Finding Balance

George Dunlap, March 19, 2020, This morning when I got up I expected the same #Death, #Doom and #COVID-19 news updates. Yesterday I was asked to cancel our Saturday morning gatherings. Even our Easter Lenten services have been shut-down. I am having a hard time with that…….. But I found this article from a gentlemen I follow daily and I am inspired once more, that, others also say, “Balance” is needed. We must look to God not our Government for strength, and we must take personal responsibility of our Cleanliness. Please read on and May God Be with you.

Wed, Mar 18, 2020, BY JOHN SCHROEDER

I need to point everybody to what I consider one of the most important tweet threads I have read through this whole coronavirus thing – From Brian Wesbury.  Highlights of the 7 tweet string:

…even a 30-day lockdown won’t make the virus go away. In fact, going to the grocery store potentially exposes you. So any solution other than complete martial law shows a willingness of leaders to risk some lives.

The US should: A)Test as many as we can. B)Build up hospital capacity. C)Protect the vulnerable. D)Announce that we will extend the shutdowns for only 10 more days. E)Let businesses start opening, with common sense safety practices F)Quarantine or hospitalize the sick.

Yes, this virus kills, but they all do. And, according to much research, recessions and unemployment kill too. The government will permanently expand and risks to growth and health will increase.

I have been thinking along these lines all along.  Yesterday I tried to point out that shutting down the world represents an enormous shift in our view of the value of human life.  Let me be more blunt.

There are two important considerations when trying to balance all the competing costs in this situation – moral considerations and financial considerations.

Morally, decisions to let people die are made everyday in this country – every day.  We dress it up and call it “hospice,” but it is a decision to let someone die, regardless of what you call it.  Or alternately the Transplant Committee decides someone does not fit the profile for a life saving transplant.  Or an insurance company decides the life saving procedure is not covered because it is too new or experimental.  My point is we make these choices every day; we let people die everyday.  The only difference between these countless small scale decisions and the massive one that faces us now is the bureaucratic mechanism to make the decision.  Please do not misunderstand me here, I have fought protracted and expensive legal battles to preserve a life that everyone else thought had lost its usefulness.  My point is not to argue which lives should be preserved and which should not.  My point is to make it abundantly clear that we make life-and-death decisions every day.  And then to ask, why is it different now?

Financially, and I know this seems morally repugnant, but human life is assigned a dollar value every day as well.  Anytime there is civil litigation over someone’s death and the plaintiff gets paid by the defendant for a death there has been a calculation of the dollar value of the life of the deceased.  Such calculations are made based on the deceased’s life expectancy, potential earnings during that projected lifetime, and their value as a friend and companion.  I am quite certain an economist can take the profile of a likely death from a Covid-19 infection and calculate its worth.  They can also multiple that value by the number of projected deaths in the preventative scenario of their choice.  Finally they can calculate the economic cost of that preventative scenario .  Then we can balance these losses and costs.  Believe me I know exactly how cruel and heartless that sounds – but bear in mind it is based on something that happens in courtrooms and settlement conferences every day.  Sometimes reality gives us no choice.

Finally, it is vitally important to remember what we are dealing with here – odds.  There is no certainties in any of this.  Let me give you an example.  About 7 years ago my wife was diagnosed with breast cancer.  If you have never been through something like that it is quite the eye opener.  There are no promises, there are only odds.  Every decision made during the entire event, and they are legion, you are presented with odds – not recommendations, not certainties – odds.  Then you make a decision.  Through my wife’s course of treatment she elected everything that had the best odds.  From course of treatmenet to lifestyle choices to post-treatment medication schemes she did everyting the odds dictated were best.  She still is and Praise the Lord she has had no recurrence…of the breast cancer.  But, and this is a huge but, two years later she was diagnosed with an entirely separate and unrelated cancer.  Again with great praise to the Almighty she seems to have come through that as well.  But my point remains, she played the odds and while I am deeply and eternally grateful for the outcomes, I would hardly call it a happy ending.

So here is how I would sum up the situation.  We have placed the largest wager in human history, the American, and therefore the world, economy, on this shutdown business.  The odds are in our favor, but odds are not a sure thing.  Further we have placed that wager without fully examining the economic realities of the bet.  Finally, any bookie worth his salt, whether it is the guy sitting at the end of the bar or the biggest sports book in Vegas is going to be looking to lay-off a bet this big.  That’s hard to do with a bet like this, but we need to be seeking to do whatever we can minimize our downside.

So I am with Wesbury 100%.  We need to stop looking for things to shut down and start looking for ways to reasonably and safely keep things open.  It’s the only thing we have to minimize the downside of our bet.