November 30th, 2023


End coronavirus panic porn and let's seek some balance

John Kass

By John Kass

Published May 12, 2020

Are we still all in this together?

It sounds like a shepherd singing to a flock while driving them to market. And that other one, the "stay safe" thing? It sounds like the bleating of sheep.

Stay safe? Are you serious?

We're reaching Great Depression levels, with 20 million jobs lost in April alone, and the unemployment rate at 14.7 percent, but I figure the real unemployment rate is larger.

All this economic ruin is due to the governors shutting down commerce to fight the coronavirus, to prevent hospitals from being overwhelmed. But maybe extreme social isolation of the young and healthy wasn't the wisest course.

What happened to balance?

We've lost our sense of balance in this viral panic.

Some will never get their old jobs back. Others are content to take their government unemployment checks and other federal assistance and figure they'll seek work after those checks stop coming. But there might not be jobs available when they feel like working again. Small-business owners are being flattened by the minute.

The economy is in a tailspin. And you don't start the economy up again by saying a few magic words and snapping your fingers.

The economy isn't a light switch. You don't turn it back on once it's been shut down. And we don't have years to wait for a vaccine. Already people are pushing against the shutdown, defying government orders, and the more idiotic politicians will push back with law enforcement, which will just increase the chaos.

"Stay safe?" Who is safe? Who was ever safe?

For decades now, we've taught ourselves to fear so many things, even risk itself. Risk was once the very idea of America. Your parents or grandparents may have risked everything to get here, just so they could risk even more.

Yet risk is now a dirty word. Generations have been taught that liberty isn't important, and that government must protect us from cradle to grave. We want safe spaces. We all want to "stay safe."

Yes, the coronavirus has caused death and, yes, death is to be avoided. I feel positively foolish for writing that sentence. But if I didn't there would be outrage and I would be deemed insensitive. I don't want to be insensitive. I don't want you to die or become ill, and if you've lost someone dear to you, I'm sorry.

A few among you might not mind if this viral Boomer Remover worked its magic on me, but I hope that's only a small bitter handful of Clintonistas. Just remember what Hillary says: Hate has no home here.

As I typed this, the hashtag #trumpdepression was trending on Twitter. At least we don't have to waste any more time pretending that the Democratic left wouldn't weaponize a deadly virus for political gain.

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I get the politics. And it is much easier than pulling a muscle trying to rehabilitate the reputation of U.S. Rep. Adam Schiff, the California Democrat, now that his Russia collusion vision quest has blown up in his face. Although watching the TV pundit meltdown over this has been quite amusing, better even than watching Netflix.

But politics drive policy. I get the feeling those typing #trumpdepression never want the coronavirus lockdown to end.

The problem is that the mortgage and the rent comes due. And we're not all in this together, are we? Government doesn't cut its budgets or lay off political workers. Even if they're sitting at home, watching Netflix just like you, they're still getting paid. But if you've lost your job or your business, government still wants your tax dollars. So we aren't all in this together.

Let's stipulate that so far, nearly 80,000 Americans have died from the coronavirus, and many more will die if we dare leave our homes and go back to work. But how many more will die from alcoholism, drug addiction, suicide, stress, domestic battery and on and on, in a Depression that would hollow out the American people?

How many of us have already been pushed toward death by binge-eating while watching a steady shrieking stream of coronavirus fear porn on the TV news, and avoiding a visit to the doctor for fear of contracting the disease?

What I'm asking is that we at least think about something we've lost, besides jobs and our economic futures and the Bill of Rights:


All I see is the imposition of extremes. Those of us who want to get the country back to work are portrayed as selfish fools who Just Want People to Die.

And those who never want the lockdown to end are dismissed as fearful Coronavirus Karens, peering through their windows, calling the police if they see someone walking on the street without a mask.

Please don't tell me to stay safe. I don't wish to be rude, but bleating "stay safe" at me is infuriating. I won't tell you to stay safe. You know why?

Because I have faith you are a rational person who can modify your behavior. And I hope you have faith that I'm not someone who Just Wants People to Die.

No one has ever been safe, except perhaps in a Hallmark card. Speaking of which, if you really want a coronavirus refrigerator magnet cliche, how about this?

End coronavirus fear porn now.

Turn off the TV news.

And seek balance.


John Kass is a columnist for the Chicago Tribune who also hosts a radio show on WLS-AM.