Stupid R Us: COVID-19 Version

March 7, 2020

Stupid R Us: COVID-19 Version


Mark Rubin

Respectfully, we’re one stupid 320M people. Not all of us, for sure, but collectively? Duh.

Listen, the people who liked Trump liked his “tells it like it is” persona. But, when he said something offensive, his enablers told us “he doesn’t really mean it!” Huh?

We elected a no-nothing, self-absorbed idiot. Now, we get to watch him and his “only the best people” Administration bumble along as a real crisis faces us and the rest of the planet.

A real crisis? Uh, yes. OK, on one side we have people who bring up influenza deaths, auto accidents, guns deaths etc., reminding us that not so very many people have / will die from COVID-19. True, and hold that thought.

Looking the other way, we have our overheating planet. A favorite college history argued against using “crisis” to describe any ongoing condition. He believed the “time” in “a time of intense difficulty, trouble, or danger” must be short in duration. Professor Irrmann aside, we must call climate change a crisis, albeit one no one can fix with masks, soap, and staying home.

Why, then, do I focus on the virus of the year, as opposed to everything bad which happens routinely and the slow burn we experience with global warming?* Because the COVID-19 experience evidences an almost total failure of public health systems in the wealthiest nation ever.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) describes public health thusly:

Public health is the science of protecting and improving the health of people and their communities. This work is achieved by promoting healthy lifestyles, researching disease and injury prevention, and detecting, preventing and responding to infectious diseases.

Unfortunately, in these United States we prize the doctor-patient relationship, ahead of the commonweal. We pay doctors more than public health officials, epidemiologists, scientists, etc. Our government subsidizes private health care in ways we don’t notice: grants to medical schools, hefty student loans to doctors-to-be, favorable tax treatment of insurance premiums paid by employers, etc. (I know we offer student loans to all, but the medical students pay a fortune to get educated.)

Our laws favor a system which takes care of the haves and ignores the have-nots. Health care sucks in rural America and works much better in wealthier urban centers. Working people often have limited access to paid sick leave. Undocumented individuals have no ready access to basic care.

Our economic system offers even less. Medical students know a specialty will reward them financially, while primary care offers more work for less pay. Drug companies make money from restless leg syndrome and other chronic conditions; not so much on vaccines and antibiotics, which leaves them pretty disinterested. (For decades, insurance payments to physicians incentivized short visits, so they prescribed lots of antibiotics, in lieu of tests. Now? Hope you don’t get a drug-resistant infection, for the baddies in our midst got ahead of the drugs, bigly.)

Of course, microbes and viruses don’t know from citizenship, wealth, or income. Look at our weakest links: too many among us get too little care and lack the wherewithal to protect themselves and those around them me.

So, now we’re running around with no meaningful number of tests for COVID-19. No plans. And from the top, contempt for scientists and plenty of righteous indignation about the fear among us. Um, what right did people have to sell their stocks, just because of a virus?

This thing will get worse before it gets better. Way worse! That 2020 leaves the richest country on earth low on the “we’ve got this” totem pole provides the reminder, loud and clear, that Ronald Reagan was wrong, fully and completely, when he said: “The nine most terrifying words in the English language are, ‘I’m from the government, and I’m here to help.’”


*Yah, I said it. Sick and tired I am of Right-Wing political correctness, when we know hotter days when we experience them.


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