September 30, 2020

Why I'm on Team Mask.

A LOT is being said by people I usually agree with and even look up to regarding the oppressive tyranny of having people wear masks, and how this is an unnecessary and useless annoyance, a violation of our civil rights and a sign of submission to a tyrannical state 

I disagree.

If we're going to open up (and I think we should have done so before now) we need to do everything in our power to slow the transmission of this bug. It may be less lethal than it was earlier in the year due to improved treatments, but it is still very lethal to the elderly and the vulnerable. 

While it is true that masks (other than N-95, N-99 and equivalent) provide very incomplete protection, they do provide some, and if everyone is wearing them their aggregate effect is substantial. We've seen this demonstrated in places like Japan, Korea and Singapore where they have been quite effective. 

There is an anti-mask meme going around about a fellow using a chain link fence to stop mosquitoes. This is...flawed.

The virus itself is indeed tiny enough to avoid most facemask fibers, but is generally attached to water droplets and dust particles that are much less so, and thus a significant percentage of viri can be caught by less effective coverings.  Also, the purpose of the mask is not necessarily to protect the wearer, but to prevent spread, with lower grade masks this is to prevent the wearer from transmitting the disease and thereby protect those most vulnerable. If an asymptomatic person and a vulnerable person nearby are both wearing masks, the chances of transmission to the vulnerable individual are significantly reduced. 

A good analogy is the "Duck and cover!" drill that scared so many of us as children during the cold war. That desk we were hiding under (or a convenient ditch) was not going to provide any great protection against an atomic explosion. However, it was one of the few measures that was demonstrated to work...albeit on a macro scale. Ducking and covering, would, in a statistical sense increase ones chances of avoiding injury by an amount that was statistically significant in the aggregate. A, let's say, arbitrarily, 2 percent increase in chance of survival is of no great significance to an individual. However, in a nation of 300 million, that's six million more people alive than there would be otherwise. These macro trends are how public health decisions have to be made. 

I find it amusing that the sneering douchebags who poo poo'd the duck and cover drills as futile are draconian about the masks, and those who understand the grim and desperate calculus behind the old cold war drills and who arm up and  prepare for all manner of catastrophe, won't wear them.

Increasingly the retort to this from the right is the libertarian principle of "Why should I give a f**k about the vulnerable?...I don't like it...ain't gonna do it"

Well, there are counterarguments to that, but as a conservative, I'm unpersuasive by association, so I'll let Karl Kasarda, one of the more Libertarian Libertarians that have Libertarian'd on Gun Tube to explain almost exactly how I feel. 

This is part of an unrelated Q&A session, if for some reason, it doesn't queue up to the right point, the relevant bit is at 39:50

He is kinda wrong about herd immunity being unachievable without a vaccine. In the early 1600's the Natives of North America achieved herd immunity to chicken pox without a vaccine, (but that was a sub optimal outcome for them). Now, the Chi-Com bat-soup-pestilence is nowhere near as dangerous a disease as that, but it has killed almost half as many people as flu1918 did in about one third the time. 

Kasarda also at one point suggests that those not on team mask are sociopaths, but I don't think that is either helpful or even correct. I think most of them are just either autistically oblivious, or fed up with being pushed around.  And in fairness, they do have some completely valid points that don't involve masks. 

The lockdowns seemed like a good idea with the info that was available (particularly the calamity that was befalling Italy) at the time but the implementation in many locales WAS tyrannical. 

The restrictions ARE likely to be a template for any oppressive measures to control the citizenry.  
The masks ARE seen by certain of our leaders as a symbol of which they ditch as soon as they think the cameras are off
The examples of political targeting with and selective enforcement of the restrictions ARE numerous. 
Perhaps the most worrying trend was the snitch lines reminiscent of the East German Stassi. Furthermore, the prosecutions of protestors, in cars, wearing masks who only wanted to open their businesses, and Parishoners in cars, for violating lockdowns which was followed,  by the initial waves of the still ongoing riots  as not applicable to epidemiological precautions...which were being explicitly endorsed  by  the same health care providers who had pushed for the lockdowns...well that did not inspire confidence that restrictions are not politically motivated cruelty. 
Finally, the devastation wrought on small businesses by the lockdowns and the hyper acceleration of worrying trends in retail and real estate by them have done nothing to alleviate the fears of those who feel (rightly to an extent) that the powers that be hate them and will miss no opportunities to screw with them. 

Note though, that those valid points are about the clumsily targeted lockdowns and not the masks, which are lumped in with them  by a beleaguered and miserable public.

However, if we are to continue to open up again I REALLY don't think that a mask is the hill to die upon. Indeed, to the extent that it mitigates the spread, it will prevent further devastating lockdowns by making them unnecessary and indefensible even to those who gain a sadistic pleasure in inflicting them upon us. 

With regard to those smug nags who look down on those who chafe at the lockdowns as if they were impatient children, I think it was Pete who mentioned in the comments some months back that there are two Americas right now. 

There are those like myself who are unaffected or making MORE money than usual, and those whose lives have been absolutely devastated by the lockdowns. I see little difference in empathy levels between the oblivious libertarians who refuse on "principle" the basic civic duty of wearing a mask to prevent the spread of a disease and the contemptuous indifference that those who can continue their jobs via ZOOM have towards those who are loosing everything while those who hold the keys to power keep them imprisoned. 

The minor annoyance of wearing a mask when in a store or using public transit seems like a small price to pay for ending both the economic and human nightmare, and seems like an easy way to give some protection to those who are most vulnerable to this gift from the CCP. 

This being an election year, there are other practical, though less universally appreciated  reasons to wear a mask as well; ones that don't actually involve giving a hoot about anyone else. The vulnerable are largely old people and if they die of the Wu-Flu before November 3rd they will surely (as the dead are wont to do) end up voting Democratic. 

Posted by: The Brickmuppet at 05:35 PM | No Comments | Add Comment
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