LETTER TO THE EDITOR: Lives more important than economy
If Marty Brand’s letter to the editor published Wednesday (“What’s the limit to economic disruption?”) was intended to stir controversy, he certainly succeeded, in my opinion.
To suggest that there is an economic value limit for even one person’s life represents a fascist orientation reminiscent of World War II-era German leadership. Those “typically” older people Brand suggests should step aside and accept slow death so others can return to a more normal economic condition include the few remaining people who fought to remove the Nazi threat in the mid-20th century. Also included in that older-age group would be those who fought against apparent communist expansion in both Korea and Vietnam. I am certain even some who fought in the Middle East against terrorism could be included in the older-person group of which he speaks.
Moreover, to use the insurance industry as a source to place a value on the life of a person indicates an orientation to valuation I disagree with. Actuarial tables work for insurance purposes but have little validity in deciding who should live and who should die. The working man has sweated and bled to make this country what it is, and those older persons Brand refers to paid for years into the tax and Social Security systems (in my case for 53 years) to build the nation’s infrastructure and to gain what little security is to be had from our great nation’s system, which supposedly provides support for the older American.
The data lends credence to Brand’s statement that deaths are higher among those older-age persons, but he fails to mention that it is higher among older persons who are infected. Analysis of data from China indicates a nearly normal distribution of infections in China occurring across different age groups, with the highest infection rates among the 50-to-59 year-old age group. More importantly, recent data indicates that in the United States, 20% of deaths occurred in those 20 to 64 years of age. Should we ignore such a high rate in that age group? I don’t believe anyone has made that argument yet.
The purposes of the current social prescriptions (self-isolation, improved hygiene or quarantine) to the virus are: 1) to slow the spread among the current population so the country can manage and provide treatment for the number of cases occurring and 2) to reduce the possibility the virus will become a repeating event by becoming so common that eradication becomes more difficult once treatment and prevention techniques are developed. If these goals are achieved, the long-range economic impact will certainly be lessened.
To suggest that allowing the population (not just older or unhealthy persons) exposure to the potentially unchecked spread of the disease to avoid disruption of short-term economic benefits (for some) is short-sighted and selfish.
Sever economic ties with China
Marc Thiessen of the Washington Post Writers Group wrote in his column that was published on March 21, “It may also be time to start practicing social — and economic — distancing from China as well.” Actually, it is long past time. It is, and has been for some time, China’s intent to become the factory of the world. As such, it would control the economy of the entire world and could use its economic power to do anything it wants.
Those of us who have been against a global economy, at least for critical materials, have seen this possibility for a long time. In my letter of May 1, 2018, I stated, “Dependence on a global economy is a giant risk. If countries were to curtail exports such as steel, aluminum, electronics, oil, or clothing to us for any reason, and nationalize our corporate assets in their countries, our way of life would be shattered.” In my letter of Sept. 30, 2019, I asked, “What would we do if a country like China would curtail trade with us as we did with everyone in 1807?”
Thiessen has brought out the point that China supplies 90 percent of our antibiotics along with many other pharmaceuticals. They also provide much of our medical protective equipment.
In the non-medical area, China provides much of our electronic communication equipment. They are the world leader in solar energy technology and modern nuclear technology. We abandoned construction of two Westinghouse AP-1000 nuclear units at V.C. Summer. China has four AP-1000 units running at full power — two at its Sanmen Site and two at its Haiyang Site.
Thiessen pointed out that the Chinese state news agency Xinhua warned that if the Trump administration is not careful, China could ban pharmaceutical exports and plunge the United States “into the hell of a new coronavirus pneumonia epidemic.”
It is high time we take the Chinese threat seriously and end our dependence on them. Think about the devastation it would cause if China actually carried out this threat. Millions of Americans would die from diseases like diabetes and bacterial infections that are manageable with medication. For more than four years, I have been advocating bringing manufacturing back to the United States and becoming independent of foreign manufacturing. Greed got us into the present situation where we are totally vulnerable to such a threat. Maybe now that the threat has actually been voiced, there is a possibility that common sense and the instinct for self-preservation will prevail over greed and we will do what is necessary to remove the threat before it is implemented. After it happens, it’s too late.
LAWRENCE D. WEBER
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