Monday, August 3, 2020

Life Is Fatal

Death and taxes. Nothing else in life is as guaranteed. We all came into this world the same way and we are all going out the same way. As it says on the masthead of Zerohedge, on a long enough timeline the survival rate for everyone drops to zero.

People are pretty fragile when you think about it. We are a bag of fluid and squishy parts held together by bones that can break and sealed in by a very thin layer of skin that is easily sliced or punctured. Getting stabbed by a knife, being shot even by a smaller caliber bullet, a sharp blow to the head, all can kill you. We are prone to diseases and our own body killing us with cancer. There are millions of tiny processes happening all the time to keep us alive, cells dying and being replaced, food being turned into energy. Our lungs have to breathe in fresh air and expel old air constantly or we die. Our heart has to beat over and over dozens of times per minute from the time we are in born, and if it stops for just a few minutes we die.The blood must be filtered or it gets toxic and we die. If we eat too little, we die. If we eat too much? We die.

That is before we even go outside.

Outside is dangerous. In many parts of the world the outside is full of stuff that can kill you, poisonous plants and reptiles, carnivorous animals, tornadoes, lightning, branches falling on your head. It can get too hot or it can get too cold. Generally it is rarely "just right". Ticks carrying Lyme disease, fire ants, rabid raccoons, bodies of water to drown in.

In spite of the danger, we still have to go outside to go to work or the grocery store or to shovel snow. Life is a series of calculated risks and all of our choices have some sort of downside. In 2018 alone, over 36,000 people died in automobile accidents. That is around 98 people every single day or four per hour. That is just auto accidents, around 170,000 people die from some sort of accident every year. We still drive our cars everywhere, even though it is very dangerous.

Why do we willingly do something that kills 36,000 people per year? Because it is a calculated risk. We could all be Amish and take a horse and buggy I suppose but that requires going a lot slower and lots of Amish spend lots of time in cars because it is just impractical to take a horse everywhere. Anyway, Amish get killed on the road all the time or get kicked in the chest by their horse and die.

Most of us are not going to walk everywhere because it is just too time consuming, so we hop in the car to go almost any place we need to go. We buckle up most of the time, are relatively careful as we drive, our cars are designed with seatbelts and airbags and a frame to protect us in case of a crash. Even with all of that, we drive too fast and aggressively, we look at our phones even though it is illegal in much of the country, we eat while we drive or fiddle with the radio. As a result, 36 thousand people die in car crashes every year.

It is a trade-off for modern life. Hundreds of millions of us get where we need to go and 36,000 of us at some point each year never make it to their destination. We understand it and accept it, even though we don't often talk about it.

To be human means to take risks.

That brings me to our current health crisis: the Chinese coronavirus.

As summer winds down, it is fast approaching back to school time and of course this is causing all sorts of angst. The hysteria is on overload because schools mean children and as we all know, I believe the children are our future....


Yep, it is always all about the children and not at all about the teachers not wanting to go back to class while collecting their normal salary and getting a year closer to retirement.

It is without much dispute that the coronavirus is a serious illness but it is also without credible dispute that it's level of seriousness varies widely based on a number of factors.

Someone who is older, or has significant pre-existing health issues or is older and obese should certainly be concerned about Covid-19 and should take reasonable precautions. Like I said, life is full of risks but you can mitigate those risks by wearing a seat belt, not kicking rattlesnakes and staying out of Detroit.

Schools?

Schools are full of kids ages 5 to 18 years old who are not really in much danger from coronavirus as a whole. More on that in a moment. There are also teachers, administrators, staff and police in "diverse" school districts. For the most part they are under 60 years of age and mostly not in the high risk categories either.

What about their grandparents, can't they catch the 'rona from school kids? As far as I can tell, there are few or more likely no documented cases of school aged kids transmitting coronavirus to someone older and as mentioned previously, older and at risk people should take sensible precautions like proper masks worn properly, social distancing, washing their hands, etc.

There was an interesting Twitter exchange over the weekend. Alex Berenson, a guy I follow, replied to a comment from a Becky Quick, a CNBC TV host who was arguing that we shouldn't reopen schools.


A one in one million chance of dying isn't the same as zero chance of dying but it is pretty close. Your kid has a much higher chance of dying at school from a bunch of other causes than coronavirus. They also are at a much higher risk of being molested or assaulted by a teacher or another student than they are of dying of coronavirus but no one wants to close schools for that.

Becky wasn't going to stand for that so she retorted something that was very informative....


I see, so we should consider not sending kids back to school because Becky's daughter has a condition that puts her in a higher risk category. Alex responded...


It degenerated a bit from there but his point is valid. If Becky's daughter really does have some sort of mitigating condition that makes her more susceptible to the coronavirus, she might have to figure something out and I would hope the school would accommodate her. I am going on a limb and assuming her daughter isn't at a public school anyway.

Do we need to take reasonable precautions? Of course, that is just sensible, and it is why schools have smoke detectors and sprinklers and the doors open outward. But should schools be shut down because a handful of kids might be at higher risk of the Chinese coronavirus? Absolutely not.

This also isn't a single question where there is no downside to not sending students back to school. Few people ask: What are the consequences of not sending kids back to school?

Increased isolation for an already overly isolated population of school aged kids. Losing months of classroom instruction that can't be made up. Increased stress on students and parents. Interruptions of extra-curricular activities. Lost sports seasons.

Those costs are hard to quantify but they are real.

Life is a risky proposition that is going to end in death. Just getting out of bed carries some risks and everything you do beyond that just adds to the risk level. Going outside, getting in a car, eating, swimming, riding a bike, working at your job. Nothing is without risk.

What we have always done is weigh the risks and find ways to mitigate the worst of them. What we haven't done is shut down an entire nation and resorted to cowering in our homes.

There has never been a generation of kids who needs to get out of the house and back into public more than this generation but a small number of people are frightening a lot of us into staying locked behind closed doors.

If kids go back to school, will many of them get the coronavirus? Almost certainly. Will at least a few die as a result of being infected? Probably. Does that mean that millions of school kids should be locked at home until a vaccine is found? Absolutely not.

Life is risky and that is what makes it interesting.



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