The Thinker: Rich Galen


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Get Used to It

Rich Galen

Friday May 1, 2020

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  • We got through April, but it was a close run thing.

  • You know the numbers: Nearly 1.1 million people in America have contracted COVID-19. Of those, nearly 64,000 have died.

  • Both numbers are probably low in that a significant number of people who are infected show no symptoms, and it is likely that many deaths in homes are not being coded as being caused by COVID-19

  • It doesn't matter. The numbers are awful.

  • And scary.

  • Over this past week writers across the country had their fingers poised over their keyboards to point out that more people have died of COVID-19 in two months than died in Vietnam in nine years.

  • For the record the number of fatalities in Vietnam (according to the Washington Post) is 58,220.

  • That's one of those stats that is modestly interesting, but totally meaningless from a policy point of view.

  • Nobody wanted COVID-19 to rear its microscopic but nonetheless ugly head.

  • EVERY war has been a matter of choice.

  • Sometimes the choice is easy. Sometimes the choice is hard. Sometimes the war comes out in our favor. Sometimes not.

  • But fighting this virus is not a matter of choice. It came here. It set up shop here. It is killing about 2,000 people in America per day.

  • We know about Donald Trump's penchant for taking total credit for things that have gone/are going well while taking zero responsibility for things that have gone badly.

  • Just this week, Trump took credit for the economy that was booming before the virus and said that he would rebuild the economy again. At the same time he blamed the Chinese for unleashing the virus on the world telling reporters at the White House, according to The Hill newspaper, he had seen evidence that the virus is tied to the Wuhan Institute of Virology.

  • For most of April Americans seemed to have treated the stay-at-home rules like sleep away camp. It was a shared adventure about which we Zoomed and FaceBooked with colleagues, family, and friends; we published cute cat and dog photos; traded tips on where we might buy toilet paper; and, studied grocery store parking lots to see if it was safe to go in based on the number of cars.

  • By the end of April we were tired of the whole thing. We'd lost color war, traded email addresses with our bunkmates, and we are sitting on our duffle bags in the parking lot waiting to load on the busses to take us back to the city.

  • So to speak.

  • There is a legitimate question about the rights of citizens to travel about freely and the authority of the Authorities to restrict us from walking down the street or requiring us to wear a mask if we do.

  • The frustrations are most easily seen at the relatively tiny, but very well covered rallies at several state capital buildings. I think it is safe to say that most of the protesters also believe that stop signs are a violation of their VIII Amendment rights against cruel and unusual punishment.

  • I think a lot of COVID fatigue has to with the 30 million people who have lost their regular source of income and are staring at the first-of-the-month bills that are due effective today.

  • We've been told for years that 40 percent of Americans don't have $400 in the bank to use in case of emergency. They are probably largely the same people who are at least temporarily unemployed.

  • It is not their fault.

  • I can work at home. I am writing this on my laptop from my den. If, however, I had a shop that repaired and sold laptops I would have had to close my doors and lay off (or furlough) my staff.

  • In some states I would have been able to physically turn on the lights starting today, but I would be depending upon people whose bank account (or credit card balance) allowed them to buy a new laptop, or people who were confident enough in the six-foot rule that they would bring their broken laptop into my shop.

  • Don't email me about providing pickup services at customers' homes or curbside pickup outside my shop. You know what I'm talking about.

  • We'll see how things progress through the summer, but we know this: COVID-19 is not going to magically disappear.

  • We'd better get used to it.

  • On the Secret Decoder Ring page today: Links to the Worldometer website that tracks all things involving numbers and to the Washington Post article about comparing virus deaths to war casualities.

    The Mullfoto is of a sign on the wall of a Mexican restaurant in Old Town Alexandria, Virginia.

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