The US is Now Choosing Who Lives and Who Dies

7.36 Million US citizens are expected to die as a result of unemployment caused by government shutdown of the economy.  Yes, that is correct. In order to save the low percentage of people that would otherwise die from the Coronavirus (numbering maybe 100,000 saved??), a far greater number of lives, orders of magnitude larger, can be expected to be lost due to irresponsible government mandates/actions as illustrated in the conceptual chart below.  Mostly the elderly, without young children to raise or dependents, are at-risk from Coronavirus since they often die from any sickness they catch due to the fragility of age.  See our statistical analysis of “Your Survival Chances If You Do Catch Coronavirus” by age to better understand the true mortality rate of Coronavirus.  (Note that I believe a much lower percentage are actually saved by the government mandates of business closure than the Coronavirus death rate because the mandates are hardly impeding the spread, but that is a topic for another article.)

The “shutdown” impact on unemployment alone is catastrophic.  By catastrophic, I mean not just ruined quality of life, devasted marriages and families, and drug addiction, but also measurable deaths, which are magnitudes of order greater than the number of deaths associated with Coronavirus.  There have been numerous academic papers written by government and academic experts on the effect of unemployment on death rates.  For example,Mortality, Mass-Layoffs, and Career Outcomes: An Analysis using Administrative Data,” by Daniel Sullivan (Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago) and Till von Wachter  (Columbia University) published in November 2007 by the National Bureau of Economic Research finds, “job displacement leads to a 15-20% increase in death rates during the following 20 years.”  This finding is statistically proven.  There are plenty of other authoritative papers you can reference because the causality is well established.  The paper states, “These results are consistent with an initial increase in mortality from acute stress and a long-term increase in mortality from chronic stress, partly resulting from permanently lower average earnings and initial increases in the instability of earnings and employment.” The authors examine the impacts of mass layoffs, such as the mass layoffs the government is forcing now through business shutdown orders and stay-at-home orders.  Even though, generally, unemployment negatively impacts mortality rates, the authors find through statistical analysis that their results “suggest that at best, workers at firms with higher layoff rates have higher mortality.”  Those fired by their employers but not during a mass-layoff have lower relative mortality rates than those during mass layoff.  The mortality effect regarding unemployment can be surmised as:

  1. Losing your job generally affects your mortality risk
  2. Losing your job during mass layoffs greatly increases your mortality risk

We are actually entering situation number three (3), which has never been encountered in US history for which decent data exits, which is mass layoffs across almost all industries due to government closing of most of the economy.  It appears highly likely that the death rate under the current situation (situation #3) will be far greater than 20% over the next 20 years.  This will probably be due to stress and strife associated with widespread poor employment situation and bleak outlook.

7.36 Million US citizens are expected to die as a result of unemployment caused by government shutdown of the economy as described in this paragraph.  Assuming an unemployment rate rising to 30% as predicted by James Bullard, President of the Federal Reserve Bank of St Louis (Note that the March unemployment rate more than doubled from 3.5% in February to 7.9% in March according to CNBC), the mass layoff would be about 26.5% of the US working population (158.8 million Total Employment-February 2020).  This equates to a 42.08 million layoff of US workers, which I think qualifies as a “super” mass layoff.  Using Sullivan and von Wachter’s mid-range estimate of 17.5%, we can expect 7.364 million US citizens to die sooner than they would have absent the authoritarian business shutdown orders and stay-at-home orders by government and encouraged by mainstream media hysteria.  Many of the deaths related to mass layoff unemployment will be during the near-in years and not 20 years out.  Sullivan and von Wachter state, “The comparison of average mortality rates suggest that job displacement can lead to substantial increases in mortality in the short and long run, and thereby significantly reduce job losers’ overall life-expectancy.”

In addition to an unemployment crisis, a mental health crisis is being amplified by the government mandated shutdown of the economy.  Regarding general health impacted from mass layoffs, the authors write, “Moreover, an increasing amount of research links stress from economic uncertainty and unemployment to unhappiness and mental health problems and a growing literature in epidemiology shows that job loss is associated with strokes and heart attacks and other detailed health measures…” Additionally, Sullivan and von Wachter state, “A large literature documents a strong correlation of socio-economic status with health.”  Loss of employment certainly affects socioeconomic status and often for years if not decades when associated with mass layoffs. Many people are not able to go to their therapist while “locked-in” or unemployed. Others are able to meet with their therapists via telephone conversation or online meetings but not in person. Not to mention that the impact of mass quantities of the US population experiencing life-altering circumstances like unemployment during widespread unemployment (meaning few job prospects) will overwhelm the mental healthcare system.

There are so many impacts of unemployment on families’ lives too. Divorce rates increase with unemployment which then impacts the children of those divorcees.  Dave Ramsey is famous for saying on his radio show that “money fights are the second leading cause of divorce.”  Unemployment is sure to increase marital strife. The futures of children of divorced parents are put in huge jeopardy as on average 4% of these children are less likely to graduate from high school and 7% are less likely to attend college.  If these children do attend college, they are 7% less likely to complete college.  Many of these “college dropouts” will probably only amass crippling college debt, which is a topic unto itself. This is just one of numerous long-lasting “shutdown” effects that will ripple from the massive mandatory closure of the economy, felt for decades and impacting generations of families.

There are other reasons for increased deaths associated with the government authoritarian closure of the economy than unemployment, and these additional deaths are uncaptured in our figure of 7.36 million deaths from unemployment.  Take for example the rush for a cure/vaccine for the Coronavirus. How many other illnesses and health issues have had their research halted or slowed down because of COVID-19? Resources are being redistributed, and research is being de-prioritized or shutdown/impeded as part of business-shutdown orders. How many cures or treatments have been delayed by this reprioritization.  Suppose five years from now you are diagnosed with a disease that will kill you in 4 months.  In our hypothetical, suppose a cure would have been created in 4 years but was delayed 18 months due to the Coronavirus shutdown, you are dead and it could have been avoided. How many people will suffer or die because of those delays? Those numbers are not quantified by our politicians nor our medical experts who only focus on counting Coronavirus deaths.

How about people with a condition that was in the works of being diagnosed or those whose appointments have been canceled because they have been deemed non-essential? Now they are living in pain and anguish not knowing what is causing their health problem and if it is serious. Since it is undiagnosed, it has been arbitrarily deemed non-essential, non-essential does not mean “not potentially deadly.” Cancer diagnosis will be delayed where in most instances time is not a luxury. A delay of months equals a decrease in the percentage of cancer survival. Those lives were sacrificed because of the Coronavirus shutdown but will never be reported. Similarly, there are many other diagnoses that will go undiagnosed until it is too late. Organ transplants are even more of a challenge. Organ donors who are brain dead typically are kept alive with the assistance of a ventilator to keep the organs viable for transplant. Ventilators are a commodity being re-prioritized and commandeered by government for potential Coronavirus patients.

An increase in violence will be another result of the government mandated business shutdown orders and stay-at-home orders. Even the World Health Organization (WHO) has noted that children are at increased risk of violence because of the stay at home orders, not to mention the rise in domestic abuse from the stay at home orders. China in the Hubei Provence during the lockdown reported 3 times as many domestic abuse calls to police. In the US, many large cities are reporting large percentages of increases in domestic abuse calls during their state/county stay-at-home orders.

If normally hard-working, law abiding citizens are put out-of-work without replacement work, how many will result to stealing or crime for subsistence and shelter?  How many live pay-check to pay-check currently and cannot afford a sustained job loss?  Can the homeless shelters support and additional 20 million people who lose their residences because of loss of income?  What if the US gets hit by a second wave of government mandated shutdowns in the Fall if Coronavirus re-emerges?  How many will be shot by police or incarcerated committing “crimes of survival;” thereby, leaving their children essentially fatherless or motherless?  I’m not prepared to answer these questions here at this time, but they are crucial questions.

Government officials have decided that to slow down the natural spread of a virus, the Coronavirus, government comprehensive shutdown of businesses and large chunks of the economy is necessary; however, they and the media have failed the country by ignoring the gargantuan death-toll associated with mass unemployment.  The Coronavirus has a high mortality rate, but the number of those we can save from the virus (a subset of the total number who would have died from it) pales in comparison to the death consequences of eliminating the livelihoods of everyday citizens living paycheck to paycheck. There are ripples that will impact many US citizens over the next couple of decades with repercussions that are not measurable. The Coronavirus will kill many people regardless of what government authoritarian actions are imposed on the people, but the authoritarian government actions will surely on net cost big-time in loss of life.  Lift the business closures now, and save American lives…please.


“Mortality, Mass-Layoffs, and Career Outcomes: An Analysis using Administrative Data,” by Daniel Sullivan (Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago) and Till von Wachter  (Columbia University) published in November 2007 by the National Bureau of Economic Research—violence-against-children-a-hidden-crisis-of-the-covid-19-pandemic

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