Setting aside the semantical difficulties of declaring a grand re-opening of a country that isn’t actually closed, the real question is, will President Trump make the decision that American lives are worth less than the economy?
And, it’s actually a legitimate question.
If you’re one of those people who says, “You can’t put a price on a human life,” please just stop reading now. This article is not going to go your way. In fact, nothing I write is going to go your way. The reason, of course, is that that line of thinking is just ridiculous. If plunging this nation into a recession, and quite possibly a depression, required signing a death warrant on one single person for example, the choice would be obvious. Bad luck for you, random person that I hopefully don’t know.
So, as long as we agree that human life does indeed have a monetary value, then we just need to figure out what that value is. I think that everyone still reading would agree—though they may not like admitting it—that if the cost of saving the entire United States economy was that .00001% of the population (33 lives) would have to die from Covid-19, we should probably get the lottery process started. So, how about .0001% (332 lives)? How about .001% (3320 lives)? How about .01% (33200 lives?) Or, how about 10% (33.2 million lives)? It’s like the old joke with the guy asking a woman if she would sleep with him for increasing dollar amounts, and when he gets up to 100 billion dollars and she finally says that she guesses she would sleep with him for that amount, he replies, “Okay, ma’am, so we’ve determined that you are indeed a prostitute, now we’re just negotiating price.”
Right now, Donald Trump is just simply trying to figure out how expensive of a prostitute he is.
At some number of lives it’s definitely time to pull the plug on this economic shutdown. You see, as dumb as he may be, President Trump certainly has the intelligence to hear the words that the experts are speaking, and the ability to interpret those words and come to the inevitable conclusion that this coronavirus is not going to be marching down the primrose path to obscurity come the completely arbitrary date of Easter morning, April 12th, 2020. No, in spite of the sunny picture he portrayed in the town hall and press conference yesterday, President Trump can’t possibly believe that lunacy.
I believe he’s actually currently trying to decide how many American lives are worth sacrificing in order to save the economy from disaster. And, more importantly, he’s trying to decide how many American lives he can sign death warrants for and still win reelection in November. Because, whatever you think about him, when it comes to winning another four years in the White House, he’s pragmatic, and let’s face it, politicians gonna politic, and sadly, reelection is really all most of them care anything about.
I don’t know at what conclusion he’s going to arrive. I’m actually really glad it’s not me that has to make that decision. Because, in spite of media reports that seem to think he truly believes things will be better by April 12th, I’m just not buying it. Basically, I’m operating on the “nobody is that dumb” principle, particularly not somebody with every available expert resource on the planet at his fingertips and his beck and call. Trump surely understands the enormity of his upcoming decision much the same way that President Franklin D. Roosevelt understood the magnitude of his decisions preceding the news out of Hawaii on December 7th, 1941. Roosevelt knew that voluntarily going to war in Europe would be tantamount to signing hundreds of thousands of American death certificates. He was spared the brutal weight of making that painful decision by the Japanese forcing his hand that fateful day.
Nobody is going to be there to bail out President Trump in this upcoming, monstrous decision.
This decision will ultimately be his alone. Though governors across the nation will fight him on that decision, whichever way it falls, it will still be his call in the end. And let’s be clear, it’s not an easy call to make. Both decisions—to maintain the status quo and fight the virus through social isolation while our economy slips into oblivion—or to tap out, to retire to the corner and concede victory, hoping to recover and regroup, will result in many fatalities. People will die as we remain in isolation and our economy tumbles into the gutter. Suicide rates will skyrocket. Homelessness will soar. Jobs will be lost, some forever. Domestic violence murders will rise. There’s a real chance of civil unrest, riots, looting, murder, and mayhem. The ramifications of pulling us out of the bonds of our isolation orders are obvious.
The only decisions that land on the president’s desk are the tough ones though. When you run for the presidency, you accept that you’re going to have to make very difficult decisions. Decisions that will cost many lives.
If he does decide to “reopen” and return to business as usual, the death rate will be higher than the current 1% or so estimated fatality rate from the virus alone. Health care systems will be overloaded, even if we do get more than two weeks to prepare. Our health care infrastructure is just too decimated to handle an influx of the magnitude we’ll see with a full return to normal function. People that otherwise could have been saved had there been resources available, will instead die. It will be ugly. As if 1% of the population (3.32 million deaths) wasn’t ugly enough.
The good news behind a return to normalcy is that it’s very likely the second wave of infections that’s almost certainly coming next November will be much more controllable. Both choices are going to result in many, many deaths. Remaining in lockdown is just going to make that next viral infection surge another national emergency. And that national emergency will be much more difficult to control, with the economy already in full decimation due to the effects of this current lockdown. Not to mention, the election is next November. What chance will Trump have of winning another four years if the economy is in shambles, America is in a recession, and a second wave of coronavirus infections is decimating the population?
What’s a number that’s close to zero?
Since reelection and the economy are Trump’s primary concerns at all times, what decision will he make?
I have a feeling this lockdown is going to last exactly another 18 days. I suspect we’ll get the news on Good Friday, the 10th of April, that all isolation orders are canceled and that the population should return to a normal routine effective Easter Sunday. Possibly there will be requests for the elderly and the vulnerable to remain quarantined in place, an attempt to keep the most susceptible of our population safe. The rest of us though, will be released. I suspect this will be the decision that Trump eventually makes. You see, because as the economy goes, so does Trump’s electability. And that’s going to mean that the decision makes itself. I guess there is a bailout for him—the economy, in tandem with the election. In that case, the decision seems already made.
I just don’t know if it’s the right one.
See you guys on April 12th.