“The looming food shortages remind me of Soylent Green; the drones remind me of Robocop. Both movies are dystopian, and I don’t want to live in either of them.“
by Michael Prescott
Mon, 13 Apr 2020
In a comments thread, I recommended a Twitter feed by a contrarian journalist named Alex Berenson, who’s covering the coronavirus outbreak and its ramifications. Berenson can be a little snarky, but I guess snark goes with the territory on Twitter. He seems to have libertarian leanings and may overstate his case at times, but overall I find his point of view refreshing and the facts that he digs up and highlights quite revealing. (Rather than link to posts supporting each point made below, I’ll just refer you to his Twitter feed, where you’ll find all of them.)
Berenson’s focus lately is on a) the threat to civil liberties and b) the damage to our economy, but his predicate is that the virus has not come close to matching the modelers’ projections. He points out, among other things, that outside New York City, many hospitals are furloughing staff because admissions are way down; that the models have consistently been revised downward even though “full social distancing” was assumed from the start (contrary to some media apologetics); that children are at virtually no risk, and most people under 50 are at minimal risk: that in many states the number of people hospitalized is stable at around two or three hundred, yet increasingly draconian and even Kafkaesque measures are being taken; and that the epidemic seems to have plateaued throughout most of the world, including the US. He also links to preliminary studies suggesting that the virus is already widespread throughout the population, which would imply that many of us already have immunity.
Some people say that government lockdowns are no big deal because people would be taking precautions anyway. If this is true, why do we even need the lockdowns? Clearly, people would take precautions; equally clearly, they would not allow their lives to come to a complete halt. They would steer a middle course – something that governments at all levels are apparently incapable of doing.
Just this morning, I read a report that the supply of pork and other meat products is running low, and there may be shortages soon, because lockdown orders have closed meatpacking plants. Food shortages in the US in 2021 isn’t something I expected to see. I wonder how complacent people will be about “the new normal” when they realize the food is running out.
Even the New York Times is starting to worry about the rise of authoritarianism in respond to the virus. A little late, since they helped fuel the panic …
Meanwhile the federal response is being orchestrated by the estimable Dr. Fauci, a man who believes we should never shake hands again, and who ponders the idea of people carrying immunity certificates to produce for the authorities. (“Show us your papers, citizen!”) In other words, he is a fanatic on the subject of germs. This perhaps is to be expected in an epidemiologist, but it’s the kind of tunnel vision that doesn’t make for good public policy. Nevertheless, because Fauci is an “expert” who’s climbed the greasy pole of the federal bureaucracy to its summit, he can put the entire country under indefinite house arrest. Isn’t democracy wonderful?
Did you know there are drones in Elizabeth, New Jersey, that overfly public areas and, when they spot people outside, reel off a recorded order to disperse? The looming food shortages remind me of Soylent Green; the drones remind me of Robocop. Both movies are dystopian, and I don’t want to live in either of them. I’m 59, which puts me at higher than average risk, but what scares me is not the coronavirus but the sheeplike compliance of the American public. A country that can be frightened this easily by a disease that mainly affects the elderly and will probably have a death toll comparable to, or lower than, a severe strain of seasonal flu can no longer call itself “the home of the brave.” A country that allows itself to be quarantined in perpetuity on the basis of computer models that have already proven wrong is hardly “the home of the free.”
Incidentally, for three years we’ve heard from the left and the media that Trump is itching to institute martial law, suspend the Constitution, and rule as a dictator, if only he can find a pretext. Well, he’ll never have a better chance than he has now. Why hasn’t he taken it? Could it be that he never wanted to be a dictator? Is it possible that the left and the media have been hyperventilating over nothing? Is there a chance they’re doing exactly the same thing about the virus now?
I continue to think we’re in the grip of a social mania precipitated by a hysterical press and panicky (or sometimes maliciously destructive) politicians. It’s like other manias I’ve witnessed, although more far-reaching in its effects. Remember the hysteria over millions of children being kidnapped by strangers? (Nearly all of the so-called kidnappings were routine custody disputes.) Remember the widespread terror about satanic rituals and sexual abuse at preschools? (The impressionable tots were only repeating tall tales that police and prosecutors suggested to them.) Remember Y2K? Or bird flu, which the esteemed Neil Ferguson of Imperial College predicted would kill 200 million worldwide? (The actual number was less than a thousand. So he was a little off. Nevertheless, the media continue to describe him as “the gold standard” of computer modeling.)
We live in strange, and deeply stupid, times. But perhaps this has always been true.