Bill Neinast

Fairy tales change with the times.  Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs morphed into Dr Zeus.  Today, who knows what has replaced Dr Zeus.

One of the really old tales came to mind last week.  That was brought about by Bernie Sanders’ press conference Wednesday afternoon.  He was pontificating about how he would handle the coronavirus pandemic.

His performance that afternoon stirred memories of Rip Van Winkle.  Remember him?  He is the lad who slept for 29 years and missed all the events of those decades, including the American Revolution.

Sanders reminded me of Van Winkle because he appeared to have been asleep for a long time.  Everything he was proposing was already in place or in the works, except for his prized Medicare for all.  Even a watered down version of that proposal was already in the works in the actions being taken by the Trump Administration to assist in testing and some treatment for the virus.

This is not to make light of the pandemic.  We are facing some very serious times.

The seriousness of the scourge, however, is not the only problem.  The panic being manifested is of equal or greater concern.  Some have described it as the pandemic pandemonium.

The fights erupting in super markets over toilet paper, soap, bottled water, and a host of other items indicates that is a very accurate description of the situation.  In the Austin area where I now live, H.E.B. and other retailers have reduced operations to nine hours a day in order to, among other things, allow their personnel to restock shelves.  Now when the stores are opened, only a certain number of customers are allowed in at one time.

Among all this turmoil, the fetish over toilet paper is the most troubling.  How long do they think a family quarantine lasts?  

Take a family of four as an example. If each member tested positive in sequence; i.e., when one member got well another got sick, the maximum quarantine would be only eight weeks, or two months.  How much toilet paper does a family of four need for two months.?

A recent new item was about a newspaper somewhere in this country publishing an edition that contained seven blank sheets.  A note in that edition indicated the blank sheets would make good back up substitutes for toilet paper.

This scramble for toilet paper may be a preamble for the next pandemic.  Unless a lot of rolls of that toilet paper are used for dodge ball or some other game, there may be sewer clogs and backups all over the country.  Then what will we do?

A much more serious cost of the pandemic, however, is the financial cost.

Consider. for example, the cancellation of the Round Top Antique Festival.  Every motel and restaurant in the area will face unprecedented empty rooms and tables. The Big Red Barn and Marburger Farm venues will be particularly affected.  Their balance sheets for this year could be one half of what it was in previous years.

So why the panic or pandemonium?  

Look at Tom Hanks and his wife.  Both of them caught the virus and report it is not all that bad.  They had some fever and a few chills, but that was about it.

The main threat, however, is to those over 65 and to those with underlying conditions like heart or lung  problems.


As of the writing of this piece, there have been 68 coronavirus deaths in the country.  Compare that to the 36,500 deaths in automobile accidents in the U.S. in 2018.  That is rate of 100 deaths a day on our highways..

Where is the panic to keep our loved ones off the highways?

So here’s the perspective.

The coronavirus threat is serious—very serious.  The panicky reaction or pandemonium, however, is over reaction in the extreme.

The current threat to our national security can be compared, in a way, to December 7, 1941.  Our reaction to that threat 80 years ago was much calmer than the fear and turmoil of today.

That threat almost a century ago bound the country   together as tightly as it had been during the Revolution, and resulted in what is called the Greatest Generation.

Let’s try to replicate the 1940s and become a calmer, more productive nation.



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