Posted On: Monday - March 30th 2020 7:16PM MST
In Topics:   TV, aka Gov't Media  Economics  Media Stupidity  The Future  Kung Flu Stupidity
It's been fewer than 10 times that Peak Stupidity has pasted-in external comments in their entirety as stand-alone posts. Here, from a man named E. H. Hail, who blogs at the site "Hail to You", we present a long comment, an essay really, on the tension between the Kung Flu doomers and the Kung Flu-induced economic crash doomers.
This is a long one, but it sure kept my interest and explains better than I have the problems with this sky-is-falling lockdowning/sheltering-in-placing business that has shut down a big part of the American economy. From Mr. Hail's blog, one can see that he is an essayist rather than a blogger in the Peak Stupidity sense. He has infrequent, but very long, well-researched, and detailed posts when he publishes them.
Everything between the asterisks is from this great comment under this Steve Sailer post. (It's a reply, so hopefully that won't confuse anything):
A few more thoughts on this Big Mistake:
(How the panic started, identifying the chain reaction and parties involved [almost all of them innocent of malice as such]; why the media loves the ‘Coronavirus Crisis;’ the inevitable Deaths of Despair, which the media will not cover; the inevitable lowered birth rate, which the media will not cover; imagining what the Definitive History of the Coronavirus Panic of 2020 will look like, when written in [say] the 2030s; political realignments, with many anti-Trump people saying Trump Is Right; a notable case of technology being weaponized against us.)
– A reply to Ron Unz deep in the comments of a previous thread on why the proposed 1.0% death rate is too high.
– How it started; identifying the sources of the chain reaction. For those who, like me, have come around to the idea that the Coronavirus Panic was/(is) unnecessary, a media mass-hysteria, the important question to ask is how it happened.
My thinking is this: The germ (so to speak) of this hysteria was the disaster-movie-like scary pictures of hazmat suits out of the Chinese interior (which, in retrospect, was the original, severe overreaction after what was arguably an ‘underreaction’ initially, involving government thugs threatening/intimidating a doctor; classic CCP).
A slow-moving chain reaction followed, which was international in character and which was pushed aggressively by the media. It triggered well-documented mass-hysteria-like behaviors that will seem embarrassing in retrospect. People started clamoring to “Do Something,” and it got out of hand, quick. An eclectic mix of people, some induced to panic by the media and many simply pushing their own interests, began demanding total shutdowns and indefinite closures, eventually succeeding to that end, all to all of our long-term detriment. Considering how minor this virus is (though it looks scary if covered with scary pictures and saturation-coverage shoved at you every day), this was even to the detriment of actual disease control going forward. Say there is a serious virus crisis in the future, something like Ebola on the loose all over America; after this fiasco, people will be less likely to take anything like that seriously (“remember Coronavirus?”).
Who were the groups that hijacked the ship, tied up the captain and his crew (some crew joining in the mutiny), and steered us over the edge? The groups, if we can call them that (often the better word may be “personality type”) that have aligned behind Shut Everything Down Indefinitely, are truly diverse — in the classic sense of that word. I am sure others can think of more categories, or express them better, but here are a few that come to my mind:
— People who do not need to work (at all). It costs nothing for a stay-at-home mom to agitate for shutting everything down (her husband is paying the bills)
— Those with personality-based social grievances (“I like staying inside, so just shut everything down! Finally others, too, can see what it’s like. It’s great! Win-win!”), who stand to gain by all of society reinforcing what they would want to do anyway;
— That section of people who do office work which can be “done from home” and who want closures so that they can get what they assumed would be a soft-vacation for a while, i.e., opportunists;
— miscellaneous Virtue Signallers, though they will tend to overlap with the above categories. There are apparently celebrities lecturing people to stay home and showing what their Stay Home lifestyle is like in their multi-million-dollar mansions with all the luxuries and no need to work (if one can call what most celebrities do, ‘work’), unless they want to;
— miscellaneous other grievances and hobby-horses, including the “Doomer” element, some of whom literally cheer on “The Virus;”
— and of course a bloodthirsty Enemy of the People media milking creating a crisis and giving all the above their marching orders. The media is the guy with the bullhorn at the back of the boat yelling at the rowers to keep them at moving at a steady pace, ever onwards (in this case, towards panic and dismay).
— The chain of authority-figures, many/most/all of whom fit into one or more of the above categories, but all of whom are beholden to hysterical constituents, all vowing to “Do Something” in response to the media-induced hysteria. Every time one of them “Do Something,” the next one feels the need to one up. “If that ‘Do Something’ that other guy did is a good idea, I will ‘Do Something x 1.25!’ I am a hero!” This is a traceable chain reaction of overreactions and closures that are more and more comprehensive and extend longer and longer. A fiasco worthy of the name.
But back the origin. It did/does all seem like a disaster movie, complete with cuts to people scurrying around in hazmat suits, scenes of people dying, and rolling “infection counts” and “deaths counts.” It is all as if a script were playing out. It was certainly exacerbated by being ‘international’ in scope. One country was ‘hit’ after another, as you’d see in such pandemic or zombie movies. A movie-like timeline.
In fact, this very ‘movie’ aspect to the Corona Crisis has brought out another class of people at the head of the pitchfork mob: Those who want High Drama and who can role-play that they are living in an exciting movie, indeed that they are protagonists in the(ir) movie. The media is definitely guilty of this (see next) but this psychology can also affect non-media people. There are cases of this aplenty on this very website, the Unz Review.
– On why the media loves the Coronavirus Crisis and wants it to go on.
The media loves this. They are living a dream. For local news, it’s snowstorm-or-earthquake-or-hurricane-24/7 now (select disaster depending on your locale), at which time people finally tune in, at which time local media gets the attention they so crave. For big-time media, like cable news, it’s comparable. They are news-addicts who imagine themselves to be protagonists in a disaster-movie anyway (call it a personality-type) and so this is really a kind of drug to them. The media, IOW, are now Important Heroes and will gladly play the role, indefinitely.
To the news-addict people in cable-news-type media, this is not necessarily totally novel. Usually, though, they can’t get enough people riled up enough (e.g., the at-times-histrionic promotion of the Russia Controls Trump conspiracy theory by some in the media), and in the past, there were also significant technological constraints (through the proverbial Walter Cronkite era and beyond, the “news” was a morning newspaper and a brief, serious evening news broadcast, vs. today’s all-day saturation ‘news’). Their stars have aligned on this one, though, and the media gets to live out their dream.
The media, therefore, soaks up the attention, and cares not how many people’s lives they ruin through unemployment and despair, wasted time, disrupted lives, and eventually and inevitably Deaths of Despair, which will almost certainly be greater in magnitude than the marginal “virus deaths.” They really, really want their narrative.
— Who the media has hurt, is hurting, will hurt. One thing I have not seen mentioned is the inevitable decline in the birth rate during the extended crisis, which I am 100% confident will be ignored by the same media that has pushed a nuclear-war-style panic over a minor “New Virus!” that has a victim profile exactly the same as the seasonal flu, possibly somewhat worse (but that’s life; there are always people on the margins at risk).
Think how irrational it is: The Enemy of the People has induced a mass panic to save x thousand 85-year-old terminal cancer patients at the expenses of x thousands of babies who will never be born, because birth rates always drop during recessions and social disruptions/panics. These are infants would have been conceived, given normal circumstances, had there been no mass-hysteria, shutdowns, and recession, but specifically because of the panic, recession, and uncertainty, the would-be parents choose to delay; eventually, things change, the couple splits apart (would have stayed together had there been a child), or eventually the biological-clock comes in and it’s too late, whatever. There will be many fewer births than there would have been. It is for this reason that I confidently label the media The Enemy of the People, in this case the enemy of people who ought to have been born, the voiceless. Imagine if the months 9 months before you were born had a media hysteria that shut down society? What are the chances you would have been born? What are the chances your parents would have waited?
But as for the more tangible Death of Despair, more-or-less healthy people now living who will die, some of which will be by their own hand: Just as the media didn’t/doesn’t care at all about the White Death phenomenon (the rising white deaths to drugs, depression, and suicide that lowered white US life expectancy in the 2010s), they will not care at all when the entirely predictable suicides begin. The people who were not doing well to begin with but were employed may now face long-term unemployment. Needless to say, there will be no saturation media coverage for those deaths. They’re just a bunch of Can’t-Work-From-Home Losers anyway, just like those Middle America losers in the White Death phenomenon.
The definitive history of the Coronavirus Panic of 2020 remains to be written years into the future, but it looks like this, in outline:
A series of countries all went over the edge of severe overreaction because of an unnecessary, media-induced hysteria about a minor “new” virus (actually a variant of a long-existing virus strain called coronavirus known to regularly cause seasonal flu). One after another, governments were unable to resist the scare-stories.
Come to think of it, it was a kind of policy-AIDS. The normal “immune reaction” in government affairs and policy is to brush away hysterical stories or those based in paranoia, e.g. about alien abductions, werewolves (etc.), or Killer Viruses around the corner. The normal immune reaction was weakened and appeared in mid-March to have caved-in. Data-based thinking, by those who normally should be doing it, by those in power and those advising them, was suspended. Only a few voices left holding the flag.
(I credit the Wall Street Journal for holding the flag of rational thinking during this crisis; I have never necessarily had a high opinion of them, but I must say they have forever earned my respect, at least in principle. The other voices of opposition to the Mass Hysteria are relatively scattered. I see some consistent non-‘Doomer’ voices but few-to-none who hold a media megaphone still willing to stick their necks out during the height of the hysteria. Tucker Carlson has, sadly, let his people down and joined the mob, as far as I can tell; Laura Ingraham has done better.)
– Political realignments. I have already seen this begin, as I am sure you have too, if you’ve noticed it. Even for those normally in consensus in the comment section here, I see it; a new fissure of opinion. This fiasco is the kind of thing that triggers political realignments.
The alignment was one unseen before. It is: (1) The Close Down Society-for-12-Months crowd, if they can sustain their energy and get enough people to cower before their charts of exponential-growth curves and plain-old-bad-math “death rates,” and the Never Before Seen Virus narrative, vs. (2) the people who come around to admitting this Panic was all a big mistake, which for many is going to be somewhat emotionally hard to do but is inevitably necessary, unless you really are the worst kind of Doomer who wants society to hurt, or even to end.
I don’t think the two groups had a clear, pre-existing split, and so it cuts across the previous splits. Anecdotally, I’ve heard quite a few anti-Trump people say “Trump is right on this one,” often prefacing with something like “I have never agreed with Trump on anything, but he’s right here.”
– When too much information is a very bad thing. Finally, I’d also say this was a case of our technology being weaponized against us; a tragedy worthy of future study.
If this “New Virus!” hadn’t been publicized, I am thinking no one would even have noticed that there was any such thing. (The Italian health system has been overwhelmed with flu victims in past years and no one cared or noticed, except perhaps locally in Italy; Italy for whatever reason has well over 3x the seasonal flu deaths as the US in the 2010s.)
The Chinese virus experts in Wuhan discovered it because they have their best virologists assembled there, in Wuhan, anyway. It’s their livelihood, their career, to look for these things. In past eras, it may have been noted and quietly made the rounds of medical journals. Other new virus mutations that cause flu-like symptoms are never found at all, make the rounds, and life goes on.
Had it not been ‘discovered,’ it looks likely that no one would notice it much, amid the baseline flu-like deaths, deaths that take away a portion of our weakest and most elderly every year. Always have, and always will — so long as humans are mortal beings.
Thank you, Mr. Hail for that great writing and for letting Peak Stupidity publish this. It was very much along the lines of what I've been TRYING to say but could not have said this well.