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Murc’s law, pandemic edition


This Vox piece illustrates how the major media will go to very great lengths to avoid stating the following incredibly obvious truth: COVID continues to be a social and economic problem in America because people refuse to get vaccinated. I mean look at this framing:

More than a year and a half into the Covid-19 pandemic, America still doesn’t agree on what it’s trying to accomplish.

Is the goal to completely eradicate Covid-19? Is it to prevent hospitals from getting overwhelmed? Is it hitting a certain vaccine threshold that mitigates the worst Covid-19 outcomes but doesn’t prevent all infections? Or is it something else entirely?

At the root of this confusion is a big question the US, including policymakers, experts, and the general public, has never been able to answer: How many Covid-19 deaths are too many?

The lack of a clear end goal has hindered America’s anti-pandemic efforts from the start. At first, the goal of restrictions was to “flatten the curve”: to keep the number of cases low enough that hospitals could treat those that did arise. But that consensus crumbled against the reality of the coronavirus — leaving the country with patchwork restrictions and no clear idea of what it meant to “beat” Covid-19, let alone a strategy to achieve a victory.

The vaccines were supposed to be a way out. But between breakthrough infections, the risks of long Covid, and new variants, it’s becoming clear the vaccines didn’t get rid of the need to answer the underlying question of what the Covid-19 endgame is.

This is, not to put too fine a point on it, total bullshit.

If all adults in the US who can get vaccinated were vaccinated against COVID, then COVID would not be a medical or social or economic problem of any kind, full stop. “Breakthrough infections” among the vaccinated do not constitute any such problem, as it’s extremely rare for such infections to lead to serious medical complications. It’s also extremely rare for COVID to lead to serious medical complications in children, and in any event a vaccine for five through eleven year olds will soon be approved.

This whole piece, in other words, needs to pretend that there’s some serious cost-benefit balancing act to perform in regard to masking, social distancing, etc., when the only reason we’re even still engaging in such measures is because PEOPLE CHOOSE NOT TO GET VACCINATED.

And it’s not exactly rocket surgery to figure out how to deal with that problem, either: you just make it increasingly costly to individuals and groups to continue to make that choice, until enough of them aren’t willing to bear that cost, or die of COVID, or some combination.

Piece after piece in the media ignore all this, because recognizing it would require recognizing that, from a public policy standpoint, the solution to the COVID problem is already perfectly well known. What’s not known is the solution to the liberal democracy in America is breaking down because the Republican party has gone fascist problem.

Ultimately this all goes back to fatalism about how you can’t do anything about right wing craziness in this country, so you just have to kludge around it somehow.

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