Now that Donald Trump has broached the possibility of quickly easing the restrictions that he thinks are harming the economy (which in his mind is the stock market), other right wingers are joining in support, using a curious argument.
Joining the president, a growing chorus of American television pundits, business leaders, tech investors, cryptocurrency enthusiasts, and right-wing influencers have decided to convince the American people that possibly dying from the coronavirus is a small price to pay for economic health.
No clearer was this utilitarian calculus articulated than by Texas Republican Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick on Fox News’ Tucker Carlson Tonight on Monday night following Trump’s White House briefing. Patrick suggested that Americans over 70 would be happy to die for the good of the American economy.
“Those of us who are 70 plus, we’ll take care of ourselves. But don’t sacrifice the country,” Patrick said. “No one reached out to me and said, ‘As a senior citizen, are you willing to take a chance on your survival in exchange for keeping the America that America loves for its children and grandchildren?’ And if that is the exchange, I’m all in.”
Patrick has been excoriated for his cavalier disregard for the lives of older people.
— pixelatedboat aka “mr tweets” (@pixelatedboat) March 24, 2020
Notice that Patrick is casually sacrificing an entire generation that did not appoint him as their spokesperson. You can be sure he will make sure that he himself is never in any danger. This is quite different from what happened after the Fukushima nuclear reactor caused by the earthquake and tsunami in 2011. A group of retired engineers and other professionals actually volunteered to go into the damaged reactor and do the clean up because they felt that it would be better for them to be exposed to the radiation than young people who had their entire lives before them.
It is funny how this concern for the world we leave to future generations works only in one direction. Patrick says he is willing to sacrifice his own life to make the world better for his children and grandchildren. But when those same children and grandchildren ask for urgent action to save the planet that they will inherit from the ravages of global warning, actions that would not require him to die, suddenly the message changes to “Tough luck, kids!” What they really care about is preserving or growing their own wealth.
You may also remember how when the Affordable Care Act was being debated, critics such as Sarah Palin (where is she now, anyway?) warned that it would ration health care and create ‘death panels’ that would decide that grandma needed to die. But when it comes to saving corporations and boosting stock prices, grandmas suddenly become expendable.