The Coronavirus and the Liberty versus saving lives debate

The Coronavirus pandemic has ignited online one of the most important debates, where do you draw line between saving lives and protecting freedom and liberty. This is also an internal debate I’ve been struggling with since this whole crisis began and I’ve switched back and forth as things have developed, often too rapidly to keep up with

When the voluntary mass cancellations of sporting events, the closings of schools, and the travel bans from overseas first occurred I believed all of this was an unnecessary overreaction on a major scale.  I maintained that belief for several days.  It wasn’t until I learned the goal behind all of this was to “flatten the curve” that I changed my mind.  Reading this article from The Federalist Papers article Coronavirus Control Measures Aren’t Pointless – Just Slowing Down The Pandemic Could Save Millions of Lives is what changed my mind about all of this

The goal is to “flatten the curve.” Rather than letting the virus quickly rampage through the population and burn itself out fast, the idea is to spread all those infections out over a longer period of time.

Flattening the curve is another way of saying buying more time. Yes, it would potentially prolong the epidemic. But in doing so, public health agencies and the health care infrastructure gain invaluable time to respond to the crisis.

Most importantly, “flattening the curve” provides an opportunity to significantly reduce deaths from COVID-19.

On the steep rise of the epidemic curve, especially when testing capacity is lacking, there is a tremendous burden on health care providers – many of whom will fall ill themselves and be forced to self-isolate, becoming unable to provide care for those in need. At the same time, there is immense pressure placed on health care facilities where demand for patient care will outpace capacity – things like the number of hospital beds, ventilators and so on – for a significant amount of time.

Now that I’m familiar with the topic of flattening the curve I can see that this disruption of normal life is necessary when a society is facing a dangerous contagious disease.  This health crisis introduced me to another new concept which can halt the spread of a communicable disease:

Social distancing requires changes in how people work, live and interact with each other. It may require canceling or avoiding big events, limiting nonessential travel and rescheduling conferences. Traditional classroom instruction may have to move to online delivery – already happening in some colleges and universities, though less easy to do for K-12 schools.

Unfortunately this current threat is a completely new strain of virus, one where no one has a natural immunity.  It is the unknown nature of the threat that convinced me that the closings and cancelings are necessary.

The complete clinical picture with regard to COVID-19 is not fully known. Reported illnesses have ranged from very mild (including some with no reported symptoms) to severe, including illness resulting in death. While information so far suggests that most COVID-19 illness is mild, a reportexternal icon out of China suggests serious illness occurs in 16% of cases. Older people and people of all ages with severe chronic medical conditions — like heart disease, lung disease and diabetes, for example — seem to be at higher risk of developing serious COVID-19 illness.

The CDC Website on COVID-19 contains a wealth of great information on this current threat.  It is the communicable nature of this disease that convinced me that these steps are necessary.

A pandemic is a global outbreak of disease. Pandemics happen when a new virus emerges to infect people and can spread between people sustainably. Because there is little to no pre-existing immunity against the new virus, it spreads worldwide.

The virus that causes COVID-19 is infecting people and spreading easily from person-to-person. Cases have been detected in most countries worldwide and community spread is being detected in a growing number of countries. On March 11, the COVID-19 outbreak was characterized as a pandemic by the WHO

This Newsweek article Newt Gingrich: I Am in Italy Amid the Coronavirus Crisis. America Must Act Now—And Act Big was the final piece of information that changed my mind and convinced me that all of this is necessary.

These steps are not an overreaction. The coronavirus is out of control of in Northern Italy. As of 6 p.m. local/1 p.m. EST on March 10, there were 15,113 total cases in Italy, with 12,839 active cases, 1,016 deaths and 1,258 recoveries. And there were 162 total cases here in Rome.

The hardest-hit region around Milan has had to improvise as its health system has been deeply stressed by the sheer number of patients. In Milan and Brescia, field hospitals have been set up in the fairgrounds as the local hospitals have been drowned in patients.

Because the demand for respirators and intensive care has been beyond any previous planning, doctors have been forced into the kind of triage thinking developed for intense battlefield casualty situations. There are reports that emergency room doctors are allotting respirators to those with higher life expectancy due to the limited equipment in the hardest hit areas of the province. If you are older or have other illnesses, you may simply not be eligible for treatment.

As Libertarian I am 100 percent against the government at any level, but especially the federal government, ordering the mandatory canceling of events, domestic travel bans, and closing private businesses.  A much better solution would be for the government to urge, suggest, and educate that all of this necessary, and it takes place.  A voluntary curtailing of social activity is the only way to preserve our freedom and rights while protecting our health.  The mandatory steps taken by Governor Charlie Baler and the rest are wrong because they are mandated by the government.

Unfortunately a lot of people do not listen to good advise and refuse to stop engaging in behavior that puts others at risk of catching this disease, which could cause the virus to spread uncontrollably.  What do we do about that?  UGH.  That is the question that I’m struggling with the most. Liberty is the freedom to do as you wish as long as you do not harm others.  Spreading the virus to others definitely harms them and could harm society as a whole.  

The Patriots Post Tom Brady Expectations Game

The Tom Brady Era in New England has ended.

Although it was not known at the time the coming of Tom Brady to the New England Patriots was a sports earthquake, much like the coming of Babe Ruth to the Yankees in Baseball or Bill Russell to the Celtics in Basketball or Wayne Gretzky to Edmonton in Hockey.

In all of these cases it was quickly established that the coming of said superstar meant that the franchise in question was now considered the prohibitive favorite to win the championship in their sport.

And with the exception of the Yankees who amazingly thanks to the coming of Lou Gehrig during the Ruth Era and Joe DiMaggio during the Gehrig Era and Mickey Mantle & Yogi Berra during the DiMaggio era in succession kept those high exceptions post Ruth the departure of Brady means a re-evaluation of the expectation for both the Patriots and for the Tampa Bay Devil Rays.

Let’s start with the New England Patriots.

The New England Patriots began playing in 1960 and played with a quarterback other than Tom Brady starting games from that year though the year 2000. They played a 14 game schedule from 1960-1976 and a 16 game schedule since. The Patriots had a winning record in 22 out of those 41 seasons. Of those 22 winning seasons the teams best pre Brady Years in terms of wins were as follows

  • 1964 10-3-1
  • 1976 11-3
  • 1978 11-5
  • 1985 11-5
  • 1986 11-5
  • 1996 11-5

During that period these were the years that they won their division

1963, 1978, 1986, 1996, 1997

During that period these are the years they made the playoffs

1963, 1976, 1978, 1982, 1985, 1986, 1994, 1996, 1997, 1998

Of those playoff years these are the years they won at least one playoff game

1963, 1985,1996,1997

During that period these were the years they made it to the Superbowl or the AFL Championship game pre-superbowl

1963, 1985, 1996

They never won a championship

So as you can see over 41 years the aNew England / Boston Patriots

  • Had a winning record 55% of the time
  • won 11 or more game (10 in a 14 game season) 14.6% of the time
  • won their division 12% of the time
  • made the playoffs 24% of the time
  • won a playoff game 9.7% of the time
  • went to a championship game 7% of the time winning 0%

Tom Brady took over as the Patriots starting QB during the 2001 season and remained the starting QB through the 2019 season. During that 20 year period these are the season where they did NOT win at least 12 games

  • 2001 11-5 (partial Brady Season)
  • 2002 9-7
  • 2005 10-6
  • 2008 11-5 (Brady injured game 1 out for season)
  • 2009 10-6
  • 2018 11-5

These are the seasons during the Brady years that the Patriots did NOT win their division or make the playoffs

2002, 2008

These are the seasons during the Brady years that the Patriots dd NOT win a playoff game

2002,2008,2009,2010, 2019

These are the seasons during the Brady years that the Patriots did NOT go to the Superbowl

2002, 2005, 2006, 2008, 2009, 2010,2012,2013, 2015, 2019

So lets sum up during the Tom Brady Years

  • Had a winning record 100% of the time
  • The Patriots won at least 12 games 70% of the time
  • The Patriots won their division & made the playoffs 90% of the time
  • The Patriots won at LEAST one playoff game 70% of the time
  • The Patriots went to the Superbowl 50% of the time
  • The Patriots WON the superbowl 30% of the time (67% of the times they went)

Or to put it another way, the best New England/Boston Patriots seasons in their pre-Brady years would be considered failures during the Brady years and their three appearances in the Superbowl/Championship would all be rated at best disappointments in the Brady era.


Now the Tom Brady Era has officially ended which means that unless Jarrett Stidham or any quarterback that they draft this season turns into the 2nd coming of Lou Gehrig logically our expectations for Patriots should return to a pre-Brady level to wit.

Any year that the New England Patriots post Brady:

  • Have a winning record: should be considered OK
  • Win 11 games: should be considered a success
  • Win their division: should be considered a big success
  • Make the playoffs: should considered a huge success.
  • Win a playoff game: should be considered an spectacular success
  • Go to the Superbowl: should be considered an extraordinary success
  • Win a Superbowl: should be considered a Miracle

Now there are those who consider that a fair amount of Tom Brady’s success in general and the Patriots success in particular should be given to Coach Bill Belichick who some consider the greatest coach in Football history. For those of you who consider this the case let’s make a slight adjustment.

Any year the New England Patriots Under Belichick post Brady

  • Win a Superbowl, it’s an extraordinary success
  • Go to the Superbowl it’s a spectacular success
  • Win a playoff game it’s a Huge success
  • Make the playoffs, it’s a big success
  • Win their division, it’s a success
  • Win at least 11 games, it’s an OK season
  • Win less than 11 games…fire the bum!

These are reasonable expectations. I suspect that Patriots fans after two decades of winning will not be as generous as me with their expectations.