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Gus Van Horn blog

Reblogged:'Living Days Stolen'

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Rich Karlgaard, author of the excellent Late Bloomers, offers a creative way to consider the cost of COVID-19. He calls it "living days stolen":

universal_indefinite_detention.jpg
I'm from the government, and I'm here to save you from the coronavirus. (Image by Yomex Owo, via Unsplash, license.)
As I write this (April 25, 2020), 53,000-plus Americans have died from COVID-19. One could argue whether coding errors have overstated deaths due to COVID-19 infection; others have made that argument; I won't. Rather, I'd like to call your attention to another COVID-19 statistic missing in action. I've not seen it discussed anywhere. It is based on simple facts and actuarial tables. Call it ... living days stolen by COVID-19. Do you know the number? I don't. This is an extraordinary gap in our COVID-19 knowledge and damage calculations. Lack of analysis regarding the most essential unit of human currency -- living days -- has tilted public policy toward an economically ruinous lockdown. [emphasis in original]
Karlgaard goes on to calculate that the disease has caused "80 million stolen days," in an estimate that updates to his column show to be high. No matter: Karlgaard plainly invites us to compare this number to the days our government's panic-driven measures are costing us, and for this I salute him. Even if you undercount, by using only eight hours of every newly-unemployed person's day, the number of days the government has already stolen is much more staggering.

That said, I must add that I disagree on one point. Covid is an act of nature: It may be costing us lives, but it is not "stealing" anything. The only thief here is the government, which had no business shutting down our whole economy in the first place. And while I think Kargaard's heart is in the right place, now is not the time to mince words. This is much worse than an actuarial calculation can convey.

We are closing in on the time when civil disobedience might be appropriate, if we aren't already there: Lives are being ruined right now, and many more will be put into mortal peril surprisingly soon by our government's reckless closure of the economy and dithering -- in the name of safety (!) -- about pulling back from this dangerous precipice.

"Flattening the curve" without also "raising the line" (No, I never heard that phrase, either.) has quickly morphed into a quasi-permanent policy of Americans (of all the world's peoples!) basically waiting in line to get sick. In the meantime the government has turned our homes into prisons and is handing out boatloads of fiat money that will be unable to buy the goods, including food, that are now not being produced.

Living days stolen is the understatement of the century.

-- CAV

Updates

Today: Edited third from last paragraph. 

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