News & Politics

The Cost of 'A Return to Normalcy'

The Cost of 'A Return to Normalcy'
AP Photo/Matt Rourke

In 1920, as America emerged from World War I, Republican Warren G. Harding told the voters that it was time for “not heroics, but healing; not nostrums, but normalcy; not revolution, but restoration; not agitation, but adjustment; not surgery, but serenity; not the dramatic, but the dispassionate; not experiment, but equipoise; not submergence in internationality, but sustainment in triumphant nationality.”

“Return to Normalcy” became Harding’s ticket to the White House that year, as he won with more than 60 percent of the vote. After the scourge of war and President Woodrow Wilson’s failed League of Nations experiment, the American people were ready to begin to live normal lives again.

The United States is on the cusp of beginning such a return. As states cautiously begin the process of reopening and removing restrictions on movement, they face opposition from medical professionals, as well as Democrats who want the economy totally destroyed not only to defeat Trump but to rebuild America in their own image.

They are not about to let a crisis like that go to waste.

They almost certainly won’t get their wish. Once the order is given, people will slowly and cautiously return to work. The economy will still be in recession, but the worst will be avoided.

But at what cost?

Fox News:

A revised mortality model predicts coronavirus deaths in the U.S. will nearly double to 135,000 through August as states continue to ease social distancing restrictions.

The grim new projection, released by the University of Washington’s Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IMHE) Monday, which has helped influence the U.S. response to the coronavirus outbreak, has jumped up considerably from its April 29 forecast of 72,433 deaths.

As of Tuesday, the coronavirus has infected nearly 1.2 million people in the U.S., killing 68,934.

IMHE estimates have been notoriously inaccurate, but it’s logical to assume that once people are congregating again, infections and deaths are going to rise. How many dead is too many? Alas, it will depend on which political party you’re a partisan for.

Waiting until deaths and new infections are near or at zero is not going to happen, although many medical professionals and professional revolutionaries would disagree. But that doesn’t mean that the issue of deaths and infections won’t become political. Indeed, Republican governors who lift restrictions will be attacked for opening “too early.” They had better prepare for that because it’s going to get worse before it gets better.

But can we admit that we just don’t know? We’re going to have to. As testing continues to increase, we’re going to find more infections. But how many of those infections will be asymptomatic? We won’t know. How many will be carriers of the disease COVID-19? We won’t know. What percentage of tested people will have false positives or false negatives? We won’t know.

How many “extra” deaths will there be?

If you support reopening the economy, you’re an unfeeling, uncaring Darwinist who thinks people should give up their lives for the economy. If you oppose reopening, you’re a compassionate person with science on your side. You can see where this is headed. The politics of reopening is all about “feeling” and has nothing to do with the reality in millions of people’s lives.

That reality is that if they don’t work, they don’t eat. And the consequences of tens of thousands of business closures — most of them small, independent companies — would be catastrophic for social cohesion as well as the economy.

There will be no World War II to pull us out of the economic fire this time.

The simple fact is, if we want the United States to survive as a country, we have to get back to work. There will be masks. There will be social distancing as much as possible. There will be other rules and guidelines that will limit human contact.

But we will begin to live again. And we will learn to live with this accursed bug until, hopefully, sooner rather than later, a vaccine is found to protect the most vulnerable among us.

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