum stock prices would be even lower than they are currently.

Previously, germ-phobia was considered a fringe psychological affliction. Now it has become chic, as exercisers jog outdoors solo with an N-95 mask, and drivers of autos are seen wearing masks with no one else in the car. The mask has become the universal virtue-signal, showing that a person “cares” about his fellow man.

Meanwhile, in the streets, demonstrators congregated in large numbers, sometimes intent on inflicting violence on people they perceived disagreed with them. And many were lauded by the same epidemiologists who urged extreme restriction to the rest of us conducting our daily lives.

As I write this essay, I am in day seven of my COVID-19 infection. My wife lags me by about two days. Some people have violent reactions to the virus that jeopardize their lives. But for the majority of folks like us it is a minor inconvenience – certainly not as severe as some flu viruses we had in the past.

Ten years from now, when better data is available to us, our grandchildren will look back at 2020 and wonder “What got into us?” My son’s future offspring will look at a photo of him receiving his college diploma in a mask from a masked college president and be incredulous. All we will able to say is, “A viral infection was politicized and the news media and politicians intentionally put us in a panic.” Once humans are panicked irrationally, they cease worrying about liberties, and are easier to control. It has ever been this way.

Dr. Kim Henry

January 4, 2021.

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