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An irony of the coronavirus debate is that the more successful lockdowns are in squelching the disease, the more vulnerable they will be to attack as unnecessary in the first place.
A growing chorus on the right is slamming the shutdowns as an overreaction and agitating to end them. A good example of the genre is an op-ed co-authored by former Education Secretary William Bennett and talk-radio host Seth Leibsohn. It is titled, tendentiously and not very accurately, “Coronavirus Lessons: Fact and Reason vs. Paranoia and Fear.”
They cite an estimate that the current outbreak will kill 68,000 Americans. Then, they note that about 60,000 people died of the flu in 2017-18. For this, they thunder, we’ve imposed huge economic and social costs on the country?
This is obviously a deeply flawed way of looking at it.
If we are going to have 60,000 deaths with people not leaving their homes for more than a month, the number of deaths obviously would have been higher — much higher — if everyone had gone about business as usual. We didn’t lock down the country to try to prevent 60,000 deaths; we locked down the country to limit deaths to 60,000 (or whatever the ultimate toll is).