If you’ve followed the events of the past few days, it might seem like Americans have been turned into nothing more than the way to run capitalism. Rather than science-based data, the push to get back to work is coming from on high because of the fear that the economy grinding to a halt will destroy the stock market. Several people have floated the idea that if some old people have to die to keep capitalism running for the young, then so be it. They would be happy to.
Human lives in this scenario have become little more than commodities to be used and thrown away when no longer economically viable. This inhumane viewpoint comes from a privileged place where the people espousing this position have great healthcare. It is nothing short of cannibalism though the eating of people is metaphoric rather than literal.
But this quarantine and social distancing aren’t about keeping the old alive. They are about keeping everyone alive and protecting the healthcare system from being overloaded. In Anchorage, in the mid-2000s, it only took six deaths to overload the city’s healthcare system. It’s not just the old who would die. Filling up the hospitals with the seriously ill will keep doctors from being able to treat other patients. Accidents will become deadlier as doctors struggle to find beds for everyone. Worse, someone, a person in the medical field, possibly an administrator, will have to decide who gets the available resources and who dies (or as it’s euphemistically put, who gets to make the ultimate sacrifice).
Unless there are volunteers, like the priest in Italy who gave up his respirator for someone younger, making that decision is an easy way to damage someone’s humanity. It’s a choice that no one should have to make, especially when the basis for that choice are financial. Who do you save the rich, old man or the homeless poor woman?
Upper echelon Americans tout the American medical system as the best in the world. It’s time that they put their money where their mouths are and allow it to live up to that billing. No one should be sacrificed on the altar of Mammon in a country that boasts of the efficacy of its medical system over all the systems in the world. If the choice is between keeping everyone at home to flatten the curve and getting people back to work and infecting more people, it should be an easy decision. We should all stay home until the danger passes to acceptable levels where everyone can be treated and more people can survive the virus and other medical emergencies. Protect your humanity; protect each other.