June 7, 2020

Science and the Pandemic

Science and the Pandemic

The American Institute for Economic Research (AIER) has an article by Donald J. Boudreaux entitled, “Science and the Pandemic”.  AIER is the same organization that promoted the video, now gone viral, of two private urgent-care physicians, Dr. Dan Erickson and Dr. Artin Massihi, discussing whether the societal shutdown is still necessary. The Erickson/Massihi video argued that the severity of COVID-19 as revealed by the data gathered since the shutdown does not justify the severe isolating that has also shut down the economy.  They say the shutdown may have been initially justified due to the lack of data concerning COVID-19, but now that the “numbers” are in; the quarantine of essentially the whole population is no longer necessary.

The “Science and the Pandemic” article argues whether government policies should be crafted only, or even mainly, by epidemiologists and other public health physicians.  The effect of the extreme social isolation policy has spread throughout society, affecting much more than the health of the population or the health-care system alone.  The economic effects are just as widespread, the article argues, and just as devastating.  Andy Zehner, Damaris’ husband, makes similar arguments in his article on Damaris’ Integrity of Life blog.

On the BioLogos Forum, the Erickson/Massihi video came in for some severe criticism.  Forum moderator, and medical doctor by profession, Phil McCurdy said:

One of my friends posted this also. These guys are a couple of low level walk in clinic owners, and have no credibility or training to be putting this out. The population they serve is low risk, the really sick people go to a real ER instead of the doc in a box. They are a good example of the malignant narcissism that has emerged from all this. Social isolation is a narcissist’s nightmare, and I see it bursting forth on Facebook like an erupting volcano… I refuse to watch it again, but the big things I remember that bothered me was the error in extrapolating their limited experience into a general recommendation, and the bias in the population group they “studied.”  But Phil then goes on to say:

That said, in a low risk population, re-opening may be possible earlier. One problem we seem to be having is treating the US as a homogenous group, when there are wide variations in risk of disease, making a blanket policy inappropriate.

Last Friday, Indiana Governor Eric Holcomb announced a phased plan for reopening the state. On the official Indiana State Department of Health site, one can see by the graph of cases that Indiana (as of May 4th) has not peaked yet.

I would like to ascertain the opinions of the Imonk commentariat.  I must admit to going back and forth on the issues raised both by the AIER articles, and their critics.  To wit:

  • Decisions must be made on the basis of solid science. Epidemiologist’s judgment should have the pre-eminence since it is a viral pandemic we are dealing with.
  • Science is not just a set of facts- those facts must be interpreted.
  • As Andy Zehner says, “Experts know one thing. The more vaunted their reputation as experts, the more specialized they are apt to be. Turning over the whole of society and the whole of the economy to any single group of experts is a bad idea. And that is what has happened during the present coronavirus crisis.”
  • As social isolation is ended, it seems manifestly obvious the number of cases– and deaths– are going to increase. Most projection models have been revised. The revisions reflected rising mobility in most U.S. states with an easing of business closures and stay-at-home orders expected in 31 states by May 11.  The revised models forecast a surge in fatalities to 3,000 a day – Italy levels.
  • So what is the “cost of doing business” versus the cost of continued economic shutdown… And what is the ‘currency” we are using to measure those costs?

So what say you?  What is the best course of action?  And who should get to decide?

Comments

  1. Mike , Thanks for this series. One of my big frustrations sitting at home and with a limited skill set on computer research I cannot find any definitive national or world statistical breakdown of corona victims by age, race, prior health condition and the death rate breakdown also. There is a lot of click bait and alarmist headlines but very little meat on the information bone. Here is a rare break down of New Jersey that is close to what I am looking for

    https://www.northjersey.com/story/news/coronavirus/2020/04/10/nj-coronavirus-deaths-underlying-illnesses-race-age/2964957001/

    My neighbor just turned 100 years old, if died tomorrow and they found corona virus that would be listed as his death cause even though he is 100 with some serious issues. I think the death rate is very inflated as cause as there is an overwhelmed autopsy system plus people with existing conditions are more at risk, High blood pressure and obesity are the the common thread.

    Is there any where where basic facts based on age, race, pre existing conditions and when treatment was sought that would give us a clue on really who is at risk.

    If we had that I think we would be able to make a rational individual decision. Personally I think the vast majority of people under 50 can return to normal unless they have a very acute case of underlying medical issues.

    I think schools can re open with the teachers at risk assigned not contact duties.

    I think we should with a month return to normal with good knowledge available and let people make their choice.
    We allow skydiving, motorcycles, hang gliding, parasailing and driving on I 95 if people are willing to take the risk.

    Thanks for the good article. Within 2 weeks time to move on. The official ball keeps moving and if we are waiting to 100 percent safe, our economic and social world will collapse. Again this is another poor performance by the media who run with the headlines and sob stories. No in depth analysis that would help us make a sound individual decision, same with the federal and local govt, Just some real , meaning full numbers breakdown and good historical medical data. We had to destroy the village to save it is ringing in my ears.

    • “We allow skydiving, motorcycles, hang gliding, parasailing and driving on I 95 if people are willing to take the risk.”

      Again, this is not a personal risk decision alone – it’s a disease that is communicable, and you can get it and give it without showing symptoms. That puts it into a whole different category than skydiving.

      “We had to destroy the village to save it is ringing in my ears”

      Here’s my take on that… (I actually got it from a Politico article, of all places)

      “”It’s worth noting the shift in worldviews. During the pandemic, conservatives are much more likely to be relativists—everyone dies of something eventually so let’s keep this disease in perspective—while liberals generally are quicker to assume the absolutist stance—let’s stay shut down for as long as health experts tell us we need to save lives.”

      • Adam Tauno Williams says

        > this is not a personal risk decision alone

        There is a real problem afoot in the lands with the disbelief in collective action. We are acting collectively, whether we like the idea or not. Adults can understand that.

    • Michael Z says

      Choosing not to obey lockdown restrictions shouldn’t be compared to skydiving – it’s more comparable to drunk driving or smoking inside a restaurant, because it endangers not just yourself, but others as well.

      It’s really frustrating to me that certain types of people don’t seem to understand that the reason to take precautions in this case is not out of fear for your own life, but because of the duty you owe to others to protect their lives.

      • Rick Ro. says

        –> “…but because of the duty you owe to others to protect their lives.”

        I’m endlessly baffled that the same people who take great offense at the disrespect shown by those who don’t stand for the national anthem, won’t wear a mask out of respect for their fellow human beings.

        Respect for the Flag? Yes.
        Respect for my brothers and sisters? Nope.

    • “My neighbor just turned 100 years old, if died tomorrow and they found corona virus that would be listed as his death cause even though he is 100 with some serious issues.”

      There is a lot to unpack. Here is an incomplete list:

      (1) Yes, your 100 year old neighbor is going to die coronavirus or no coronavirus. You know what? So are you. So am I. So is that 20 year old athlete in fantastic condition. So is that newborn baby in the pink of health. If we are to regard with unconcern the death of someone who was going to die anyway, then we are to be indifferent to life.

      (2) Is this your understanding of how we Christians are called to act? Is this your understanding of Scripture? Does it teach us that some are worthy of life and others not? Inasmuch as it does, is the division between the two the same as that being advocated today with respect to coronavirus?

      (3) Do you recall back when the right wing media claimed to believe that the Affordable Care Act featured death panels? These imaginary panels would, we were told, sit in judgment over whose life was worthy of saving and whose was not. These same media outlets are the same ones telling us some people’s lives are worthy of saving and some are not. This is, um…, “inconsistent” is a polite word. I can think of several others, less polite but more precise.

      (4) Many churches teach that a zygote carries full moral weight of being human, and that public policy must conform accordingly? What does your church teach about the policy response to the coronavirus? Does it teach, whether openly or tacitly, that some people are unworthy of saving, if it inconveniences us too much? Any church that teaches both is, um…, inconsistent. Or those less polite but more precise words. Take your pick.

      (5) The “old people are going to die anyway” argument is a special case of the broader argument that deaths of people with “underlying conditions” don’t count. Once we dismiss people with “underlying conditions” we can dismiss nearly everyone. Blood pressure a little high? Should perhaps lose a few pounds? We don’t care if you die.

      (6) Once we decide to base policy on whose life we are about, what makes you think that you and your loved ones will make it into that happy circle? Are you rich? Spoiler alert: It will turn out that personal wealth is the key factor.

      On a different note, COVID-19 deaths are likely being undercounted, not over. There is a simple test. We have extensive historical mortality data. We can compare numbers since COVID-19 hit with this historical data and find how many more deaths there are than otherwise expected. This comparison suggests that the actual number of COVID-19 deaths is about twice the official count. Of course this is a blunt instrument. Those extra deaths could be from some other source. But it is hardly likely that a source of so many extra deaths would have gone unnoticed.

      • Robert F says

        Some of those increased numbers of dead may be due to people not receiving normal care they would’ve before the crisis, but in my opinion that still means the deaths are attributable to coronavirus.

      • Richard Hershberger, lots of strawman and wrong interpretation of my comments.

        (1) My hundred year old neighbor was an meant to be an example of why reporting and cause of death during this period is difficult and the data hard to analysis. You read the indifference to life interpretation into my comments for what ever reason. However I do appreciate the biological fact that we are all going to die as I seemed to convey in my comments.

        (2) I am not sure what part of my comments that was basically a call for some data was un Christian. Nothing is stopping anyone from performing the understanding of Christian love and compassion on an individual basis. Is the pandemic response a Christian issue or a science/political and cultural issue. I will sum up my low level Christian theology Do Unto Others and follow Christ.

        (3) Dr. Emmanuel and others who had great input and guidance into Affordable Health Care is an advocate of rationing of health care , a triage of resources spent due to consideration of patients age, medical history , chance of survival and quality of life. This happens now especially in socialist countries and to some extent here. The death panel critique was of course click bait and headline grabbing but it did convey the point. Ted Kennedy, John McCain spent a lot of money at the end of their lives trying to prolong it, nothing wrong with that but under state run care mostly legally not allowed. However, again I do not know how that came out of my asking for more concise data.

        (4) I have no church, I am a Christian but I am a none or done but I believe in Jesus Christ as Savior to all the world. I am against unlimited abortion and think after 3 months it should be only done if medically necessary. I will go back to the Clinton era explanation of Safe, Legal and Rare but that was before the issue went nuts. Again, not a part of my comments .

        (5) A real strawman. If we knew the people at risk they could stay home and live. No one said their lives are less. Maybe I hid a cryptic message somehow.

        (6) The wealthy, the connected under any system will have advantage including religious denominations. I think Billy Graham, the Pope and even Oral Roberts got treated better than. I am concerned about those less fortunate than I . Best I can do, I do. again not my comments, I wanted some data.

        (7) Again , that is what I asked fore data that reveals what secular actions we can take. I pray every day for those in peril and those who may suffer, but that was not the point of my comments. Eventually the data will come out , but in this computer age it is readily available and would be useful

        I think a lot of comments here have a hint of an agenda to change our political system, our medical system, our culture and our economic system and not about the stopping of a pandemic that is unaware of any of those concerns. However , thanks for reading my comments. You gave me more substance than it had. I was just asking for some facts, if anyone had a reference, which I guess no one does. To be fair we all have an agenda but we all must recognize it. Thanks again

        • Robert F says

          If we knew the people at risk they could stay home and live. No one said their lives are less. Maybe I hid a cryptic message somehow.

          Actually, no, without social support — which means public assistance economic support — many of them cannot stay home, because they have to work to survive. That includes many people in every category at high risk, including senior citizens with comorbidity. It’s an option on paper only, not a real option. I know many of those people; in fact, I’m one of them. Don’t pretend it’s like choosing among different brands of toothpaste on a supermarket shelf.

        • Robert F says

          That’s one of the problems, there is no coordinated system of information in this country regarding many health statistics, because the federal government — whether directed by Republicans or Democrats — has never taken ownership of the job. Good luck finding that info in the US.

          Regarding agendas: The pandemic has no concern for the agenda that ” things have always been done this way, and you can’t expect us to change” either.

          • Headless Unicorn Guy says

            But TRUMP says “the New Normal” after opening will be a return “to the way things were three months ago”!

            Maybe they’ll even have a Victory Parade down Pennsylvania Ave, tanks and all!

        • (1) The numbers are a key part of the political discussion. The entire “reopen now” argument is that the number of deaths is acceptable. The drive to count fewer is a political argument. If your neighbor was going to die anyway, because he is one of those olds, then (the argument goes) whether or not he had the coronavirus is irrelevant for public policy. This seems plausible, since he likely really doesn’t have much time left. The trouble is that once we accept that logic, the same logic lets us dismiss entire swaths of humanity as irrelevant. Once we delete the deaths of all Those People, it turns out that the number of deaths that count is trivial: certainly no reason not to go to the movies.

        • Yes, we all have an agenda. For purposes of our discussion, here, the question is “whose agenda most closely models the Gospel?”

    • Pamela K says

      Just a small response to the cause of death comment which is common one I have seen. The writing below is copied from a Facebook posts from medical friends who have addressed that issue: (Jennifer L Kasten, MD, MSc, MSc May 1 at 7:28 PM · )
      Let’s talk about Death. You might have seen him- tall fellow? Black robe, scythe? Never needs a haircut? And Taxes- or, at least, fraudulent insurance reimbursements.

      COVID-19, YOU HEARTBREAKER

      Rodrigo and Svetlana come down with COVID.

      Svetlana is 78, and her main hobbies are outrunning greyhounds, freediving to collect seashells from the bottom of the ocean, and modeling for her village’s Grandmothers Who Are Outrageously Fit calendar (all proceeds to charity). She unfortunately develops a cytokine storm and dies.

      Rodrigo has led a different life; at 66 his pastimes include developing new recipes for lard and forgetting to take his medications. He goes into respiratory failure, which significantly strains a heart already choked by plaques in its main blood vessels. It putters out, and he goes into acute heart failure and dies.

      In the US, all death certificates allow us to list an immediate cause of death- the thing that really pushed someone over the edge- and up to three more contributing causes.

      How would we code Svetlana? She’d be as clean as her coronaries :
      IMMEDIATE CAUSE: COVID-19
      Due to: ______
      That’s it. Nothing else contributed.

      Now, Rodrigo:
      IMMEDIATE CAUSE: Acute congestive cardiac failure
      Due to: respiratory failure
      Due to: COVID-19

      In the afterlife, Rodrigo meets a Doctor- wrong kind and too late, but still cool- who lets him take a trip in the TARDIS. He uses it to go back a month in time. Instead of buying lard at the supermarket without a mask, he decides to wear one and he never contracts COVID. And in that timeline, he dies of a heart attack in 2026 (whereupon he returns the TARDIS).

      Two things matter when assessing the interaction between comorbidities (other health conditions) and COVID-19: a) did the infection actually do something to make a person sick, to trigger the fatal health condition; and b) would they have died this week/month of that comorbidity otherwise?

      Let’s make it a party and invite Ted. It’s probably the only party he’s ever been invited to, honestly. Ted’s hobby is writing manifestos and assembling very intricate mail bombs; one is triggered on his way from his cabin to the post box. On a very fragmented autopsy, he tests positive for COVID.

      Now, while we would certainly want to tally Ted up in list a of COVID cases, we could never attribute his death to the infection.

      Bottom line: multiple things, working together, can kill a person. But they have to be connected. This is normal; this is how death certificates have always worked; and more importantly than pieces of paper, this is how physiology works. It is totally legit to say a fatal heart attack was induced by the stress of COVID infection. It is 100% biologically sound to be weakened by cancer and chemotherapy and be knocked off by COVID. All that matters is, did COVID actually DO anything to you, and would you have died right now, this week, if you never caught it?”

  2. anonymous says

    not enough workable testing kits to test properly in USA

    we need to secure adequate testing – this would be a good first step if we want to follow countries that have handled pandemic well

    • Robert F says

      We don’t want to handle the pandemic well. We want to go full cowboy — Yippee- Ki-Yay….

  3. I feel biased by the fact that both my wife and I have continued to work. When I look at rising, not falling, numbers in light of Dr. Fauci’s recommendations that reopening take place after two weeks of falling numbers, it seems too soon. Of course that’s easy for me to say.

    • anonymous says

      re-opening too soon after medical warnings is a political move, you bet

    • ChrisS, Do you and your wife feel poorly treated or marginalized by continuing to work. Would you rather be one on the non essentials sitting at home or you would rather be working? Just heard a blurb that in NY that perhaps the recent victims of the virus are stay at homes? I wrote a comment that appears to be lost in space about lack of good reliable date on age, race, prior history and medical history of victims especially those who pass.

      So should not the workers in grocery stores, Wal Mart and the general service industry who have come into contact with the general public be a good group to see percent of those who catch the virus. Is your employer giving employees any bonus for working during this time. One thing I have learned the people at Wal Mart are essential,, Congress by their own action non essential. Thanks for you reply and I do pray for the well being of those who have worked though this with fortitude. Just perplexed why no data that would be easy to gather on workers and their infection rate or lack of. Again Thanks

      • “Just heard a blurb that in NY that perhaps the recent victims of the virus are stay at homes?”

        Yes, mostly poor working class families who can’t afford to isolate and live in tightly cramped small houses and apartments. That’s the fact. Dealing with their problem… Again, that’s politics.

        • Robert F says

          Highly contagious disease spreads like wildfire in tightly packed ghettos, and apartments with only one bathroom and one or two bedrooms.

          • Adam Tauno Williams says

            False.. See many counter-examples. There are many very agglomerated places (Taiwan, Singapore, Seoul) which have dealt very effectively with COVID19. Places whose density make American cities look like an Iowa corn field.

            Please stop stating this falsehood, this [false] assumption will have terrible impacts of future public policy.

            • Those places you mentioned also have (drumroll please) widespread testing and contact tracing. If you don’t have those, then yes, tightly packed living conditions ARE conducive to disease spread. That’s a historical fact.

              • Robert F says

                I think the differences in national contexts is crucial to all this. It’s not that the individual factors are in and of themselves determinative The American context, and the aggravating context of American socioeconomic dysfunction, makes the way contagion plays out here very different from Germany, South Korea, New Zealand, other wealthy countries that are highly industrialized democratic societies. One of the main problems is that the states in this country are set up by our republican form of government to compete for resources against each other. Fortunately, some states have now banded together to fill the leadership vacuum the federal government has left open.

            • How many men in USA leave the restroom without washing hands during “normal” times. I do not think these same people are all of a sudden following health guidelines. Other countries have a far different culture of following collective rules, strict govt control can be mandated plus the reporting of real numbers is suspect both here and abroad. Testing and contact tracing work in a small highly regimented population. Want to be tracked by your cell phone and list your contacts and for how long? Many factors here but as I asked before real hard numbers hard to come by. Japan used to wearing masks and following dictates of authority without question, same many places. Most people in the world would love to have a one or two bedroom with one bath. We are as usual in our first world bubble and perspective. My sacrifice for virus has been zero. I do urge those who can to pass it forward for their undeserved 1200 dollars to those affected , this is strictly a voluntary personal choice. I am in a bubble but try to appreciate the plight of those greatly affected. I think most Americans have reacted very well on a personal level with common sense and compassion.

              • “Want to be tracked by your cell phone and list your contacts and for how long?”

                No, but 1) they already have that data, and 2) is my privacy worth risking someone else’s life?

                • Headless Unicorn Guy says

                  “We already have the infrastructure set up for a full surveillance police state — all to get people to click on ads.”
                  — Some TED Talk I remember but can’t find again

          • Headless Unicorn Guy says

            In the 19th Century, any contaigious plague would go through crowded slum tenements like fire across a lake of gasoline.

        • Adam Tauno Williams says

          There is pretty good data out of European countries related to COVID19 vs. Density and Crowding [Crowding is not the same as Density]. Density is very clearly NOT a problem. Crowding is not good, but really not that strong a correlation either. The negative impact of Crowding is dwarfed by high public trust and effective institutions. Public trust and effective institutions [aka: experts with power] win; this is not anymore ‘debatable’ than Climate Change… but this is America.

          • It’s not as strong a correlation there because of the other overriding factors I mentioned. (I just took a regressive analysis class online yesterday, so all this is fresh in my mind 😛 )

            • REGRESSION analysis.

              All the education in the world is no defense against lack of caffeine.

      • My wife works in the financial services industry and while the economy is suffering horribly there are still billions of dollars moving around all over the place. She works from home so nothing has really changed for her. I am a house painter and apparently I’m considered essential. I think that’s purely because I’m called a contractor and people like plumbers and electricians are essential. Anyway I am extraordinarily grateful to be able to continue working and keep my guys busy. I don’t feel marginalized in anyway. I feel privileged and lucky. I own my business. My guys are contract labor and they work on a percentage of the job instead of hourly. I have one guy who’s been working for me for 28 years so the whole bonus doesn’t really come up he’s part and parcel of the business and he knows that we are all happy to continue working. He makes good money.. We wear masks and gloves and keep our distance. I would love to be getting some money to just sit home and wait it out but I haven’t applied for any of that because I am still able to work.

        • ChrisS. thank you for your response. Your business and your attitude is the very essence of America. When I hire a contractor painter , plumber or handyman type I look for the small guy, Mom and Pop. If you have been in business that long, you are solid. Your concern for your employees is commendable but not unusual . Your reply gives me encouragement . Thanks.

          BTW, nothing is harder than being your own boss.

        • Headless Unicorn Guy says

          I know some of what’s involved in house painting. My dad was the DIY Home Improvement guru in the family (complete DIY house remodel when I was a kid), but I have repainted the interiors of two places I’ve lived in as they aged. Full cleaning and prep, detail cut-in, contrasting trim, the works.

          • Yup. Actually the painting is second nature at this point. It’s running the business that can wear ya down at times.

  4. Pellicano Solitudinis says

    Who speaks for the at-risk people? No-one has the authority to require them to endanger their lives for the sake of others. Self-sacrifice is admirable, but it can only be done by informed consent. The general community has no right to endanger them without that consent.

    • Adam Tauno Williams says

      > No-one has the authority to require them to endanger their lives for the sake of others.

      Clearly they do. Notably their employer, landlord/bank, utility company, …

      • Robert F says

        Indeed, meat processing plant workers have been told to go back to or stay at work by the federal government — via invoking the Defense Production Act — or lose their jobs/benefits (including healthcare insurance)/unemployment benefits, and this despite the fact that in these plant coronavirus/COVID-19 is spreading like wildfire. In addition, the federal government has also — via the same DPA — made it impossible for the workers to successfully sue their employers for the dangerous working conditions that cause the virus to spread so rapidly in the facilities. Ironically, the workers had been asking the state and federal governments for greater protections for them in the wake of the facility disease spread; instead, the government is protecting their employers against lawsuits by the at-risk workers! As one worker put it, “Now the company won’t have to give a f–k about us. We’re modern day slaves.”

        So much for the idea that this country would in the wake of this crisis now come to appreciate the importance of essential workers. You had to know that was never going to happen.

        • Adam Tauno Williams says

          > So much for the idea that this country would…

          It was never a serious idea; merely another Social Media fantasy.

          It is not the Workers who are essential, it is their Tasks which are essential. Workers can be replaces.

          “As a society we don’t reach for solutions that might address the underlaying structural flaws that create the underclass or the elites. Instead we look for ways deserving individuals can distance themselves from the effects of those structural defects. We assume a big chunk of the population will be left behind and we don’t mind so long as it’s the undeserving that get screwed. That’s always been our de facto national policy.” — Granola Shotgun (The Jungle)

          • Granola Shotgun should get much more airtime here. His diagnosis of suburban blight and bad economics is very pertinent.

            • Adam Tauno Williams says

              He should get more airtime everywhere.

              His willingness to say the truth, and his resistance to white|green washing, is admirable.

            • Burro (Mule) says

              I have to agree. His clear-headedness is a real tonic, especially as opposed to the intoxicating propaganda initiatives besieging us on all sides.

    • Rick Ro. says

      –> “Who speaks for the at-risk people?”

      Ironically, it tends not to be the pro-life “we need to speak for the voiceless fetus” people. Hypocrites, one and all!

      • Klasie Kraalogies says

        Exactly. There is a lot of “pro-life” people who have shown themselves to be hypocrites of the utmost degree.

        • Clay Crouch says

          There’s also a lot of “I hate socialism” folks cashing those $600/week stimulus checks. It appears their hypocrisy has no bounds.

          • It’s not socialism if you *deserve* it.

            • Headless Unicorn Guy says

              Even Ayn Rand applied for and got Social Security and Medicare.
              Justified it with a Totally Objectivist rationale.

          • Clay, You mean unemployment checks?

            • Clay Crouch says

              Yep. A Federal/State joint program that provides benefits to workers who have lost their job through no fault of their own. It is funded by employers and collected by the states. Sounds socialist to me.

  5. Adam Tauno Williams says

    America’s contempt for expertise knows no bounds.
    We are going to do what we are going to do.
    There is so much we could do, smart things, we won’t do them, except in exception here and there.
    America is a system littered with “veto points” rendering coordinated strategic action nearly impossible.
    So many meetings where one just wants to put your head down on the table in despair as some crank has a – sadly authoritative – temper tantrum (that’s not limited to COVID19, it is indicative).
    Just as we got to this point – relative to many places which haven’t gotten to this point – is what we will do next.

  6. Decisions must be made on the basis of solid science. Very well.

    1) This is a communicable disease, not a personal life-health choice such as smoking.

    2) While severe cases appear to be skewing towards the elderly and those with prior conditions, enough severe cases and deaths are occurring in younger and “healthier” cohorts to make isolation a priority reaction.

    3) the disease is communicable prior to symptoms showing up in the infected/infecting person. Therefore, social distancing is an absolute necessity.

    4) a vaccine is a LONG way off. The process of research, testing, and production can only be speeded up so far. So we have to come up with some compromises in the interim.

    So much for the science. Now for the politics. Yes, this pandemic is devastating our economy. But pandemics happen. History is clear on that. If our economy is crumbling in the face of this, the disease is not going to change. Therefore, our economy must change. To insist that we do business as usual in these circumstances is to admit that our economy is worth killing people for. I think that position is abominable. Therefore, I say, *politically*, those that have should be made to share with those who have not. We’re bailing out megacoprps and letting small businesses and essential workers twist in the wind. Let’s start there.

    • Burro (Mule) says

      “our economy is worth killing people for. ”

      Where have you been all your life? It has always been worth killing people for, but usually at a distance and by proxy. ‘What you whisper in the atrium shall be proclaimed upon the rooftops. There is nothing hidden that shall not be made manifest.”

      • Well, then, it’s way past time to make some changes. No time like the present.

  7. senecagriggs says

    My state, with Republican Gov., reps; has begun the process of opening. I live in a city of one million people. There have been 26 deaths; mostly people in their 80s. That’s actually not a lot for a city of one million people.

    What has not yet been opened is hair salons. BUT EVERYBODY is CHEATING – including me and my little family.

    A week ago, my wife [ who is generally quite the stickler for following the rules ] called her long time hair-dresser asking if she could come over and do ALL of our hair cuts. She did indeed come and we set up in our garage and she did our hair. We carefully positioned our vehicles so nobody could easily see what was going on in our garage. “Marie” mentioned that her phone was “blowing up” from her clientele who wanted her NOW.

    So you can enact a lock-down but people, being people, are going to cheat. It’s the nature of the beast.

    As to the virus; will their actually be a cure? Like for polio? Dunno.

    Finally, I’m in my early 70’s but don’t feel particularly vulnerable. But even if I am, I do not live in fear of death; other than my preference for dying quickly and easily. My days are numbered by God – I’ll trust His goodness.

    • Rick Ro. says

      –> “I do not live in fear of death…”

      Well, bully for you! And if this was all about you, then fine. But as an analogy earlier points out, this is akin to you driving while intoxicated. You might be okay with crashing and dying, but you’re likely to kill a few others while doing it, and you might even survive the crash while killing a car full of others. This isn’t strictly about what you’re okay with.

      • Robert F says

        I’m starting to think that when people say, “I do not live in fear of death,” it means that everybody else should live in fear of them.

        • There is no one more fearsome than someone who thinks they have nothing to lose.

          • Headless Unicorn Guy says

            No, there is one more fearsome.
            Someone who KNOWS they have nothing to lose.
            Even if that FACT is by FAITH.

        • Adam Tauno Williams says

          >when people say, “I do not live in fear of death,” it means that everybody else should live in fear of them.

          Spot on.

      • Adam Tauno Williams says

        +1

      • Headless Unicorn Guy says

        –> “I do not live in fear of death…”

        Very Christianese thing to say.
        Fear Not that which kills the body, but Him who can kill the soul.
        “I know where I will spend Eternity — DO YOU?????”
        All calm and serene in their Unshakable Invincible FAITH.

        Check back to me when you’re in the hospital for COVID-19 and we’ll see how things stand then.

  8. senecagriggs says

    All German stores to reopen this week, with soccer to follow soon – Headline

    • They have widespread testing and contact tracing. We don’t.

      • Robert F says

        And that’s because they’re a social democracy, and we’re not. And there are powerful political/economic factions in this country that are intent on making sure that we never move in the direction of social democracy, no matter how many people have to die as a result.

        • Adam Tauno Williams says

          I agree with your diagnosis. Our systems are fundamentally, essentially, corrupt.

        • Adam Tauno Williams says

          I agree with your diagnosis. Our systems are fundamentally, essentially, corrupt; by design.

        • Headless Unicorn Guy says

          And there are powerful political/economic factions in this country that are intent on making sure that we never move in the direction of social democracy, no matter how many people have to die as a result.

          And these days a good chunk of them are waving Bibles and making long prayers.

      • Adam Tauno Williams says

        +1

        They demonstrate a positive path forward, one which we have refused.

        • Robert F says

          Won’t happen here. Too many people here with a Moscow Mitch attitude.

      • Norma Cenva says

        Excellent point Eeyore.
        And how is it that the wealthiest and most technologically advanced nation on earth does not have widespread testing and contact tracing?

    • Michael Z says

      Germany is a perfect example of why a strict lockdown is *good* for the economy: they stamped this thing down extremely hard the moment they realized it was a problem, and because of that they’re now able to begin reopening. The UK is the opposite extreme: they tried to keep things “normal” for as long as possible, and now (per capita) they’re even worse off than the US… and it will be much longer before they can reopen. It’s like getting a cavity drilled – it hurts, but it’s just going to hurt more the longer you put it off.

      Our problem in the US is that our entire culture is based around convenience, comfort, and instant gratification. That’s not a culture where it’s easy to tell people to accept some inconvenience today for the sake of a better outcome a year from now.

      • Headless Unicorn Guy says

        They start screaming “THEY’RE TAKING MY FREEDOM AWAY!!!!!”

        I’ve read articles that even social distancing and mask-wearing breaks down pretty cleanly by political party. And since American Christians are a wholly-owned subsidiary of the Republicans, guess which side they’re on?

        And besides, Christains think THEY’re immune — “Jesus is my Vaccine!” “I’m protected by the Blood of Christ!” — and that’s what’s important.

        It’s like the Soonl trilogy by Jerry Jenkins, Greatest Christian Author of All Time, a badly-written Near Future Persecution Dystopia where at the end of the first book God works a destructive miracle on Greater Los Atheists (formerly Los Angeles) where the True Christians are completely immune. The city is dead and desiccated, but the Christians walk freely, helping themselves to the abandoned property of “The Judged”. Even the dead power and desiccated water system miraculously works for them and them alone! Like something out of NIght of the Comet — “Malls are Open!”

  9. Robert F says

    I know neither the federal government nor the society as a whole ultimately cares about the welfare of essential workers and categories of people vulnerable to coronavirus/COVID-19, if the trade-off for protecting them is losing economic viability. Indeed, it is true that economic shutdown will cause suffering and death, at some point as much as the direct effect of the virus itself. It is however sad that the same classes of economically struggling people will bear the brunt of suffering as a result of this reopening as have always born it, and that society will not change to protect them. But aside from that, if the states reopen too soon, and there is a huge upsurge in virus illness and death, they will be forced to shutdown again, and that second shutdown will be far more severe than the first. As it is, it will take some work to convince many citizens to go back to dining in restaurants, or going to movie theaters and concerts, or attending sporting events, etc., which means that even if a second shutdown is not necessary, the economy will stagger for a long time.

    • “Indeed, it is true that economic shutdown will cause suffering and death, at some point as much as the direct effect of the virus itself.”

      But we can’t change the disease. We CAN change the economy. It fascinates me that many people are more comfortable with keeping the economy as is even if it means people die, rather than change the economy to adapt to the circumstances.

      • Robert F says

        Not disagreeing.

      • Adam Tauno Williams says

        There have been many reasons to change the economy, for a long time. And next to nothing was possible before. COVID19 is more-of-the-same writ large.

        • But at least now, the costs of business as usual (pardon the pun) are plain for all to see… If their biases will permit it.

          • Adam Tauno Williams says

            As an essential employee, what I hear, “If their biases will permit it” is clearly answered in the negative. 🙁

            Fortunately there is still some effectiveness in localized response. I find some hope there.

            • Robert F says

              No, their biases won’t permit. At the most, they think it’s enough to thank the check-out worker at the grocery store for the service during pandemic.

  10. Robert F says

    The revised models forecast a surge in fatalities to 3,000 a day – Italy levels.

    If you’re talking about real numbers, I don’t believe Italy ever had 3,000 deaths in one day, or anywhere near that number. Per capita, they were worse than we’ve been,\ so far. But not 3000 in one day.

  11. Stephen says

    I have no advice or solution. But we have a big decision coming up in a few months. Do we really want four more years of THIS?

    • Adam Tauno Williams says

      > Do we really want four more years of THIS?

      More pointedly, Are *WE* [collectively] willing to do what is required to not have four more years of this?

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says

      Assuming the election isn’t cancelled.
      It would have to be primarily vote-by-mail, the Post Office is in serious trouble, and political infighting is preventing them from being financed.
      “President for Life — we really need to try that here.”
      And the Christians will chorus “AAAAAA-MENNNN!!!”

      • Robert F says

        If I were a betting man, I’d put my money on that happening. Not that I want it to happen, but I think it’s in the cards.

  12. The extended lockdown we have experienced here in the U.S. is a problem of our own making.

    Sheltering in place, in theory, is meant to be the first step which, combined with widespread testing and contact tracing, would not last long, with less severe effects on the normal course of life and the economy. If you look at the countries that did this well: Germany, South Korea, New Zealand, for example, you see that they were very severe at the beginning, but then were able to ease up much more quickly and return to normalcy faster. They’re even playing baseball in Taiwan and Korea now and fans will soon be able to attend.

    But our leaders here in America played politics and refused to believe the science and heed the warnings until we allowed the virus to spread, had no adequate ways or will to test, and fell way behind. As a result, our lockdown has lasted longer.

    The problem is not that we have allowed one group of experts to dominate the discussion, as many people claim; it’s that we didn’t listen to them and respond when necessary to deal with the one thing they were trying to tell us.

    This is the “eat your peas first” kind of wisdom that we in America don’t like. And now, because we didn’t do the hard thing first, we are having a harder time for a longer time.

    When you add to that what others have mentioned — that our society and its governance are not set up to step in to provide widespread safety nets for our citizens and the economy — well, welcome to the pitfalls of the pull yourselves up by your bootstraps philosophy.

    • Adam Tauno Williams says

      +1,000,000 🙁 🙁 🙁

    • Robert F says

      The problem is not that we have allowed one group of experts to dominate the discussion, as many people claim; it’s that we didn’t listen to them and respond when necessary to deal with the one thing they were trying to tell us.

      Your whole comment is right on the money, and the captioned quote is the heart of it.

    • Christiane says

      Chaplain Mike,
      in the great calling out for ‘freedom’ among our people, is there not a problem with failure to consider consequences?

      Even in the ‘gun’ culture, we have got used to hearing about ‘the massacre of the week’ with some deranged individual unloading into school children, or work place populations, or a place of worship . . . . so much so, that we have grown to ‘accept’ the unacceptable in our strange bargain with the devil so that we ‘can have our guns’ and ‘be free’.

      And now, it has become obvious that prompt access to testing was denied to our population when test kits were offered from the WHO and were rejected. So we sheltered. And not realizing how quickly and easily the virus spreads by way of those who do not yet show symptoms, we attempted some forms of ‘normal’ that devastated our heavily populated northeast states and cities. Our hospitals were swamped. Protective equipment fell short.
      And the death toll rose, and again, we ‘accepted’ the unacceptable.

      At what point will we understand that our great American ‘freedom’ includes an unwritten honor code to protect the vulnerable and the helpless? I don’t know. But when we think it all can’t get any worse, it does.

      What’s wrong with us, Chaplain Mike? That what is supposed to matter no longer impacts us in a way to foster response-ability? This ‘freedom’ we require seems to demand the sacrifice of human lives in ways that are SUPPOSED to matter, if we are to be called civilized and humane. Seems to me that ‘freedom’ has always had a price tag, but usually it has been our warriors that fought the good fight; not our five and six year olds, our high-schoolers, our congregations, and our elderly. Not them. ?

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says

      welcome to the pitfalls of the pull yourselves up by your bootstraps philosophy.

      Just ME, my “Don’t Tread on Me!” flag, and my assault rifles (plural).

  13. Wow! this conversation took off like a brush fire this morning. I’m late and maybe someone has already said what I’m gettin’ ready to write…

    The ONLY solution for the next while is HERD IMMUNITY and a vaccine. There are so many variables as to why some areas are smashed and other areas have little to no infections or deaths. The part of our population that appears to be most at risk should self-isolate and communities/local govs need to set up support for those isolating. And, they will need to isolate until a usable vaccine is available and they have survived that. It would be nice is all people who deem themselves “at risk” were provided with long term ocean cruises on ships that have certified covid19 free crews. Probably couldn’t disembark at ports of call and resupplying will call for extra diligence, but the financial cost on the whole would be less than this economic nightmare we’ve dug ourselves into.

    • Michael Z says

      Two major problems with trusting in herd immunity:

      1. We still don’t know how long immunity lasts after you’re infected. It might be for life, but with other, milder coronaviruses it only lasts for months – that is, someone can be infected by the same exact strain multiple times in the same year.

      2. The best estimates for the US are that allowing enough infections to achieve herd immunity would also mean allowing 1-2 million people to die. If you think the current circumstances are disruptive to our economy and way of life, that’s nothing compared to what losing a million lives would look like.

      The only sure-fire fix is what Australia and New Zealand did – taking action early while there was still a possibility of testing everyone at risk and tracing every contact. It’s too late for that in the US, so our only other option is to lock down until cases have diminished to a point where testing and tracing works again.

      • Robert F says

        Yeah, we have no idea how the herd immunity thing is going to work with this virus. As the weeks go on, it seems new and seemingly contradictory data about coronavirus and how it works comes out every couple of days. This is a wild bull.

      • Headless Unicorn Guy says

        It’s too late for that in the US, so our only other option is to lock down until cases have diminished to a point where testing and tracing works again.

        Remember “LIBERATE YOUR STATE! FREEDOM!” with The Second Amendment Solution like what happened at the Michigan State Capitol. And at the Pennsylvania State Capitol without the guns. Don’t know about the first, but Christians were definitely well-represented at the second. “JESUS IS MY VACCINE!”

        And JM Jones’ latest blogpost has a photo of a demonstrator in Tennesse with a sign “SACRIFICE THE WEAK! OPEN UP TENNESSEE!” Every time I see something like that and remember today’s political alignment, I wonder if “SACRIFICE THE WEAK!” is a vocal Christian(TM).

        • The majority of commenters here seem to want to use this pandemic as a springboard to change our economic, political and change our society at large using the virus as a cover. Fine , everyone has a right to pursue change in our representative republican form of government. I would just say do it at the ballot box which you can do every 2 years, every 4 years and every 6 years. Using the extreme remedies called for by the virus to pursue a political/social agenda. Why people who live in the greatest country in the history of the world, with religious , social and political systems that is the best while not perfect would change it for some unworkable socialist state is beyond me but that is our system. Just be patient within a couple of generations your brave new world will be here and unfortunately I will not be. Talk about throwing the baby out with the bath water. I would not trade my American citizenship and all it entails for any other nation or political system in the world. As conservatives often say the issue is never the issue but the ultimate agenda is the same. this has moved beyond talking about the virus.

          • If the virus has exposed major flaws in our society, does that not entail the necessity of change?

        • Dana Ames says

          Fr Stephen Freeman quotes/paraphrases Stanley Hauerwas a lot, this probably most of all:

          The desire to control the outcome of history is idolatry and… whoever undertakes such a thing has agreed to do violence.

          “The outcome of history” nowadays is The Economy – that’s the “what happens” (history) that we want to be able to control. Tennesseean with sign is just one example of consenting to violence – in this case, the violent sort of death that comes with COVID-19; physiologically, it is like multiple grenades going off within a person’s different systems.

          Not to mention armed people who show up where government business is meant to be done. (They have a right to protest, but what do they think rifles get them? Not respect, no – just the opposite.)

          Dana

        • Christiane says

          speaking of ‘JESUS IS MY VACCINE’,
          take a look at the current post by Wade Burleson which touches on that issue and is an interesting insight into that world of thought

          it is an eye-opener into a whole n’other world ‘view’ which is bought into by some Christian people

          it is time to get acquainted with how some of this movement got started, and Wade’s post offers a chance to comprehend some of the thinking behind it

    • Robert F says

      The part of our population that appears to be most at risk should self-isolate and communities/local govs need to set up support for those isolating.

      In tandem with widespread, coordinated testing, yes. But you know that last half of your sentence will not happen in this country. Many at risk folks, including senior citizens, have to work to survive if they are not supported by the society in a comprehensive way: housing, medical care, food and other necessities, etc. And the fact is, making that happen in this country where the cowboy mentality of pull-yourself up, socialism-is-satanic, doggie eat doggie is the underlying ethos, it ain’t gonna happen. We are an national experiment in social Darwinism; lots of unnecessary and avoidable death will ensue.

      • Adam Tauno Williams says

        > We are an national experiment in social Darwinism

        Irony. Those most aghast at the notion of Human Evolution ardently believe that is the principle upon which Human Societies should operate.

        • anonymous says

          very ironic indeed:

          ‘no such thing as evolution’ coupled with ‘cull the weak, only the strong shall live’

    • That also assumes that those not in high-risk categories would not get severely ill and/or die. If you listen to the front-line doctors, that is not the case. This disease is much more complex than it was first thought.

      • Robert F says

        And even with all the new data, the picture of it is extremely fuzzy. Fatal, and fuzzy.

    • No takers for the ocean cruises?

      Corona viruses have been around at least since mammals have existed. Past experience with c.v.’s indicate that active immunity occurs and last months to years. If this novel virus doesn’t elicit immune response then I would be compelled to think it is an engineered virus. When it is said, “we don’t know if or how long immunity exist” what is being said is that there isn’t clinical test to answer that question. It will be some time before those test are definitive. In the mean time is there any indication that people who have been infected and recovered then become reinfected? The likely situation is that the virus is never entirely cleared from the system, though it doesn’t cause illness. The virus is here to stay in our population.

  14. senecagriggs says

    It would appear, a significant percentage of I-Monkers want a different form of government than the one we have? Do I have that right?

    • Rick Ro. says

      No. We want leaders who actually lead for the benefit of the people, and not in reaction to how they feel offended and slighted. (Both sides of the aisle, by the way.)

    • Adam Tauno Williams says

      > want a different form of government than the one we have?

      Speaking only for myself: Absolutely Yes. The American Constitutional federation is a poorly designed, inherently undemocratic, scheme intentionally designed to be resistant to reform.

      • Robert F says

        Yes.

        • At least you guys are honest. Every 2 years, every 4 years , every 6 years you can vote in who ever will represent your political agenda. Why not do that. Again , be patient within 2 generations the issues you find so appealing will be enacted and America as the constitutional form of representation will be gone and we will have a brave new world.

          • Robert F says

            Oh, I’ve been voting, but Moscow Mitch and his Senatorial ilk squash the power and meaningfulness of my vote every chance they get. And they can continue doing that for years to come — neutralizing the democratic element in our form of government, empowering the nondemocratic element.

    • Burro (Mule) says

      The algorithm of government is nowhere as important as the quality of the governor. I would much rather be ruled by a shrewd and capable tyrant than by a parliament of pendejos.

      The problem with pendejos is that they invariably demand to be ruled by other pendejos, and chafe under reasonable governance.

      Doesn’t Proverbs say something about the insupportability of fools when full of food? That description seems to me an apt description of the American commonwealth at present.

      • Robert F says

        I would much rather be ruled by a shrewd and capable tyrant than by a parliament of pendejos.

        The problem with shrewd and capable tyrants is that you never know when they’re going to use that shrewdness and capability to cover up the problem rather than deal with it. For instance, in Russia three doctors have fallen out of windows in the last couple of weeks; it’s no coincidence that they had also complained publicly about the lack of PPE and other resources in Russian hospitals. Here is an example of a shrewd and capable tyrant shutting whistle-blowers up rather than acknowledging the truth and trying to deal with it rather than kill them.

      • Klasie Kraalogies says

        Indeed. A friend of mine is fond of saying that people get the government they deserve.

        • Robert F says

          Some people get the government they deserve — others are carried along kicking and screaming by first group.

        • Klasie K. Do you think the mainland Chinese people deserve the Chinese Communist Party to govern them? The China Communist have killed more people for their political agenda than any other . Did the people of Cambodia deserve Pol? Good sound bite but ?

          • anonymous says

            what’s your problem with China?

            • Won Ton Bat Soup, r u serious?

              • Such diseases are bound to eventually crop up wherever humans and animals are in close proximity. It is suspected the 1918-19 flu pandemic originated right here in the USA. Glass houses and all that…

            • Headless Unicorn Guy says

              what’s your problem with China?

              In one word: COMMUNISM! COMMUNISM! COMMUNISM!”

              In this, Dan is echoing the GOP talking points for November:
              Blame everything on COMMUNIST China.

              • According to your political and social view point. Many here have no use for the Constitution but are alarmed secular Trump is abusing it?

              • Headless Guy, I know you are putting me on but I will take the bait. Communist China has killed more people than any other regime in history. The estimates are from 70 million to 100 million by design. They starved and killed millions though out their history. They are a horrible, corrupt and brutal regime who we have enabled to become a world power due to our stupidity. A lot of this happened during the time you were in country but you can catch up on it. It is well documented. Yes , they are more evil than the Republicans or evangelicals .

                • Stephen says

                  I have no problem despising the autocratic Chinese government. I object to Trump trying to use the Chinese to deflect criticism of his own incompetence in responding to the COVID virus.

            • How about them Xinjiang concentration camps? And did you notice them bulldozing churches awhile back?

        • Rick Ro. says

          –> “A friend of mine is fond of saying that people get the government they deserve.”

          That’s even got Biblical/scriptural support:

          God: “Seriously? You guys want KINGS? Okay, go ahead and make your Kings. We’ll see how that works out for you…”

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says

      Well, a lot of Christains want a a different form of govvernment: CHRISTIAN Nation(TM), i.e. Theocracy.

      And Millenials’ favorite form according to polls is “Strong Leader”, i.e. Dictator.

      • Yes. I have come to realize, largely from reading facebook posts on my wife’s account, that many Evangelical Christians really are opposed to democracy. They want a government to agree with and enforce their way of life on everyone. They don’t want a system that allows people to live their lives as they please. They really want a system that enforces living according to their standards, and religious freedom that protects their faith but limits the freedom of those who have other faiths. That system is, by definition, totalitarianism, even if you drape it i an American flag.. That is the appeal of the current president – he will enforce their way of living (or at least claim to) on everyone, and flouts the democratic system and institutions the founding fathers built into our constitution.

        • Robert F says

          He will force their way of living on everyone, even though he doesn’t live their way of living — but then again, neither do they! It’s all about power, not moral lifestyle.

          • Headless Unicorn Guy says

            Oh, he does “live their way of living” —
            The way of living of all those Megapastors and Televangelists that get exposed on Spiritual Abuse/Church Corruption watchblogs. “TOUCH NOT MINE ANOINTED!”

            Except more so, so He must be MORE Anointed.

        • “When highly committed parties strongly believe [in] things that they cannot achieve democratically, they don’t give up on their beliefs — they give up on democracy.” – David Frum

          • Headless Unicorn Guy says

            One Twitter Tweet and a the Base pours into the streets for a Second Amendment Solution.

            • anonymous says

              headless, they are keeping their power dry until after DT is defeated . . . then it will be militia palooza in the streets for sure

        • Rick Ro. says

          –> “…many Evangelical Christians really are opposed to democracy. They want a government to agree with and enforce their way of life on everyone. They don’t want a system that allows people to live their lives as they please. They really want a system that enforces living according to their standards, and religious freedom that protects their faith but limits the freedom of those who have other faiths. That system is, by definition, totalitarianism, even if you drape it i an American flag.”

          I’m seeing the exact same thing. Sadly, I see Jesus no where in any of these folks anymore.

          Also just as sadly… this is not just an Evangelical Christian thing. Some of my more liberal friends preach “tolerance,” but only tolerance with people whose views line up with theirs.

          Two sets of people who hate each other, but they’re opposite sides of the same totalitarian coin.

          • Headless Unicorn Guy says

            At which point the only thing you can do is to make sure you’re on the Winning Side BEFORE they Win.

          • How far can one tolerate hatred and intolerance? It seems to me like the right end of the spectrum is far worse nowadays than the left. It was not always so, but it definitely is now.

        • Greg , are you reading the majority of comments here, who do you think wants to do away with our Constitution, social, economic and political system. Facebook seems to be a terrible place to get a frim grasp on the issues. The demographics and educational environment in this country lead me to believe your concerns about evangelical Christians ending our constitutional government is contrary to the projection of system.

          • Robert F says

            Watch who suspends the election this Fall.

            • Robert F says

              And then watch which groups support that suspension Constitution notwithstanding.

              • As one wag in another blog put it, “Do I think you evangelicals will attempt to overthrow the government and institute theocracy yourselves? No. But I also believe if someone else were to do it, you wouldn’t raise a finger to stop them. They could buy your silence. You have a history of being a cheap date.”

          • Evangelicals support a President who is flagrantly violating that very Constitution. Evangelicals support candidates who flout basic Christian ethical principles. Actions speak louder than words.

          • dan, I constantly see, on my wife’s facebook page, from Christians I personally know well, many of whom are family members, comments demonizing political opponents (Democrats), saying they should be jailed (and some hung), all immigrants should go back to their countries, Muslims should be banned from living here, and constantly justifying the actions of the president, even those that clearly violate the constitution, and the law (not to mention Christian ethics and basic decency). [deleted comments went here] It is very rare that I see a comment from a Christian showing kindness, or even tolerance, to any one who does not agree with their political or religious viewpoint. The flag is often waved, as though their view of America (white, middle-class, 1950s suburbia) is the ‘Christian view’ and they desperately want to bring back that mythical ‘Christian nation’.

            And, FYI, I was an evangelical Christian for 30+ years, and graduated from an SBC college and an evangelical seminary, so I know the evangelical world pretty well. And, most of our friends over the years (those who I see on my wife’s faceebook page) are evangelical Christians, though we don’t see most of them as often as we used to (for obvious reasons). And i am constantly ‘unfollowing’ the most offensive posters.

            So who do I think wants to do away with our constitution and form of government – most of the evangelical Christians I know. They want a government that enforces conformity to their views and doesn’t allow dissent.

            Sorry for the ranting tone but your question, and this issue, really bothers me. As Rick Ro said, I don’t see much of Jesus in many of these folks (though they might say the same about me).

            • Greg, I am sorry that your circle of evangelical friends and family members are on the fringe of their religion. They are a minority view and that is not what I find in my circle of family and friends who are evangelicals. I would disassociate politely from them if family conditions permit. Unfortunately for you you live in a social world inhabited by stereotypes.

              • They may be a minority view among your circle of friends. In evangelical media, and according to national polls, they ARE a majority among those who claim the label “evangelical”. There it is.

              • They are not a minority among evangelical media, nor among claimed evangelicals in national polling on these topics.

              • Unfortunately my experience of 30+ years as an evangelical, from fundamentalist SBC churches to more ‘moderate’ evangelical churches, including 5 which I pastored, has shown that this is not a minority or fringe view (given that the SBC has 15.7 million members and is the second largest denomination in the US). Every time I attend church with my daughter (an SBC church of about 250) I hear and see exactly the things I described and heard for all of that 30+ years. If your circle of evangelical friends and family are different, you are truly blessed, and probably in the minority.

                • Greg, I am no expert or student of SBC membership but we travel a lot. On this site and in my life there is a stereotyping of evangelicals that I find unfair. I believe traditional Catholics and evangelicals are fair targets in todays society. You are a Pastor , so did you move the needle within your sphere of influence? What is a more moderate evangelical denomination that is conservative in nature?

                  • dan,

                    Trying to ‘move the needle’ as a pastor will usually only get you invited to leave (as it did me in my last church, but not over theology). If you are looking for a denomination that is conservative theologically but has a social conscience and displays Christian ethics, I would suggest the Evangelical Covenant Church (they are ‘evangelical’ in the European sense – Lutheran descended). We found a home there until our local church couldn’t make it anymore (I wasn’t the pastor, and haven’t been a pastor for many years – I even returned my ordination papers). Since that church closed (6 years) we’ve been nomads, but attend a church that is predominately burned out SBC and AoG folks looking for less judgment and more Jesus.

                    • Greg, I can understand, I am a none and a nomad but I like it. The SBC is moving to the mainstream at the leadership level but the pew sitters do not know it.

            • Headless Unicorn Guy says

              So who do I think wants to do away with our constitution and form of government – most of the evangelical Christians I know. They want a government that enforces conformity to their views and doesn’t allow dissent.

              i.e. a Godly CHRISTIAN Nation.

              Including the Game of Thrones when it comes down to what TYPE of Christians are the Real True Christians, which Church is the One True Church, and what do predators eat when there is no more prey?

              And after a generation or two of such a Godly CHRISTIAN Nation, the name “Jesus Christ” will have acquired the exact same baggage as the name “Adolf Hitler”.

    • Klasie Kraalogies says

      I think there are very supporters of the current populist-oligarchical model here.

    • Michael Z says

      What I’m hearing is people calling for a government with different *priorities*, not a government with a different *structure*. The structure of the US government – when it works, and when people aren’t actively seeking to subvert or undermine it – has served us quite well. Arguably even things like the way our government gives disproportionate power to the rural poor is better than the historical alternatives.

  15. Rick Ro. says

    Me-thinks it’ll be a while before anyone outside the USA will want to visit here. Maybe this was Trump’s plan all along, to make America as uninviting as possible.

  16. From what I’ve read we need the following to safely open up to a degree
    1. Plenty of quick turn around testing and effective contact tracing followed by quarantine. This includes making sure those in quarantine have food, shelter, and other essentials. Testing also means we have a fairly good idea where we stand so we can better predict where we are going.
    2. Well stocked hospital system with beds, intensive care beds, ventilators, and personal protection equipment (PPE) for those in the hospital to cover any predicted surge. (decimating doctors and nurses is not a good idea in either the short or long term, doctors and nurses aren’t easily replaced)
    3. Stages so we can close down a bit if the infection rate goes too high. But we need to know where we stand (hence 1)

    In the long run scholars will calculate how many people Covid-19 killed by looking at the excess mortality rate (how many more people died than was expected for the time and place) and making adjustments (e.g., the shutdown meant fewer people driving so fewer fatalities from motor vehicle accidents or a particular area had both Covid-19 and another disease outbreak such as cholera [see Haiti]). The CDC has a first stab with weekly excess deaths https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/nvss/vsrr/covid19/excess_deaths.htm#dashboard Note the line for threshold of excess deaths allows for year to year variations and that full figures lag by several weeks so the CDC adjusts for expected undercounts for recent weeks (one can show with or without adjustment). One can also dig down for individual states (e.g., New York). Do not omit reading the associated text so as to place the material in proper context.

    Also check out https://covidactnow.org/ which tries to predict using the SEIR model what will happen given a couple of different scenarios for individuals states and even counties.

  17. It’s always been an underlying current in American culture. Immigration waves have always been followed by waves of xenophobia.

    • Adam Tauno Williams says

      It is a pattern. Not sure about “always”.

      I was a lad during the wave of Vietnamese immigration, the “boat people”. My neighborhood received many. There did not seem to be any corresponding backlash. And the economy s-u-c-k-e-d at that point in time.

      I’ve always wondered what particular alignment of constellations makes immigration acceptable or not. Who they are? Current economic climate? Maybe, where they go [within America]?

      • Ever read about what happened to Vietnamese boat people who settled on the Gulf coast of Texas?

        https://timeline.com/kkk-vietnamese-fishermen-beam-43730353df06

        • Rick Ro. says

          Wow. Stunning read.

          And perhaps the most stunning was this:
          “Four years later, Louis Malle — of all people — would direct a movie about the clash, with Ed Harris playing the sympathetic protagonist, a Vietnam vet forlorn over the immigrant threat to his way of life.”

        • Adam Tauno Williams says

          I’ve heard about that.

          So the where-they-go matters. The sentiment towards immigrants can vary considerably by region.

          • Once a king , always a King but once a Knight enough. Credit some British comedian but it still gives me a chuckle after all the years.

            • Lol , belong further down in comments about kings, Sorry. Illegal immigrants and refugees are very popular in places they do not settle, places they settle not so popular.

              • Robert F says

                Those Vietnamese fishermen were not “illegal immigrants,” they weren’t even undocumented immigrants.

  18. Robert F says

    The Erickson/Massihi video would be a joke if it didn’t involve so much dangerous and deadly misinformation. But this is the narrative that many want to hear, it’s tickling their ears. It’s survival of the fittest, folks, let the weak and unworthy fall by the wayside.

    In times like these I wish for an avenging God; fortunately, my wishes carry no clout.

    • Rick Ro. says

      The problem with avenging gods is that at some point they will turn their attention on YOU!

      Take, for instance, the God as portrayed by Isaiah. He uses Assyria to beat up on His people for their sins, but then when the Assyrians get all prideful and arrogant about how awesome they are, He says, Okay, I’ve just about had it with YOU guys!”

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says

      The Erickson/Massihi video…

      Are these the two guys from Bakersfield whose COVID Truther video went viral and became SCRIPTURE?
      And who are getting piled on by other medical professionals for doing that video?

  19. Klasie Kraalogies says

    There is no alternative to making science driven decisions. The question is more how we apply the science – in my mind, epidemiology, immunology etc are key, together with primary medical care. There is a larger context that has to be taken into account sure- this includes psychology and anthropology etc etc. The question is not whether we listen to the science – the question is how we adapt, survive and even thrive under the circumstances. Even more, how does society evolve, how do we adapt the economy etc.

    I just read a CBC news report about new ventures springing up – mobile grocery stores is of these. They are making use of the logistics established to supply restaurants etc. Also yesterday, the title of the biggest company by value on the TSX (thus the biggest Canadian company) changed – it was RBC Royal Bank, but they were overtaken by Shopify, a company that builds and supports online shopping systems. I have started having my groceries delivered – and the stores are scrambling to find employees. My local craft breweries are delivering directly – and now they can deliver any of their brews, because the bottling/canning is less involved (you can get 1 l growlers, meaning no extra labeling etc). Local bookstores will now help you find what you really want, in person over the phone, and get it to you same day – better than Amazon.

    My own consulting company is finding a greater measure of success because we have developed satellite remote sensing services – not only to mining and exploration, but we have been speaking to agricultural entities as well. High quality services with minimal need for travel and interaction.

    We are fortunate (for now), many are not. The question then becomes how do we transform our society, our economic system, to improve the lot of everybody. One of the reasons we have issues in North America with hog farmers and dairy farmers having to dump product is because of the domination of mega companies in our markets. It is easier to turn around a tug boat, than an oil tanker. In contrast, although they have their share of large companies, the backbone of the German economy is small and medium enterprise. Thus their economy is structured like a web of small strands, while here we are dominated by mega cables. Any structural engineer can tell you about the strength of a network / web design. A few failing strands result sin the redistribution of strain in the network. But the more dominated the system is by single massive strands, the more vulnerable it is.

    Fixing this will need a change in culture. Government has always interfered in the economy – here it generally bows to the will of the super rich and super big. This will have to change – both in terms of anti-monopoly legislation, as well as taxation – the social support network needs to be stronger. This is intelligent economic design.

    My 2 cents.

    • Stephen says

      Klasie, if you’re going to be reasonable how can we take you seriously?

  20. If anyone wants a good laugh today check out this Finnish comedian on Conan O’Brien. https://youtu.be/RAGcDi0DRtU
    If you like language with all of its new nuances and idiosyncrasies you will get a real kick out of this. I might even say it’s “kick ass“.

    • ChrisS. Thanks needed a laugh , laughed my ass off. Great intelligent comedy. George Carlin would love it.

  21. senecagriggs says

    Good versus Bad leadership in Judah and Israel after Solomon’s death

    Judah had 8 GOOD kings; 12 BAD kings

    All 19 of Israel’s kings were BAD
    ___________

    Keep in mind, the Jews were God’s chosen people and they rarely got it right.

    If you’re putting your faith in our presidents or leaders to actually fix things; good luck with that.

    That’s my take; Biblical History is a great education

    • Robert F says

      How does that apply to our current situation? Aside from the fact that our current leader would like to be king, and start a dynasty?

      • senecagriggs says

        If you’re putting your faith in our presidents or leaders to actually fix things; good luck with that.

        • Robert F says

          It would be nice if they just didn’t break them. That’s what I’m hoping for with the next new president.

          • senecagriggs says

            Joe? [ I’m truly not being snarky ]

            • Given the political machinery in this country, it’s either him or Trump (unless something like two-thirds of the electorate vote third part, which has never happened).

    • Funny – a lot of the folks who now say “God sets up governments, and it’s no use trying to change them” did NOT have that same attitude when Democrats were president…

      • senecagriggs says

        Reagan served God’s purposes; both Bushes served God’s purposes. Clinton served God’s purposes, Obama served God’s purpose and Trump has severed God’s purposes. God’s purposes are often opaque to us finite, human beings.

        I trust we’ll know in eternity.

        • We know *now* – seek justice, love mercy, walk humbly with God. If you think all those you listed fall short of that equally, you are wrong.

          • Burro (Mule) says

            Hahaahaa!

            Trump “severed” God’s purposes. How apt!

            Trump severed a lot of things, but not God’s purposes.

  22. Robert F says

    In the meantime, we’re expecting mid-May snow and hovering-around freezing temperatures — due to a polar vortex– here in the Northeast this weekend. Anthropogenic climate change, anyone?

    • I’ve read stories that airborne imagery can now spot old shipwrecks in Lake Michigan because the waters have cleared up so much.

  23. Dana Ames says

    I’d like to remind people that the first person to introduce basic health insurance, accident insurance, disability payments and old age pensions for every laboring citizen of his country (which was essentially everyone) was:

    Otto von Bismarck

    in the 1880s.

    Bismarck was hardly what anyone would call “liberal” or “socialist”. He introduced the above benefits to counter the political Socialists of his day, and encourage workers to be more loyal to the government and not foment any kind of revolution.

    In terms of the pandemic, read commenters above regarding why Germany is “getting back to normal” sooner than everyone else (hint: TESTING). Also, during the shutdown the government has paid every worker – “essential” or not – 60% of their wages, and unions (yes, they have them there) and employers have reached agreements about continuing job security and benefits. People haven’t been laid off, and money is still circulating. Economically, it won’t be so bad for them – BECAUSE of the early testing and the safety net which German citizens have agreed to pay for for a long time now.

    No, I don’t want a “socialist government”. I want those who govern in this country to work for the good of the people they represent, which includes having a better safety net in place. If we had the political will, we could do it – rather than continue to blindly support “the cash nexus of untamed profit motivation” (L. Gleiman, quoted at Dreher’s).

    Dana

    • “Bismarck was hardly what anyone would call “liberal” or “socialist”. He introduced the above benefits to counter the political Socialists of his day, and encourage workers to be more loyal to the government and not foment any kind of revolution.”

      I recently read a biography of Churchill and he had the same approach. Churchill opposed socialism and socialists his whole political career. But he supported the ‘dole’ (basic income, pension for all workers, etc.) because he knew if the government didn’t meet the basic needs of people they would be drawn to the more radical voices of socialism. Churchill was a prudent constitutionalist (in a country that technically doesn’t have a constitution). Our leaders could learn a lot from good leaders of the past.

      • Greg, actually, Churchill opposed Bolsheviks all of his career. In a sense he was in opposition to the English Socialist Party because they were the opposition party. Atlee became PM after the War–the Socialist leader.

    • “I want those who govern in this country to work for the good of the people they represent, which includes having a better safety net in place.”

      Exactly, Dana.

      However, following on from Dan’s (or was it Seneca?) assertion that many here may want a different government…Yes, I do. I wish we’d switch/change to a parliamentary form which I think would be more responsive to the electorate and more democratic. Our so called republic system no longer works well–if it ever did. Our federal system is essentially un-democratic and antiquated; the Electoral College was essentially instituted to protect the interest of Southern rural slave owners.

  24. Dana, you forgot kindergarden which is German for sure. America has a mixture of capitalism, socialism, private sector, state sector economy in a workable mixture that has made America , dare I use the word great. America is not a pure type of anything, that is the beauty of our system. We have public education, we have institutions that regulated commerce and all the turning wheels that have enabled American citizens to live a live that is the best in the history of the world. I agree with your points and your observations . Just to be clear I would rather be in the USA than any other country but I am biased. BTW , the British had to sink the Bismarck and that is a part of the socialist history of Germany also. Germans are rule followers and sticklers for detail. America is unique in many ways that is what makes America great but frustrating. I will close that we are losing common sense as we argue in pure economic, social, political and religious non comprising positions.

    • Klasie Kraalogies says

      “BTW , the British had to sink the Bismarck and that is a part of the socialist history of Germany also”

      Hmmm the ship was launched many years after he died. 41 to be exact. Which means you only said this because you have no argument whatsoever.

      • Klasie, thanks for the critique. It is called a little humor to make a point for those who could follow the historical thread that the Nationalist SOCIALIST Party the Nazi, named the pride of the Nazi Germany navy after Bismarck, a German socialist. BTW, I was not arguing, I was agreeing. Thanks for you input into the conversation.

        • The original Nazi Party platform did have some socialist planks in it. They were quickly dropped once Hitler started getting big campaign donations from wealthy German industrialists.

          • Robert F says

            Originally the Nazi Party appealed to and included factions on the right and left, nationalists and socialists. Later on, they purged and/or co-opted the socialists/leftist factions — and some on the right as well — , but kept the name since it was their brand. Hitler was very brand conscious. They also continued a few programs of assistance for “Aryan” German workers who were unemployed until the economy picked up again during the militarization before the War.

          • Robert F says

            The Nazis originally marketed themselves as a worker’s party, that would bring workers of the nationalist right and the socialist left — both powerful and rising political factions in Germany at the time— together against an alleged common enemy: the internationalist industrialists. You know what other racial identifier usually prefixed the term internationalist industrialist, I’m sure.

    • Dan,

      “(Germany) has a mixture of capitalism, socialism, private sector, state sector economy in a workable mixture that has made (Germany) , dare I use the word great. (Germany) is not a pure type of anything…”

      Or, if you prefer, substitute just about any European country or Canada for (Germany).

      The reality is that too many ‘Muricans won’t recognize or admit that the US is said “mixture” or that all sucessful countries have a mixed economic system.

  25. Thanks for the kind mention you give me here.

    I certainly don’t agree with the people who would say, “The data are all in now.”