Economist Suggests Infecting A Ton Of People With Coronavirus In Order To Help People With Coronavirus
If there is anything I very much dislike, it is people going around being named Robyn or Robin and being terrible. It's just rude. Most of us are lovely people. We steal from the rich, we give to the poor, we sing your favorite jams, what's not to like?
Of course, there are exceptions. And one big one is Robin Hanson, the creepiest economist in America. The last time we met Robin Hanson, he was arguing for a redistribution of sex to keep incels non-violent, and compared their plight to that of poor people (even though he thought it was weird to be concerned about poor people), claiming essentially that men who kill women because they are angry about not getting laid are Jean Valjeaning it. Like, for real, he brought Les Mis into it.
He has, of course, had many other terrible ideas over the years. Like the time when he also suggested that a woman who "cuckolds" a man should be punished more severely than a rapist who drugs and then rapes a woman while she is unconscious, on account of how a "gentle, silent rape" and will cause no harm to her "because she suffered no noticeable physical harm nor any memory of the event."
So yeah, he's pretty much the worst. And he's got a brand new idea!
On Friday, Hanson proposed an unusual plan to deal with the coronavirus — infecting people with it, in order to ensure that we have the infrastructure to help people who are sick with coronavirus.
Excuse me, Sir, but this is America. Of course we don't have the "infrastructure" to deal with an outbreak of anything. The way it works here is that people with money or insurance get taken care of, and those who can't are to be left alone to infect others and then die. Just like with everything else! You can take your "Hey maybe it's a good idea if people with infectious illlnesses do not continue to spread those infectious illnesses" straight on down to Communist Canada, or Communist Every Other Developed Nation On Earth. No hand outs here! Even if we all have to die to keep it that way.
He explains it further in his blog, Overcoming Bias:
I'm not a medical professional, so I can't speak much to medical issues. But I am an economist, so I can speak to social support issues. I see two big potential problems. One is that our medical systems have limited capacities, especially for intensive care. So if everyone gets sick in the same week, not only won't the vast majority get much of help from hospitals, they may not even be able to get much help from each other, such as via feeding. Perhaps greatly increasing death rates. This problem might be cut if we spread out the infection out over time, so that different people were sick at different times.
Is he concerned about this because it would be really sad if a whole bunch of people died? Lord no. He is mostly concerned about the effect it would have on the economy:
The other related problem is where many non-sick people stay away from work to avoid getting sick. If enough people do this, especially at critical infrastructure jobs, then the whole economy may collapse. And not only is a collapsed economy bad for most everyone, sick people do much worse there. Not only can't they get to a doctor or hospital, they might not even be able to get food or heating/cooling. Infected surfaces don't get cleaned, and maybe even dead bodies don't get removed. Thieves don't get stopped. And so on. We can already see social support partially collapsing in Wuhan now, and it's not pretty.
There's an obvious, if disturbing, solution here: controlled infection. We could not only insist that critical workers go to work, but we might also choose on purpose who gets exposed when. We can't slow down infection very much, but we can speed it up a lot, via deliberately exposing particular people at particular times, according to a plan.
OK, so basically he's saying that lots of people should get infected by the coronavirus — a thing that is killing people right now — as some kind of vaccine against us all getting it at the same time, so doctors can treat people in waves rather than all at once? So that when we are all infected, it's not so many people that our hospitals can't handle it?
That would make sense if doing that would create some kind of immunity, but it probably doesn't.
"Everyone, by the time they reach adulthood, should have some immunity to some coronavirus," said Tim Sheahan, a coronavirus researcher at University of North Carolina's Gillings School of Global Public Health. But because it doesn't last, older people can get reinfected. The elderly also have a higher death rate from coronaviruses such as SARS and MERS, a pattern 2019-nCoV is following.
"There is some evidence that people can be reinfected with the four coronaviruses and that there is no long-lasting immunity," Dr. Susan Kline, an infectious disease specialist at of the University of Minnesota. "Like rhinoviruses [which cause the common cold], you could be infected multiple times over your life. You can mount an antibody response, but it wanes, so on subsequent exposure you don't have protection." Subsequent infections often produce milder illness, however.
Now, I am not a medical professional either, but I do have Google!
Many people responded to Hanson's tweet yesterday suggesting he volunteer himself, which he thought was very rude of them to say, because it's not like he didn't already propose giving the people who volunteered some money. Who is gonna offer to get coronavirus for some quick cash? Robin Hanson? Of course not.
Then, to prove... something, he's put up a poll on his Twitter in order to demonstrate the depths of his knowledge of how socialized medicine would work, by asking people if those who support it should have to clean bed pans for free.
You know, it's one thing to oppose socialized healthcare because you're afraid your taxes will go up, but it's another to just be completely wrong about how it would work. People who clean bed pans in other countries aren't slaves. They get paid. It's not an all-volunteer hospital orderly force. And I'm not certain that anyone who thinks that (and also cannot Google) ought to be designing America's response to the coronavirus. Or anything, ever.
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Robyn Pennacchia is a brilliant, fabulously talented and visually stunning angel of a human being, who shrugged off what she is pretty sure would have been a Tony Award-winning career in musical theater in order to write about stuff on the internet. In addition to her work at Wonkette, she also has a biweekly column at Dame. Follow her on Twitter at @RobynElyse