20A011 This Bogus Crisis by Jim Davies, 3/17/2020
Each weekend I shop for groceries, and choose Market Basket. Occasionally they are out of stock of some item on my list, and with over 50,000 items for which to manage inventory, that's excusable. Last weekend it did not happen. I did notice an absence of toilet paper, as in Venezuela not long ago, but that was not on my list. However, in more than 500 such visits, I've never seen that store anywhere near as crowded. It was not easy to find car park space, and when checking out, the lines were so long, the store's management team was directing traffic. It was well done, but despite storms, power outages and vital football games, I've never seen it happen before.
More yet: most carts were full to overflowing. Customers were obviously stocking up on supplies, evidently anticipating a rolling shortage.
While waiting in line, there was time to chat with fellow-sufferers; that was the one plus of the visit. One couple agreed at once that the whole scare was bogus. Next I asked a gray-looking man "Who's to blame for this: the Democrats, or the media?" His reply: "No comment." Not hard to guess for whom he voted, or perhaps worked. I posed the same to the guy behind me, and he picked the media, but allowed that someone put them up to it. We had a nice conversation. His cart, like mine, had a normal load. He was a fellow-skeptic.
The new virus began in Wuhan, because some pig farmers ill-treated their livestock so badly that pigs caught the bug and had to be destroyed, then the incinerators botched the job so badly the flames failed to kill the bugs. They transferred to humans, and it spread. In the whole of China at this writing, some 3,189 people have died of it, but the mortality rate has slowed:
Perhaps it will reach 4,000. That's in a country five times as populous as the US, so perhaps the total mortality here will reach 800. That's sad, but it's not a crisis. According to the CDC, this year's influenza bugs will kill between 22,000 and 55,000 Americans. Taking the mid-point of that wide pair of estimates, the grossly over-hyped Corona virus is 48 times less lethal.
So no, the sky is very far from falling; but it's worth reflecting how this nonsense arose; and it clearly comes from the political arena. One party (labeled D) is desperate to regain the White House, so is frothing at the mouth to discredit its present occupant by all means fair or foul. Or in this case, porcine... Their prospects are poor, because one of their front-runners is a Communist with a very low chance of winning, while the other is renowned for shooting himself in the foot. Trump sometimes takes liberties with the facts, but in debates he will probably wipe the floor with Biden. Instead, the Dems play their... trump card: all the mainstream media love them.
So they have invented a crisis, their media friends give it banner headlines daily, and pour scorn on the President's inability to cure an incurable disease... which, as it happens, doesn't actually need curing since it will shortly die on its own. These are the culprits for the present fiasco, and I hope that by polling day people will have figured that out and reduce the D vote share to single digits.
The whole mess is just one more cost of having a political arena, while a market arena - one in which all transactions are voluntary - is ready and waiting to be left alone, to deliver an optimal result. Government must be zapped, so you and I must take the only rational way to bring that about.
One other result I hope will follow: that farmers everywhere treat their pigs better. Properly and humanely handled, pigs are clean and well behaved, affectionate, intelligent and even cute. They are so closely related to us that some of their organs can be transplanted to save our lives. According to Babe, they can even be trained to herd sheep and speak good English; and that must be true, for I saw it on TV. This isn't a religious obligation to be kind to God's creatures, it's a matter of self respect and self interest, and of wonder and respect for the marvels of the biosphere around us.