Thursday, September 3, 2020

Dennis Prager Serves an Important Purpose

Dennis Prager
via DEADState
Dennis Prager is an important figure in society. He proves that we Jews are just as capable of being batshit crazy and any other group.

Tuesday, Dennis Prager authored The Lockdown Has Gone From a Mistake to a Crime for the right-wing Townhall.com. Referencing his treatise of four months prior, Prager is dubiously self-congratulatory:
Regarding the economic catastrophe in America and around the world -- especially among the world's poor who are dependent upon America and other first-world countries for their income through exports and tourism -- I wrote, "It is panic and hysteria, not the coronavirus, that created this catastrophe."

Unfortunately, I was right.
At the core of Praeger's current polemic is a comparison with Sweden. Prager asserts that Sweden's decision not to lock down was a success:
The world should have followed Sweden's example. That country never locked down and has even kept children under 16 in school the entire time. As Reuters reported on July 15, the number of Swedish children between 1 and 19 years of age who have died of COVID-19 is zero. And the percentage of children who contracted the illness was the exact same in Sweden as it was in Finland, which locked down its schools.
Not so fast:
[Emphasis added] THURSDAY, Aug. 13, 2020 (HealthDay News) -- Diverging from much of the world, Sweden let COVID-19 spread in hopes the population would develop "herd immunity." But the risky strategy failed, a new report finds.
[…]
Gyms, stores and restaurants remained open; schools were open for kids up to age 16; while gatherings of more than 50 people were banned.

Authorities predicted that 40% of the people in Stockholm would get the disease and develop protective antibodies by May. The actual prevalence, however, was around 15%, according to the study published Aug. 11 in the Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine.

"It is clear that not only are the rates of viral infection, hospitalization and mortality [per million population] much higher than those seen in neighboring Scandinavian countries, but also that the time-course of the epidemic in Sweden is different, with continued persistence of higher infection and mortality well beyond the few critical weeks period seen in Denmark, Finland and Norway," said researcher Dr. David Goldsmith, a retired physician in London.
Prager claims that an article in Reuters bolsters his point of view. However Prager provides neither a link nor the date of the article.

The California diatribe
I live in California, a state governed by that most dangerous of leaders: a fool with unlimited power. Despite the fact that California ranks 28th among the 50 states in deaths per million, Gov. Gavin Newsom has destroyed and continues to destroy tens of thousands of small businesses and untold numbers of livelihoods. …
The above represents about one-third of the paragraph in which it appears. Mr. Prager is displeased.

What Prager (and Donald Trump for that matter) fail to appreciate, or refuse to appreciate, is the fact that the economic consequences are greater in the long run if we fail to mitigate the pandemic. For his part, Trump doesn't care if more people die if their demise improves Trump's political future.

I do not know what Prager's motivation is. It really doesn't matter. Prager is the fool who has called Gov. Newsom a fool.
As of August 1, 2020, California museums have lost more than $2.9 billion in revenue. Museums have a $6.55 billion financial impact on California's economy, support 80,722 jobs, and generated $492 million in tax revenues for the State of California in 2017 and over $1 billion in federal taxes."
It is an idiotic argument. Prager has no way of determining whether people would visit museums if they remained open. I certainly would not take the risk. Prager is also asking us to assign economic logic to mortality. How does the very existence of human life relate to the revenues he is claiming have been lost.

To put it another way: How many deaths would make the supposed loss of a half-billion dollars of lost tax revenues worth it?

I cannot answer that question. I don't want to answer that question. Prager seems to have answered it in a way that makes death inconsequential in contrast to economic exigencies.

Oh, I know, he claims that we are not saving lives with lockdowns and mask requirements. The data and expert opinion suggest otherwise.
What about … ?
Why can people eat with no mask in an airplane -- inches, not six feet, from strangers -- but cannot eat in a California restaurant, which is so much bigger than the inside of an airplane, while sitting six feet from others? Because Newsom ordered it, the Los Angeles Times supports it and, like sheep, Californians have accepted it.
Rhetorical questions often create logical fallacies. In a comparison of two conditions, Prager assumes that it is safe to eat on the airplane. Prager's question actually argues in favor of restricting dining on airplanes if we presume that the correct condition is that restaurant dining is unsafe. If we cannot safely eat in a restaurant then we sure as hell cannot eat safely in the petri dish or an airliner.

Prager does not offer evidence in support of the notion that airplane nibbling is safe. It probably isn't. Furthermore, most airlines eliminated most in-flight services so the basic premise is generally false.

The inevitable conclusion:
The lockdown is a crime. But even more upsetting is that it is supported by so many Americans. This country is unrecognizable to those of us who lived through the 1968-1970 pandemic, which killed, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, approximately 100,000 Americans -- the 2020 equivalent of 170,000 Americans. Nothing shut down. Not one mask was worn.
Yet again, Prager is making a bifurcated argument. His rationale supports the opposite of his contention because he could be arguing that we should have implemented more safety measures in 1968. The equivalence, by the way is 165,000 Americans but Prager is trying to get close to the number of deaths from COVID-19.

The argument is flawed in two other ways:
  1. Prager is comparing a finalized number with a developing number. We do not know how many people will ultimately die due to the coronavirus.
  2. We do not know how many people would have died or will die were we not imposing safety measures.
All in all, Dennis Prager has not made a very intelligent argument. Arguably, the most intelligent thing that we can do is to listen to experts; epidemiologists. Dennis Prager isn't one of those. Nor, for that matter, is Donald Trump.

Prager's motivation is not entirely relevant but he once said that he was happier when Donald Trump was elected than he was when his children were born. He doesn't seem to think much of his kids.

If he is motivated by the election of Trump to a second term then he seemingly thinks that people will be more apt to vote for Trump if we pretend that the coronavirus pandemic does not exist. Dennis Prager is playing politics with people's lives.

The good news is that few people will listen to the blowhard. His views are unlikely to affect public policy.

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