COVID-19: Finding Fault (Part 4)

(CONTINUED from Parts 1 to 3)

“Okay, fine.  But why is that my fault?”  I can hear you thinking this, perhaps a bit angrily, suspecting some sort of bait-and-switch.  Don’t worry, it’s still your fault.

Oh, not the virus.  That’s nature; that’s what nature does.  There’s a reason we invented doors and windows and walls and things; it’s because otherwise nature will kill us.  Plagues are just one of the more colorful weapons in its arsenal.

No, what’s your fault is that society has been continuing blithely along all this time without properly preparing for a pandemic.  It’s not as though this has never happened before; epidemics come along every few decades like clockwork.  The influenza of 1918 was one example, but before that there was smallpox and yellow fever and the Black Death, and afterward there was polio and HIV and Ebola.

People throw the blame for this on Trump, but we knew about pandemics when Carter was president and we didn’t have a plan to seal the borders overnight and put masks on people.  The Reagan Administration didn’t come up with a legal structure for instituting a national stay-at-home order.  Clinton didn’t invent a fast-track system for designing vaccines.  The national stockpile of masks was created under George W., but it was depleted in the early days of the Obama Administration — 2009 — and never brought back due to funding problems — Congress, in other words.  Even at its peak there were only a hundred million masks, which wouldn’t have been near enough even if masks alone could have fought this.

The bottom line is, that jackass yelling that there’s nothing in the Constitution that says it goes away just because there’s a pandemic is technically correct.  We live in a country with a robust system of laws, but there are precious few of them put in place to enable emergency powers for dealing with epidemics.  And why is that?

It’s because the people would never stand for it.

Oh, sure, some of you are OK with emergency powers when they get people medicine and make them wear masks.  But these are the same people freaking out about a tinfoil-hat conspiracy theory that Trump will invoke emergency powers to stay in office after he’s justly voted out in November.  Whatever anyone tries to do right now gets automatically opposed because of party politics.

So no, this isn’t Trump’s plague.  He’s at fault for some of our lack of response, sure, but so are you.  Personally.

We didn’t have these things because the public didn’t demand them.  Eleven years ago when the mask stockpile stayed depleted, we didn’t flood the streets and shut down the economy to force Congress to do its job.  Right now we don’t have universal health care for the same reason.  Marijuana is still a Schedule 1 drug federally despite being legal in one heck of a lot of states.

Black Lives Matter is protesting police brutality.  There have been some cosmetic changes in a few jurisdictions, but that’s all.  Instead, we’ve removed Aunt Jemima, ripped down Columbus statues, and are considering renaming the Washington Redskins.  I’m not defending the syrup company, but that’s not what the protesters are asking for.  Can it be that the powers behind the protests want a fight in November more than a solution today?

It’s not that we don’t think there should be change.  We mostly agree on what needs to happen.  But for some reason obscure to me, we have a bitter fight every two years about which party is the most evil, the most dangerous — and then there’s an election, and nothing meaningful changes.  It is safe to conclude that an election won’t fix this.

So what will?


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