You’da thunk that after his last foray into philosophy and economics around the COVID-19 pandemic, that Senator Ron Johnson would chill a bit in his pronouncements around disease and the economy. Nope, not our Ron! Let’s double down and write an op-ed piece about letting grandma die to save the economy:
What more people are saying is that as we learn more about COVID-19, we should evaluate the total societal cost of this awful disease and try to put things into perspective.
Each year, approximately 48,000 Americans commit suicide and an estimated 67,000 die of a drug overdose. That level of individual despair has occurred in a strong economy with near-record low levels of unemployment in virtually every demographic.
Imagine the potential psychological and human toll if this shutdown continues indefinitely, unemployment reaches 20% or higher, as some now predict, and we sink into a deep recession or depression.
Every premature death is a tragedy, but death is an unavoidable part of life. More than 2.8 million die each year — nearly 7,700 a day. The 2017-18 flu season was exceptionally bad, with 61,000 deaths attributed to it. Can you imagine the panic if those mortality statistics were attributed to a new virus and reported nonstop?
Well, first I’ll have to give Sen. Johnson credit for paying attention to the Trump school of obfuscation and diversion. “What some people are saying…”. Well just like Trump it’s the little voices in his head…if only we could make them stop!
And I will agree with him about the thousands of Americans who die from suicide and drug addiction every year. It is a national tragedy. But comparing those deaths to deaths from the pandemic isn’t comparable. And by the way Senator, what have YOU done to prevent those suicides and drug deaths? What effective legislation have you written, supported, or passed that have mitigated those senseless tragedies?
And yes, there will depression and Depression if we have to continue shelter in place remedies and keep small businesses closed indefinitely. And yes, it will be very difficult for everyone if unemployment reaches 20%. But there is already depression and suicides and drug use in the rank and file as people feel trapped in their homes, as front line medical staff are overworked and watch helplessly as patients die, and as families lose loved ones who shouldn’t be dying now.
And as we have written about earlier, although with a bit of snark, massive deaths on a nationwide basis will also have a huge effect on the American economy. Whether it’s 200,000 best case scenario or 2,000,000 worst case, that number of deaths will be a major economic loss.
And about those flu deaths. No the media isn’t beating that drum day in and and day out documenting the body count. But there is a ton of public information every flu season urging everyone to get a flu shot. And yes, we are lucky that every season we have a flu shot available. And our insurance companies generally pay for them. And our death toll would be significantly lower if everyone got their damn flu shot. So maybe the good Senator should sponsor a bill to make flu shots free for all, even those without insurance. I wonder if Senator Ron Johnson got his?
When Senator Johnson first ran for the US Senate, he said that he would only serve two terms. But he is certainly acting like a candidate (re-election date would be 2022) and playing to the Trump base.