A few days ago, I joked on Twitter:
The choice isn’t between boomer genocide and an economic collapse.
The choice is between boomer genocide and economic collapse, or producing millions of 5 cent masks and making people wear them.
Reality is, it is only boomer genocide that isn’t a choice.
In Brazil, Jair Bolsonaro – the only President of a major democratic polity who continues to insist on treating coronavirus as a nothingburger – has been made into a lame duck, his commands ignored by 24 out of Brazil’s 27 governors and even by his own Health Minister.
Which is just as well, because as we know see, modern democracies are simply incapable of “powering through” even through what is a fairly low-mortality pandemic in historical terms.
Consequently, the one choices are:
- Nip it in the bud early on through mass testing-tracing-treatment, border controls, and limited lockdowns, resulting in limited economic damage.
- Wait until later, necessitating progressively more massive, longer, and economically ruinous lockdowns.
So the only correct move is to clamp down close to the start, and to clamp down hard. This is what was done in all the East Asian polities, be they chaotic democracies, city-state technocracies, or Communist single-party states.
Because in the latter scenario, there will eventually come a time when you are simply sidelined by your own underlings and by regional authorities, adding a political crisis on top of a healthcare and economic one.
In my post on Trump’s initial decision, I speculated:
Far out scenario: Blue states may outright defy Trump on abandoning containment measures, in which case they too would be doing starkly better than Red states (unless it also sparks a Constitutional crisis into the bargain).
Well, on that note, here’s a Tweet from California governor Gavin Newsom today. That’s some interesting wording there:
California is an enterprising, modernizing, nation-state. 40 million strong. Together, we will get through this. pic.twitter.com/PBTc7ukmak
— Gavin Newsom (@GavinNewsom) April 1, 2020
So again, good on Donald Trump to have come to terms with Corona reality and averting what could have become a very dangerous experiment.
This brings us to another interesting question: Will we get a “clean” experiment anywhere?
As per above, I don’t think it’s going to happen in any democracy. Britain backed away from its “herd immunity” idea two weeks ago, on realizing that their models didn’t include a term for ventilator shortages. The Dutch followed soon afterwards. With Sweden’s coronavirus mortality trajectory beginning to radically diverge from those of its Nordic cousins, I believe it is only a matter of time before they go into lockdown as well.
My guess is that our best “hope” – inappropriate as that expression may be – lies in Belarus, which is run by a decidedly non-coronapilled dictator.