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Reblogged:It Is Not 'Self-Interest' to Take Illness Lightly

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Replying to someone whose employer is oblivious at best to the pandemic, Alison Green wisely observes (Scroll down to no. 3.) that how a business handles a crisis isn't just an indicator of how they might handle other crises, but of how they operate in general:

I think it's strongly correlated in several ways. First and foremost, it says they're cavalier about public health, and their employees' health in particular. In your company's case, it also says you can't trust what they say; they might tell you something's okay but then penalize you for it.
Yes, and that goes for individuals, governments, and political factions as well.

But I can give only one cheer, because Green's acumen in management is dulled by her acceptance of common stereotypes about selfishness as short-sighted and predatory -- as we see in the rest of her response:
And it says they're either willing to buy into the politicization of a serious public health issue if it suits their own agenda or -- if they'd be doing this even if Covid hadn't become politicized -- that they prioritize their profits way over the safety of their employees (beyond even the typical amount of self-interest you normally see under capitalism). [bold added]
This business is being short-sighted, yes. But that is actually the opposite of what an exemplar of selfishness or a consistent capitalist would do.

The best short response to these notions I can muster is to combine Ben Bayer's recent observation, from a column titled, "Be More Selfish: Wear a Mask," with Walt Disney World's excellent safety record since reopening in Florida.

Bayer makes the following observation, which would probably be obvious but for our culture's saturation with the ethics of altruism:
WDW_prepandemic.jpg
This, but with fewer people, and everyone wearing masks. (Image by Christian Lambert, via Unsplash, license.)
Other people's lives contribute immensely to one's own self-interest. A world full of sick and dying people is not to anyone's advantage. Anyone who misses the life we all lost in March is already familiar with this. Whether you've lost a job or are grieving for a loved one, or even just miss being able to go to a restaurant with friends, you know other people matter to your interests. They are the potential employers, producers, innovators, and friends who help each of us live a happy human life. So why would you want to slow the return to normal life with people by getting them sick?
Applied to business, this emphatically means taking precautions against spreading this illness, something Disney has shown -- where it is free to operate -- is quite possible regarding its workers (whom it needs healthy to be able to function, let alone prosper):
"'We've had very few [cases], and none, as far as we can tell, have been from work-related exposure,' said Eric Clinton, president of UNITE HERE Local 362, which represents roughly 8,000 attraction workers and custodians."
It is also self-interested to protect customers -- obviously for the sake of income and reputation. I can speak from experience on this count: Our family went there a couple of weeks ago, and I was amazed at how well-thought-out the precautions were. Most activities were available in some form. (Exceptions seemed mainly related activities that could result in prolonged contact between guests. Hands-on activities after some rides at Epcot were closed, there were no fireworks shows, and parades were very short, reducing both crowding and duration of any exposure.)

My wife and I are both moderate risk and we both felt comfortable there the whole time. At the risk of beating a dead horse: It was plainly in Disney's best interests to keep their employees and customers safe. The company did this by taking the pandemic seriously, learning how transmission occurs, and changing operating procedures and rules to allow operation at a level of risk most people would find acceptable.

Not only does capitalism not prioritize profits over safety, the fact that people are free to trade with each other (or not) in capitalism means that one cannot have profits without safety, at least not for very long.

-- CAV

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Defiant Michigan UP cafe owner told to shut down after serving indoor diners Since November, bars and restaurants in Michigan have been limited to carry-out service or outdoor dining in an effort

This graph may be out of date, it is certain those percentages have fallen further - but what it illustrates is just who are being sacrificed to whom. I.e.: The top half to the bottom half of people.

Interacting with people in public without any symptoms of disease or infection isn’t dangerous to the public. The masks worn by the majority of the public have little or no medical efficacy. The

Abiding by the right of a business to decide, choose and insist on a policy of masking (etc.) for whoever choose to enter or work there, is easy. Naturally one would and should if one wishes to do so. The true altruism has been in the life-sacrifices of the healthy part of the population to those at risk. The world has committed a sort of mass-suicide, an ultimate global self-sacrifice, on the basis that ... one is responsible for others' lives as they are responsible for one's own. Because you or anyone can be a 'carrier''?

Whose life is it anyway? Whose body? Whose choices?

Protect yourself was always the moral answer, and by extension anyone else who's important to you. We see the living, the survivors lose their will to live, since their 'life' - self-generated, self-directed action - has been denied them through imprisonment, and therefore lost their careers, businesses, employment, aspirations, and human contacts - further to all the psychological conditions as consequence (for one, traumatized children who will carry the fears of this pandemic and the lockdown's forced dutifulness into - what else - a future and fixed self-sacrificial mentality. Put others first).

 Supposedly at risk by age, I take my chances with where I (as much as I can get away with, masked if called upon or to not upset strangers) freely go, but am horrified and saddened how (a majority of) healthy people's lives have been negated in favor of the potential/possibility of mine and other's fatality.  I swear by my life and my love of it - etc.

How effective the measures, mass lockdowns, distancing, tracing etc. have been is also up for question. How many more -or less- would have died without them? Not having a control group to reference, hard to tell. Even gvt.'s which reacted swiftly weren't spared another wave in their countries.

But these draconian measures were never going to be worth the cost.

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We don't have a right to drive 100 miles an hour on a city street.  We would if it was only our own life and property at risk.

The possibility of being a carrier without realizing it is more subtle, but we shouldn't ignore it.

Lockdowns were not worth the cost.  The whole issue has been contaminated by the altruist morality.  Trump's ham-handed politicizing of mask wearing didn't help either.

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2 hours ago, Doug Morris said:

We don't have a right to drive 100 miles an hour on a city street.  We would if it was only our own life and property at risk.

The possibility of being a carrier without realizing it is more subtle, but we shouldn't ignore it.

Lockdowns were not worth the cost.  The whole issue has been contaminated by the altruist morality.  Trump's ham-handed politicizing of mask wearing didn't help either.

That is the conventional and altruisic approach. It places the responsibility (and tacitly, the blame and guilt) on a (possible) human carrier of the (really just another) virus, sacrificing his freedom to act. If the traffic on a highway with good cars/drivers all went at 100, everyday, and a few derelict cars with bad drivers drove erratically and slowly, endangering themselves and others, should we ban all cars and driving on the highway? Or just the bad drivers who are at risk, who shouldn't choose to be there on the roads in the first place? Call "the highway" people's life, work, incomes, the economy/etc.  and "bad drivers" the old and/or vulnerable and you'd see how stupid this is. The healthy keep going (if they want or need to) - and others stay out of the way, by sensible choice.

This approach disallows any govt. interference in the first place and places the decisions and risk-assessments in the hands of masses of informed individuals. (And "politicized". Who do you think was doing all that? Exploiting the situation? And exactly who was playing it down, or trying? Hah!).

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"...nor ask another man to live for mine".

Doug Morris, does this make it plainer?

One being an older man, will not demand - indeed, refuses - to let others sacrifice their life and living to one. 

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Suppose I possess a gun.  It is probably loaded with blanks that sound like live bullets but don't do anything.  Ir may be loaded with live bullets.  I don't know which and can't easily find out.  If I fire the gun recklessly, I am committing a physical aggression.

Firing the gun recklessly is very similar to not wearing a mask.

Firing the gun recklessly is very similar to blowing off social distancing.

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7 hours ago, Doug Morris said:

Suppose I possess a gun.  It is probably loaded with blanks that sound like live bullets but don't do anything.  Ir may be loaded with live bullets.  I don't know which and can't easily find out.  If I fire the gun recklessly, I am committing a physical aggression.

Firing the gun recklessly is very similar to not wearing a mask.

Firing the gun recklessly is very similar to blowing off social distancing.

Likening your own life to a loaded gun and "physical aggression", is where the altruist premise is permitted to set in:

Implying you cannot live for yourself, because you - might - be of danger to a random someone's life, out there.

So: Your life is owned by others for the foreseeable future.

Do you get the enormity of this, individually and on the grand scale? E.g. What it's doing to world political power? All parts of the economy?

I suppose you understand that this communicable virus hardly at all affects the young and healthy? Who said they have to pay with their active lives? Let them catch it at only a little more risk than the normal flu, or self-isolate too if they are fearful, can afford to and choose to.

They who should, under health conditions we all know by now, should in self interest lay low, protect themselves until vaccinated.

In the mean time people's lives are being destroyed, little by little, because of this default sacrificial mentality. That nobody questions outright.

Humans die, and will die now - period. In avoidance of the fact of death, at all costs, many more suffer and are going to suffer into the next generation. The altruists claim they are being 'humanitarian' to save lives, what they have is a death cult. Which O'ists should know from the start.

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7 hours ago, Doug Morris said:

 I am committing a physical aggression.

 

The standard libertarian response. Individual rights (certainly) but ethics precede:

Self-interest - or altruism? Life (in the proper sense) or living death.

Why "individual rights", anyway? The freedom to act. Which is the individual's freedom of choice, purpose and action. To protect you the moral actor from others' interference, and if a number of them are 'carriers' - lay low, if you want, or assess the health risks as acceptable and move on with your life (as you do every time you drive a car on the roads).

Be consistent in your logic. There is a slight chance we might be the cause of someone's death in a car accident one day. Does that stop you OR others from driving, i.e. acting and living 'selfishly'?

And here ARI hasn't come up yet with a comprehensive - Objectivist - plan for handling pandemics that applies at large. Of WHY all men must be left alone to select their own paths, in a pandemic also and especially, from other people and governments. 

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6 hours ago, tadmjones said:

So anytime there is evidence that a communicable disease is making its way through a population , face masks and social distancing are the rational and moral mode of behavior? Or just with the China Death Plague ?

Is there any evidence that social distancing and face masks prevent spread?

Sure. The effectiveness of masks and distancing is heatedly debated, some doctors and virologists claiming they are useless. I don't know.

if you want to go out in public, you think masks etc. work, you believe you are at a degree of risk - you protect yourself, is all one can state for certain.

But the main matter of concern should be the coerced lockdowns: mass banning of any human, normal activity - commerce, schooling, mobility, socializing, etc. Causing anxiety, poverty, bankruptcy and in some countries, extreme hunger. Perpetrated by government force, but following the suspect policy of the global health body who created the panic by being apparently inept, irresponsible and altruistically compromised, regarding the effects of Covid and what measures to take. (Panic exaggerated further by the media, for its ends). A bad, widespread pandemic, yes, but not a fraction as fatal as these 'experts' assured us.

(Masking anyway to some is a device for sanctimonious 'virtue signaling', that I've seen: "I care for everybody!" - and when others go unmasked, the dirty looks/remarks at such 'selfish' behavior. )

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I have a right to drive responsibly.  I don't have a right to drive 100 miles an hour on a city street.

Taking reasonable precautions to avoid endangering people does not constitute living for their sake.

The lockdowns were overreactions.  We should neither overreact nor underreact.

One complication is that at the beginning very little was known about the virus, making it harder to tell how to react.

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4 hours ago, Doug Morris said:

One complication is that at the beginning very little was known about the virus, making it harder to tell how to react.

So in a process of thought geared toward defining the identity of the unknown, is the proper response to issue edicts from the hip, so the masses think something is being done by an agency promoted as some carte-blanch, catch-all protectorate? What about letting individual minds assess the available information for themselves and conclude their own best course of action based on the judgement of their own minds?

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11 hours ago, Doug Morris said:

I have a right to drive responsibly.  I don't have a right to drive 100 miles an hour on a city street.

Taking reasonable precautions to avoid endangering people does not constitute living for their sake.

The lockdowns were overreactions.  We should neither overreact nor underreact.

One complication is that at the beginning very little was known about the virus, making it harder to tell how to react.

I don't think you see the scope of suffering taking place.

This is about what's *normal* activity. The pace of life as we know it. Say the average speed of millions of motorists daily through city streets were 100mph - or realistically, 30, or 50 - perhaps you'd consider that pedestrians who would wander aimlessly into the streets, stupid, irrational and blind to their personal danger?

Who is morally obliged to take "reasonable precautions"? The driver or the pedestrian?

Your metaphors fall apart when examined against reality.

By this reckoning, there'd be gridlocked traffic. But of course that's what we got!

There is no compromise, over- or under-reaction, with what is  - in effect - immoral.  No lock downs, ever, can be justified with any pandemic. This lock down has been and will go on being for a long time, anti - life, irrational, mindless and inhumane - and - with little scientific guarantee going in of effectiveness.

With only one justification: self-sacrificial/sacrificial altruism. Justified as compassion. And certainly, the amount of grief one knows about or imagines at personal Covid fatalities is not easy to take.

And who, objectively, deserves as much and more compassion? They who carry the load. Mostly those who quietly struggle to keep their enterprises going and employees paid while steadily heading into liquidation. And so on - all others seen and unseen who have paid dearly in many ways, some ending their lives.

Death due to ill-health we can do only so much about; the living, spiritual/material 'death' of many millions more, and stopping "the motor of  the world", we could have entirely avoided.

The already very wealthy and govt. employees, the sinecured and others surviving off the state, are best positioned, have the luxury, to ignore the plight of those others who suffer and don't die.

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13 hours ago, Doug Morris said:

One complication is that at the beginning very little was known about the virus, making it harder to tell how to react.

Yes, and the 'experts', some, pseudo-scientists, were ignoramuses or corrupt. Altogether this has followed much the same lines of previous epidemics/pandemics. The few epidemiologists, immunoligists and doctors who could accurately predict the usual patterns were silenced from social media (by orders of the WHO) such as e.g. Knut Wittkowski. Don't try to "flatten the curve", he insisted; you'll only prolong the curve. There is no benefit to extending the virus while trying to lessen the first impact. Imposed isolation of the healthy people weakens their immune systems. Keep the children in schools. Stay with normal activity. He was totally ignored, and sure enough, second and third waves of Covid are now being experienced.

It appears that what was always obvious is sinking in: you don't simplistically 'defeat' a virus.

The most patent, panic-inducing, error was the initial death toll taking place in some intensely infected regions, that inflated  - by far - the estimates of rate of death.

Anyone with simple math and logic would have seen that when you have a large number of fatalities, but don't yet know the number of infections in a population, OF COURSE, the rate of death/infection will be apparently higher! The dead we visibly can count, the infected were an unknown number.

So. What was predicted by experts to be upwards of 3 - 5% rate of death has been dropping (after much wider testing results) down to well under one per cent (if I heard the latest figures right, a fraction of 1%).

Terrible epistemology, fear-mongering, exploitation of the suffering for power and gain - and altruism - have been the tale of this pandemic and lockdown in a nutshell, I think.

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5 hours ago, whYNOT said:

Anyone with simple math and logic would have seen that when you have a large number of fatalities, but don't yet know the number of infections in a population, OF COURSE, the rate of death/infection will be apparently higher! The dead we visibly can count, the infected were an unknown number.

So. What was predicted by experts to be upwards of 3 - 5% rate of death has been dropping (after much wider testing results) down to well under one per cent (if I heard the latest figures right, a fraction of 1%).

This is how statistics works and has always worked. The "true infection rate" is one entire population, that would be the entire world, and it is not reasonable to find that number. So you use estimates where you can, of the sample sizes you have, and try to estimate what it would be in the future among similar samples. It's well known that true infection rate will usually be less than those of the sample. But sometimes the number is bigger, if thousands of cases were misdiagnosed as a different illness. Yes, some numbers are big, and they are not so big now, but that's because they learned more. Things are more clear. 

Modeling is hard. 

5 hours ago, whYNOT said:

Yes, and the 'experts', some, pseudo-scientists, were ignoramuses or corrupt.

Generally, no, they are none of these things. Certainly not on the research end of things. Stop with this antiscience, there are many researchers researching the same things and a great deal of checks to make sure that people have proper credentials like PhD's  To say something like this is to say that you don't know about the subject, so don't talk about the subject as if you understand it. Sorry, but you don't really understand completely what you're criticizing. They are taking into account what you're saying. Just because it doesn't make sense doesn't mean that other people are corrupt or stupid. 

Blame politicians, but it is not the fault of scientists.

 

Edited by Eiuol
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Yes I blame the politicians, somewhat(keep in mind a president is unqualified to buck the consensus of scientific predictions and advisements). And mostly the media, who didn't adequately examine those early pronouncements which were scaring citizens, the media here in SA as well as there and the UK. As for scientists, it's not unknown for them to fudge figures and data according to where their bread is buttered. Look as the AGW debacle. But I agree. That is the weakest link in my over all argument. Good old Eioul, I can rely on you to find it. While ignoring the rest.

But here is the No. 1 candidate for doomsayer virus-science, out of touch with reality and previous epidemics:

https://www.cato.org/blog/how-one-model-simulated-22-million-us-deaths-covid-19

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15 hours ago, dream_weaver said:

What about letting individual minds assess the available information for themselves and conclude their own best course of action based on the judgement of their own minds?

That's good for many purposes, but when there is a possibility of people inadvertently committing physical aggression, it gets more complicated.

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For any who are interested, the whole African continent has had less deaths (44,000) than the UK (in South Africa about 23, 000, or 50% more than the annual road toll, here):

Confirmed deaths from coronavirus in the UK stood at 46,853 by Nov. 3 2020, according to the Department of Health, and over a million cases have been recorded since the pandemic began.

That’s approximately 4,000 more reported deaths than on the entire African continent, where reported deaths were said to exceed 43,000 from COVID-19 by Nov. 3, according to the World Health Organization’s Regional Office for Africa (WHO Africa). The continent has recorded over 1.7 million cases.

Considering the size of the population across Africa’s 54 nations — 1.2 billion — and the fact that it houses the majority of the world’s poorest countries, the relatively low number of COVID-19 deaths in the pandemic so far has come as huge relief.

AND - see here:

https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2020/02/15/coronovirus-bill-gates-warns-10-million-deaths-virus-spreads/

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