I came into 2020 intending not to watch much news, not to blog, to stay away from Twitter and to spend time reading, reflecting and thinking. But, how could one avoid the crisis after crisis that we have 'endured', impeachment, the 'threat' of WWIII, and more? In mid to late January I was watching foreign news wondering why nobody was talking about the Coronavirus event in China. Tucker Carlson it seems was the first and only major media figure to talk about it. I do not watch cable news so I was unaware that he was doing so in January until recently. At the time, I saw the headlines from the other 'trusted' news sources; "just the flu", "not that bad" etc. A local doctor, an epidemiologist from Augusta University, was quoted in a 28 January Government Technology article parroting the same stuff; "won't be bad here or Europe", "I don't think it will be that big of a deal here, I really don't.", 'no need to freak out and cancel travel plans'. he was not alone, Dr. Drew, the TV guy said the same thing.
I am not an epidemiologist, nor a doctor. However, if Communist China locks down an entire city of millions and then a region and it is too big to cover up - it is a big deal. I am also no longer 'in the government', I do not have access to classified intelligence data and have seen no briefings on this. However, I know how these things work. If epidemiologists at research hospitals, TV doctors and, news personalities that were too busy foaming at the mouth creating panic over war with Iran and the impeachment fiasco fine, we can accept those people have no credibility. But the intelligence people knew. The National Security Council knew and the President knew (but he was occupied with impeachment). If I knew it was a big deal, just watching open-source reports, many people knew.
I will admit, and the record is there on Twitter to see, I cannot hide it, I aggressively 'attacked' other people that also should have known, beginning the week of 9 March. I berated the president of George Mason University to implement online classes. My daughter was in DC studying this semester. There were just a couple hundred cases in the US when I started pinging GMU's president. I began reaching out to local organizations like the Master's Tournament, reminding them it was careless and negligent to continue to plan that event. I pinged the president of Augusta University, one of my city's largest employers demanding he implement online classes and telework. I did these things as a father and a citizen of my community - did not want to see it in Augusta. Organizations and institutions taking preventative steps that cost them nothing really was just smart. These people should have been executing a plan long before folks started yelling at them. (I realize this cost the masters and the local city millions of dollars, but I suspected they would have had no choice - acting sooner probably saved them lawsuits)
We all should have been aware and acting locally. We all should have ignored any quacks that were saying things contrary to what obvious evidence showed us. If it was too big for China to hide, it was big!
But We Failed
Americans listened to news outlets that lie, sensationalize stories, create panic after panic and in the case of Coronavirus, downplayed the entire thing because they were so worried about carrying on with the normal news cycle of partisanship. We listened to 'experts' that misled us. We failed to listen to that voice of common-sense inside us that said take a look at what was going on. In late February Americans were still traveling. Some universities failed to call their students home, only later to ask the US Government to go get them (foolishness). In New York City the Health Director urged New Yorkers to attend Lunar New Year events in Chinatown. Jet setting celebrities flew to resorts and then through major cities, a process we now see was a major source of transmission and spread.
By the week of 9 March, few had begun to pay attention. The WHO had declared Coronavirus a pandemic, we were beginning to see the news reports from Italy, but employers, institutions and individuals continued on as normal. Thousands of youngsters went to spring break destinations, without a care or concern. On 12 March President Trump made an Oval Office address and by 13 March many organizations began to react. Individually, we still acted not as citizens of a commonwealth that should be acting for the common good - but as selfish, careless individuals. We experienced the toilet paper apocalypse as greedy individuals bought up more then they will use a year. People still went out, socialized, attended large gatherings and went on oblivious.
All of that is history. Did we ever have to come to a point that we 'needed' to shut down the entire country? I suspect not. Not if:
- Fools had stopped traveling, in a time when common sense and decency indicate it is a bad idea.
- We had closed international travel sooner and tighter. Yes, Trump closed travel from China quickly, but there were many ways in. To do it right would have required an opposition party that was willing to work for the country occasionally and a media that did not scream racist at everything that goes on.
- Some companies could have initiated remote work sooner (this is 2020). No need to shut the entire economy, just send some folks home - reduce.
Perhaps it never needed to get to the point of the shutdown with just those few simple steps. What we know is all those media people that either paid no attention for two months began to scream for action.
How Did We Get Here
How did it get from 'no big deal' to 'the world is ending, shut it down and give everyone money'.
Trump has some blame for this, a lot of blame. He said some stupid things about it early on. He was essentially, non-plussed. He repeats now, often, that he inherited a flawed system. If I were The President, seeing what I saw in January, people would have been fired and things changed, long before the last week. This assumes he knew, and that assumes the people that should have told him did. Again, many heads need to roll, either in the intelligence services or in doctors that somehow convinced him that the intelligence was wrong.
The Democrats have much to answer for. I watched all of the impeachment hearings. There was nothing impeachable there. Trump is as dirty and an uncivil as who he appears to be, and not unlike almost all of the politicians sitting in Congress. That was a silly, sad, tragic waste of time and resources. And, dangerous it seems. One cannot imagine that the entire process did not place stress on Trump, divert his attention from important matters and perhaps even make him cautious to act immediately afterward. Those people, those smug, clueless, hateful people have much to answer for in this. We did not have to get to this point if everyone in DC was doing their jobs and not playing games of stupid.
The media has much to answer for. Organizations that went from no big deal to fix this on a dime cannot be trusted. These people were looking for their next big crisis and scandal to attach to Trump. They were not doing their jobs. They cannot be trusted. Perhaps Americans will come to realize that.
Shutting the economy down, telling business they cannot operate, telling businesses the government will 'knock on your door' if you have supplies we need, activating the Defense Production act - these are big things, draconian things that set a terrible precedent. Do not let that pass by without reflection. These are all things tyrannical governments do and we have just set the precedent that is is just fine to implement these actions. If Obama had implemented half of that, many that have read this far would literally be up in arms - very literary speaking, UP IN ARMS.
Despite those draconian measures...All of that and fools still are out and about and spreading! (clueless children that likely need a dictator to take care of them)
Do not delude yourself - this leads to tyranny, we have set the stage.
So how did we get here?
You and I.
- We sat by, some of us cheering the entire impeachment debacle. Our government has work to do, and no matter how much we dislike the results of an election and no matter how much a guy in office offends us it is stupid and dangerous to interfere in the government doing the things it is supposed to do - it has consequences.
- We elect stupid, corrupt, incomplete people, from both parties.
- We do not act like responsible citizens, from jet-setting celebrities and rich flying around the world as 'spreaders' to folks chasing cruise line deals in a time when prudence says stay home, shame on you all.
- We only care about life when it might be our life! College kids on spring break - don't care. Governor Cuomo screaming about ventilators and saying the economy is not worth a human life, but deeming abortion clinics that kill babies an essential medical service...yeah.
- Most Americans are in debt and cannot afford to go without a paycheck. Who shall we blame for that? Shame on you, especially you 'conservatives' now screaming for government payouts.
- We have abandoned the faith of our fathers - we are a nation that believes in nothing but self, or the group we 'identify' with. Shame on us all.
Basically, we are fat, soft, lazy, weak, immoral and stupid. We got here because there are consequences to being fat, soft, weak, immoral and stupid. We listen to liars, we elect scoundrels and we waste the bounty that we produce.
Since August I have been working on a book that argues that classical liberalism has failed, precisely because of the nature of man as demonstrated over the last several years. Classical liberalism was built upon flawed premises and assumptions. The last several years have proven that so, but never more acutely than right now. The events of the last week have convinced me not to complete that book - why, what is the point, who would read it and who that read it would take steps? If I continue to write anything at all it will be directed at the Zoomer generation, to tell them how wrong this all is so that they may fix it in forty years when the crazy idealistic, socialist millennials begin dying off.
The die is cast. We are going to create billions of dollars of Federal debt to pay for the collective stupidity of us all. I admit, we have to do this now, failure to pay the proles their bread allowance would only have a bad end. How did we come here, to this place? We have come full circle, we have laid all the foundations for tyranny, socialism and authoritarianism. You know what? Maybe that is what we need, we have proven to be too childish, and stupid to maintain a free Republic.
If my tone in this post was polemic and pissed off - well I am pretty polemic and pissed off right now. I told my daughter in December I was going to evaluate why I had taken to scowling so much, well I see know I was not wrong. There is a lot to scowl about. I suspect that this will not win me many fans, but I have already used all of my good words long before this. It really does not matter what is said now.
We will get out of this, the virus will pass and eventually many will go back to work - but the damage is done. The precedence is set, the debt is there, the loss of income is there, and people will die that did not need to die - but it will pass. Things will never be the same again, there will return a semblance of the old, but everything has changed and we are on a very different trajectory now.
History will judge Trump as a baffoon, a man that stumbled arrogantly into this and then created systems that laid the foundation for the tyranny to come, they will see the Democrats as feckless fools; the media as incompetent and us as peasants that found ourselves incapable of self-governance.