Thursday, April 23, 2020

'Nobody wants to die but we've got to take risks and get back in the game': Texas Lt Gov defends decision to reopen the economy amid coronavirus pandemic after saying it was worth risking lives to save jobs

The lieutenant governor of Texas says there are more important things than living as he defended the decision to reopen the state's economy amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, who was heavily criticized last month for suggesting it was worth risking lives to save jobs, doubled down on his stance in an interview with Fox News' Tucker Carlson on Monday night.

'There are more important things than living and that's saving this country for my children and my grandchildren and saving this country for all of us,' the 70-year-old said.

'I don't want to die. Nobody wants to die. But man, we've got to take some risks and get back in the game and get this country back up and running.' 

He had implied in an interview with Carlson on March 23 that he would rather die from COVID-19 that see the economy destroyed due to what he suggested was an overreaction to the disease.  In that interview, Patrick suggested that older people like himself, who are more at risk, would take care of themselves.

Patrick said on Monday that the economic hardships felt in Texas - who started reopening some businesses on Monday - and across the country as a result of the coronavirus lockdown measures had 'vindicated' him.

'When you start shutting down the economy and people start losing their paychecks and businesses can't open and governments aren't getting revenues... I'm sorry to say I was right on this,' Patrick said. 'I'm thankful that we are now... finally beginning to open up Texas and other states because it's been long overdue.

Patrick questioned the science and projected death toll of COVID-19 after an influential model relied on by the White House and health officials has seen the number of possible fatalities lowered since the outbreak first started.

'I mean, at the end of January, Dr Fauci, who I have great respect for, said this wasn't a big issue. Three weeks later, we were going to lose 2 million people. Another few weeks later, it was 1 to 200,000. Now it's under 60,000,' he said.

'We've had the wrong numbers. The wrong science. I don't blame them but let's face reality of where we are. 

State parks reopened on April 20 and hospitals can start resuming surgeries on April 22.

From April 24, retailers can reopen but only if they can deliver their goods or services to people at home or in their cars to minimize contact.

'In Texas, we have 29 million people.... and every life is valuable but 500 people out of 29 million.

'We're locked down and we're crushing the average worker. We're crushing small business. We're crushing the markets. We're crushing this country.'

In Texas, there are currently more than 20,000 infections and 520 deaths as a result of the coronavirus.

Patrick's comments came after Republican Governor Greg Abbott became the first in the country to announce the state would start lifting coronavirus restrictions.

As of Monday, retailers were allowed to sell items for curbside pickup, while elective surgeries could resume and state parks could reopen.

Abbott said last week that future decisions on reopening more of Texas would be guided by testing.

Although he assured that testing would 'go up quite a bit' in late April or early May, he did not provide a number.

Georgia, South Carolina and Tennessee have all since announced partial reopenings of state economies.

South Carolina opened some retail stores from yesterday, Georgia has announced plans to reopen gyms, beauty salons and barber shops this Friday, and Tennessee is set to ease stay-at-home orders within days.

Such a swift reopening runs counter to the advice of many experts, including Dr. Anthony Fauci, the government's top authority on infectious diseases, who warned again Monday that resuming business too soon risked a fresh spike in infections. 



A similar debate in Australia too

Most Australians accept that temporarily shutting down large parts of the economy is a difficult but necessary part of beating the coronavirus.

But others are using the tough measures as an excuse to engage in a cruel debate that pits the lives of Australia’s elderly against the cost to the economy.

The journal Science first floated the question in late March when it published research under the headline: Experts weigh lives versus economics.

The article discussed the dilemma being faced by macroeconomists who were “more familiar with gauging how interest rates might influence employment”.

“If it turns out a lot of people get infected and have few symptoms, the economically sensible approach might be to let the infection spread and accept that there will be some death toll,” researchers wrote.

Less than two weeks later, the following headline appeared in the Australian Financial Review: Lives matter but at what cost?

The author, John Kehoe, wrote that “there is a high economic and social price being paid” for Australia’s efforts to flatten the curve and save lives.

“Unemployment is surging, businesses are closing, incomes are being slashed. People are hurting,” he wrote.

Then he took it one step further by making the case that Australians over the age of 70 aren’t worth as much as younger Australians.

“Many seniors have had time to enjoy careers, children and grandchildren,” he began. “My father is 68 and insists he’s had a good run. With the swimming pool and tennis club in his Victorian town now closed, his daily pursuits are off limits. His physical fitness and mental wellbeing are suffering.

“Some seniors like him would not put their own life above the livelihoods of their children and grandchildren, if the economic and social costs become too great.”

Unsurprisingly, the piece caused outrage. Journalist Jan Fran was among those who hit back at the “reductionist” argument. “Maybe I’m wrong but none of the spicy ‘let the virus spread to save the economy’ hot takes are written by poor, sick, old or disabled people,” she wrote on Twitter.

“They’re always written by some legend in a suit who did some maths and worked out that your nan is probs not worth saving as much as — say — a young, healthy person who will contribute more to the economy.

“This is true if you think a human being’s value should be measured by their economic contributions. “If that’s the case then just cut the sh*t and say you think some lives are worth more than others because of the money/capital they make/earn/produce. Actually, say it!”

She argued that those willing to sacrifice the elderly to keep the economy running have “flattened what it means to be human”.

But Kehoe isn’t the only one pushing hard to remove strict quarantine laws and reopen businesses. The Institute of Public Affairs was slammed when it released a bizarre video on April 7 arguing that reopening churches, restaurants, cafes, bars and community sport was a “sensible” idea, despite experts everywhere saying the opposite.

“Our response to the coronavirus outbreak has decimated our society, ruined thousands of lives, turned Australia into a police state and, worst of all, put hundreds of thousands of Australians out of work,” the think tank’s policy director Gideon Rozner argued.

He said it was time for state and federal governments to come up with a plan to win the lockdown and let people rebuild their lives.

“Do it safely with appropriate social distancing measures in place, but do it now, not in six months, not in one month. Now, because Australians were not meant to live like this, and we cannot allow this to go on any longer,” he says. “Enough is enough. It is time to begin to end this lockdown now.”

Of course, to do so would be catastrophic. New modelling from the Doherty Institute and Monash University shows that Australia, plainly, is not ready.

It reveals that if Australia’s reproduction number — how many people could be infected by just one case — increased from below one to somewhere around 2.5, there could be more than 70 deaths in just three weeks’ time.

“If we lift measures, and it depends how much you lift them, but if we were to lift all of them and we get back to a reproduction number of 2.5, then we’re back on an exponential curve,” Victoria’s Chief Health Officer Brett Sutton said.

“The numbers would get up to 10,000 in a matter of weeks. So we have to keep the reproduction number below one in order to maintain the pressure down on the numbers that we have in Victoria.”



AG Barr Says the DOJ May Take Legal Action against States if Lockdowns Are Deemed Excessive

Attorney General William Barr on Tuesday said the Justice Department could take action against states whose coronavirus lockdowns are deemed too strict.

“We have to give businesses more freedom to operate in a way that’s reasonably safe,” Barr said in an interview on The Hugh Hewitt Show. “To the extent that governors don’t and impinge on either civil rights or on the national commerce–our common market that we have here–then we’ll have to address that.”

Barr said states should enforce lockdowns and business closures only until the spread of coronavirus has halted. Then, states should eventually reopen in line with the Trump administration’s guidelines, he said.

“These are very, very burdensome impingements on liberty, and we adopted them, we have to remember, for the limited purpose of slowing down the spread, that is bending the curve,” Barr went on. “We didn’t adopt them as the comprehensive way of dealing with this disease….You can’t just keep on feeding the patient chemotherapy and say well, we’re killing the cancer, because we were getting to the point where we’re killing the patient.”

While most U.S. states have adopted some form of business and school closures, several have seen protests against the lockdown measures. President Trump has repeatedly clashed with state governors on reopening the economy, urging them to do so as soon as possible.

Trump has called on protesters to “liberate” certain states, all with Democratic governors. Washington governor Jay Inslee subsequently accused Trump of “fomenting domestic rebellion.”

Protests have been particularly strong in Michigan, whose governor Gretchen Whitmer has instituted some of the most stringent lockdowns in the U.S. Whitmer on Tuesday compared protesters to Americans who objected to the World War II production effort.




More than a dozen killed during shooting rampage in heavily gun-controlled Canada (New York Post)

More U.S. protests call for lifting restrictions as governors push back (Reuters)

Trump says "governors have gone too far" with restrictions (New York Post)

President says he'll end Obama-era funding to Wuhan lab (The Daily Caller)

U.S. officials confirm full-scale investigation of whether coronavirus escaped from Wuhan lab (Fox News)

Department of Defense travel ban extended to June 30 (Military Times)

What could possibly go wrong? Chinese-made drones are monitoring streets in 20 states to enforce social distancing (The Daily Wire)

Gov. Cuomo hires firm with close ties to the Chinese Communist Party to develop reopening plan (Hot Air)

"Anonymous" Trump slanderer identified as former Deputy National Security Adviser Victoria Coates (RealClearInvestigations)

As we've long suspected, antibody research indicates coronavirus may be far more widespread than known (ABC News)

Illinois takes advantage of pandemic, pleads for multibillion-dollar pension bailout (The Daily Wire)

Policy: Trump administration should double down on deregulation to relaunch economy (Washington Examiner)

Policy: After repeated failures, it's time to permanently dump epidemic models (Issues & Insights)


For more blog postings from me, see  TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCHPOLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, and Paralipomena (Occasionally updated), A Coral reef compendium and an IQ compendium. (Both updated as news items come in).  GUN WATCH is now mainly put together by Dean Weingarten. I also put up occasional updates on my Personal blog and each day I gather together my most substantial current writings on THE PSYCHOLOGIST.

Email me  here (Hotmail address). My Home Pages are here (Academic) or  here  (Personal).  My annual picture page is hereHome page supplement


No comments: