Accountability for COVID-19

A while ago, some asshole with a blog argued that eighty percent, plus or minus, of elected officials who presided during the pandemic shouldn’t be reelected:

I will grant that, on the whole, more Republicans have been more destructive than Democrats, but when I look at states, I find very few that haven’t fucked up their COVID-19 response. Yes, Trump et alia put the entire country behind the damn eight ball. Still, many local responses have been poor and exacerbated the problem. Others have been extremely mediocre. Very few have taken the metrics seriously, and have used them as excuses to loosen restrictions, but, mysteriously, almost never to tighten them (until it’s too late). Trying to get ahead of spikes and anticipating surges hasn’t happened in almost every state (in many states, the de facto policy has been, as long as hospitals aren’t completely overwhelmed, to just let ‘er rip).

…So I keep returning to this problem: most state and local governments failed–in too many cases, catastrophically–to meet the greatest acute domestic challenge in my lifetime**. Yet our political system won’t punish them for that failure, and most of them won’t resign either…. I get that this is (likely, hopefully) a one-off event, but a lack of accountability given such failure still does not seem to be a good thing.

But compared to this BMJ editorial, said asshole with a blog was downright sedate (boldface mine):

Murder is an emotive word. In law, it requires premeditation. Death must be deemed to be unlawful. How could “murder” apply to failures of a pandemic response? Perhaps it can’t, and never will, but it is worth considering. When politicians and experts say that they are willing to allow tens of thousands of premature deaths for the sake of population immunity or in the hope of propping up the economy, is that not premeditated and reckless indifference to human life?

…Laws on political misconduct or negligence are complex and not designed to react to unprecedented events, but as more than two million people have died, we must not look on impotently as elected representatives around the world remain unaccountable and unrepentant. What standard should leaders be judged by? Is it the small number of deaths in countries such as New Zealand and Taiwan, or the harsher standard of zero excess deaths? Deaths do not come as single spies but as a battalion of bereaved families, shattered lives, long term illness, and economic ruin.

From the United States to India, from the United Kingdom to Brazil, people feel vulnerable and betrayed by the failure of their leaders. The over 400 000 deaths from covid-19 in the US, 250 000 in Brazil, 150 000 each in India and Mexico, and 100 000 in the UK comprise half of the world’s covid death toll—on the hands of only five nations. Donald Trump was a political determinant of health who damaged scientific institutions. He suffered electoral defeat, but does Trump remain accountable now that he is out of office?

…But the global picture does not absolve individual leaders and governments from responsibility. Many of the independent panel’s conclusions place the blame squarely at the doorsteps of rulers, although you will be hard pressed to find a single politician who has admitted responsibility for the extent of premature death, let alone resigned. Several have expressed contrition, but “sorry” rings hollow as deaths rise and policies that will save lives are deliberately avoided, delayed, or mishandled.

Others say they have done all they can or that the pandemic was uncharted territory; there was no playbook. None of these are true. They are self-serving political lies from the “gaslighters in chief” around the globe. Some attempt to defend their record by claiming that their country has done more testing, counts deaths better, or has more obesity and population density. All of these may contribute, but counting methods or population factors do not explain the sheer scale of the variation in performance.

I think back to D.C.–by far, the bluest territory in the U.S.–in November 2021, as Delta was surging and Omicron arriving, how Mayor Bowser went to the Biden administration and asked them to send federal employees back to the office to help downtown businesses (even the New Democrat Biden administration wasn’t that fucking stupid, and told her to pound sand). This should be disqualifying. Again, this isn’t some MAGA/Trump official, it’s a Democratic official in a very Democratic colonial territory.

But the pandemic is over (so we’re told), so there will be no accountability.

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3 Responses to Accountability for COVID-19

  1. ProperJusticeNeeded says:

    The problem is that at this point every single government in the world other than the Chinese and perhaps North Korea is guilty of crimes against humanity on the grandest scale.

    Remember that the Israelis were hunting Dr. Mengele for 35 years with the express wish to have him executed.

    And the only difference between what Dr. Mengele and Unit 731 were doing — forced infection of people with deadly pathogens — and what the likes of the GBD supporting academics, at this point most of the mainstream academic community, and all of the politicians committed is the scale And that difference is that Dr. Mengele’s, Unit 731’s, etc. crimes were much smaller in scale than what we witnessed the last two years.

    We can perhaps add the fact that today nobody is injecting people with viruses directly, but Mengele and Shiro Ishii probably didn’t do most of the experimentation personally either, they ordered it from their desks, just as their modern day equivalents.

    So if established post-WWII precedent is to be followed there should be a few hundred thousand people in government, academia and business around the world who need to be summarily shipped to the Hague, tried for their crimes, then executed.

    But it is never going to happen because these are all the people currently in power around the world, unless there is a mass uprising from below. Which isn’t going to happen either because the propaganda did its job marvelously and now people think it is in their best interest to have their life expectancy cut by decades and to die premature deaths by drowning in their own bodily fluids from ARDS, strokes and heart attacks in their 40s and 50s, etc.

  2. johnkrehbiel says:

    ISTM that a lot of the problem is that the CDC is science informed, not science driven. (See early advice not to rush out and get masks, based on the fear that medical professionals would be unable to get masks in the great toilet paper famine) Their advice is based partly on scientific reality, partly on “common sense” and past practice, and partly on what they think people will go along with.

    If the solution according to science is that everybody stay home for one week, get vaccinated, then wear a mask at all schools and places of employment, and close the restaurants and churches for the duration, the public won’t accept it, so they don’t tell us that’s what will actually work.

  3. The pandemic is over until the next surge.

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