Declare victory and get out

The headline is a quote from U.S. Sen. George Aiken of Vermont about the Vietnam War.

James Freeman has a current parallel:

Politicians and pundits have been recklessly casting the effort to resist Covid-19 as a “war” for months. Maybe they’re finally ready to sound the metaphorical retreat. For starters, this catastrophically costly war of choice doesn’t seem to have resulted in the capture of any territory or the destruction of the enemy. Don Luskin of TrendMacrolytics writes in a Journal op-ed:

Six months into the Covid-19 pandemic, the U.S. has now carried out two large-scale experiments in public health—first, in March and April, the lockdown of the economy to arrest the spread of the virus, and second, since mid-April, the reopening of the economy. The results are in. Counterintuitive though it may be, statistical analysis shows that locking down the economy didn’t contain the disease’s spread and reopening it didn’t unleash a second wave of infections.

Just like a real military force, the Covid warriors have wreaked severe destruction, but it’s all been inflicted on our own society. Speaking of the domestic destruction, this is perhaps the one way in which the campaign against Covid really has been similar to a war. The Journal’s Kate Davidson reports:

U.S. government debt is on track to exceed the size of the economy for the 12 months ended Sept. 30, a milestone not hit since World War II that has been brought into reach by a giant fiscal response to the coronavirus pandemic.
The Congressional Budget Office is expected to report on Wednesday that federal debt held by the public is projected to reach or exceed 100% of U.S. gross domestic product, the broadest measure of U.S. economic output. That would put the U.S. in the company of a handful of nations with debt loads that exceed their economies, including Japan, Italy and Greece—though investors remain unfazed by the rising red ink.

Federal taxpayers will someday have to pay all these bills, but state and local governments are primarily responsible for waging the campaign against prosperity and public health. And one of the country’s most committed warriors, Gov. Gavin Newsom (D., Calif.), seems to have selected his latest targets almost at random. It is perhaps another lesson in the inhumanity of war. Chris Woodyard writes in USA Today:

…California has embarked on a new tiered plan for reopening businesses that has some crying foul.
Critics say the system doesn’t take into account that some businesses can operate safely even in counties with relatively high numbers of COVID-cases. And it hits some businesses harder than others, even when it appears they perform similar services.
“While certain businesses are allowed to open … many others continue to be greatly limited, hampered or even closed,” said San Diego County Supervisor Jim Desmond, who held a news conference on the issue Monday. “The state continues to change the targets and move the goal posts.”

This column appreciates Mr. Desmond’s effort to introduce a sports metaphor into the discussion. But it is the language of warfare that has been used to justify the abuse of children who are currently being denied educational opportunities–which will reduce their future earnings–even as the grown-ups inflict upon them a World War II level of debt. The financial obligation forced on today’s students keeps getting bigger as government school closures reduce their ability to service it. Perhaps some enterprising tyke will consider starting a Young Lives Matter protest movement.

Another way in which the Covid campaign is very different from actual combat is that typically war mongers are not simultaneously serving as conscientious objectors. But there is a disturbing recent pattern of government officials displaying an unwillingness to engage in the fighting they demand of others. Now this week Fox News reports:

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi visited a San Francisco hair salon on Monday afternoon for a wash and blow-out, despite local ordinances keeping salons closed amid the coronavirus pandemic…
In security footage obtained by Fox News, and timestamped Monday at 3:08 p.m. Pacific Time, the California powerhouse is seen walking through eSalon in San Francisco with wet hair, and without a mask over her mouth or nose.

Perhaps like many Americans, the speaker doesn’t really think Covid is as deadly as she says. Perhaps she read a New York Times report saying that many Covid tests come back positive even when the patient carries an insignificant amount of virus and began to wonder how many people have died with Covid rather than of Covid. Given that the overwhelming majority of Covid-related deaths occur in older people with co-morbidities, perhaps the speaker is also privately questioning how many patients died of Covid shortly before they were likely to die of another underlying condition. In New York State alone, thousands of recorded Covid deaths have involved people at least 80 years old and suffering from dementia. Does the speaker wonder if perhaps such deaths are not exactly the same in terms of lost years of life as an 18-year-old dying in battle? Maybe the speaker has considered all of this and has also noticed that states like New York with the highest death totals also imposed the most extreme lockdowns.

If Speaker Pelosi isn’t harboring such doubts, why would she run the risk of an unmasked hair appointment? Perhaps she is simply following the dictates of her conscience and must adhere to a deep-seated belief in professional styling. But probably not.

It’s time to declare an armistice.

Or something. As of mid-week, after 5½ months of Gov. Tony Evers’ lockdowns and mask order:

  • 6.07 percent of Wisconsinites who are either sick enough to be tested or have a reason to be tested (suspected exposure),  have tested positive for COVID-19 — 1.3 percent of the state’s estimated population.
  • Of that population, 7.69 percent (0.467 percent of those tested) have been sick enough to be hospitalized.
  • 1.48 percent of those who tested positive (0.09 percent of those tested) have died. According to the Centers for Disease Control, 94 percent of those who have died had additional contributing conditions.



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