Why consider only one side of the lockdown equation?

By Steven Greenhut | As the pigs proclaimed in “Animal Farm,” “All animals are equal but some animals are more equal than others.”

Steven Greenhut

The oinkers ruled the farm with an iron fist and didn’t want the horses, sheep and other critters to get any improper ideas. George Orwell’s novel, of course, was an indictment of the Soviet government, which ruled in the name of the “people” — but only select people had a say in what went on.

The “Animal Farm” reference is useful these days, as a small group of politicians has suspended the usual checks and balances and is imposing edicts to protect us from the spread of COVID-19. Those who have questioned the wisdom, effectiveness or arbitrariness of specific policies have largely been shut out of the debate. In these uncertain times (as the tiresome saying goes), all ideas are equal, but some ideas are more equal than others.

The critics have been consistent in their response to my columns. As one letter-writer explained, “It is people like Greenhut who will cause more misery and more death — all because they want to go to the beach, the movies and to hell with everyone else.”

I have a daughter with a compromised immune system and a mom in a senior facility, so I do indeed take the contagion seriously and do not want people to die so I can head to the cineplex.

But it’s deeply disturbing that officials are only considering one side of the lockdown’s “death and misery” index. I’ve read that governments should never be willing to endanger anyone’s life. Good grief. Governments always make trade-offs with people’s lives. If that weren’t the case, then the national speed limit would be around 15 miles per hour. In fact, shutting down the economy and forcing people to stay inside imposes vast dangers, too.

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