What’s Wrong with the World

The men signed of the cross of Christ go gaily in the dark.


What’s Wrong with the World is dedicated to the defense of what remains of Christendom, the civilization made by the men of the Cross of Christ. Athwart two hostile Powers we stand: the Jihad and Liberalism...read more

It's been a long year already: My blogging update

Well, it's been a long nine-month year so far.

An e-mail I received yesterday tipped me off to the fact that (newflash) not everybody in the world uses Facebook, and for that reason alone it is possible that there are those who have been readers of W4 in the past who don't know where I've gone and who might be concerned. While W4 is a group blog, and while the last several posts here were actually not written by me, the fact is that I have written a lot of the content in the past. I therefore apologize for having waited so long to say anything here about why the long silence and also apologize in advance for what might seem like the rank egoism of this post on a group blog. (I did check the idea of such a post in general terms with the editor.) It's intended for those readers who might be interested in such an update.

So an update: I'm fine and healthy and among the lucky ones. I have much to give thanks for. The last six months have been psychologically difficult, though I have far less reason to be saying that than so many, many others.

It may well be that Western civilization is finally on its last legs. In fact, I fear that it is. Talk about what's wrong with the world! Here is one of the only recent posts I have written as a blog post (as opposed to posting on Facebook). In it I discuss my position on the Covid lockdowns. I also mention the horribly tragic death of pro-life warrior Mike Adams, which was a great shock and grief, though I had never been privileged to meet him, and I hint at fears that the world is more or less coming to an end.

The events of this year have to some extent had a paralyzing effect on me. I've been especially shocked and shaken by the divisions among conservatives and Christians in light of the pandemic and responses to it, just when we need to be most united. It seems imperative to me for those who serve Goodness, Truth, and Beauty, especially in their incarnate Christian form, to see the need to preserve what is good and beautiful and the extreme danger of destruction and irrecoverable harm (to individuals and groups) caused by shutting down normal life and giving up our freedoms.

I've been truly shocked by the unchecked rioting in our cities, by the wickedly supine and even pro-riot response of too many local and/or state governments, and perhaps most of all by Christians who have made excuses for the evil destruction. I knew the world was bad, but this bad? There was a feeling of impossibility about saying much of anything, especially in such a divided world, and especially on a blog called "What's Wrong With the World."

Yet if things are getting much, much darker in this world, that means it is all the more important, as the title of that post says, to "live right on." (A phrase borrowed from a novel by Wendell Berry.) It's good to be coming out of that feeling of paralysis and sensing that some good things are being accomplished. All the good will not be lost, and nothing that we do for the greatest Good, which is God, can ever finally be lost.

In the words of Our Lord: "Work, for the night cometh, when no man can work." And, "Be of good cheer, for I have overcome the world."

Despite everything, these months have been surprisingly productive for me in terms of writing and other work accomplished. The short version as to why you haven't seen me here more is that I've been working hard on various projects (such as a summer video series and my latest book manuscript) and that the majority of my posting is now being done either in the more ephemeral realm of Facebook (my profile is here) or on my erstwhile personal blog, Extra Thoughts, which has now become a repository for any "traditional" blogging that I do and also for an archive of a lot of past posts.

Long before Covid, the shift of emphasis to Facebook began naturally as a result of my human laziness and an attempt to use a social media platform that more people read. My well-wishers urged that I ought to build a public "social media presence," given my desire to promote my work in New Testament and apologetics, but I was unwilling to do Twitter, so Facebook with public posts was the next-best thing. Of course, now some of my well-wishers are gently suggesting that I need to do Twitter after all and that "nobody" follows authors and scholars on Facebook anymore, because people now think of Facebook as just a place for people to share photos with friends and family, but back in the day (you know, about a year or two ago or so), Facebook was considered an acceptable way for authors who wanted to promote their work to connect with the general public. I still haven't capitulated to Twitter, and if I did, I'd probably be told a year or two after that that "nobody" follows authors on Twitter anymore and that I need to add yet another (now-unimagined) platform. So the world goes. So for the moment, I'm sticking with Facebook. Where does the laziness come in? In the fact that cross-posting is a pain, as is figuring out what is "blog-post-like" enough to deserve to be put on a blog. No matter how often one says, "Oh, I can just post that in two places," one usually doesn't. So I don't usually try to cross-post my blog-like Facebook posts to a blog.

Another factor was this: What's Wrong With the World needs to migrate its web hosting. I won't go into all of the reasons for this, but a migration has been "in the wind" for a long time, and in May it came to be "in the wind" even more. However, we don't know when it is going to be. It's very up in the air and (for reasons) does not lie within our control. Meanwhile, the permanence and stability of posts at W4 (except insofar as they've been crawled by the Wayback machine or preserved in a difficult-to-repost backup file) is in a certain amount of doubt, which has made me reluctant to commit any more serious life's work to this platform.

In fact, I went ahead and had someone (shoutout to Kyle Huitt for the help) do a very simple hand-backup archive of my apologetics, Biblical studies, and Christianity posts to Extra Thoughts for extra peace of mind, since that content is so important to me. It's not an ideal solution, because it looks a little odd to have new posts and old posts intermingled, and linking isn't all consistent, etc. But it gets the job done of keeping the basic content visible, and perhaps some of that old content will come to the attention of new people this way. There's some good content there!

My personal web page (author page, as opposed to a blog) is here. I try to keep this updated from time to time. For example, that page tells you that during this past summer I launched a Youtube channel and produced a detailed new series of videos and blog posts on the errors of literary device views of the Gospels. It also shows that The Mirror or the Mask is now available in Kindle form. My forthcoming book on the Gospel of John is called The Eye of the Beholder. I'm very thankful to say that that manuscript is now with my publisher, and we have hopes of a spring 2021 release.

You can also reach me at lydiamcgrew[at]gmail[dot]com. Please do introduce yourself a bit if you write.

All that being said, please consider following my public content on Facebook for more timely updates. I emphasize: You don't have to be my Facebook "friend" to follow my public content. Just click "follow Lydia." (I usually ignore "friend" requests unless I recognize you as someone I know in some other connection, so please don't take it personally if you "friend" request me and nothing happens. I do use privacy settings to differentiate between public and non-public content.)

Here's the slightly complicated thing: Anybody, with or without a Facebook account, can see the content in a public post if he has the specific link to that post. But only people who have signed up for an account can see my "profile" and can click on "follow" and hence see posts in real-time as they go up or browse through other posts and public content that I've posted. Got that?

I'm a little curious: Are there readers who 1) don't want to join Facebook (and hence cannot "follow" to see all public posts automatically but 2) are willing to click on a link to a specific post that is set to public and 3) would like to know when something really meaty goes up in that form? I might be able to overcome human laziness enough to post a public link to a longer post without having to repost all the content. Let me know in comments if that describes you.

After all of that, herewith follows a "sampler" of some of the longer posts that I've put up recently on Facebook, set to public, with their links. It will give you some idea of what I mean about posting there publicly. Longer public posts like these are interspersed, as I have time, inspiration, and energy, with (public) humorous comments, shared links (both humorous and serious) from various sites, announcements of new Youtube videos on my channel, links to interviews and presentations I'm doing with various hosts, and my shorter serious comments. These posts appear below from most recent to longest ago (top to bottom). Italics are impossible on Facebook in a form that can be seen by all viewers, so please excuse the asterisks.

September 12, 2020:

It's disturbing to me how naive some people are about how bad things will be marketed and excused. One gets the strange feeling that any evil can be excused and accepted as long as some excuse or other is put on top of it involving a "good intent" or a "good point," etc. Are folks really under the impression that evil is going to be marketed to most of us *as* evil? That is ridiculously naive. There will always be some excuse made, while people get used to the evil.


1) If a film maker makes a film that is on its face child pornography, it *doesn't make it okay* that the writer says her intent was to critique the sexualization of children. If you mindlessly repeat that and try to dismiss it as no big deal, you are badly confused. Did you think child sexual exploitation was going to be marketed to us ordinary people with a great big evil, laughing face plastered all over it? Even if the woman is sincere, she herself is then being a tool of the very evil she thinks she is combatting. Let's not be stupid.

2) More controversial example: Were you under the impression that when Christianity is suppressed in totalitarian countries there is no legal fig leaf put on top of that suppression? Then you were uninformed. Even in Communist countries, when teaching Christianity to the young is banned, the *claim* is that this involves sedition, cultism, attempts to overturn the government, and so forth. There is always going to be some excuse. So you can't just say, "The *intent* of people banning Christian worship in our country is related to public health, so this can't be persecution, and we must obey." There is pretty much *always* some allegedly good secular "intent" lying behind laws that suppress religious liberty.

3) Do you really think that the goal of opposing police brutality means that we should make excuses for rioting, burning, and smashing? Well...you know, at that point, I've sort of run out of things to say. The moral confusion there speaks for itself. Suffice it to say that we can always make up some "good cause" and then use that to excuse great evil, and that doesn't make the evil any less evil.

We have to learn to see things as they are. If you're looking around for some reason to downplay something that is evil on its face, where the blunt facts aren't even in question, but you're being asked to excuse it because of some alleged "intent" behind it, ask yourself why you are doing that. And stop.

September 1, 2020

In a recent blog post, Dr. Craig Keener stated: "Noting contradictions in matters of detail, some scholars approach the gospel narratives’ substance with a priori suspicion. (Scholarship associated with the Jesus Seminar, for example, often exemplifies this tendency, although rarely with the absolute suspicion of the populist “Jesus mythers.”) Conversely, some conservative scholars start with a default acceptance of the narratives’ accuracy even down to most details of chronology. Probably the majority of Gospels scholars today fall in the range between these positions, leaving the burden of proof with whoever makes an argument for a particular event or saying."

I must disagree with the last sentence of this quotation, and I consider the disagreement to be a rather important one. There is not a good argument for placing the burden of proof, on a saying-by-saying basis or an event-by-event basis, upon "whoever makes an argument for a particular event or saying." Nor is there a good argument to say that one is otherwise going beyond what objective historical research can establish. The event-by-event approach to Gospels scholarship is incorrect, both epistemologically and historically. Nor is it supported by the fact that the majority of Gospels scholars fall along a wide range as far as their estimate of the Gospels' reliability. That is a mere sociological fact.

Instead, what we not only should do but *can* do is to provide strong arguments *showing* (not assuming a priori) the reliability of the Gospels *as whole documents*. This holistic approach then allows us, *moving forward*, to "accept the narratives' accuracy" including, yes, on matters of chronology, but not as a naive or merely presupposed default. Rather, we can accept that as a well-argued position.

If and when that can be established, it becomes *incorrect* epistemologically to reset to agnosticism for each saying, event, or even (as one scholar did in a recent video supposedly "refuting" my work) each sentence in a dialogue, requiring separate arguments for each sentence, and saying that anything else is "going beyond what historians can verify as historians." Such an approach involves forcing ourselves into a sort of amnesia about the other evidence we have already obtained for that document's reliability.

Notice, too, that to hold that the burden of proof lies on whoever asserts the historicity of an event or saying (a common position in Gospels scholarship) is ipso facto a kind of *negative* use of "criteria of authenticity," because holding that scholars must be agnostic about a given item puts a *ceiling* on the rational probability that an objective, historical scholar can assign to an event. This is true *even if* one adds (which Dr. Keener doesn't get into here, one way or another, but which some do add) that the burden of proof *also* falls upon someone who *denies* historicity. That looks like a kind of even-handedness, but in actual point of fact it establishes a *strong* preference for agnosticism as a default position and, if consistently applied as a principle, blocks the holistic approach.

August 29, 2020

Usually my public posts, where they make such a distinction, are addressed *more* rhetorically to fellow Christians. This one is directed more directly to non-believers who follow my content: Maybe you're an analytic philosopher or other academic, and you've been wondering, "What is a smart person like Lydia doing espousing a weird, superstitious religion? She should focus on her probability work instead." (I am working on probability theory materials right now, but that's not the point here.) Maybe you're thinking that, as a Christian conservative who is pretty anti-lockdown, I'm part of the problem with this world, the very problem or problems that you are most worried about. Maybe you think that I'm well-intentioned but doing harm. I get all of that.

Romans 8:28 says, "We know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them that are the called according to his purpose."

There is no such promise to those who don't know and love God. None. If you think that my religion and/or other opinions are part of what is making things bad in this world, ask yourself: What is your hope in life and in death? Listen: You need Jesus. You need God. You need hope. Whatever it is you are worried about or concerned about, whatever "side" you are on, you need Jesus. And if you *do* have him, then ultimately all things are going to work together for good, and whatever (literally, whatever) you have to suffer in this world will be worth it all.

You think this is flaky sentiment? No, it's harsh reality. It's a religion for saints, sinners, children, and grownups. Because God may call us to die, to suffer. In fact, he pretty much tells us all that we will suffer in this world. The worst things can happen. And do. But Jesus bore all the worst that man can do in his own body on the tree. And Jesus said, "Be of good cheer, I have overcome the world."

Nor do I ask you to accept this just because you have a felt need. I'm an evidentialist, through and through. I believe that it's true because of strong evidence. I'm trying to awaken the felt need, though, so that you will consider that evidence seriously. Life is short. You could die today or tomorrow. You will suffer tragedy and pain at some time in your life, and so, probably, will those you love. Maybe you're suffering it right now, or just seeing it. The world is very dark. You need the Lord. We all do.

August 23, 2020

I’m going to go out on a limb here: I am seriously, seriously concerned that we, including people who ought to be more sensible, are acquiescing far too easily in *long-term*, draconian, unnatural micromanaging of our friendships, our face-to-face connections, our gatherings, our interactions with strangers and acquaintances. This is taking us into a dystopian world.

This is far more serious than most people realize, perhaps because they are still fooling themselves into believing that the requirement that you cover your face and remain at six feet distance from everyone outside of your household is just very temporary, very short-term. But it isn’t. Indeed, it hasn’t been already (look at how many months such nit-picky regulations have been going on, and in fact are getting even worse, even tighter, and with even more people complying). At this point we are heading into permanent or semi-permanent status. Many good things are ending.

Ask yourself: If you believed that all interactions outside of your own “household,” if you’re lucky enough to have a household, had to be carried out with muffled voices, unable to see most of each other’s faces, and unable to come within six feet of each other (and that’s when you’re allowed to gather *at all*), for the next three years, would that change your perspective? Would it lead you to see that there is something problematic here? Five years? Ten years? No dancing, of course. No hugging. No putting your arm around a friend or acquaintance who is suffering if he's outside your "household." Not even seeing most of his face for that matter, nor his seeing yours, unless you carefully manage it so you meet outside (are you *supposed* to get within six feet of him then without a mask???) or meet at a restaurant and go through the hypocrisy of wearing a mask until you are sitting down. Then you get to see his face, hurray! You want to have to go through that little dance, long-term, every time you want to talk "privately" with a friend with your face uncovered? Of course, no spontaneously helping out a stranger where you have to touch each other's hands and are able to see each other’s faces.

No non-family members visiting anybody in hospital. (Think of all the feel-good stories that cashiers right there.) And if someone has Covid, not even family members allowed to visit. The patient in that case must recover or die without personally seeing a human face or even half of the face of his family member, without holding a loved one’s hand. All teaching of kids, depending on whatever security theater your local or state mandates require, must be carried out without getting close to them, and with their and your faces covered up most of the way. Long-term.

Many good things not allowed to take place at all (camps, large gatherings, choral singing, musical concerts, etc.). So if you have a big birthday party over "the limit" and without masks, better hope your neighbor doesn't tell on you. Many joyful industries, ministries, and good things ending for good. People reporting on each other if they violate these rules, governmental functionaries micromanaging how close a teacher steps to a child or how close people get to one another in every public situation.

What if you believed that was going to be the default future nature of our whole society for a long time to come? *Then* would you see that it’s a problem, that much beauty and goodness are going to be lost and that we are right now in a dystopian, dysfunctional situation and that we are taking it much too calmly? Because I tell you, when we take it this calmly and, heaven help us, call it the “new normal,” that may happen. Be careful what you wish for.

Comments (34)

I for one do not have a facebook account and at this point will not get one. Since it seems to be slowly dying the same death as Yahoo and other forerunners, investing time and energy into it seems less than ideal. I would definitely find it useful to have links to your posts.

Twitter is for twits, and whatever my shortcomings, that's not one. Human communication, even before Twitter, was suffering from an immense superficiality. That medium, with its premium on short messages and photos, and the impossibility of saying anything that takes more than a few sentences, adds to the problem, as does its scattershot model.

I enjoyed (and learned a lot) from your two prior books, so I am looking forward to the one on the Gospel of John. It amazes me, though, that even in this day, it takes that long to get a book from "finished" content to actually published. I don't know a thing about the publishing business, but I just heard this week about some publisher being able to go from receiving some comments that "we need more X title" to getting them out within weeks - of course, that's for a title that has already been published.

As we are winding down from what I fervently hope is an isolated singleton of "our summer of discontent", I too have been sickened by seeing the level of degeneracy that our society has fallen to. If we cannot turn away from the degeneracy, our society cannot last, the only question would be what form of insanity it devolves into. And little that has happened in 6 months gives us confidence that we are prepared to reverse direction from the ongoing slide into depravity. Ben Franklin and half of our other Founders mentioned the difficulty of keeping our "enlightened" form of government, as it depends on the citizenry being virtuous. Well, I don't see how any independent observer could be fooled into thinking we are now a virtuous people, so the natural implication is that the Founders were wrong or we are going to lose it. We can hope for the grace needed to enable us to recover; we cannot assume it.

As to the particulars of the "lockdown(s)": I have suffered from it probably as little as anyone around, and yet I doubt the need or even benefit of the ongoing requirements as structured. I doubt that the kinds and degrees of compliance we are getting to the stated rules is very high, and I doubt that no better-designed measures could have been figured out and implemented by this point, with higher actual compliance and equal or better effects. The toll on certain kinds of businesses (and their contribution to society) will be found to have been far harsher than the ongoing lockdown benefits can offset, not to mention non-business effects. And the state-level authorities seem to be unable to grasp the damage to the social fabric. I fear that most of them don't even grasp that there even IS such a thing as the social fabric, believing only in material aspects of reality.

On a more pro-active side, I wonder that nobody has yet suggested allowing (and even urging) cadres of young people voluntarily get the virus, quarantine themselves for the (usually very modest) period of transmission risk, and come out the other end (a) innocculated from it, and (b) able to freely interact with both the sick and the healthy. At this point we are pretty clear that at least according to the averages, the effect on young people is minimal; the effect on toddlers seems to be virtually unnoticeable, but even for youths, teens, and tweens it is very modest. A family of 2 young adults and 2 small kids could "take a week off" and just get the disease and then be free to move about the country. Sure, there are some who would not do so well, but you have to make policy on the statistics.

I'm a little curious: Are there readers who 1) don't want to join Facebook (and hence cannot "follow" to see all public posts automatically but 2) are willing to click on a link to a specific post that is set to public and 3) would like to know when something really meaty goes up in that form?

Yes, yes, a thousand times yes!!

Tony, people *have* talked about that, but of course it's considered unethical. Moreover, there is so much controversy about how long-lived the immunity is, and so much politicization to the answer, that (literally) a local lab that had an antibody test available couldn't get enough interest in it to manufacture them. When you mention to anybody that you think you've had the illness, they just casually state as if it's a known fact, "Wellll, but you can get it again, you know." The question of whether you can "get it again" is a very live one, and we get crossed signals all the time about how long-term the immunity is. Indeed, it's highly weird for there to be all this effort put into developing a vaccine if you're literally able to get ill again a few months later (as some of the more pessimistic reports have stated). The claim is that a vaccine would somehow cause longer-term immunity than getting ill, but I have not seen even a mechanism suggested for this distinction. It has something of the look of a medical urban legend.

Scott, for some of the past posts I'll put up some links and unformatted quotes, as in the body of this one, in a new post. And I'll try to get off my duff to put links on a more on-going basis. For my Facebook posts that went along with my summer blog series, I think that content ended up making it into the blog posts over at Extra Thoughts.

My publisher is actually much faster than a lot of other presses that do academic books. The chief reason for delay is that we want to give blurbers lots of time. It's a hefty book, and if a busy scholar accepts a review copy and you want his endorsement, it's best to give him a generous amount of time. That also makes it clear that you're seriously wanting him to have a good look at it. Not necessarily to read every word but to read a decent portion of it, possibly even all of it. This shows that I'm not asking just for a "social endorsement" where everybody is just supposed to "understand" that the endorsement doesn't mean anything. So many reviewers refuse to read manuscripts on the grounds that if they said "yes" they'd never do anything else, because everybody is writing books and everybody wants endorsements, especially from named scholars. So we try to be really courteous about that and give them plenty of time. In the meanwhile, we work on things like the cover design and (biiig project) the indexing. I do all my indexing myself. TMOM had three indices, and Eye of the Beholder probably will as well--a subject index, Scripture index, and author index. But we have to get the pagination down solidly after checking the proofs again before I can begin indexing.

I tried to register for Facebook but screwed up the photo part and now I apparently can't get past the Level 5 security clearance to have an account. Probably just as well. Another place I can't be tempted by Wrath if I can't see it.

The question of whether you can "get it again" is a very live one, and we get crossed signals all the time about how long-term the immunity is.

Yeah, I have heard that debate a little, but I tuned it out very quickly. It was manifest that it was cooked up, out of whole cloth, by those with an agenda - perhaps several different agendas, I don't know. It hasn't a SHRED of basis for it, and EVERYTHING we know about the mechanisms of vaccines stands against it. As far as I am concerned, people who want to make a mountain of this microscopic bump are to be accorded all the time and interest that we give Flat-Earhers who are sure we are being controlled by space aliens among us.

people *have* talked about that, but of course it's considered unethical.

I suppose that all the moms in the 1980s to early 2000s who intentionally exposed their kids to the chicken pox (at an opportune moment, during summer vacation) should be prosecuted for crimes against humanity. We all KNOW that there are a few bad outcomes from chicken pox, right?

Right now, there isn't any provision in the current mandate even for people who can show by copious documentation that they have had and recovered from Covid-19 to "live normal lives." E.g. There is no exception in the face mask requirements or the social distancing requirements in executive orders and other rules. OSHA won't refrain from fining a small business if it doesn't require masking but can show that all its workers have had and recovered from the disease, etc. And just yesterday a news story emerged that the head of the CDC suggested that perhaps even vaccinated people should continue wearing masks if a vaccine is "only 70% effective." So it appears that the powers that be may be gearing up to require everyone in the country (practically) to wear masks everywhere permanently. Which is a little unnerving.

It's interesting how much experience varies based on what state you're in. In Georgia, where the lockdown began easing in late April, all the grueling stuff appears fairly distant in the rearview mirror. My children have been in school for a month, with sports practices beginning a month before that. I called the lines at a daughter's volleyball match and ran the pitching machine at Little League earlier this week. The school still restricts the crowd to immediate family, but even that has eased a bit to allow grandparents. Everything could go south in a hurry, of course, but so far, so good.

Our church reopened for in-person worship in early June, though we backed off attending (returning to the livestream) for a number of weeks mid-summer due to the alarming spike in cases, hospitalizations and deaths. Gov. Kemp strongly recommends masks, but refuses to mandate them. Having read, back in 2015, this monster article on airborne transmission, droplets, aerosols, and masks ( https://www.thenewatlantis.com/publications/the-ebola-gamble ), I started wearing them in indoor public settings in March, WHO and CDC recommendations be damned. It was clear to me that, in addition to a possible noble lie to preserve PPE for medical personnel, these experts were also letting the perfect be the enemy of the good. There's a gradation of protection. The analogy is to a seat-belt: sure, a head-on collision at 70 mph will kill everyone, seat-belt or no seat-belt, but its foolish to count that as an argument against seat-belts; in many other, less traumatic accidents, the seat-belt will save your life.

The lassitude in assimilating what we learn about the virus remains frustrating. For instance, it's pretty clear that the risk of contagion, from sick person A, to a surface, and then on to healthy person B, is very low. Primary transmission is close human contact: direct infection from person A to B. CV-19 is not a hardy virus; it perishes very quickly outside human cells. We can probably lay off soaking every surface with Lysol, deep-cleaning offices, classrooms and gyms every hour, wiping down groceries, and so forth. Resources would be better used on improving indoor ventilation sanitizing methods.

I've also been frustrated by the reluctance or incapacity of the government to distribute rapid tests to the public. It would be a rounding error on these gigantic relief bills Congress has passed to purchase rapid tests for any American who wants them. The usefulness seems so obvious to me. Say a family from several areas wants to meet at the beach: Let each household procure some rapid tests and test everyone before they leave and when they get there. At ~90% accuracy the risk migration is enormous, not to mention the peace of mind. If someone pops a positive, immediately seek out the more sensitive PCR test. The paternalism which characterizes some expert responses to this idea appalls me. A population that routine manages to use pregnancy tests, blood-sugar tests, biologic medicine injections, etc., won't be able to figure these tests out? Please.

As for the immunity, there is some doubt that antibodies constitute the chief means by which it is achieved. I don't claim to fully understand the science here, but some evidence suggests the real action is with T-cells: https://www.nih.gov/news-events/nih-research-matters/immune-cells-common-cold-may-recognize-sars-cov-2

Finally, I would say, gently, that it is incumbent upon "COVID doves" to reflect on the fact that some countries have handled this much better than we have. Taiwan, right next door to the original outbreak, and with one of the densest populations on earth, barely crested 500 cases and 7 total deaths, a remarkable feat that has still not been explained to my satisfaction. But all over Asia and the Pacific islands, short but full-scale lockdowns, combined with real contact tracing and universal masking (it also helps being an island), resulted in a return to almost-normalcy by early summer. Perhaps this was never a realistic option for us, but if so, it's worth examining why.

I have a much stronger negative view of the effects of "universal masking" on freedom, society at large, etc.

And the whole "real contact tracing" thing is dystopian and is precisely the problem with casual testing of apparently healthy people. If the family wanting to visit the beach gets tested "just because" or "for peace of mind," and one child tests positive, they massively disrupt not only their own lives but the lives of all sorts of perfectly healthy children who just happened to be unlucky enough to sit near their child at school. People who have "been in contact with" someone who tested positive are required to quarantine just as if they themselves had tested positive, which is frankly ridiculous and massively disruptive to society. Such unnecessary tests also increase the "case count" numbers even if not a single member of their family shows any symptoms, at any time, which in turn leads to arguments for re-locking-down entire counties and states, even when hospitals are nowhere close to being overwhelmed and death counts are not rising. If anything, increasing testing is doing a lot of harm, given that our leaders are making distinctions based entirely on case counts, not on death counts or hospital capacity or strain. If the virus *did* mutate to the point of being significantly less dangerous, we'd never even be taking that into account in our public policy, as long as all of our policy is being made on the basis of case counts discovered by testing! I would at this point *strongly* advise anyone who asked me against testing an apparently healthy person just for "peace of mind."

This isn't the bubonic plague, and we need to stop treating it as if it is.

And if it were the bubonic plague, the horrific isolation we have imposed on sick people, denying them even the presence of a family member when they are dying, denying them the Sacraments, etc., is inhuman to the point of being evil. Denying human contact, Sacraments, and religious meeting even to *healthy* people in the form of lockdown is both evil *and* insane.

Agreed on that last point. The isolation is indeed horrific and needs to stop.

I also agree that focusing on the case count in most situations is less than useless. Changes in case counts over time provide some valuable data -- rolling 7-day averages and so forth -- but hospital utilization and deaths are the key measures. That said, we have good reason now to believe that even many "mild" cases are only mild in a clinical sense -- they required no hospitalization. To the person infected there's nothing "mild" about it. Weeks and even months of ruined health with all sorts of frightening symptoms. And we have minimal visibility on truly long-term health effects. In light of these things, I find very puzzling the suggestion that it would be better not to know where the virus is spreading. Operating in the dark means every sore throat or mild fever has to be treated with a superabundance of caution, or alternatively with a callousness that ill-becomes a responsible citizen.

In my mind we want to get to testing that is cheap, easy and ubiquitous. That combined with masks amounts to the best option to avoid the more draconian measures, such as what Europe is re-imposing right now. The sports leagues have demonstrated the effectiveness of this approach.

For instance, our church asks everyone to take their temperature before attending, and stay home if it hits triple digits. The school checks everyone's temperature at every entrance. That is a very blunt approach. We don't even know how reliable fever is as an indicator of CV-19. Supplement this with a rapid test and you've gone from having to rely on a broadsword for precision work to having available a scalpel as well.

No, this is not bubonic plague, but there was a 2013 study which estimated that, were the 1918 influenza to emerge today, as a novel pathogen, it would inflict 188,000 - 330,000 deaths in America. In other words, COVID range. Our medical advances have been enormous, and are often taken for granted. 1918 had no method of artificial oxygen of any kind, no steroids, no anti-viral drugs, no antibiotics for secondary bacterial infection, and only rudimentary anti-inflammatory treatments. Throw COVID-19 back to 1918 and it may have been markedly worse than that flu virus. Throw it back to 5th century BC Greece and maybe it's worse than the Plague of Athens during the Peloponnesian War.

"In light of these things, I find very puzzling the suggestion that it would be better not to know where the virus is spreading."

If we had greater wisdom and fewer totalitarian instincts among our leaders, maybe it wouldn't be. It would just be neutral information. But even you and I disagree about what counts as "wisdom" and "totalitarian" in this context, so all the more so I disagree *strongly* with the actual governors and health officials who are making use of that information. Information is power. We should already have known that in the 21st century. And this is private information that informs moment-to-moment judgements about what is more important than what, which is not something that scientists have any special expertise in. Heck, I'm not at all sure they're even doing a good job drawing conclusions about what they *do* supposedly have expertise in, much less the further decisions about what is most important, what is worth giving up or harming, etc. Collecting and giving that information out unnecessarily is *before our very eyes* causing immeasurable harm via meddling with things that these officials manifestly do not understand and do not know how properly to value (like economic effects, psychology, religious practice, and many more). Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me. Anyone who continues to advocate doing more and more unnecessary testing and handing the private information about individual people's test results and everywhere they have been in the past two weeks to powerful bureaucrats and saying, "What's the harm? Shouldn't we want to know?"...I'm sorry, Paul, but IMO that person isn't really paying sufficient attention to what has been going on for the past six months. Or isn't evaluating it correctly.

It pretty much defines "dystopian" for innocent people, not even accused of any crime whatsoever, to feel that they have a moral obligation (much less for them to be coerced by legal sanctions of any kind) to tell the government (!) the names of *every person with whom they had a 15-minute face-to-face conversation recently*. It's all the more dystopian for people to be pressured to do this when they know full-well that those officials will then make contact with those also-innocent friends, acquaintances, people whom you helped, etc., and attempt to use heavy pressure if not coercion *on them* to engage in major disruption of *their* lives, merely because they *might* have an illness of which they are not even showing any symptoms. That's "real contact tracing." And that's a level of violation of privacy and un-sentenced curtailment of personal freedom that I frankly could not have imagined any conservative or lover of the American republic advocating even a year ago, much less ten or fifteen years ago.

I will go farther: The shutdowns shouldn't even be an option. They are blatantly unconstitutional and wrong on so many fronts that I probably can't even list them all. Right on their face, the shutdowns are in flagrant violation of the due process clause, the takings clause, freedom of religion, and the freedom of assembly clause. It's not a matter of "let's force everybody to do x so we don't 'have' to do more draconian things." Bullshit. The "more draconian things" shouldn't even be on the table.

And I strongly question whether forcing every innocent adult in the country to wear a particular item of clothing for most of their daily activities can be justified constitutionally either, and all the less so when carried out by executive rather than legislative action. We are talking here about the government's literally trying to tell you *how far you have to stand* from everybody outside of your own "household," if you're lucky enough to have a household, whom you can *touch* (literally, whom you can touch), with whom you *may* have an in-person conversation in which the two of you can see each other's faces uncovered. That this degree of micromanagement of the entire citizenry across the board, accused of no crime at all, the vast majority of whom are not (as far as evidence shows) even ill, does not violate due process is highly doubtful, and yet that is the *less* draconian approach, because the government is graciously *allowing* people to go out at all, to open businesses at all, to have some (small) number of people into their private homes at all, etc. While being told whether or not they can touch them or talk to them without masks on.

When done by sheer governor's fiat, such "less draconian" policies are pretty obviously unconstitutional both under the federal guarantee of a republican form of government to every state and under the separation of powers guaranteed in (as far as I know) every state constitution.

This should just be basic if one has been cherishing the country the founders founded. You can't just throw out everything you knew and believed before about not giving up freedom to the government because THERE'S A PANDEMIC, and suddenly the government gets to micromanage everybody's life from day to day (literally) in the most intimate ways imaginable.

Your concerns are entirely legitimate with respect to government mandates, but again I'm struck by the variance across regions. Georgia's mandates, since late April, are minimal, with almost all public health orders now on the order of a recommendation. Gov. Kemp has regularly used legal devices to undermine municipal mandates.

How do you feel about mask mandates emanating from private enterprises? Those are the ones I encounter, though I have never personally seen an attempt at enforcement.

The shutdowns shouldn't even be an option. They are blatantly unconstitutional and wrong on so many fronts that I probably can't even list them all.

You may be right on the constitutional question. It would be interesting to see this tested in court. The vast majority of these government mandates do arise from statutory laws of some antiquity. Here's the relevant statute in Georgia law, last revised ten years ago: https://law.justia.com/codes/georgia/2010/title-38/chapter-3/article-3/part-1/38-3-51

To be clear about my point about rapid testing: I want no part of mandated testing. I want the tests made available. I think Congress should appropriate funds to purchase them for anyone who wants them. I'd love to have them for our school, our church, my place of business, my household. The Atlanta Braves could probably bring back fans to their games with a robust rapid testing regime. All kinds of public entertainment could begin to resume. The inconvenience would be noticeable, but hardly insurmountable.

But this is 2020, so I have almost zero hope that it will happen.

Well, I mean, no, that wouldn't happen, even if the tests were made widely available for voluntary use. For many reasons. For one thing, widespread testing would probably lead to higher case counts, leading to greater restrictions on everybody. For another thing, widespread testing (including voluntary) would mean that a bunch of people were forced either by their employers, children's schools, or by government to be quarantined. And that would include tons of people who were merely "contacts," not just those who tested positive. For a third thing, you could be infected the day after you got tested just by going to the grocery store or whatever, so the extent to which widespread available testing would bring peace of mind and normalcy would be extremely limited.

I should add, Lydia, that I thought very highly of your "Live right on" post.

Here's an anecdote that may be of interest. For several years until he left the company, an employee with decades of service reported to me; often in his review session, he would boast of having never called out from work. To him this was emphatically a badge of honor. To a degree it was. But never in 30 years? Calling out from work for dishonest or frivolous reasons, like ... say, a hangover, works out as jackass conduct in my firm opinion; but so does showing up for work when you're unmistakably sick. I make exceptions, of course, for truly essential posts and for jobs that do not permit time off. But regular old office work? Dude, stay home. We don't want your flu, we don't want your stomach bug, we don't even want your damn common cold. And you sure as hell don't want to pass it to the guy who just returned from work from long-term leave for cancer treatments, or the pregnant lady you sit next to. Call out if you're sick.

What bothers me about some among the COVID hawks, when they're in certain moods, is rhetoric which it is difficult to distinguish from a declaration of a right to infect people rather than be inconvenienced. Leave COVID out of it, even. I was of this opinion before this particular plague afflicted us. To the extent possible, confine yourself to quarters when ill with an infectious pathogen.

There are times when a man, of necessity, must power through public activity despite knowingly carrying such a pathogen. There are other times when he judges the severity of the pathogen, let us say, below the threshold of ceasing public activity even of an optional sort. All these judgment calls depend on circumstances.

But in the end, there are many, many situations where the kindly thing to do, the neighborly thing to do, indeed the responsible thing to do, is to quarantine yourself and convalesce at home for a time: not so much because you feel really miserable and bedridden, but because you desire to minimize the spread of the illness.

To put the fine point on it, "don't get other people sick" hardly strikes me as inherently totalitarian.

Sorry, I meant "what bothers me about some among the COVID doves" and it occurs to me that the whole terminology itself may be obscure.

COVID hawks want strong anti-pandemic measures, including tests, masks, contact tracing and even, off at the end, lockdowns.

COVID doves, suspicious of all that, think the situation, while serious, is very much overblown.

But that principle allows for all manner of fine-grained prudential decisions on the part of the person in question who has a common cold, etc. If nothing else, it allows him to decide to stay home for only a couple of days, not *fourteen days*. It also allows him to decide to go to the grocery store if he has no family to bring him food, taking legitimate precautions like hand-washing, rather than literally quarantining. It allows his own friends to decide to see him if they want to risk his cold (which he informs them about), or hug him, or whatever. In other words, it leaves these decisions to the normal risk-benefit calculation of all sorts of different people, which is highly complex, and which will vary enormously. Being literally quarantined for fourteen days is far more than merely a minor personal inconvenience. And being literally quarantined for fourteen days when you have zero symptoms and have not even tested positive for an illness, just because you sat next to someone and had a conversation with him and *he* tested positive for an illness, is nuts. All of these complicated, varying risk-benefit decisions are being flattened out. And the rhetoric of "rather than being inconvenienced" or "be a good neighbor" applied to the draconian, unnatural, one-size-fits-all rules, which are massively altering civil society, is ridiculous in itself. Nonsense. My neighbor may need a hug. My neighbor may need to see people without masks. My neighbor may need incarnate friendship and worship, which he can't get when everybody is "practicing social distancing" and wearing masks and quarantining. When "don't get other people sick" takes the form of the rules we actually have, yes, it is very much inherently totalitarian. And frighteningly so.

Lydia should just openly post a "Don't tread on me" flag as the banner on her blog. :)

At ~90% accuracy the risk migration is enormous, not to mention the peace of mind. If someone pops a positive, immediately seek out the more sensitive PCR test.

The only thing with 90% detection is a CT scan of the lungs. The PCR is technically accurate but only somewhat sensitive, approx. 30% of tests give false negatives. A related factor regarding testing is that after exposure it takes at least three days for the viral load to accumulate to a level it can be detected. So if you are exposed to someone who was sick you would need to quarantine at least four or five days to wait for the virus to buildup and then a day or two for test results. From what I've read, the antibody test is very inaccurate (with false negatives and positives) and should only be used as a gauge of spread through a population, not as an individual diagnostic.

This isn't the bubonic plague, and we need to stop treating it as if it is.

I heard a joke about this: Americans can no longer use the phrase "avoid X like the plague." Because we clearly cannot.

So "draconian measures" would be acceptable if it was the bubonic plague? You cannot seriously talk about dystopian loss of American freedoms and then turn on a dime to say, "Of course I would sacrifice those for the greater good if only...".

I'm old enough to remember when the entire conservative media hyperventilated over eleven American Ebola patients. Now with 200,000 Americans dead and counting there is instead attacks against any attempts to contain or prevent this disease. I will also dispute the notion that only a high death count is deserving of imposing restrictions. Long-term and crippling health effects are also deserving. Keep in mind that about half of asymptomatic people have some (presumably mild and recoverable) level of lung damage from this cursed disease.

You cannot seriously talk about dystopian loss of American freedoms and then turn on a dime to say, "Of course I would sacrifice those for the greater good if only...".

I actually kind of went on and addressed that in the very next comment there. Yes, the legal imposition of the things would still unconstitutional power-grabs even if it were the bubonic plague. *Some* things vaguely *in this neighborhood* might make more sense as *voluntary* risk-mitigation strategies if it weren't. Others wouldn't.

But frankly, I regard such hypotheticals as unprofitable, because we are in the situation we are in, not one that is radically different. And in the situation that we are in, I frankly feel like I'm occupying the Twilight Zone when the radical measures, imposed upon all *perfectly healthy people*, that are actually in place, are not recognized as the dystopian, society-altering overreactions that they really are, by otherwise, previously sensible people.

I frankly feel like I'm occupying the Twilight Zone when the radical measures, imposed upon all *perfectly healthy people*, that are actually in place, are not recognized as the dystopian, society-altering overreactions that they really are, by otherwise, previously sensible people.

So are you opposed to any and all public safety measures? Because it sure seems like that is where your argument quickly leads. If you want to say there should be no seat belt laws, or limits on building occupancy, or that even private businesses cannot enforce a "no shirt, no shoes, no service" rule on their own premises then your baseline for what counts as an insane overreaction is as opposed to reality as the measures "radically imposed" upon healthy people during a pandemic.

No. I'm not saying that. Obviously. These are matters of prudence and tradeoffs. There are constitutional ways of passing public safety laws. Some of them that you think are not unduly burdensome, I might think are. Perhaps even vice versa. And so forth. That's what we have legislatures for. That's what we have a legislative process for. That's what we have legislative debate for about how burdensome and unnatural a rule is. That's why even public health authorities to whom (in my opinion unwisely and with dubious constitutionality) various legislatures have turned over some rule making will have a period of consideration and public comment for their rule-making.

And "no shirt, no shoes" is much different from "no mask." The face is important to normal social interaction. If you don't think it is, I can't help you. Masking the entire populace is a major social change, and not for the better. Even for some physical health reasons, by the way. But we are talking about governors requiring business to require it in any event, which is not the same thing as individual businesses deciding for themselves. And we are talking about rules literally trying to tell you how far away you have to stand from people in your own home, in churches, etc.. In Canada they just lowered the number of people allowed to gather in private homes *as opposed to* businesses, to ten. Why? Because of a lack of "monitoring" in private homes to make sure that people are "maintaining social distancing." This is insane. But yeah, just go ahead and make analogies to whatever else you want to make an analogy to. I'm sure it'll stick.

Look, I've already had these tedious discussions ad nauseum on social media. Seriously, can't you just think up my reasonable responses to these weak analogies for yourself/yourselves? Do I seriously have to point out the disanalogies? Do I seriously have to point out that one guy deciding to stay home for a day because he has a cold is not even close to requiring all of this two-week quarantining and masking of healthy people? (Not to mention the fact that even Anthony Fauci says the common cold may provide some protection from Covid, so "Don't expose anybody to any common cold germs" is not necessarily a good guide even to private behavior, much less public policy. The immune system needs to build its library, or we're all going to turn into the boy in the plastic bubble.) Turning the entire populace into OCD Mr. Monks, making literal germophobia a great social virtue, is not the world's brightest idea. And saying that doesn't mean "you're opposed to all public health policies." Obviously.

Because you know what, chaps? If I do have to point all this stuff out, then that probably means there's no point in my doing so. If you get my drift.

Which is part of why I don't blog anymore. Now I ignore a lot of these (sorry) clueless questions and extrapolations on social media, too.

These are matters of prudence and tradeoffs.

Fine, name some involuntary tradeoffs regarding COVID you would consider prudential.

And "no shirt, no shoes" is much different from "no mask."

You were the one who originally complained about being forced to wear a particular item of clothing. Businesses can require particular clothing or they can't. The deflection about social interactions doesn't matter a bit in that regard.

But yeah, just go ahead and make analogies to whatever else you want to make an analogy to. I'm sure it'll stick.

Yep, I will. The claim that an analogy must be entirely equivalent to make a general point is mind-numbing from someone who has spent as much time in philosophical circles as you have. Your fundamental error is in thinking that innocent and healthy are related in any form. The virus doesn't care, all it needs are vectors of transmission.

Right now, there isn't any provision in the current mandate even for people who can show by copious documentation that they have had and recovered from Covid-19 to "live normal lives." E.g. There is no exception in the face mask requirements or the social distancing requirements in executive orders and other rules. OSHA won't refrain from fining a small business if it doesn't require masking but can show that all its workers have had and recovered from the disease, etc.

I know. This is another in long train of errors and missed opportunities by the authorities.

In my mind we want to get to testing that is cheap, easy and ubiquitous.

Yet another... wait, I said that already.

Anyone who continues to advocate doing more and more unnecessary testing and handing the private information about individual people's test results and everywhere they have been in the past two weeks to powerful bureaucrats and saying, "What's the harm? Shouldn't we want to know?

I was initially in favor of using technology, such as cell phone tracing, to enable people to know if they were in contact with someone with COVID. Then the privacy issues came up, and I backed away from it. Arguably, if it could be done privately, it would be a good thing. But who can be confident that the information won't be misused? Especially by the government? And (much more seriously), who can imagine that generating the system by which the information is collected will not forge a pathway for a future government mandate to (mis)use that information? Maybe there is a good place to balance the competing needs here, but I am not seeing one.

I will go farther: The shutdowns shouldn't even be an option. They are blatantly unconstitutional and wrong on so many fronts that I probably can't even list them all. Right on their face, the shutdowns are in flagrant violation of the due process clause, the takings clause, freedom of religion, and the freedom of assembly clause. It's not a matter of "let's force everybody to do x so we don't 'have' to do more draconian things." Bullshit. The "more draconian things" shouldn't even be on the table.

I thought that too, until I started looking at actual laws and history. State government powers (such as under martial law) are pretty drastic / exhaustive. Under martial law, the government can order you to stay indoors, or order you not to assemble, or order you to evacuate, and can commandeer your car, or take your house if needed for something. These have ALWAYS been part of emergency powers of sovereign governments. Under emergencies like an invasion, the governor can order darn near anything with regard to property, in dealing with the problem.

Admittedly, martial events like an invasion are different from the current "emergency", but as Paul showed with Georgia law, the LAWS for the two categories are written in the same provisions of state code. So, I am not at all confident that it is TRUE that the requirements under the shut-downs are actually unconstitutional. Maybe they should be, but that's a different story.

(By the bye, the provision in Georgia's code got me to thinking, yet again, how darn STUPID it is that state laws that refer to / allow the authorities to take your property and do something else with it that they need is put under the expression "condemnation". As if taking your house over as a staging point for some attack or a forward depot for supplies is comparable to city health officials finding that it is riddled with termites and is ready to fall down at one good door-slam. I would have thought that someone somewhere would have realized that they can construct a perfectly good term for forcefully taking property for state use in the emergency that ISN'T "condemn", such as "commandeer". But no, I guess the lawyers who write this stuff are too stupid / hidebound to think of that.)

I agree, Tony. These emergency-powers laws are quite comprehensive. Alarmingly so. Maybe they shouldn't be. Maybe public health crises should be excluded. Maybe CV-19 doesn't rise to that level. But the laws are what they are. I suppose it would be possible to challenge them, constitutionally, via the Incorporation Doctrine; possibly a lawsuit along those lines will percolate out of this mess.

Step2: surely you're aware of how thorough has been the discredit of public health authorities vis-a-vis the protests, demonstrations and riots, right? Mayor de Blaiso flat out announced in June that he would exclude BLM demonstrators from all contact-tracing efforts. That at least contained the virtue of honesty. But why bother with transmission mitigation efforts while excluding major concentrations of human close-contact activity? Might as well just go Full Sweden.

But the laws are what they are. I suppose it would be possible to challenge them, constitutionally, via the Incorporation Doctrine; possibly a lawsuit along those lines will percolate out of this mess.

I have a fairly strong sense that this HAS been dealt with in Con Law arenas, and is settled. I can't point to a specific ruling, though. But take the 1st amendment provision for free speech: there is a whole LIST of exceptions to it: lying, libel, incitement, and selling secrets to the enemy are all forbidden by law, and are all accepted in spite of the 1st Amendment. I know that martial law is similarly an allowed category of "we don't follow the usual protections" for at least some of what the Amendments protect - no freedom of assembly, for example, and no freedom from seizure of your property. I strongly suspect the same exception principles will apply to epidemics.

But why bother with transmission mitigation efforts while excluding major concentrations of human close-contact activity?

Who has suggested there should be major exclusions? It certainly wasn't me or anyone else motivated by public health, which clearly does not include the mayor of NYC who is at best an inept, craven politician.

Might as well just go Full Sweden.

As far as I'm concerned that is the official policy of the US federal government. During his recent town hall Trump mangled the concept by calling it herd mentality, but at least it was an admission of the actual agenda. Moreover, the Swedish people in many cases went above and beyond the recommended guidelines and have done better at social distancing overall. Nor did they have a fractured government response where one element was in pure denial and falsely claiming it was a hoax. Yet even with those advantages they are still nowhere close to achieving herd immunity.

Despite the actual misguided policy, here is a little visualizer and math tutorial on the effects of wearing a mask.

Step2, setting aside what our blathering President has said, what specifically is it that you think the federal government should have done differently in these last 7 months? Keeping in mind the difference between federal roles and state roles?

The most important thing was to be honest with the public. We know from the Woodward tapes that the White House, including the President, knew specific details about how dangerous the disease was back in early February. All the happy talk since then has been an exercise in deceit. The insipid defense that Trump didn't want to create a panic is absurd, his Twitter feed is filled with panic-inducing conspiracies and wild accusations of every sort.

The next most important thing was to lead a coordinated national response. They instead let the states fight each other for critical supplies, sometimes even on the black market. In some places the feds confiscated those state supplies for their own purposes. While Trump did invoke the Defense Production Act, to the best of my knowledge not a single company has been affected by it.

Another important thing was to model safe behavior that the public should follow. A hopeless cause for sure with the ringmaster of this circus.

So, setting aside what Trump has said,

The next most important thing was to lead a coordinated national response.

But taking into account what is a federal role and what is a state role, what is it that constitutes "a coordinated national response"? That's kind of what I meant. Trump could not, for example, invoke state governors' powers to push a lockdown in NYC and then not in North Dakota, could he?

I have been saying since Day 1 that Trump could have used federal money to get testing kits out and available in the multi-billions. With the fast-working tests possible, we could by now be crafting not "lockdown" regimes but "test and prove" regimes that allow people to go most places with a few minutes of wait time. AND be reducing the spread by leaps and bounds, at the same time.

What else? Is there a federal power to prevent states from "fighting over critical supplies", and if so, how?

Is there a federal power to prevent states from "fighting over critical supplies", and if so, how?

Trump could have invoked and used the authority of the Defense Production Act to prepare back in February so that the shortages would not have been so severe. The feds could also have directed those supplies based on objective criteria of cases per population, hospitalizations, etc.. There are all sorts of situations, and especially emergency situations, where the federal government acts in either a leading or a supporting role with state governments to achieve mutual goals. It isn't strictly or entirely a situation of state vs. federal power, often there is enough overlap for them to act in partnership.

I haven't been around these parts for many a year, and may not be welcome, but I happened upon this post while looking for sensible commentary on the draconian "public health" measures imposed by certain governors, and found Lydia's Live Right On post quite on point. I might quibble here and there, but that would be of no particular merit.

The thing that has really bothered me throughout this entire crisis, such as it is, or has been made, is the moral theory implicit in the ukases issued by public authorities, mandating this and that, all for the ostensible purpose of avoiding transmission of the virus, with the manifest implication that, were one not to need all of the mandates, one would somehow be morally culpable for possibly transmitting the virus. The occasional politician, addled by self-righteousness, has arisen to suggest that, in such cases, one should be criminally charged. Under what plausible theory of the case, I should like to know.

The problem I have with the implicit moral theory is that, at some level, we are proposing moral judgment for what is essentially an aleatory event, something random, and largely beyond human control - and sometimes even beyond human mitigation - *unless* we presuppose a proto-totalitarian level of information gathering, surveillance, and statistical analysis that, hypothetically, could correlate contacts between persons with infections (contact tracing in Minority Report, lets say) with a high degree of accuracy. Now, this is not really possible. But the real issue is that we should not wish it to be possible, nor should we act in such a way as to suggest that we are trying to make it possible, because by doing so we would be obliterating countless other goods of human flourishing that we should wish to preserve, and that can only be preserved by balancing the many such goods that we do, and should value. And, unfortunately for the OCD, that balancing will entail risk of all kinds. There is something satanic about requiring someone to die alone, or even to confront the possibility of death alone, for fear of viral transmission. Yes, satanic. There is something even more satanic, were it possible, to deny a dying person last rites, for fear of viral transmission. There is something satanic about the rush to impose mandatory, involuntary DNRs, and the abrogation of normal CPR procedures, with the recommendation, basically, of 'because covid, just wait for the ambulance', which will mean for many, simply, death. To take just three examples.

The moral theory implicit in this - in my opinion - overreaction either assigns responsibility to people for things that they cannot be responsible for, or assigns them responsibility for things that they *can* be responsible for, but only on the presupposition of both a totalitarian system of biosecurity and the abrogation of all other human goods (including fundamental stability of life: I know people who have had to quit jobs to avoid the possibility of the 14 day quarantyranny *because they cannot afford to simply stay home for two weeks*, and would, if so required, immediately begin the downward financial spiral of this missed bill, and that missed payment) that might be incompatible with biosecurity. It is a crabbed and reductionistic moral theory that is presupposed by this policy overreaction, as crabbed and reductionistic as 'the only obligation of the corporation is to maximize shareholder value', or 'from each according to his ability, to each according to his need.' And while this has been a year of the political Left taking leave of all reason, from covid to riot season, the madness has not been theirs alone; and I am reminded of the grim surveillance and security measures that were imposed after 9/11, and will never go away, because of an earlier unwillingness to actually balance the goods of human civilization among each other.

Jeff, thank you for that unexpected and welcome note of support. I really appreciate it.

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