Modern hypocrisies about life and death
I can’t deny it, I’m still really pissed about what happened in 2020 with this pandemic and I will continue to be outraged, because the one thing I have zero tolerance for is hypocrisy. So let’s look at some of the ridiculousness accented by 2020.
Healthcare coffers keep getting drained
Many countries have continually drained the budgets of important public services — healthcare, education, good journalism (just sayin’), etc. In most cases politicians are simply corrupt or in a milder form are only interested in their own power and popularity. Let’s build walls, or huge football (soccer) stadia and other vanity projects, and have parties with the mafia and prostitutes, instead of doing our job. Your job is to represent the people, in case you were wondering, to effect policies that serve the greatest number of people. (Go into private business, if you want to amass wealth for yourself. And let’s finally banish rich people and corporations from having any political say.)
Of course healthcare systems were overwhelmed when Covid hit, but those same healthcare systems are generally overwhelmed even during a standard flu season. They are overwhelmed only, however, where Average Joe is concerned, the rich, of course, can always get top notch treatment (and education) and politicians will keep catering to them, rather than their constituents. (The etymology of “politics” by the way is pertaining to citizens and public life.)
Clapping don’t do nothin’
Healthcare workers have to triage and make decisions about life and death all the time. That is their job! Often they do it under much more horrific circumstances than a relatively mild pandemic. Clapping for them was an absolute insult to their faces. What they should have gotten (decades ago!) were better working conditions and higher salaries for nursing staff. These people are often from underprivileged backgrounds, are treated like crap, yet they do all the legwork, scoop up poo and vomit, and are there every time you ring that bell by your bed.
Exactly that group of people (along with food deliverers, supermarket cashiers, etc) were declared essential workers. On the one hand: great, they were able to work, which is what many of us non-essentials wanted to do as well. But on the other hand, this group of people with low salaries and probably crappy health insurance was more exposed to the virus. I doubt very much that they had a safety net in terms of healthcare. Now you’ve all stopped clapping, I think they should just walk out. Clapping does not confer respect — a big paycheck does.
… and no-one will raise taxes
To add insult to injury, countries will not raise taxes to pay for essential public services. There were a few countries in 2020 in which hospitals did not reach bed capacity; they were all countries in which people actually pay taxes and they do so (more or less) happily, because they know the money will go to its intended use. We have two different issues here: corruption and political stance. All countries are corrupt to some extent, don’t get me wrong. But obviously there are places you don’t want to waste your hard-earned currency by giving it to government to be squandered (that includes quite a few Western democracies, by the way). In terms of political stance, the US is an interesting example, because it’s a country where providing services for the population is considered “socialist”. And even though Mr Trump is no longer president, it speaks for itself that he won one election despite boasting how he cheated the system and didn’t pay taxes. That resonated with a lot of Americans. We admire the rich fucks! (Hey, how many nurses could we pay properly, if we just taxed Google?)
So with this kind of Wild West mentality, neither patients nor hospitals should have been “protected” with lockdowns, the closing of restaurants, or mask orders. The logical conclusion would have been to actually let everyone fend for themselves and let them die in the streets, if it came to it. In the “free” country that the US wants to be, every cowboy should have been free to decide for themselves, if they wanted to quarantine or to continue herding their guns (sorry, I meant cows). For the US and all the corrup-ass countries out there, I say: you made the bed, let your people lay in it. Don’t fake-protect them by closing their businesses and destroying their livelihoods.
Overpopulation and resource scarcity
This one speaks for itself, doesn’t it? And it’s not that I want to throw an entire elderly population under the bus, but we were really quite lucky that Covid has affected mostly older people. In many countries the majority of those who died were 85 and older. We were lucky that younger generations were spared from severe outcomes; that’s not the case with many other deadly diseases. Before 2020 all we kept hearing is overpopulation, no money for aging populations, scarcity of resources, carbon footprint, etc. and then here was suddenly a chance to make a bit of room… sorry, but it’s true. And it’s not just Covid, we’re trying to cure every single disease.
As a scientist I am all in favour of advances that make our lives better, but as a scientist I am also asking: has anyone thought of the consequences of keeping everyone alive? I am also writing about this from a very personal point of view. I’m currently directly involved with medical doctors who want to keep treating my 86-year old father’s incurable cancer. They might be able to prolong his life by 6 months to a year. But that’s not a year with good quality of life — that’s a year in hospital being poked and prodded, suffering horrific side-effects from the medications they give him. Worth it? No, not for a single person involved other than the hospital and its billing department.
The arrogance of wanting to dominate nature
In light of that, let’s vaccinate all the 90-year olds now, instead of younger people so they could go back to work and school. Which leads me to the arrogance of the human species thinking we can and should dominate nature. Has any good ever come of it? If you build a house in a known earthquake / landslide / forest fire area, are you allowed to cry “tragedy” when that disaster finally occurs? I think not. Those really working with nature, in whatever form that may be, know it’s tough and humbling, unpredictable, and testing. But ultimately, there’s less of a chance that it will come back and bite you in the ass if you collaborate rather than dominate.
Think of it as bringing up a child. If you’re a decent, nurturing parent — you spark your kid’s imagination and creativity, but you set fair and reasonable boundaries, you give them freedom while teaching them what it means to take responsibility — chances are high that your kid turns out to be a productive member of the family, in turn increasing your own quality and joy of life. Being a good parent is fucking hard work! But if you’re the kind of parent who constantly tells their child to shut up, to not ask questions, and you beat their childhood out of them — or the opposite, you put them on a pedestal and let them get away with anything — chances are they come home one day and hit you in the face with a pick-axe after they’ve fucked over the entire neighbourhood first. We can stop being victims of the monsters we created, we can stop creating the monsters, if we finally drop our arrogance and take on some responsibility for the consequences of our actions.
Oh, and then I had this fun idea
We’ve had about 2.2 million estimated Covid deaths so far. Let me remind you that globally about 60 million people die every year. I couldn’t find a definitive number of how many of those deaths result from unnecessary causes (accidents, murders, drug abuse, etc — I have personally never considered disease “needless” as you might infer from the paragraphs above; nor the lack of resources, as the land regulates how many people it can support). But it occurred to me, that the inflicters of needless deaths are mostly men. Men commit most murders (est. 95%), drunk driving (over 70%), deal and use drugs, own guns (est. 45% of US male population, a majority militaries are mostly men), start wars (99%?), are human traffickers (est. 68%), and religious or cult leaders (est. 86%).
In the Western world an estimated 20% of women have been raped by men, and who knows how many little boys (let’s ask the Catholic Church and the Boy Scouts of America, shall we?). Those numbers are dwarfed by some African countries. Oh and if you think rape doesn’t kill you — believe me, you’re pretty dead inside afterwards and many women wish they’d not survived. But it’s ok right, Trump is a rapist and he was president, Biden has been accused of sexual assault, he’s president now. Big politicians and business people are rapists-in-residence.
All these figures of people affected by male violence in turn dwarf the few lives ultimately directly affected by Covid. So here’s an idea: why don’t we lock down men only? Sound ridiculous? And you gentle souls out there wail: “hey wait, not all men are bad!”. Correct, not all men are bad. But we have new Covid logic now. We can lock down entire populations even though a vast majority of people are not susceptible to the virus (or men).
With men in lockdown, other men would be much safer too (most victims of men are other males), and women could finally go about their business without having to look over their shoulders all the time. I’m not exaggerating. You might meet a majority of decent men in your lifetime (depending where you were born), but all it takes is that one random stranger who rapes you violently and leaves you for dead. Actually, 1 in 5 women: not so random and you just never know, when you finally encounter him (he’s likely your dad or boyfriend anyway).
If you’re one of the “nice guys” who’s offended right now, then you haven’t done your job in speaking out and keeping your mates in check. You should keep each other in check no matter your level of power and influence. But instead you spur each other on. You revere the dangerous, the gung-ho, the rule-breakers, the “dudes”, the rich assholes who shuffle money around in a bank, those who rather spend money on a space force than use those billions to make all our lives better. We dismiss the caretakers, those who collect our trash, the immigrant standing 24/7 behind the cashier of his make-or-break corner shop, those who care for our old and sick. If you’re offended, you’re offended by facts. And if you’re offended by facts, it may be time to finally make some substantial and painful changes to this planet’s societies and not distract ourselves with a dumb virus which at the end of the day really didn’t do all that much damage. Tough knuckles, gentlemen!