Thursday, July 1, 2021

WSJ's Barton Swaim Gets It Wrong Again On The Virus, Shutdowns, Masks & "The Elites"

The white nationalist Trumpie zombie Barton Swaim is at it again('Why Shutdowns and Masks Suit The Elites', WSJ,  June 19-20, p. A15), circulating nonsense about freedom, the medical community and the Covid 19 virus-  especially precautions for dealing with it.  

Swaim declares: 

"Physical presence is what governmental authorities snatched from people, especially from the vulnerable, during the pandemic. None of those interventions were necessary, Mr. Snead concedes - but the authorities - together with alarmist news media -  showed little capacity to weigh costs against benefits."

The "Snead"  to whom Swaim refers is O. Carter Snead, author of the pop bioethics book, 'What It Means To Be Human:  The Case for the Body In Human Bioethics.'   

As is usual per Swaim's M.O. he picks out the most extreme cases of governmental overreach,  while neglecting the importance of general shutdowns to prevent the spread of Covid. For example in his column castigating New Mexico authorities for not allowing an elderly man to care for his infirm wife.  Of course this was a draconian decision lacking essential humanity, but that doesn't mean the state authorities should have flung open the doors of every nursing home to whatever visitors wanted in to "make contact".  

But given this stance, it's not surprising he then asks:  "Is the benefit of not contracting Covid -19 worth the cost of going without the bodily presence of one's children and grandchildren for  months on end?"  

Uh, yeah, if those kids are potential carriers of the virus as they have been.  So one might ask Swaim if he's actually seen the havoc wrought by the virus on the lungs, kidneys, brain, heart and all parts of the body.  Not to mention the potential of an elder being put on  a ventilator for weeks, or months - in a kind of semi-vegetative existence.  One might turn the tables and ask Swaim:  Is the benefit of having a brief contact, even a hug, with a grandkid worth the risk of being ravaged by the virus and being put on a ventilator for months?  

Evidently Swaim and his pal Snead believe so.

He then uses this as a cudgel to attack the policy makers, health care experts and the media as "cultural elites"  who "haven't thought deeply about what the human person is."

Well, contrary to Swaim's blarney I am sure they have to the extent of best figuring out how to prevent deaths from filling up emergency grave sites, hospitals and leaving even more devastated families behind.  Indeed, his ignorance knows no bounds as when he next lets Snead bellow: 

"Is the point of human life simply to hide away in a bubble wrap container so that you don't ever encounter any risk?"   

No, Sparky, that's not the point - which you paint in caricature style.  The point is to protect human life from the ravages of one of the worst plagues to visit humanity in 100 years, with over 600,000 dead Americans as it is. The job of those medical "elites" was to enhance chances of survival - until a vaccine was ready - so there would be an opportunity for real freedom and to live and thrive a future day. 

Not content with these attacks on the "elites", Swaim then focuses on American labor  and  the "dignity of work."  He writes:

"The pandemic also cast light on the elites' attitudes toward work.  Many politicians like to proclaim the dignity of work. A job is supposed to be about respect,  your dignity and your place in the community,  Yet a great deal of policy making since March, 2020:  months long prohibitions on gainful labor, cash  payments to able-bodied people  -   did not reflect that sentiment."

Adding: "Can we conclude from this that we no longer really believe in the dignity of work?"

A lot of smug, pompous balderdash spouted there, but none of it recognizes what work has become in the US of A for many: A downright disagreeable race to the bottom with employers even trying to stiff workers at almost every turn, e.g.

The reality of the American work scene (for the non-white collar millions)  was best captured in a recent piece in the NY Times by Ezra Klein, when he wrote:

"The American economy runs on poverty, or at least the constant threat of it. Americans like their goods cheap and their services plentiful and the two of them, together, require a sprawling labor force willing to work tough jobs at crummy wages. On the right, the barest glimmer of worker power is treated as a policy emergency, and the whip of poverty, not the lure of higher wages, is the appropriate response."

Let's make no mistake it is the last that Swaim is reacting to:  the potential for workers to break their chains of poverty subservience and manipulation. The truth being that he associates "dignity" with holding workers to the threat of the "whip of poverty",  i.e. in  a system with a vast labor surplus.  Thus, he and his sock puppet - Snead - wax on about how work is being undermined  because too much government "cash" is being infused to help people. 

Thus we see also Swaim letting sanctimonious Snead (a prof at Notre Dame)  lecture us that work is "not just about having money to live" but also (quoting a John Paul II encyclical 'Laborem Exercens') "achieving fulfillment as a human being and becoming more a human being."

Yeah, but not on beggar's wages and in exploitative conditions.  That papal aspiration only applies if the wages paid enable him (and his family) to live with dignity, as opposed to a hand-to-mouth austerity existence   - always dependent on food stamps or food kitchens- given the poverty wages paid for too many "crummy jobs".

From here Swaim and his pal Snead predictably go to "the instinctive dislike of masking in parts of America."   And are advised by Snead: "Anything that dehumanizes another person,  anything that prevents one person from recognizing and connecting to another, is a bad idea,"

Yeppers! So that includes both masks and lockdowns.   They might want to check - before they push the next round of twaddle - what is happening in Australia right now with the Delta variant forcing gov't to impose new restrictions, masking demands, shutdowns.  Are  the Aussie state governments being meanies?  No, they are just trying to prevent a death scene such as we witnessed in India recently when the Delta variant first emerged.  In the words of Nigel McMillan, professor of medical science at Griffith University in Queensland (Financial Times yesterday):

"The virus has upped its game with the Delta variant."

 He added the strain first detected in India was up to four times as transmissible as the original Sars-Cov-2 virus and twice as transmissible as the Alpha variant first identified in the UK.  Hence, for the state governments to do nothing - especially given continued low vaccination rates - would be to invite an Indian--style calamity.   Even Israel, a country with high vaccination rates and relatively low Covid cases, has reimposed some precautions after the Delta variant infected some vaccinated people.

And yet (ibid.) we see the clueless O. Carter Snead actually comparing the "impersonalization" of masking to "what you see online, people treating each other in ways unimaginable if they were in the same room."

In other words, if you are wearing a mask in the midst of the Delta variant resurgence you are little better than an online troll who hides behind his keyboard. 

So much for any serious inputs on these issues from either Swaim or Snead.  The column is merely another means to attack the professionals which Swaim has already done before, e.g.

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