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Assault on America, Day 511: Exploring the difference between shouldn’t and can’t be done

Unemployment and uncertainty
The important distinction between what shouldn’t be done and what can’t be done

“It can’t be done. It’s not that it shouldn’t be done, it can’t be done.” -- Riley Poole (played by Justin Bartha) from the all-time 2004 history-based thriller, National Treasure.

In the scene, Poole was referring to the impossibility of a proposal from fellow passionate history buff Ben Gates to “borrow” the original Declaration of Independence from its tightly guarded quarters at the National Archives building in Washington, DC. To the adventurers, snatching the Declaration wouldn’t exactly be “stealing,” because they were trying to keep the vaunted document out of the hands of real thieves and criminals bent on abusing and possibly destroying the parchment for sinister aims. (Yes, you’d have to see the movie to fully grasp the plot.)

Upon hearing of another doomsday “lockdown” prediction from a CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) official last week, I was reminded of Poole’s immortal words, because we’re entering territory where, as a society, some things can’t be done if we’re to maintain any semblance of sanity and quality of life in America going forward. Cassidy Morrison reported at The Washington Examiner, “Dr. Robert Redfield, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said that the United States could suffer renewed lockdowns later this year, as a resurgence of the coronavirus is likely during flu season.

“’We’ve seen evidence that the concerns it would go south in the southern hemisphere like flu [are coming true], and you’re seeing what’s happening in Brazil now,’ Redfield told the Financial Times Wednesday. ‘And then when the southern hemisphere is over I suspect it will reground itself in the north.’

“Redfield warned that the challenge facing the country in the fall is even greater because renewed outbreaks of the coronavirus would coincide with the seasonal flu. He said that he could not guarantee that further lockdowns would not be needed to control the virus. ‘What I can say is that we are committed to using the time that we have now to get this nation as overprepared as possible,’ he said.”

None of this is particularly new or surprising. Since the earliest days of media reporting on COVID-19 we gathered it was somewhat tied to cooler temperatures (like the flu) and as spring and summer approached the plague would probably take a bit of a hiatus (again, like the flu). Anyone who’s paid attention figured the pandemic wasn’t close to being “over” and that we’ve merely entered a period of “management” until the medical brains solve the vaccine riddle. And finally, incidents of cases … and deaths … would return once the warm season passed.

But to go through a shutdown scenario all over again this fall? Uh-uh. And I’m sure I’m not the only one to wholesale rule it out. It’s not that we shouldn’t do it. We can’t do it, for a lot of reasons.

Now with the Memorial Day holiday in the rearview mirror and June on our doorstep it’s safe to say Americans are reflecting on the events -- or non-events -- of the past few months and looking towards the future with more than a little anticipation of what can’t be done versus what shouldn’t be done. Human beings -- at least some of us -- are intelligent creatures, capable of sifting through competing information dumps to determine the best course for living and survival. Theoretically speaking, each of us is (or should be) smarter than the day before since each 24-hour period invariably brings new data to process.

It used to be called common sense. Plug the facts and figures into your noggin and experience guides each of us on the prudent thing to do.

What we’ve learned through several months of restrictions on social gathering is one, that tens of millions have been thrown out of work through no fault of their own. Two, many of the businesses that employed these newly displaced folks are not coming back, meaning millions upon millions will still be without jobs if and when the government gives the all-clear to resume “normalcy”… if indeed it ever happens.

Three, through study and practice we’ve learned the Chinese Communist Party (CCP or Wuhan) virus isn’t an equal opportunity health threat. True, it managed to infect and kill a significant number of young and healthy individuals, but the vast majority of those who lost their lives are elderly and/or unhealthy in general (a non-PC way of saying preexisting conditions). Therefore, upwards of 90+ percent of the population can travel through the world the same way they always did prior to ever hearing about coronaviruses -- and everything will be okay.

Four, there are demonstrated ways (such as in Florida) to shelter those most vulnerable to sickness, hospitalization and death through good sense measures of isolation and treatment. America’s outstanding medical professionals are learning more every day on how to deal with flare-ups and still allow most everyone to lead “normal” lives.

Five, practically everyone -- even the most ardent dissident -- respects new cultural means of preventing or eliminating the spread of the Chinese disease. Gone are the handshakes and hugs that were part of daily living and we’re okay with keeping our distance at the grocery store and in public (wearing masks? Probably not). So this element of our new reality should open up the world to greater work, travel and to some degree, mixing.

Which leads to the inexorable conclusion that the economy can’t be closed again. Not that it shouldn’t be closed. It can’t be closed again. There’s no such thing as un-ringing a bell and unfortunately, there’s no way to just flip a switch and presto!, everyone will return to the warm and fuzzy days of February where “normal” stuff like impeachment and primaries and the State of the Union Address took place alongside NCAA basketball games, NBA games, NHL games, PGA Tour events and the Super Bowl. And the kids’ weekend bowling league. And school. And actual in-office work.

I didn’t watch it, but the Academy Awards Show was held on February 9 in Los Angeles, which honored (supposedly) the best films of 2019. I can’t say for sure but movie and TV show and music production has probably ceased along with everything else these days so there won’t be any 2020 films to consider next year. For those thinking there’s no more practical use for “awards” like the Oscars, the coronavirus has done the trick!

Regardless, we can’t live like this, primarily because what we’re doing now isn’t “living” at all. The old saying goes that tomorrow is never promised, and it’s true for everyone, not just the elderly or the poor or the sick. A balance must be struck and there’s no way Americans will passively accept a fresh round of closures after being “freed” to live again, no matter how many dire warnings emanate from the CDC. Liberty means assessing the risks and, for lack of a better way to put it, “living” with them.

Society would crumble with extended or reinstated lockdowns. Reports surfaced last week that colleges and universities would suffer $4 billion in losses if the college football season is outright canceled. It’s no secret that big-time football provides seed money for all the other college sports (men’s basketball the lone exception), which means if institutions aren’t able to field teams there won’t be any ticket, concessions, parking -- or TV -- revenues. Schools are already canceling certain sports because of it.

What would happen to all the athletes on scholarship? Or the staff that services the athletes and facilities? The average fan can find other things to do on a Saturday afternoon, but the reverberations from nixing college athletics would be felt all throughout the community. Entire towns and cities could cease to be. So what happens if state economies open and then folks are ordered to call off the balance of the season due to a spike in coronavirus cases?

It’s not that it shouldn’t be done. It can’t be done.

Once the states open their businesses, Americans will face a choice: continue to shelter and protect the most vulnerable (only), or prepare for massive subtractions in the activities and attractions that gave life quality in the first place. There’s no middle ground here, and it’s not even about holding concerts or games without spectators. It’s life, period. It can’t happen.

Joe Biden and Democrats would welcome a new round of fall shutdowns, because they’re selfish

Every kid who’s ever grown up in a place where it snows understands the feeling. You tell your parents that it probably won’t snow enough overnight to cancel school, but you secretly hope it does. Then you see flakes gently falling from the sky… but they don’t stick. Bummer!

Democrats are playing a similar game these days, telling everyone they hope to get the economy opened and people back to work, yet they’re really just delaying the inevitable for their own political gains. While there’re credible arguments for going slower in hotspots like New York City or New Orleans or Detroit, the rationale for shuttering the entire nation is disappearing with each promising report of curve flattening.

And COVID-19 just ain’t that lethal to most folks. It’s redundant to say it.

Polls allegedly show a high percentage of Americans are wary of opening the economy too soon, which seems to coincide with the size of the Democrat base. Opinion surveys also portend to reflect a steady lead for Grampa Joe Biden ahead of November’s election, but the numbers defy reality. Joe simply can’t hide in his coronavirus-proof basement bunker forever, and he won’t be able to conduct a campaign and then go back to sequestration before America votes.

Democrats will argue it’s too “dangerous” to allow in-person voting. But such fears are unfounded. Every jurisdiction already allows absentee balloting for those unable to participate on Election Day. There’s no need to postpone the election, even if some sort of “lockdown” is re-imposed.

Closing again can’t happen. Period.

Experts obsess on the virus, but what about destroying quality of life?

No doubt one of the strangest aspects of the past couple months’ blue state lockdowns (of which I am subject to here in Virginia) is the non-stop drumbeat of pessimism from the medical experts regarding the path of coronavirus and what it will do to America -- and the world -- if it’s left unchecked.

It makes you want to shout at the TV screen, “What will happen if we don’t reopen???”

Which is worse? You decide. Senator Rand Paul and Rep. Andy Biggs wrote last week at USA Today, “Freedom allows us to judge the risk and reward and determine a course we think best.

“If we feel going to a certain retailer, barber shop, restaurant, or some other business is risky, we have the judgment to decide to not go there. If we want to stay home, we can. In the end, Dr. Fauci, Dr. Birx, and others seek to corral our freedom, just as the American people and many of our elected leaders are finding ways to open our society.

“President Trump has expressed a desire to restore our economic greatness and the positives that come with it — including better public health — by opening up our communities. We must forge ahead even as Fauci tries to brush away the optimism of the president and the American people.”

100 percent correct. Americans lived through wars, pandemics (Spanish flu after WWI, Hong Kong flu in the late 60’s, among others), internal insurrections, riots, natural disasters, political disasters (Obama?) and, if you believe the experts and Democrats, scientific plagues such as “climate change.”

The vast majority of citizens used their own good sense to combat the threats without completely shutting down and cowering in the closet at home. Whenever an expert tells you we’re going to be felled by something like the coronavirus, take his or her words with a grain of salt and a pound of skepticism. Have a lot of people died? Heck yeah. But more will inevitably perish if the lockdowns and job killers and life destroying inertia is allowed to flourish.

There’s a definite difference between what shouldn’t and what can’t happen. Opening up the economy is no longer an option, it’s a necessity. The rest is up to individuals to decide. And if a new wave of sicknesses returns in the fall/winter, there’s no going back to lockdown status. It’s never been more clear -- it can’t be done.

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