AMERICAN INSTITUTE FOR ECONOMIC RESEARCH - Au 9, 2020 -
Shell-shocked is a good way to describe the mood in the U.S. for a good part of the Spring of 2020. Most of us never thought it could happen here. I certainly did not, even though I’ve been writing about pandemic lockdown plans for 15 years. I knew the plans were on the shelf, which is egregious, but I always thought something would stop it from happening. The courts. Public opinion. Bill of Rights. Tradition. The core rowdiness of American culture. Political squeamishness. The availability of information.
Something would prevent it. So I believed. So most of us believed.
Still it happened, all in a matter of days, March 12-16, 2020, and boom; it was over! We were locked down. Schools shut. Bars and restaurants closed. No international visitors. Theaters shuttered. Conferences forcibly ended. Sports stopped. We were told to stay home and watch movies…for two weeks to flatten the curve. Then two weeks stretched to five months. How lucky for those who lived in the states that resisted the pressure and stayed open, but even for them, they couldn’t visit relatives in other states due to quarantine restrictions and so on.
Lockdowns ended American life as we knew it just five months ago, for a virus that 99.4-6% of those who contract it shake off, for which the median age of death is 78-80 with comorbidities, for which there is not a single verified case of reinfection on the planet, for which international successes in managing this relied on herd immunity and openness.
Still the politicians who had become dictators couldn’t admit such astonishing failure so they kept the restrictions in place as a way of covering up what they had done.
That shock of Spring has now turned to a Summer of wickedness, with everyone pointing fingers at everyone else for the sorry state of life. Patience has run out and a national viciousness has taken its place. It is evident not only online but in person where strangers scream at each other for behaving in ways in which they disapprove.
What many states are calling “open” today would have been called “closed” six months ago. Sports are rare. Theaters aren’t open. In some places, you still can’t go to gyms or eat inside. Mask mandates are everywhere, and mask enforcers too. People are ratting out their neighbors, sending drones to ferret out house parties, and lashing out at each other in public places.
In a mere five months, lockdowners have manufactured a new form of social structure in which everyone is expected to treat everyone else as a deadly contagion. Even more preposterously, people have come to believe that if you come closer than six feet of another person, a disease spontaneously appears and spreads.