LETTER TO THE EDITOR: We don’t owe our lives to make a strong economy
Mark Thorson's April 1 letter to the editor wasn't an April Fool's prank, but it could have been. Pranks are unexpected, and his assertion that the primary job of political leaders is not to protect the public is unexpected. I doubt many would agree with him, but maybe that’s just me.
I didn't find that his shaming, by insulting us all as "the land of the quarantined and the home of the self-concerned," helped him to get me to accept his argument. Count me self-concerned. I don't want to die or my loved ones to die or anyone else to die. Whether I believe Tom Hanks or Sean Peyton are going to die makes no difference whether I want people to catch novel coronavirus.
Mr. Thorson apparently thinks it's OK if some of us get thrown under the bus or throw ourselves under the bus to keep the economy rolling along. (#DieForTheDow). He seems to think we are the servants of the economy rather than the economy being simply a reflection of our aggregate behavior. He flips it on its head. I say we do not owe our lives to make a strong economy.
Mr. Thorson’s premise is that COVID-19 has a mortality rate of "less than 1%;" that we are being babies about “getting sick.” Well, the mortality rate of COVID-19 is not extremely accurately well characterized at this time, but scientifically and statistically well-informed estimates put mortality at greater than 1% for people over 50 years old or with additional health risks like hypertension, diabetes, etc. It's as high as 14% for good ol’ grandma and grandpa.
Comparing preventable deaths by social distancing and stay-at-home orders to mandating a 10 mph speed limit to save lives is a false analogy meant to mislead us. A better analogy might be having health and safety standards for food and products versus no health and safety standards. The economy could roar if only we didn't worry that food or goods might kill off a mere 1% of eaters or buyers, or 14% of our grandparents, right? After all, what's 1% more dead among friends if I get to keep my strong 401(k) or high profits?
As John F. Kennedy said, “Too often we enjoy the comfort of opinion without the discomfort of thought.”