Perspective On The Virus

Monday, April 6, 2020

First, the coronavirus problem:  We all know the current numbers of 'cases' and deaths attributed to the coronavirus keep changing -- always increasing, moment by moment.  (Except in China; somehow it seems they quickly got their latest invention completely under control!  Makes you wonder, don't it?)  The number of recoveries is also increasing, although we don't hear much about recoveries; only new 'cases' and deaths seem to make news.  And nobody except Charlie Wysong seems to be giving us anything of a historical precedent to compare any of those numbers to.  So consider this, keeping in mind that different sources present somewhat different numbers:

In the U.S. Civil War of 1861 to 1865, somewhere between 620,000 and 850,000 soldiers died, both sides combined.  That was from a total national population of only about 31 million souls, both sides combined.  Thus, a minimum of 2 percent and a maximum of 2-3/4 percent of the country died in that long conflict.  Those who died started out, as in most wars, typically strong and healthy and relatively young men.  'The nation's best' may well be an honest description of them.  The overall total of deaths and injuries approached 2,000,000 American men.  And keep in mind, that war was on purpose; the war was deliberate, no matter who claims or deserves the responsibility.

Look at the terrible battle of Gettysburg, the worst of the worst in that war:  There, somewhere between 46,000 and 51,000 people died -- in just three days!  That is 0.15 percent of the entire U.S. population who died in only three days; in proportion, that's equivalent to some 540 citizens of our Hamilton County, or 270 residents of our Chattanooga.  That's a lot of local folks dead in only three days.

The battle of Chickamauga was next in significance, with a death toll of some 34,600 in a bit more than two days -- comparable to Gettysburg in that respect, it seems.

Now someone claims that our coronavirus 'Pearl Harbor' or '9/11' moment is rapidly approaching; no disrespect intended, but the Japanese attack on Dec. 7, 1941 killed 'only' 2,403 Americans, and we all remember 9-11-2001 well enough; yes, those evil days were bad enough, but they hardly compare to Gettysburg or Chickamauga.  Of course, I don't know what modern history books teach about any of these events; maybe the numbers are all much different now, or maybe numbers aren't even mentioned at all.

We know the U.S. Civil War was awful, everywhere and all the way through.  But compared to those numbers, on a daily or overall basis, the coronavirus totals that we're being hammered with seem almost trivial.  You see, the U.S. population now is 10 times what it was in 1863, but the COVID-19 numbers are just small fractions of the Civil War figures.  Hang in there, though; there seem to be plenty of folks who dearly hope the numbers will keep going up.  The news people's jobs depend upon it; the politicians' and medical prophets' reputations depend upon it; some politicians' plans rely upon it.  And it may be that we in Chattanooga really are fortunate compared to others where deaths and hospitalizations are concerned.  Or it may be that the reaction has been way out of proportion to the problem; we'll probably never know about that.  After all, the Civil War question itself never has been fully resolved, has it?

For a bit more perspective, locally, right now, the Hamilton County coronavirus numbers are 74 positive tests (and 843 negative tests, a number I hadn't seen before), with a total of eight deaths to date.  Compare that to Chattanooga's routine malicious shootings, which average 123 per year recently, and Chattanooga's murders, which have averaged 20 per year recently.  Did you get that?  For the last five years, anyway, your chance of getting shot in Chattanooga was way greater than your 2020 chance of getting COVID-19 so far!  And your chance of being murdered in Chattanooga was way greater than your 2020 chance of dying of coronavirus to date.  Since we all know that those shootings and those murders are typically confined to certain neighborhoods of our city, it makes you wonder what the city might have been doing to reduce those statistics, doesn't it?  Drastic measures ... .

Second, those much-anticipated checks that Congress has promised to send to all of us:  Theoretically and typically, those checks will be for $1,200 per person, with reductions or increases in individual cases.  Keep in mind that the benevolent folks who loudly and proudly voted to give us that generous gift are all working with guaranteed salaries of at least $174,000 per year; each of them is paid $20 per hour, every hour, around the clock, day in and day out, 24/7/365.  Makes your mouth water (or your eyes water!), doesn't it?  In black-and-white terms, in dollars and cents, their minimum guaranteed salaries amount to $1,200 every 2-1/2 days.  Let that soak in, and then remind yourself that those folks don't actually produce anything, they don't work on farms or in factories or stores or garages or hospitals, etc.  They don't contribute anything to the U.S. gross domestic product, or do anything else that actually makes money for anyone but themselves.  Their jobs haven't been put on hold lately; they haven't been 'furloughed;' they haven't had to scrimp and scrounge, file for unemployment, or wait in long lines at WalMart just to find lots of empty shelves when they do get inside.  They aren't living in third-world conditions like we are right now; out here in the real world, I'm reminded of tales from Communist Russia in the Cold War era.  But Congress does have the key to the printing presses -- both the promise-printing presses, and the money-printing presses.

If you've been paying attention, you've already noticed that the actual direct-to-the-citizens part of that $2,000,000,000,000 gift package is the smallest part of it; the really big money goes to the really big companies, etc.  $2 trillion amounts to more than $6,000 for every legitimate U.S. citizen right now.  You will obviously be glad to get your one-fifth of that $6,000, but you should be asking, "Where is the other four-fifths of that relief going?"  Because, like it or not, someday we -- we, the actual working people of the U.S., those who make legitimate positive contributions to the national economy -- are going to have to pay it all back.  Yes, it's certain, that immense bill will come due before long, and you will have already spent your $1,200.  So what are you going to do then?

One more thing:  Have you stopped and looked and listened and wondered just what is going on, just what we're practicing for?  Remember the days immediately after 9-11-2001, when there were no airplanes flying, everyone was walking around in shock, new laws were being set in place as fast as Washington, D.C. could write them, state and local laws and rules were enacted and enforced before the ink even dried?  It was bad enough then, and it has only gotten worse since then.  But now we're all in a situation where we're being warned that ... your spouse is your worst enemy; you could get the virus from him/her.  Your children, your parents, your neighbors, your co-workers, the clerks and shoppers in every store -- every one of those people is a potential hazard to your health!  And they're all being told the same thing about you, too.

Stay away from everyone and everything and everywhere; stay at home; don't get close to anyone; don't trust anybody!  Factories are closed, workshops are closed, stores are closed, the governments have decided who gets to keep working and who must stay at home.  I'm not a strong student of history (more shame on me), but I have heard stories of just such things happening in the past, and whenever such things happened, it was always a harbinger of some really bad things to come.  Various real and self-styled authorities are now telling us, "It's going to get worse before it gets better!" and we're supposed to think they're merely talking about the Chinese virus.  Have you wondered if they could have a lot more than that in mind?  That thought will take your mind off the coronavirus for a while, anyway.

Larry Cloud
Lookout Valley

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