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The Midweek Motivator – Woodstock Happened In the Middle of a Pandemic

Disclaimer: to write something that challenges a trend one must risk criticism. Jeffery Tucker wrote the following which has gained much attention. He raises several coruscating points. 

“In my lifetime there was another deadly flu pandemic in the U.S. That Flu started in Hong Kong then spread to the U.S. arriving in December ’68, peaking a year later. It killed over 100,000 people, most over the age of 65, and killed over one million worldwide. Average lifespan at that time was 70, its 78 today. 

Population was 200 million then, 328 million today. Data shows us it was a healthier population because of lower obesity. If it was possible to extrapolate the death data and demographics we might be looking at a quarter million deaths today from this virus. So in terms of lethality, it was then, as deadly as COVID 19 if not more so, only time will determine…” 

In 1968-70, says Harvard Ph.D Nathaniel Moir, “the H3N2 pandemic killed more Americans than the Korean and Vietnam Wars combined. And that Flu happened in the lifetimes of anyone today, over 52 years of age.” 

“I was five years old and have no memory of this at all,” reflects Tucker. “I remember my mother being careful, washing surfaces and reminding her parents to be careful. Otherwise, it’s mostly forgotten today. Why is that?” It turned out schools stayed open, the World Series, PGA, and NFL and College Football games were played. Nothing closed. Schools stayed open. All businesses did too. You could go to a movie while bars and restaurants were also open. Woodstock happened, the Grateful Dead performed their epic concert and all the while the Flu was to peak globally six months later. 

Markets didn’t crash, Congress passed no regulation. The Fed did nothing. Not a single Governor acted to enforce social distancing or banning crowds. And when Michigan beat Ohio State that November 1969, there were 115,000 fans in Michigan Stadium. And,Tucker adds, “No surfers were arrested, mothers still took their kids next door even though there were more infant deaths with that virus than what we’re experiencing now.” The Wall Street Journal’s Bojan Pancevski writes, “Between 1968 and ’70 the major news outlets devoted cursory time to the virus while training their lenses on the Moon Landing, Civil Rights, even the sexual revolution.” 

The only action the government took was to collect data, wait and watch, while pursuing tests for vaccines. The medical community took the lead as we’d expect. “It was widely assumed disease was a medical, not political issue,” adds Tucker. “We had a president and government focusing on the Vietnam War, public housing, Medicare / Medicaid and more. The Government was as intrusive as it had ever been, but for some reason, there was no thought of shutdowns.”  

So why is this different? Jeff Tucker opines, “We’ll be figuring this out for decades.” What are the factors? “Did our excessive adoration of predictive modeling get out of hand whereby we allowed a physicist with out-of-control modeling frighten the world’s governments into potentially violating the civil rights of billions of people? Regardless, they all have some explaining to do.”