Mandating a True Great Depression
Ben Stein
by
Beverly Hills during coronavirus (YouTube screenshot)

Another Thursday in the formerly free United States of America. Now, we live in the terrified, scared, locked-down shadow of that America. The streets are empty. In Beverly Hills, Persians walk down the middle of the streets begging to be run over considering that so many rich kids here have Ferraris and McLarens. Women run by with their ponytails swinging in the breeze. But people are in a state of terror. Out of their minds with fear. Police give citations for walking in groups of more than two (that’s in LA, not Beverly Hills). The worst of it is the Ministry of Fear that is the combo of government and cable news — injecting dread into the national bloodstream.

I have stopped watching the news and its constant poisoning us with fear. Our civil liberties are just a memory and all because of a virus that’s very bad but not as bad as heart disease or cancer.

As I write this, there are roughly 240,000 reported infections with COVID-19 in the USA. The “experts” have said there are 10 times as many infections as are reported. So there might be 2.5 million infections. The great majority have no meaningful symptoms. About two out of 100 lose their lives, and every one is a tragedy. So are serious symptoms. You do not want to be on a ventilator.

But we have 340 million people at least in America. That’s an infection rate (assuming 10 times reported cases) of roughly 5/7 of 1 percent. The death rate is too low to be readily calculated. But it’s far less than what we got with the swine flu 10 years ago, and no one said a word about curtailing civil liberties over that. It’s very far less than the effects of smoking, but I can buy cigarettes with no problem and buy alcohol — which is deadly and advertised on TV — with ease.

Marijuana, which is without question a gateway drug for millions, can be bought over the phone and delivered to your house in many states including Gavin Newsom’s California.

Look, I don’t want to get coronavirus. I don’t want anyone to get coronavirus. And I fully support social distancing and using every possible kind of moral suasion to persuade people to avoid infection. But mandatory lockdowns? Police cruising to pick up people who socialize with their friends?

To knock down a virus that can hide out and come back and hit even those who have already been infected once?

Yes, use every resource to get a “cure” and a “vaccine” — in quotes because viruses really cannot be permanently cured and they mutate with ease. That flu shot you got this year is for a still mutating form of swine flu and it looks as if COVID-19 is already mutating. But scare us into giving up the right to worship in groups? Mandating a true Great Depression?

We need some balance here. It’s not as if there were Al Qaeda snipers on every block waiting to shoot us. It’s a bad disease, and we need to show some good sense. But this isn’t America anymore, and I’m wondering just how temporary these lockdowns will be. Why didn’t we have this panic when we had the swine flu? Could it possibly be because Mr. Obama was president then, not Donald Trump? There’s something ominous about the world of America now.

Ben Stein
Ben Stein
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Ben Stein is a writer, actor, economist, and lawyer living in Beverly Hills and Malibu. He writes “Ben Stein’s Diary” for every issue of The American Spectator.
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