So now that 60,000 new Covid-19 daily infections have become the new new, the response seems to have come down to whether we mandate social distancing or not. Does the government force people to stay in their homes and only emerge if they are wearing masks? Does the government require that schools remain closed until every school-age kid is able to receive a vaccine? These and other questions about how much the government can mandate behavior in response to a viral pandemic have never previously been asked, right?
Not only have we suffered through other health pandemics that can be controlled, if not prevented by government mandating proper social behavior, but endless and aimless discussions go on about various schemes that can be adopted as alternatives to mandating social behaviors that we know will work.
Ever hear of something called HIV/AIDS? This virus – what it does and how it is transmitted – was clearly identified in the 1980’s by teams of researchers, one of those teams incidentally, led by a young physician named Anthony Fauci, okay?
What was the remedy that would make our country AIDS-free? It’s called ‘safe sex.’ There’s also a second remedy called ‘safe needles.’ These remedies, both of which rely on certain behaviors that need to be followed at all times, totally and completely work.
How many Americans died last year from HIV/AIDS? Somewhere around 15,000. How many Americans have died since these behaviors were announced but not mandated in the mid-1980’s? Probably somewhere around 700,000, and we’re not talking about seniors who, in many instances are dying from Covid-19 infections which only shorten their lives by a couple of years. We are talking about 700,000 men and women who in most cases contracted the HIV/AIDS virus before age 30.
Want another example of a pandemic which has been out of control for nearly 30 years? It’s called gun violence, and it kills or injures somewhere around 90,000 – 100,000 men and women between the ages of 15 and 35 every, single year in events which are called homicides or armed assaults. It also kills another 20,000 Americans annually who, for the most part, are above age 50 and kill themselves.
This pandemic was defined in articles published in peer-reviewed medical journals which appeared in 1993. And the response to this research was exactly the same as the response to HIV/AIDS, namely, the adoption of safe behavior, in this case something called ‘safe storage’ of guns. Was this behavior mandated? No. Has this pandemic claimed more than one million lives since it was identified in scientific research? It sure has.
One of the reasons we do not mandate behavior is not just because Trump is a jerk who still believes that his alt-right base will keep him on the throne. Americans have a very ambivalent view of government authority, as opposed to other Western countries where the government’s ability to organize and manage private affairs is taken much more for granted than it is over here. Part of this anti-government culture is the result of federalism, part is the latent racism which is a legacy of the slavery curse, part of it is that we are the only industrialized country whose industrial revolution did not create a strong Socialist movement within the working class.
I love the way The New York Times is all hot and bothered about how the Russians are stealing vaccine research, but has the editorial board of this newspaper even considered how and why this critical research is in private hands? The feds have given out $3 billion in research funds to privately-owned, pharmaceutical companies because, after all, we know that the private sector is always better equipped to get the job done. Says who? Newt Gingrich? Donald Trump?
How come this research isn’t being conducted in an open, collaborative way? Because the same mentality which refuses to consider public mandating of social behavior is the same mentality which believes the profit motive can protect us from Covid-19.