An Editorial That Will Live In Infamy

This is the headline for today’s editorial in the Colorado Springs Gazette, the leading right-of-center outlet in the state owned by Colorado Republican megadonor Phil Anschutz. If you’d rather not read the whole thing, and we would understand your decision to put it mildly, the answer reached by the Gazette editorial board to the question “should we save all lives in Colorado regardless of expense” is no, we should not save all lives in Colorado regardless of expense.

This editorial attempts to argue that the relative costs of sacrificing the gains made in controlling the spread of COVID-19 are less severe than relieving economic damage wrought by the stay-at-home order and shutdown of most businesses. In short, the argument is that poverty costs lives too, which is certainly true, and therefore unchecked COVID-19 could cause some quantity less loss of life than the poverty caused by the stay-at-home orders depending on whose projections turn out to be right.

What this leaves out is the fact that poverty, unlike COVID-19, is treatable. Poverty can be directly treated with economic stimulus, even though watching all that money flow out to society’s “takers” certainly must rankle the sensibilities of the Anschutz family and Mitch McConnell alike. But the choice we have to put lives unrecoverably at risk versus temporary economic pain which can be offset by treatment we don’t yet have for this pandemic disease means we cannot simply place a 1:1 valuation on GDP losses versus whatever the insurance industry thinks a human life is worth.

That this is exactly what the Gazette is trying to do here is…well, it’s notable, and not in a good way.

Although it ostensibly is meant to defend Gov. Polis’ controversial and tentative announcement that the stay-at-home order will begin to relax next week, this editorial’s deeply misguided reckoning of what matters in the short and long run–valuing replaceable dollars over irreplaceable lives–doesn’t help anyone. Not least because we don’t believe for a moment that Gov. Polis’ judgment is anywhere near so unprincipled. All of these questions are better left in the hands of people with consciences instead of those eager to trade lives for cash. Coloradans who tune in in unheard-of numbers to Polis’ daily press briefings (and increasingly tune out Donald Trump’s) know the difference.

Long after this pandemic is over, the people of Colorado Springs are going to look back on this editorial and heap shame upon its authors.

Probably not, but they should.

15 Community Comments, Facebook Comments

  1. davebarnes says:

    “Zone away stairs. This would substantially protect each American from the 1-in-122 lifetime chance of death by falling.”

    Are stairs contagious? If I fall, do others?
    If I fall down the stairs do I burden the ICU and suffer a painful death?
    If I avoid stairs can they reach out and make me fall?

    • MichaelBowman says:

      Don't you savor the #WhiteProsperityJesus crowd lecturing heathens on how they're not going to let something invisible control their lives? 


      • Diogenesdemar says:

        And, Je$u$ answered unto them, “Blessed are those whose lives are given as holy sacrifice for the wellbeing of billionaires, for they shall enhance corporate stock valuations.”

        Nothing new here . . . 
        . . . same as it ever was, pretty much.

      • Diogenesdemar says:

        But, Michael, isn’t it great great to see how much they are now deeply caring about the unemployed and people living in poverty . . .

        . . . this week,

        . . . when it serves some Kochish, Anschutzy agenda?

        Someone should give them a Presidential medal . . .

  2. Diogenesdemar says:

    So, Phil & Co. thinks it’s getting inconvenient and costing him too much now to keep us peons alive . . . 

    . . . I suppose you and I’d feel that same way too if we’d gotten through our billionaire lives without having to pay taxes ???

  3. spaceman65 says:

    Jeez, let's hope Phil doesn't get it

  4. 2Jung2Die says:

    Well, I guess writing "the jury is out" before claiming "researchers believe" a mild case of COVID gets you 60 years immunity is some type of journalistic plausible deniability?

  5. ajb says:

    Without reading the editorial, the headline presents a false choice. So how can it arrive at an honest conclusion?

    And this from the "every sperm is sacred" crowd. Sheesh.

    • kwtree says:

      I hope that a local news outlet will follow the lead of the Boston Globe and publish a 16 page obituary section about those who have died from Covid19, or from pneumonia or heart disease after being exposed to the virus, but never tested. 

      Seeing all those faces, and stories of their lives and families, will make the Covid Truther claims (that some lives aren’t worth saving ) ring hollow. In Colorado, we’ve had ~ 10,800 people diagnosed with the virus. ~2100 of those were hospitalized, and almost 500 have died, as of tonight 4/22/20. About half of those deaths were in nursing or long term care homes. CDPHE has a disaggregated count of the virus’ impact on the patients and staff in each facility here. 

      Are these heartless individuals prepared to let their elders and their caretakers sicken and die? Do “All Lives” really matter? Or are some lives more equal than others?

      To those who argue that “Tobacco/ alcohol/ whatever kills more people”, remember that “Tobacco doesn’t kill your nurse”.

      Reframing the “covid case numbers” into real people with stories and families and lives that ended too soon should change the tone of smug,self-serving editorials like this one.

  6. JohnInDenver says:

    I keep hoping that someone making the "cure is worse than the disease" argument will actually show their work.   What economic costs and number of deaths are on the "open up" side of the ledger?

    The "COVID-19 is scary" side is pretty easy to quantify.  In the CDPHE summary, today, 48 days after the first case and 40 days since the first Colorado death,

    • 50,645 People tested**  (less than 1% of Colorado's July 1, 2019 estimated population of 5,758,736 ).
    • 10,878 Cases* (21.5% of those tested)
    • 2,123 Hospitalized (19.5% of the cases)
    • 508 Deaths (4.67% of confirmed cases)

    And that number of deaths happened when we did NOT exceed hospital, ICU or ventilator capacity.  A concept of an economic value of a statistical life says the societal planning basis is around $10 million — so the deaths alone are $5 billion, for the initial period of the disease. 

  7. Diogenesdemar says:

    All you need to know about this idiotorial . . . 

    Whose afraid of . . . 

     “A bullet can blindly strike any American almost anywhere at any time, just as a virus could enter that same person’s nose.”

    . . . a blind bullet???!!

    Now the ones being launched out of a gun by someone pointing that at me or you?  Yeah, gotta’ admit, I’m kinda’ concerned about that one, . . . or six, . . . or ten, . . . or thirty, . . . or 100 . . . 

    Blindly-striking bullets — fuxsakes . . . 

  8. harrydoby says:

    It's not like Phil Anschutz has any skin in the game or anything, right?

  9. J.D. Ruybal says:

    This reasoning is right in line with the decision to choose a well built, able bodied, person over a person who simply does not fit a standard body type and/or has some handicap. Adding the choice of an upper or middle class, able-bodied, person to that reasoning is concerning as it gives a pass to the aberrant mind that will not and can not believe in science. It gives a pass to the aberrant mind that will, without question, contaminate its own life sustaining air and water. It gives a pass to the aberrant mind that will faithfully and indiscriminately destroy…Beauty over Brain and Money over Life. The “American” reality.

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