The US and nations worldwide have responded with more aggressive and comprehensive measures to contain this virus than any pandemic in history. In the interest of public health, it’s better to overreact to a crisis like this than under react. Of course, the media have a duty to fully cover it, and many in the media will so it responsibly. But the media thrive on crises real and imagined and have a tendency to sensationalize. Individual media outlets don’t want to be upstaged in their conspicuous concern by their competitors.
Elected officials and bureaucrats at all levels of government especially fear under reacting. As the virus spreads, they’ll be held accountable for precautions they didn’t take that other agents did. If one school shuts down, others will follow suit. School boards and college administrators will have hell to pay if large numbers of their students become infected while other schools are closed.
Businesses, professional and amateur sports, churches, ski areas, movie theaters, restaurants and countless others nationwide have followed suit, many under government edict. If some operations take extraordinary precautions, how can others dare to do less? As this reverberates throughout our society the cost and inconvenience will be stupendous, as has already been reflected in declining stock market values.
On March 5, Congress passed a massive $8.3 billion emergency spending bill, promptly signed by President Trump, to deal with the virus and its economic ramifications. In the cause of urgency and compromise Republicans went along with billions in questionable spending demanded by recalcitrant Democrats. As Colorado Rep. Ken Buck explained: “Nancy Pelosi squandered days trying to push wish list items on us rather than engaging in a meaningful bipartisan discussion. This bill is a 110-page multi-billion dollar boondoggle shoved on us at the stroke of midnight.”
A week later, Nancy Pelosi and the House Democrat majority upped the ante in a brazen display of political theater. They rammed through H.R. 6201, the “Families First” bill, a progressive cornucopia including tens of billions of dollars in government spending and private sector mandates, bypassing the customary cost analysis by the Congressional Budget Office.
Throughout this process, along with worthwhile measures, House Democrats have loaded these bills with extraneous provisions (like abortion funding!) and ticking time bombs expanding government and imposing mandates on businesses codified as “temporary” measures that Democrats have long sought and are intent on making permanent entitlements. (Remember Rham Emanuel’s advice: “Never let a crisis go to waste.”)
Democrats purposefully overloaded the bills as a political trap anticipating realistic revisions in the Senate by the Republican majority. At which time Democrats and their liberal media echo-chamber would curse Republicans for their “miserly and heartless disregard for the public welfare.”
It’s unknowable when the COVID-19 outbreak will peak and how deadly it will be. But the world has survived more serious crises. This isn’t the 14th century’s Bubonic Plague ― the Black Death ― that killed half of Europe’s population and 400 million people worldwide. Or the Spanish Flu of 1918 that killed 100 million people. Medical science and epidemiology have come a long way since then.
Pharmaceutical companies are working feverishly on a COVID-19 vaccine, estimated by some to be 18 months away. If there’s a Vegas over/under line on that, I’d bet the under. 78-year-old Bernie Sanders is among the elderly, most vulnerable to the virus. His standard stump speech vilifies our “crooked” pharmaceutical industry that is indisputably the best in the world. Wouldn’t it be ironic if “Big Pharma,” as he disparagingly brands it, comes up with the vaccine that saves Bernie’s life?
Despite its overwhelming contribution to world health, US pharmaceutical companies are extorted by other nations to subsidize their government-controlled health care systems with deeply-discounted drug prices under the threat of stealing their proprietary patents. Is this fact beyond Bernie’s comprehension or just not compatible with his demagogic act?
COVID-19 isn’t the threat to national survival as was our Revolutionary War, the Civil War or World War II. Though the economy will take a big hit, this won’t be another Great Depression, which lasted from 1929 to 1941. As the crisis recedes, which it will, pent up demand will lead the economy and the stock market to a recovery, as it has in the past.
This broad perspective isn’t meant to downplay the seriousness of this pandemic which is here and now, and requires large-scale immediate action by government, the private sector and the worldwide public. Awareness of the facts and public compliance with vital precautions are essential. Alarmism and irrational panic are destructive.
Longtime KOA radio talk host and columnist for the Denver Post and Rocky Mountain News Mike Rosen now writes for CompleteColorado.com.