The Federalist Asks: Would America Be “Better Off” By Letting Thousands Die?

Travis / CC-BY-2.0 / Flickr

JakeThomas

Jonathan Ashbach wrote that it isn't "callous" to consider letting people die if it means normalcy for everyone else.

Social distancing measures intended to help slow the spread of the coronavirus, thus avoiding an overwhelmed healthcare system and unnecessary deaths, might present too great a cost to Americans, argued an article in The Federalist on Monday.

Hillsdale PhD student Jonathan Ashbach suggested in the article that most Americans would rather return to normalcy than be stuck at home for an indefinite period of time, according to Right Wing Watch — even if the goal is to save hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of lives.

Ashbach made the case for unbridled freedom and a “me-first” way of viewing America’s response to the crisis, writing: “Probably almost everyone would be willing to live a somewhat shorter normal life rather than a somewhat longer life under current conditions.”

Acknowledging that his approach might seem “callous,” he suggested that it is more a matter of “honestly facing reality.”

“Of course, it sounds very callous to talk about considering the costs. It seems harsh to ask whether the nation might be better off letting a few hundred thousand people die,” Ashbach wrote. “Probably for that reason, few have been willing to do so publicly thus far. Yet honestly facing reality is not callous, and refusing even to consider whether the present response constitutes an even greater evil than the one it intends to mitigate would be cowardly.”

Americans are making great sacrifices, he said, including “giving up a good deal of what makes life worth living — work, classes, travel, hugs, time with friends, conferences, quiet nights out, and so forth.”

If they had a choice, he insisted, most would probably rather go about their daily routines than sacrifice for the greater good.

An issue Ashbach fails to address, however, is what will happen when those Americans embracing "normalcy" are unable to seek care at their hospitals and medical facilities because the system is overwhelmed by coronavirus patients. Heart attacks, strokes, cancers, broken bones — no physical ailment is placed on pause because a pandemic is wreaking havoc.

But he continued, arguing that these measures are also negatively impacting the economy in a way that would potentially cause greater harm than allowing massive numbers of people to die.

“The current response is quickly driving the United States into a recession, which will result in a great deal of misery for tens of millions of people. Again, balancing lives against money sounds harsh, but everyone does so — and must do so — whether he is conscious of the fact or not. Not to mention, a recession also means higher poverty rates, which lead to higher mortality rates,” he wrote.

But more important than the loss of life or money, Ashbach said, is the inherent loss of freedom as people are told what they can and cannot do.

“Even for those of us who are by no means libertarian, the increasingly draconian measures put in place across the nation, especially in California, to isolate people and prevent them from moving at will are raising serious questions about whether Americans are in a dress rehearsal for tyranny,” he said.

“The American people must ultimately decide what they really want. Perhaps the overwhelming majority would happily endure indefinite isolation and sacrifices of freedom to prevent a fairly bad pandemic from getting somewhat worse,” Ashbach concluded. “But I doubt it.”

Recent polling shows that Ashbach’s assessment might miss the mark.

A Morning Consult survey conducted March 7-20 revealed that most American adults are practicing some form of social distancing, with 72 percent of respondents indicating they have at least stopped going into public places.

The poll also found that 65 percent of Americans blame those who are not following public health officials’ advice to stop socializing for the virus’ continued spread.

Comments (27)
No. 1-15
VJP
VJP

What a POS!

Kradek
Kradek

I disagree but acknowledge both the rationality and the dishonesty of the argument.

What the writer and all azzhole Rand worshippers dont acknoledge is interdependence. If the curve isnt flattened more people than otherwise will not only suffer but also become carriers. I wonder why simple
math functions defeat these fvcking geniuses that think they should run the world. Next, remember that the caregivers will have the highest mortality rates so future health care willbe negatively effected.

This is just more rightwing stupidity like giveaways without oversight to favored Brazilian and Russian corporations. He's speaking from wealthy privilage. He's young, rich and has christian ethics, that is nothing but hate. He knows he's statistically sure to live so he's willing to murder his gardner to support scum.

We would all be better off if a few million selected christer bigots died.

JoanneR
JoanneR

Let’s remember that the Conservative view is life begins at conception. Isn’t is the height of hypocrisy to worry about non-viable fetuses and interject those decisions in our family decisions, but think they can pick a point on a hypothetical curve where it’s okay to let people die for the greater good?

Darwinlives
Darwinlives

What’s the plan for managing all those corpses?

We need PPE's
We need PPE's

How morbid! As long as we are aware that they are talking about our elderly parents, some people's grandparents, and sickly relatives who are loved and cherished by all of us, and would love them to stay on this planet a lit bit longer

bonniej55
bonniej55

You first, Asbach. Lead the self sacrifice and show everyone how it's done.

Joelunchbox
Joelunchbox

Does he realize that we are talking about months and not years and certainly not forever? Is his view of people that they are so spoiled that they can't give up anything for a short period of time in order to save people's lives? This is what you get when people start sipping that kool-aid....

JAM661
JAM661

So you being home for a few weeks is a great sacrifice. Thank God we're not live during WW2 with the idiots we have today. Few Americans have not really sacrificed anything as most can get unemployment and this has only lasted a week or 2. If people cannot deal with this after a few weeks they should be seeing a therapist because they have some real issues. But the fact people are talking like there freedom to do whatever they want is more important then saving lives it really show how sick some Americans are.t there right to infect people are more important Maybe American will learn the importance of saving instead of wasting on money on things they really do not need. There is a big difference between true need and want.

Micajah
Micajah

There’s already been millions dying for years. Just cigarettes alone kills 400,000 a year. What a joke

houlligan
houlligan

Libertarians, as always, self serving. Let them die, according to Charles Koch, just get back to work! The free market does not work in times like this and that is the reason for our government. That’s so 35% of the population, with this apeman mentality, are not allowed to run things!

dindy
dindy

Tell him to go jump into an active volcano as a sacrifice to the pandemic gods.

anti-misogyny
anti-misogyny

Of course this would solve the social security issue we will soon face in it's deepest deficit. This would allow the privatization he and his soulless ilk crave to join those ever so successful programs of privatized prisons and privatized for profit education centers they reap millions from off the backs of the rest of us.

Robott53
Robott53

Sigh...another millennial raised to get whatever he wants with an advanced degree trying to convince others he really is learned...maybe we should go back to High School for a while and grow up.

Angalaina
Angalaina

I have no more patience for people on the right. BARBARIANS.

T-Mo-Tee
T-Mo-Tee

Normalcy? Is it normal to have a culture that overcompensates one group of citizens over another? If we went back to "normalcy," we would still have the capitalists oppressing the masses.
We have current conditions where it is suggested that older people have less value than the rest?
We also have a normalcy where the 0.1% are capitalists that really have no more value than those elderly citizens.
We will overcome this virus, likely without throwing out citizens by age, but when it's over no Capitalists will be thrown out for the damage they are doing to our earth, our only planet and home.
Let's get real here. Much of the problem with our current condition is due to capitalists and their guardian #45 and the Turtle. Huge payments for the capitalists, crumbs for the masses. Saving a few dollars by eliminating the pandemic backups, playing favorites to who gets the limited remaining PPE.
As long as it's OK to decide who lives/dies, gets/doesn't get, let's use a better compass.


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