20-20 hindsight and our corona-crisis
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.