Worst Case Scenario
Instead of arguing about the unknowable future course of the Asteroid Virus, let us assume the worst. In addition to mutating into multiple configurations, it turns out the virus has collateral pathological effects besides filling up the lungs with fluid. Suggestions that this might be happening are showing up on the internet as of now.
In this thought experiment, the current flap about the World Health Organization and aerosol projection of infectious material is joined by dozens of other bureaucratic screw-ups, while the infection rate climbs and the death rate resumes its climb. Public pressure groups and some politicians "call out" the various organizations like WHO and CDC for their criminal negligence, and the general public becomes more disillusioned and angry. So mad, they vote Democrat in November.
But the virus ignores the election returns and continues to attack human beings, making millions sick and hundreds of thousands die, due to a combination of Trumpian Anti-Science stupidity, the fundamental dysfunctionality of our social order and the unbeatable nature of the mutating, multi-faceted plague that refuses to go away.
How many people will this ultimately kill?
And how will people manage to remain good citizens as the "correct" science continues to impose social distancing indefinitely -- the New Normal is masks and long lines with no mass gatherings of people ever.
Does this civilization survive? How?
This, of course, is a more elaborate version of a question that still draws contempt and invective rather than rational thought. Is the cure worse than the disease? This question has nothing whatsoever to do with whether any particular statistic is bogus. It assumes that the virus is as bad as Science can possibly predict a virus to be, and then asks how bad is that? It also asks the forbidden question of how many people will be killed, maimed, sickened, rendered homeless, go hungry, turn to crime, become addicted -- and become multi-factored and multi-vectored THREATS -- in the Intentional Depression started to defeat the virus.
And it is the organized suppression of this side of the Pandemic Equation that makes me paranoid.
The worst experience with a virus in American history was the 1918 pandemic that swept through the country in multiple waves in an era in which medical science was close to helpless in treating the infected. That pandemic swept the world on steam ships and railroad trains. It killed six tenths of one percent of the American people. Adjusted for population growth, that would claim the lives of about two million Americans now.
I cannot argue that the lockdown is not keeping such a massive catastrophe from happening. I do not believe it is possible to know how well or badly it is working. So I will assume that it IS working and we have already saved at least hundreds of thousands of lives -- and could have saved more with less corruption and incompetence in our leadership.
We do not have any plausible "metric" to predict what the cost of the lockdown will ultimately be, and it will take many years to make an assessment. I love the argument that if it weren't for the GOP and its secret sweethearts in the Democratic Party, we could have had a New Zealand style dole that paid a percentage of everybody's salary, and the crash would not be so bad. Yup, our corrupt society is not really geared up for shared sacrifice, and I think we have to include the absurdity of the Massive Giveaway to corporate America as part of the cost of the lockdown and a huge contribution to the social disillusion we have just imposed on ourselves -- without debate, which is shamelessly suppressed.
Worst case scenario is already upon us in terms of cost. We might as well ride it out with lock downs, because the economy is moribund. The rest of the world is not hurt as badly as we are, but nobody on earth is coming out of this unscathed.
You cannot have more than you produce and the world just lowered its gross production for 2020 by an as yet unknown percentage -- more than 10% at the very least, and probably more than 20%. Here in the USA, we have "papered" over the stock market so far and we are handing out trillions of dollars of freshly printed funny money -- while overall economic activity has been reduced by at least 30% and I saw one Business Page estimate that assessed the drop in GDP at 40%.
Within the US, our "conservative" and "centrist" political parties have delayed the flood of homelessness until later this summer. But soon millions of people will be evicted while unskilled labor will be a buyer's market. Already, the folks sleeping on the sidewalk in my neighborhood have about doubled and panhandling has become a lot more aggressive.
Beyond this anecdotal evidence, the undeniable reality is that no nation on earth -- let alone most of the nations simultaneously -- has ever created a Depression intentionally. It took World War II to restart the American economy after what used to be called The Great Depression.
Do I get to count World War III as part of the cost of the cure?