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On March 24, President Trump expressed an intense desire to begin the process of loosening restrictions in some portions of our country so that the American economy can slowly begin to emerge from the government-imposed shutdown of most commerce.
"We cannot let the cure be worse than the problem itself," he tweeted. "At the end of the 15 day period, we will make a decision as to which way we want to go!"
Later that day, in his daily briefing, he expanded on the point.
"We're going to be taking care and watching very closely our senior citizens, especially those with a problem or an illness," the president said. "We're going to be watching them very, very closely. And we can do that and have an open economy, have an open country."
"We have to do that because that causes other problems," Trump concluded. "Maybe [the economic shutdown] causes much bigger problems than the problem we're talking about now."
He is absolutely right. So, naturally, critics on the Left and in the media immediately attacked the president for "ignoring the scientists" for the sake of getting the economy out of a coma.
"We're not going to accept the premise that human life is disposable, and we're not going to put a dollar figure on human life," lectured New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo.
Trump will kill people to protect his re-election chances, claimed left-wing rag Vox.
"Trump thinks he knows better than the doctors!" claimed The New York Times.
But, is it really "ignoring science" to say that an economic shutdown "causes other problems... much bigger problems" than the problems associated with the COVID-19 virus?
Actually, it's a scientific fact that a drastic collapse of the economy has enormous health ramifications. The economic despair Americans are now feeling is quite literally a matter of life and death.
According to an exhaustive study and analysis from Lancet (you remember them, they're the folks we're relying on for the catastrophic COVID-19 predictions), the 2008 economic shutdown had devastating health implications.
The London Telegraph wrote about the study in 2016. "From our analysis, we estimate that the economic crisis was associated with over 260,000 excess cancer deaths in the OECD (34-member Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development) alone, between 2008-2010," said Mahiben Maruthappu of Imperial College London. "This suggests that there could have been well over 500,000 excess cancer deaths worldwide during this time."
The report also found that every 1% increase in unemployment was associated with 0.37 additional cancer deaths per 100,000 people.
It makes sense. When people aren't working, their priorities are shifted due to the stress associated with needing to scramble to put food on the table and keep a roof over one's family's heads. One might neglect or put off a check-up for another day and that allows the disease to grow unchecked.
In 2014 Forbes focused on the suicide rates associated with the 2008 financial crisis. "Researchers from the University of Oxford compared suicide data from before 2007 with the years of the crisis and found more than 10,000 'economic suicides' associated with the recession across the U.S., Canada and Europe."
"There has been a substantial rise in suicides during the recession, considerably more than we would have expected based on previous trends," said the study's lead author, Aaron Reeves.
This is science. Why should the scientific analysis of doctors solely focusing on the spread of the coronavirus carry more weight than the very real scientific analysis of the deadly health ramifications of shutting down our economy? Doesn't the totality of the data make the argument for a balanced approach to this crisis?
There's also another tangible calamity associated with the draconian economic destruction imposed on our country. Mark Levin touched on this last night on Fox News.
My appearance on Hannity pic.twitter.com/wCK4rLGNTP— Mark R. Levin (@marklevinshow) April 3, 2020
"[I]f this economy tanks, there are no hospitals. There are no ventilators; there are no vaccines, there are no doctors, nobody's working," the nationally syndicated radio superstar said.
"We have food; we have heat, we have clean water. Who you think is giving that to us? Other citizens," Levin said. "Electricity, gasoline for our cars. Truckers, we have a mail service, UPS, FedEx, grocery stores, fast-food drive-throughs, all open, all functioning. We get soap and diapers and toilet paper, prescription drugs, 7-Elevens are open. Doctors, nurses, cops, firefighters, more, going into these hot zones despite the fact that they are exposed."
"I'm not saying drop all the conditions. I'm saying let's get a little smarter about this. We don't ask these businesses, 'Can you adjust to the virus? [Are there] things you can do?'"
Of course, he's absolutely right.
We must no longer accept the false premise that discussions centered around social distancing and government-imposed quarantine are the only scientifically valid arguments in this crisis. Science, fact and pure logic support the irrefutable premise that if our economy continues to suffer under this forced collapse, we will soon feel health and safety repercussions that will far exceed the current crisis in New York City.
A balanced approach forward with portions of our economy in geographically viable portions of our country is the only way we can emerge from this crisis.
We are not choosing between jobs and stopping the virus. We are not choosing between a vigorous economy and social distancing. This is not a simple binary equation. We can have both. We must have both.
Without a strong economy, we can't solve the problems we now face or the problems we may face down the road.
Larry O'Connor hosts two separate radio programs on WMAL in Washington DC and on KABC in Los Angeles. He has a daily, 30-minute podcast covering U.S. Politics and featuring interviews with newsmakers and pundits on the biggest stories of the day. Subscribe here.