The View From Olympus: A Dry Run

Despite the current unnecessary panic, the coronavirus may end up doing us a favor. It has led the government to carry out a full-scale, force-on-force exercise, a dry run if you will, of what will be necessary when a real plague arrives. That plague will be a gift from the hellish technology of genetic engineering, either as an accident or as a weapon of mass destruction in Fourth Generation war.  States will rightly be afraid of using such weapons because of the potential for blowback. Some 4GW entities will have no such concern.

The government’s actions thus far have been prudent, and with them– quarantines, closing gathering places, shutting down travel, etc.– we need not worry excessively about the coronavirus from a medical standpoint.  The New York Times recently offered some hard data on infection rates.  Despite statements like that of the idiot Merkel that 70% of Germans may end up infected, nothing like that is happening.  On Friday, March 13, the Times noted in a chart on page A7 that the rate of infection (not deaths) in Italy, the current global hotspot, is 25 per 100,000 people.  In South Korea, where the virus seems to have peaked and is now declining, the infection rate has been 16 out of 100,000. The Sunday, March 15 Times published a column, “Is Obsessing Over Statistics Helpful?” by Ellen Peters, that said:

According to data from John Hopkins University, Hubei, the Chinese province where the virus emerged, has reported 67,760 infected people out of a population of about 59 million, an incidence rate of 0.11 percent.  This means that 99.89 percent were not infected. . .

Chinese numbers are not reliable, but even if we multiply the number of infected in Hubei province by ten, we still get an infection rate–again, just infection, not death–of 1.1 percent.  Of those infected, about 80% seem to have mild cases or show no symptoms at all.

With proper measures in place, the coronavirus is not a major threat.  Again, it has been a good test, one that shows the practices developed over centuries of dealing with epidemics still work.  Like past epidemics, this one appears to follow a bell-shaped curve, one lasting about eight weeks. China is now reporting fewer than ten new cases a day and the economy is beginning to function again.

Our economy will take a big hit, because consumers are not spending.  But in and of itself, the epidemic should only give us one bad quarter.  If it sets off the overdue international debt crisis, that is a very different story.  The Federal Reserve Bank is aware of the danger and it acted forcefully last week to bolster the short-term debt market, injecting $1.5 trillion into it.  Cutting interest rates, or President Trump’s proposed payroll tax, will do little because both are pushing on a string. But the President’s proposal to make hourly workers’ pay whole is important, as are interest-free loans and grants to small and medium sized businesses that have had to close.

Most of the lessons from this massive field exercise are old ones.  Science has not made epidemics a thing of the past; on the contrary, it makes very dangerous future epidemics certain.  Many of the things we “have to do” or “have to have” are unnecessary; living quietly at home has much to offer (especially if we turn off the electric noisemakers and panic-spreaders in too many people’s lives).  Having a well-stocked larder and at least some ability to eat from what your land produces are wise practices. A fishing pole may help put dinner on the table, as may knowing how to hunt. In a more serious situation than this one, governments would be smart to declare open-season, no-limits on deer–you know, those big brown things that destroy our gardens, wreck our cars, and are of no use to us unless we kill and eat them.  They are not in short supply, nor are Canadian geese or wild turkeys.

Turning back to the old ways, Retroculture as I call it, ways proven over centuries of human experience, will come to the fore whenever reality returns.  Consumerism, “hi-tech”, and a frivolous culture where “being entertained” is the highest good are not reality. Epidemics are. Will we put this dry run to good use and start to get real again, or will that take a kick in the stomach instead of a kick in the pants?

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