Letter to the Editor: Different ideas bump up against increasing intolerance

I’m increasingly frustrated by the intolerance of those on the left, who, if you disagree with them, don’t just view you has having a difference of opinion, but view you as ignorant, selfish and, in too many cases, evil.

Take the COVID-19 lockdowns that are steadily destroying the livelihoods of millions of people. Do we really need to destroy our livelihoods and economy to save ourselves? Is there another way that is less disruptive that could protect lives too? Is it necessarily a binary choice?

The global response to the pandemic hasn’t been uniform; different countries have tried different approaches with varying degrees of success. One approach worthy of consideration is that taken by Sweden, which decided to let the virus spread as slowly as possible while sheltering the elderly and vulnerable.

While other Scandinavian countries imposed strict regulations on their residents, Sweden did relatively little. They postponed major sporting events and shut down universities, but otherwise allowed everyday life to continue much as usual. Citizens were asked to avoid nonessential travel, and those ill or older than 70 were asked to stay home, clearly a far less draconian approach than that applied in the United States.

The number of dead currently attributed to COVID-19 in the United States is approximately 90,000, a significant reduction from the 2 million projected if we did nothing. How have the Swedes fared? They have had 1.34 deaths for each death in the United States. Using this multiplier, we would have had 120,000 deaths instead of 90,000. While all death is tragic, we make cost/benefit decisions every day, and often make decisions that entail more risk if the cost is too high.

For example, 40,000 people lose their lives each year in highway fatalities. Nearly all those lives could be saved with a 5-mph speed limit, but we rightfully conclude that saving those 40,000 lives is not worth the cost and inconvenience of a 5-mph speed limit. While an additional 30,000 deaths may sound like a lot, it represents less than one-hundredth of one percent of our population. We lose more than this amount each year in flu deaths, and many voluntarily choose not to get the readily available flu vaccine.

Two doctors in Bakersfield, Calif., were eloquently making exactly this point a few weeks ago in a nationally distributed video that received more than 5 million views. However, YouTube – a Google-owned company – decided it wasout of line and removed it. This censoring is a disturbing development that seems to be gaining traction. Are we not better off with an open discussion of different ideas?

Benefits are generally easier to see than costs and if you only look at the benefit of something, there is little you won’t do. Politicians know this and love promising benefits while concealing their costs, often borne by others. I am certain that those calling for the continuation of the lockdown are not those who’ve lost their jobs, businesses or incomes. More than 30 million people have lost their jobs, and a third of the businesses currently closed are not expected to reopen.

What is equally disturbing is the amount of liberty we have sacrificed to feel a little safer. We have ceded power to federal, state and local governments, and many have been eager to use it. Sad to say, some politicians see the continued destruction of the economy as a way to destroy President Trump. Others see it as an opportunity to implement a socialist agenda with more government control.

Either way, it’s depressing to think our politicians are using this tragedy to their advantage while average citizens bear the cost.

Hylton Phillips-Page
Rehoboth Beach

Helpful Coronavirus links

Delaware Division of Health Coronavirus Page
CDC: About the Coronavirus Disease 2019
CDC: What to do if You Are Sick
Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center
AP News Coronavirus Coverage
Reopening Delaware: Resources for Businesses
Delaware Phase 2 guidance

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