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Death Panels

Back when President Obama was trying to enact health care reform in 2009, Sarah Palin created and popularized the term “death panels”. She claimed that the ACA would create panels of bureaucrats who would decide who was “worthy of medical care”. Even though this was a complete fabrication on the part of Palin, it managed to turn many people against what Republicans derided as “socialized medicine”. And of course, the healthcare system then knew who was worthy of saving — people who had enough money (or power) to get healthcare or afford required drugs.

It would be like wanting to privatize firefighting because our current system will lead to panels of bureaucrats who would decide which houses were worthy of being saved when they caught fire. Or privatize police departments so you have to pay for their protection, or courts, or the military.

But last night, Donald Trump tweeted “We cannot let the cure be worse than the problem itself. At the end of the 15 day period, we will make a decision as to which way we want to go!”

The question Trump is saying we need to decide is whether the costs of social distancing are worth it. Do we want to focus on saving lives, or saving the economy by focusing only on “productive” citizens.

That’s right, Trump is proposing “death panels” pure and simple. We have to decide who is worth saving. And we already know Trump’s answer to that question. The rich and powerful, and even then, probably only those who support him.

Sarah Palin was lying when she claimed that the government would decide who lives and dies. But now that is exactly what Trump is proposing.

UPDATE: Trump is thinking about relaxing social distancing rules and having people go back to work … in order to “save” the economy.



  1. Hassan wrote:

    Trump is sacrificing thousands of lives not to save economy but to save his re-election. The death panels what Sarah Palin talked about was that allegedly in socialized medical system, in case of competition of medical resources/equipments, government or doctors would have to chose whose life to save.

    In this death panel, Trump is as usual being narcissitic and saving himself.

    Tuesday, March 24, 2020 at 6:16 am | Permalink
  2. Wildwood wrote:

    The Texas Lt. Governor just said that grandparents would be willing to die to save the economy. This grandparent says, well I think you should show us how it’s done. That’ll be one less idiot Trump voter in the fall. Add to that, the guy who died after taking fish tank cleaner because Trump said an ingredient in it would cure Covid 19. Another one who “probably” will not be voting for Trump in the fall.

    Tuesday, March 24, 2020 at 9:24 am | Permalink
  3. notycoon22 wrote:

    Hassan: I believe you’re correct. I might add, though, that, to Dear Leader, it’s the economy that is the key to reelection. They’re basically one and the same to him.

    Ironknee, you speak of deciding which houses would be saved and which wouldn’t in a fire situation. The overhead team of every major wildfire that burns toward a community creates a team that specifically determines which houses can be protected and which ones can’t.

    In an emergency, one does what one can with the resources at hand. In Italy, they are doing that via triage of Covid-19 patients. We, too, could see the same thing. Not that there will be death panels, but life and death decisions are made everyday in our hospitals and may very well be made in the US relative to C-19 due to shortages of material and equipment.

    That Dear Leader wants to play games with peoples’ lives in order to save it tender ass it reprehensible, though.

    Tuesday, March 24, 2020 at 9:25 am | Permalink
  4. Hassan wrote:

    So far the worst hit states are blue states, Trump could care less for them. As long as red states are safe.

    Tuesday, March 24, 2020 at 11:29 am | Permalink
  5. Jonah wrote:

    NY is the worst hit state but FL seems to have rapidly increasing number of cases. Since elderly people are worst hit Trump could lose quite a few thousand voters in key states.

    Tuesday, March 24, 2020 at 1:07 pm | Permalink
  6. Jonah wrote:

    The worst hit countries have been the ones where the leaders dismissed the threat early and are still paying the price. Countries like Italy, Spain, US and to some extent the UK.

    Asian countries have taken this seriously probably because this has happened to them before. S.Korea, Singapore, Taiwan and Japan seem to be handling this crisis a lot better because they took it very seriously.

    Tuesday, March 24, 2020 at 1:33 pm | Permalink
  7. William wrote:

    Another interesting data visualization tool looks at data from cell phones, determining distance traveled, then uses a reduction in that metric to rate US states and counties. Oregon, where I live, rated fifth-worst in reduction, down only 25%. My county rated a “B,” with a 37% reduction.

    I expect that we’ll see very different results in different states, moving forward, as we have seen with different countries around the world. Alas, I expect they might range from “marginal” to “very poor.”

    Tuesday, March 24, 2020 at 5:03 pm | Permalink
  8. PatriotSgt wrote:

    Folks. Please. Think.

    Yes, we’re doing right trying to reduce the initial spike, but we need to Soldier on and get back to work in another few weeks. Not months.
    Here are some articles with common sense facts. Not the fear mongering as per usual. Anybody remember Y2K? SARS, H1N1, MERs, all we’re supposed to wipe us out, yet here we are complying about the next thing that will wipe us out. Wrong again.

    Or maybe the Swedes have it right….

    We should protect our vulnerable, and that falls on each of us as responsible citizens.

    According to A study by Hopkins, the USA is the best prepared country in the world to handle a pandemic. Be sure to click the link to the study itself.

    So let’s stop loosing our minds. We’re doing well with less then a 1 1/2% fatality rate.

    And remember it was NYC mayor DeBlasio who refused to close his schools just 10 days ago, but now blames Trump for not doing enough. So blame DeBlasio for NYC’s big problem.

    Tuesday, March 24, 2020 at 6:20 pm | Permalink
  9. Jonah wrote:

    Just a reminder that the number dead is > 20K in just 4 months and the outbreak hasnt really taken hold in India and Africa just yet. So this is not the flu!!!!

    Also the fatality rate is ~4.5. For flu its about 0.01.

    Wednesday, March 25, 2020 at 3:20 pm | Permalink
  10. PatriotSGT wrote:

    Yes, Jonah is right Worldwide it is as he stated. However, our great country is (as I provided a link to above) the best prepared country to handle a pandemic. As of today, our fatality rate is still under 1.5%

    I do care about the rest rest of the world, but I care more about America. We’ll be fine if we stay the course and make good choices going forward. Our manufacturing engines can then help the rest of the world.

    Right now we need to do our part, each and every American, yes even college kids. Buckle down for another 2/3 weeks and the worst should be behind us, then we can save the world.

    Let’s go troops!

    Wednesday, March 25, 2020 at 5:02 pm | Permalink
  11. Jonah wrote:


    Wednesday, March 25, 2020 at 5:27 pm | Permalink
  12. William wrote:

    As some might have predicted, we may get “natural experiments” comparing different responses in different states. Kentucky and Tennessee appear to be diverging:

    Wednesday, March 25, 2020 at 9:46 pm | Permalink
  13. Jonah wrote:

    One more note. When reports came out of China in early January I made light of the whole outbreak because the fatality rate seemed similar to a normal flue at the time ie around 0.1 % and younger people seemed to be generally unaffected. As more data has come out its evident that this is much more serious than the flu. The fatality rate might be “only” ~1% in some cases but what people don’t know is that the hospitalization and ICU rates are much much higher than we would be comfortable with. Take a look at the CDC table in the article below

    About 15% of more of 20-44 year olds are hospitalized. Even assuming a 1% fatality rate thats 10x more than the flu and what will make it worse is that we dont have enough beds and ICU’s and PPE. The lack of PPE will ensure that HC workers will get infected and exacerbate the entire crisis.

    Long story short, the high hospitalization and ICU rates are getting no publicity and they should. Why? Because the more people get crammed into the hospital the more they are likely to die and the fatality rate is likely to climb higher. That’s what’ll happen unless the outbreak is controlled. Letting everyone getting infected is not an option. Even the UK gave up on that and is on lock down.

    One middle road out of this is to see who has antibodies to the virus ie immune. People already infected and who have recovered will have those. The UK is testing kits to check this and its imperative that the US and the rest of the world does the same. This way people who are immune can get back to work while we suppress the virus. This has to be though out and strategic. We cant let EVERYONE congregate at Easter like Trump wants. That is crazy!!!

    Thursday, March 26, 2020 at 1:59 am | Permalink
  14. Iron Knee wrote:

    This is a stunning video. An emergency room doctor in NYC talks about how overwhelmed they are, how they do not even have enough basic supplies. People in charge keep repeating that everything is fine, but it is not. People are dying, hospitals are overwhelmed, now, and by every estimate it is going to get worse.

    This is not the flu, unless you want to compare it to the flu back in 1918 (misleadingly called the Spanish flu). One third of the world population contracted this flu, and while it is unclear how many people died, the best estimates are 50-100 million people. That’s a morbidity rate of 1-2%. At least 675,000 of those were Americans, and our population is 3.3 times larger now. Are you ok with over 2 million Americans dying now?

    The coronavirus does not resemble SARS, MERS, or Ebola, which are easily contained, so don’t think that just because we were able to contain them that the same thing will happen with Covid-19. See

    Thursday, March 26, 2020 at 8:59 am | Permalink
  15. PatriotSGT wrote:

    I hope policy makers at all levels, from local to State and Federal study this Pandemic to improve our posture going forward. Too many missteps out of panic and lack of preparedness, particularly at the local and state levels.

    My last point on dealing with this shutting down, and people advocating to shut down the economy for months. There are more families being put at risk by shutting everything down, then those being effected. It’s clear if you read IK’s posts that social distancing is a failure, mainly because the people were relying on to save the vulnerable either don’t care or refuse to comply.

    Forcing those that do to lose jobs, savings, put families under extreme stress, while apparently others could care less is wrong. Our leaders need to be smarter, particularly at the local and state level. In my state they have closed schools, all non-essential businesses, and now daycares. They say daycares except for essential personnel. My is self employed and runs her own daycare. She’s been without clients or income since the shutdown began. They enacted the shutdown and asked providers to fill out an application to care for essential personnel families, which she did. The her State supervisor calls and tells her she has 5,000, applicants and 2 people to work the pile of apps. Her boss is over stressed and has know idea when she’ll be able to get anyone approved.

    This is a prime example of putting the cart before the horse. Makes a good sound bite for re-election, but actually makes the problem far worse.

    We don’t need to shut down everything everywhere. We need to think, plan and think things thru to the end without fear, otherwise more people will die, because of bad decisions. Politicians are good at getting elected, that’s what they do. The does not equate to being a good manager.

    At least Gov Cuomo, although no dan of Trump seems to be re-considering his shut everything down first reaction. I hope other Governor’s including mine reconsiders before they make things worse.

    Thursday, March 26, 2020 at 6:18 pm | Permalink
  16. William wrote:

    IBM makes available updates down to the county level through their Weather Channel subsidiary:

    By default, this seems to show data for the county and state you just searched for weather, but you can search for other counties, or pan and zoom the map. (I’d thought that Seattle/King County might have managed to flatten their curve, but it looks like IBM just didn’t get updated data from them today.)

    Thursday, March 26, 2020 at 10:01 pm | Permalink
  17. Iron Knee wrote:

    One thing I think we can agree on is that testing is crucial. We have to be able to know where the hot spots are, so we can selectively shut down places. Countries that have instituted widespread testing have been able to do this. But without widespread testing, the only thing they can do is shut everything down.

    PSgt, I’m surprised that you seem to be blaming the state and local level for this problem. Do you have a reason why (other than Fox News)?

    Friday, March 27, 2020 at 12:41 am | Permalink
  18. PatriotSGT wrote:

    Yes, IK more testing would allow for identifying the hot spots and make better choices.
    Just like a war, you don’t keep shooting if the enemy is not there.
    I talk about the local and state level because they are the ones making the closure decisions for various businesses. The fed does not, at least at this point. The fed controls borders, ports and airports.

    Friday, March 27, 2020 at 3:53 am | Permalink
  19. Jonah wrote:

    The narrative of state vs federal and its upto the states is somewhat misleading. The states cant do anything if they dont have enough equipment like ventilators, beds and PPE, to counter the crisis.
    If they don’t have enough equipment its going to take them much longer to be able to ensure that businesses reopen. Ultimately its upto the federal government to ensure that the states are able to procure such equipment. Its quite clear at the federal level this is not happening. Until it does there is no way states are going to be able to be confident about reopening their local economies and not have their hospitals overwhelmed.

    Saturday, March 28, 2020 at 7:03 am | Permalink
  20. Down Under wrote:

    “As of today, our fatality rate is still under 1.5%”

    About where Italy was in early March ………

    Wednesday, April 1, 2020 at 1:43 am | Permalink
  21. Jonah wrote:

    Here’s the state vs federal fight in real words

    Wednesday, April 1, 2020 at 1:49 am | Permalink