Economic collapse, as a vehicle

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Stand up. Speak up. It’s your turn.

Ahem. Good morning. I trust you’re all well, yes? 

Good. Let’s get started. 

If you’ve been hiding under a rock, here’s a reminder that even rocks aren’t safe — from April 10th to May 10th, 2020, we went from around 16K~ deaths to 80K~ deaths,  or approximately 64K deaths 𝙞𝙣 𝙤𝙣𝙚 𝙢𝙤𝙣𝙩𝙝.

To put that in perspective, yet again, the flu season is generally considered active from October to May, or a period of six months, with December through March being considered the peak period of cases. In a year, influenza strains typically kill as little as 12K (2011-2012), or as many as 61K* (preliminary estimates for 2017-2018). In essence, over the course of an entire year, Influenza has never resulted in more fatalities in the U.S.A. in a single year than Covid-19 just reached in a single month. 

Perhaps a more stark comparison would be the often-repeated Vietnam model; the Vietnam War lasted from 1955 to 1975, and resulted in (for America) 58K deaths. In 20 years.

Now, of course, this second comparison should not in any way be used as an apples-to-apples comparative model; no, it is only being used allegorically, in that the collective outcry for that war was far stronger than that which we are experiencing today- except perhaps from the anti-lockdown protesters. 

I digress. 

Where we are now is the precipice of a rare social event – a country, suffering under an ongoing pandemic, is preparing to reopen, against the advice of medical professionals, with the stated intention of rebuilding the economy. We can argue for days about whether this is a good plan, whether the reasoning behind it is sound, whether there even is, in fact, a plan, but the reality of our current state is this: the very concept of the American Dream is on trial here. 

The pursuit of freedom, both individual and as a nation, is being defined – or perhaps redefined – for an entire generation. 

Are mandatory restrictions and orders concerning public health on a grand scale an assault against basic constitutional rights? Are trickle-down economics functional, and are they ethical? Are ethics even a question or considered a relevant topic as related to our current undertaking?

And, perhaps what frightens me the most: is America herself even a viable state at this point?

A recent article in The Atlantic outlines the many ways in which a democracy is able to function even with instability or incompetent leadership; that a democracy such as ours has many safeguards built into it, simply as a result of its immense size it becomes “too big to fail” (albeit in an entirely different manner than that phrase’s initial or perhaps even commonly understood meaning). 

At this juncture, however, it has become painfully apparent that the machinations of our government, at the federal level, have been subjected to an outright assault on their functionality; in an attempt to eliminate safeguards which served to slow the process down to such a point as to reduce the overall impact of decisions or actions made at that level (as they invariably, and by design, affect our society as a whole). A clumsy, yet apt, analogy might be a seat belt, which serves to arrest a body in motion from colliding with objects which may cause fatal harm should their relative velocities not be aligned or brought closer together relative to each other and/or the object of collision. 

Regardless of my fumbling attempts to draw analogies out of thin air, what we are left with is a lurching, sputtering engine which may not even have the requisite quantity of moving parts as to ensure successful and consistent forward motion. We’ve no accurate assessments of exactly how much damage has been done, the object which caused the collision is still very much in play, and the driving forces required to move the vehicle forward are either at further or increased risk of additional, and possibly catastrophic damage, if we are not prepared to address systemic collapses in the vehicle’s functionality and overall structural stability. Moreover, the intended passengers have been figuratively strewn about the vehicle and may not even be able to return to it, even provided generous, and immediate, assistance. 

To bring this rambling analogical narrative to a  close, I can’t imagine any sane individual, upon having crashed his vehicle, immediately reentering it and attempting to drive it away without checking the damage, looking for the previous occupants of said car, and either avoiding or removing the obstacle from the vehicle’s path. 

But perhaps I’m overthinking this. Perhaps we need another 80K~ deaths before this analogy is accurate or meaningful.

Beg to differ? Agree to disagree? Send your thoughtful prose on timely topics for consideration to, subject line: The Soapbox

J. Belanger is a freelance writer working out of the Greater Manchester area, covering politics, current events, and science. You can follow him on Twitter @UltraviolentL, or on Facebook.