By Jon Dougherty @TheNatSent
(TNS) Full disclosure: We don’t have anything against Microsoft founder Bill Gates, and we certainly don’t begrudge him a dime of the $108 billion or so he’s currently worth.
He invented something the world obviously needed. Good for him. That’s awesome.
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But for a tech entrepreneur, he’s not a particularly good public policy guru, as evidenced by his recommendation to simply ‘shut down’ the entire country to ‘stop the spread’ of coronavirus.
Writing in The Washington Post, Gates complained about the piecemeal approach to shutdowns that are currently taking place across the country, as states decide on their own what the best policies are for them.
That’s a no-no, he says; there ought to be a “national policy” and it ought to mandate a total economic and society shutdown.
“Despite urging from public health experts, some states and counties havenâ€™t shut down completely. In some states, beaches are still open; in others, restaurants still serve sit-down meals,” he wrote.
â€œThis is a recipe for disaster. Because people can travel freely across state lines, so can the virus. The countryâ€™s leaders need to be clear: Shutdown anywhere means shutdown everywhere,â€ he added. â€œUntil the case numbers start to go down across America â€” which could take 10 weeks or more â€” no one can continue business as usual or relax the shutdown.â€
Gates then stated that while a vaccine for the virus could be available within 18 months, â€œcreating a vaccine is only half the battle.â€
â€œWe can start now by building the facilities where these vaccines will be made. Because many of the top candidates are made using unique equipment, weâ€™ll have to build facilities for each of them, knowing that some wonâ€™t get used,” he added.
â€œPrivate companies canâ€™t take that kind of risk, but the federal government can. Itâ€™s a great sign that the administration made deals this week with at least two companies to prepare for vaccine manufacturing. I hope more deals will follow,” he wrote.
Now look, it goes without saying that a top-down national policy isn’t warranted here because not all states are suffering similarly from the outbreak. There are nowhere near the amount of COVID-19 cases in mid-Missouri as there are in New York City, and because people don’t live as densely in the former, there never are going to be that many cases per capita. And it just might be that the people in the least-hit parts of the country will have to continue operating to feed, clothe, and take care of those in the hardest-hit regions.
Yes, Bill, peopleÂ can travel freely across state lines for the most part — with the exception of an increasing number of states that are requiring visitors to self-quarantine for 14 days — because our Constitution gives us that right. It might just be that we’ll have to endure a few more cases of virus in order to maintain our founding liberties.
About that vaccine. Yes, it’s probably months away (though Dr. Ben Carson, head of HUD, seems far more optimistic in that new and better treatments are just around the corner). But not only does Gates want a new vaccine, he wants to actuallyÂ build research facilities that develop them…which willÂ alsoÂ take months and even years.
Meanwhile, the country’s ‘locked down,’ and while that’s not a big deal for millionaires and billionaires, itÂ is going to be a huge deal for 99 percent of the country.
As Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.) said Tuesday, we can’t do this lockdown stuff for months on end; we’ll completely destroy our economy that will then lead to massive unrest andÂ violence that will undoubtedlyÂ cause more deaths.
We have asked this question a lot lately and we’ll keep asking it until someone in ‘officialdom’ gives us an adequate answer: What, exactly, has to happen before all of these self-isolation and lockdown orders get lifted?
Fewer infections?Â No infections? A declining curve, as is happening now in California and Washington — both of which still have lockdown orders in place? What are the parameters? What are the conditions? Because don’t we technically remain ‘in danger’ as long as evenÂ one case of the virus is present in our country?
Look at what just happened in China. Beijing allegedly lifted its lockdown too soon, and now there is a second outbreak.
Still, we can’t keep our country locked down indefinitely. President Trump’s new 30-day extension of social distancing aside, average and even above-average-earning Americans cannot simply stopÂ working and stop their lives because they won’t survive financially.
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We keep hearing a lot of very wealthy people make this recommendation. What they never explain is how long a national shutdown should last and how they envision such a mandate working.
Because if that were to happen and it lasts for more than a couple weeks, things are going to get really ugly in America — more so than they are now, by several factors.
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