If you’re Extremely Online these days—and who isn’t, since we’re not allowed to leave the house for any purpose except to stare longingly at an empty toilet paper aisle—you probably saw this heinous clip last night from Texas lieutenant governor Dan Patrick:
Without even disguising it, really, Patrick says that we must risk death in order to “save” the stock market. If the patriotism of old says that you must die for the good of your country, capitalism of the current Republican variety says you must die for the good of your economy. It's chilling, it's so nakedly selfish as to be almost funny, and it's incredibly stupid—re-opening the American economy now will very likely have the effect of overwhelming our nation's hospitals, at which point things could get so bad that there would be no choice but to shut it all down again. That would tank the economy again, and it would also come too late to “flatten the curve” and mitigate the spread of the coronavirus. People would die for a temporary bounce in the market.
Make no mistake—even though Trump is smart enough not to say it aloud, this is the exact calculus he's advocating when he talks about sending people back to work next week even as the pandemic grows. We all know that politicians like Trump don't really care about us, but this takes it to another level—if the market benefits, they're okay with seeing you die. It's a triage system, and “economic prosperity” is higher on the list than your life.
And guess what? It's working.