20-20 hind­sight and our corona-cri­sis

Times Standard (Eureka) - - OPINION - By Richard Jeans Richard Jeans re­sides in Eureka.

The United States has been suf­fer­ing the coro­n­avirus for about three months now and still, no one is cer­tain when it will peak or when we can all re­turn to our nor­mal way of life.

One thing is cer­tain, though, those who have 20-20 hind­sight are ea­ger to find some­one to blame for our con­di­tion. They ex­co­ri­ate oth­ers for not hav­ing the vi­sion that they pro­fess to have had and act as if they, and they alone, re­ally un­der­stood the grav­ity of the sit­u­a­tion. As the fi­nan­cial cri­sis deep­ens along with the pan­demic, they have found even more fod­der for their rants, in that any­one who con­sid­ers the eas­ing of re­stric­tions on travel or on quar­an­tine in the in­ter­est of sal­vaging the econ­omy sim­ply doesn’t care if peo­ple die as a re­sult.

These ar­gu­ments are easy for those who bear no re­spon­si­bil­ity for what the out­come of such de­ci­sions might be. The sever­ity of the pan­demic and its ef­fects were un­known at its on­set and there is still much to be learned as we ac­cu­mu­late more in­for­ma­tion about it. We don’t know how long it will last nor do we know what the death rate will ul­ti­mately be.

There is one thing, how­ever, that we do know: ev­ery day that quar­an­tines and travel re­stric­tions are in place, jobs are lost and busi­nesses are near­ing fail­ure. Many of those that do fail will not be res­ur­rected.

Job­less peo­ple of­ten be­come home­less peo­ple, they be­come hun­gry peo­ple, and they be­come des­per­ate, of­ten sui­ci­dal. Job­less peo­ple will suf­fer more ill­nesses due to mal­nu­tri­tion and ex­po­sure. There will, there­fore, if re­stric­tions re­main in place, be an in­creased death rate, not re­lated to the pan­demic. No one to­day can pre­dict what this death rate will be, but as the fi­nan­cial cri­sis deep­ens, we know it will be sub­stan­tial.

Who, then, has to make the Solomon-like de­ci­sion to open up the econ­omy, pos­si­bly at the cost of lives to the pan­demic, to save lives from the crum­bling econ­omy? Nei­ther our state nor fed­eral leg­is­la­tures can re­act fast enough to man­age the rapidly chang­ing sit­u­a­tion in which we find our­selves. Those who have to make the hard de­ci­sions do not en­joy any form of anonymity or the com­fort of par­tic­i­pat­ing in a group de­ci­sion. I can think of no one who would want this re­spon­si­bil­ity. Who could sleep at night if they had to make such choices? It’s easy to be crit­i­cal, ex­er­cis­ing 20-20 hind­sight and spec­u­la­tive fore­sight, of those who must make these most dif­fi­cult de­ci­sions. They de­serve more re­spect.

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