"It is my goal to make the London Center, the premier foreign policy institute in the country, one that is shaping
the debate on international affairs and influencing decisions emerging from the Congress."
Dan Akroyd and Bill Murray, in a 1978 Saturday Night Live skit, as the “X Police,” bust into the wrong apartment in search of “Marijuana Dealers,” get everything wrong, and the object of the totally wrong bust falls out the window and is then labeled by Akroyd as another tragic drug related death.
In early March, as the Wuhan virus began to gain headlines, the leading health figures in Washington DC told us that the “figure of merit” we all need to watch was the number of deaths. The lethality of the virus, the number of people who actually died from the virus, was what was of most significance. There were other issues, but deaths and death rates were the real focus.
Roll the clock forward to this past week, and the cri de couer from all the same esteemed health officials is of rising case counts. Since the virus reached the US some 240,000 people have died from the virus. Yet this past week a report on a study conducted at Johns Hopkins University (JHU) compared the total number of deaths in the US so far this year to the total number of deaths in the US last year, the year Before COVID (1 BC?) and an interesting datum appeared: there are no extra deaths.
To clarify: in any given week in the United States in 2019 between 50,000 and 54,000 people died - of all causes.
Among these, cardiovascular diseases cause roughly 900,000 deaths per year in the US, or perhaps 18,000 per week, on average. But since the arrival of COVID-19 data collection the number of deaths by various forms of heart disease is down - dramatically. In some cases more than 2500 per week, per the JHU study. Isn’t that wonderful! COVID 19 must be curing heart disease!
No, of course it’s not. Rather what we have here is the conflating of data streams. People who have compromised hearts or lungs and who would have been at risk of passing away this year did, in fact, pass away this year. They were found to have the virus. The cause of death has been listed as the virus. And while the listed cause of death has changed, the number of people who have died in the US in the last 9 months is what would have been expected, with or without the virus. The numbers do vary slightly from year to year as the population slowly grows. But there is no substantive statistical change in the number of deaths form 2019 to 2020. If the virus were killing extra people, people who would not have been at risk of dying in any case in 2020, there would be “extra deaths,” there would be 240,000 more deaths in the US this year than what was expected. But there were not any significant extra deaths. And deaths are what the esteemed health care officials said was the key figure to watch.
But, like Akroyd’s unfortunate victim, what you label something isn't necessarily correct, even when the omniscient Center for Disease Control says so; the Wuhan Virus is not killing a great many more people, we’re just calling it that.
But, what we’re seeing is one of the great truths of political philosophy played out in “glorious” living color, Lord Acton’s warning: “Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.” Various Governors from coast to coast issue “imperial” edicts, small businesses remain closed, students remain out of school, people remain isolated from their families and friends, and the governors continue to dine at fashionable restaurants, meet with their families and friends, to include their Dot Com Patrons and their Big Warehouse business associates; the huge business thrive, as they take up the slack from the closing small businesses. Students are suffering, people are losing their livelihoods, suicides numbers are climbing, the number of people suffering from depression is surely climbing (though numbers are difficult to some by - one wonders why), and the governors and health departments, and Mr. Biden and his minions, tell us that we’ll need a few more months.
When will this end? Will it end at all? The governors have found a way to suspend the constitution: anything labeled a “health crisis” is now being thought of as justification of de facto dictatorial actions by the governors and their designated health departments. Crime, violence, poverty, drugs, racism are all issues of greater or lessor degree in cities around the country; all of them need to be addressed. But, in any sane world none would be recognized as a “health crisis.” None of them would warrant any governor conscious of the limits of his constitutionally authorized authorities declaring a state of emergency or twisting that state of emergency into a “health crisis.” But that’s exactly what is being discussed in some circles.
But if anything is clear, it’s this: Lord Acton was right; we’re seeing the abuse of power by officials - great and small, elected as well as appointed - across the country. We need to push back. Support your local businesses. Support your neighbors, write your local governments, complain, get others to complain, insist on government - at every level - staying with their limits. This is our government and our country; all those folks in city hall, the folks in the beautiful buildings in Richmond or Denver or Boston, all this folks on Capitol Hill, and in those federal agencies - they work for us, for you and me.
Let’s get them back in their boxes before they declare you and me a health care crisis and we become the unfortunate victims of their poorly thought-out “solutions.”
About Pete O'Brien
Peter O’Brien has more than 30 years of successful leadership and planning experience in a wide range of organizations afloat and ashore on three continents. Mr. O’Brien’s Navy career included ten years at sea, more than a dozen years stationed overseas and multiple ...