Should Old People Be Willing to Die to Protect the Economy?

President Donald Trump speaks about the coronavirus in the James Brady Briefing Room, Monday, March 23, 2020, in Washington, as Attorney General William Barr and Dr. Deborah Birx, White House coronavirus response coordinator, listen. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

The left is going nuts over a statement from the Texas lieutenant governor suggesting that senior citizens should be willing to die in order to get the country back to work and perhaps expose them to the coronavirus.



Dan Patrick, Texas’ Republican lieutenant governor, on Monday night suggested that he and other grandparents would be willing to risk their health and even lives in order for the United States to “get back to work” amid the coronavirus pandemic.

“Those of us who are 70 plus, we’ll take care of ourselves. But don’t sacrifice the country,” Patrick said on Fox News’ “Tucker Carlson Tonight.”

Is it even a question of “sacrificing the country”? If it is, Patrick is “all in.”

“No one reached out to me and said, ‘As a senior citizen, are you willing to take a chance on your survival in exchange for keeping the America that America loves for its children and grandchildren?’ And if that is the exchange, I’m all in,” Patrick said.

New York Governor Cuomo remarked, “My mother is not expendable,” which is strange because Patrick wasn’t talking about old people being “expendable.” But Patrick left himself wide open for attack.


“My mother is not expendable,” New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) said in his press briefing Tuesday. “And your mother is not expendable. And our brothers and sisters are not expendable. We’re not going to accept a premise that human life is disposable. We’re not going to put a dollar figure on human life.”

How we got from being “all in” to wanting old people and everyone else to die is a typical left-wing assault on reality. But Brit Hume had a far more thoughtful response.


Media Matters for America:

“Well, I think he’s essentially saying something that’s not terribly different from what the president and Governor Cuomo have been saying. Which is that this, what we’re living in now, this circumstance as we try to beat this virus, is not sustainable. That the utter collapse of the country’s economy, which many think will happen if this goes on much longer, is an intolerable result. And that, he is saying, for his own part, that he’d be willing to take a risk of getting the disease if that’s what it took to allow the economy to move forward. And he said that because he’s late in life, you know, that he would be perhaps more willing then he might’ve been and a younger age. Which seems to me to be an entirely reasonable viewpoint.”

“Now, I guess a lot of people think that, you know, as your previous guest just suggested, that, you know, any kind of risk with anybody’s life is intolerable. And I think, you know, we live with the risk of, you know, seasonal influenza every year and thousands upon thousands die from it. But we do not, as has been pointed out, shut down the economy to combat it.”

When Dr. Ezekial Emanuel penned an article in The Atlantic saying he would be content to die at age 75 if it meant being less of a burden to society, he was actually cheered by the left for his willingness to sacrifice himself for the rest of us. Emanuel wasn’t advocating euthanasia or assisted suicide. He was stating a personal preference.


This is exactly what Lt. Governor Patrick was doing. And he was making a larger point about the absolute necessity that every rational observer agrees with: it would be wrong to destroy the economy under almost any circumstances, but especially for a disease that is very selective about who gets seriously ill.

There is a fundamental conflict between health professionals and politicians that is, perhaps, inevitable, but nonetheless disturbing. If we were to do everything possible to stop the spread of this disease to save lives, the economy would collapse and civil society would disintegrate. The “cure” would be worse than the disease.

Trump’s decision on when we should return to work is not going to be popular with public health officials, but it may be an economic necessity. And since this is an election year, it’s likely that his political opposition will get hysterical over his decision, accusing Trump of “not caring” whether people live or die or, that he’s deliberately trying to kill people.

Is Trump right or wrong? History will have to be the judge of that.



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