Tom Crouser: Lives vs. economy a false choice (Opinion)

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What should be first? People’s lives or the economy? That’s the debate many are having. But it’s a wrongheaded argument.

The answer is not one or the other. That’s a false choice. Our debate should be about how we can recover the economy with the least possible loss of life. That’s what our government must lead us in doing, and we should focus on that debate.

Let’s unpack this.

A false choice is where one is directed to choose “either/or” while there’s at least another obvious logical solution. Political arguments devolve into these false choices often. Bomb the hell out of them or peace at any cost? Open carry any gun anytime, anywhere or eliminate guns? Open borders or halt immigration altogether?

False choices present illogical thinking, just like guilt by association, comparing apples and oranges or basing conclusions on little to no evidence. “People say ...” is an example of the latter.

This is not to be confused with irrational thinking, however. That’s where we trust feelings over easily demonstrated facts. “We will be rid of COVID-19 cases in a few days,” would be an example.

So, what is the other logical solution between “killing the economy,” or “letting people die?”

Isn’t that the same as killing the economy? No. We can stabilize through testing, both for the active disease and for antibodies.

White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany set up another false choice in dismissing the “myth” by saying, “If we did test everyone, we’d have to retest them an hour later and an hour later after that because, at any moment, you could theoretically contract this virus.”

Pish posh.

That overlooks the other obvious choice that one acts based on test results.

Should a person test positive for the active virus, they could be isolated safely so not to infect others. Those testing positive for virus antibodies could be available to resume work, thus opening the economy.

And the third group, with neither the active virus nor antibodies, would know that they must maintain their vigilance against the virus.

And yes, we would periodically retest.

It’s not just Democrats saying this either. Sens. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., and Roy Blunt, R-Mo., want the federal government to take a lead role in an all-out effort to develop and promote testing, regardless of the Trump administration’s proclivity not to do so. I do, as well.

And that brings up the difference in strategy and tactics.

Testing is a tactic. Social distancing is a tactic. Wearing a mask is a tactic. Tactics are like tools in a carpenter’s tool box. They are to be used tactically by the on-scene commander in pursuit of the strategy of defeating the disease.

And our strategy now is to fight with delaying tactics until a permanent solution is found, such as a vaccine, so that we might regain our economy with the least possible loss of life.

Leave it to the on-scene commander as to the tools they use in accomplishing the strategy. Why? As Mike Tyson said, “Everyone has a plan [strategy] ‘til they get punched in the mouth.”

Once we engage, our commander must lead us in scratching and biting, kicking and fighting. And we must continue that until a permanent solution is found. Once punched in the mouth, it’s all about tactics until a winner is declared.

Who is our commander? It is our governor, whether you were for or against him. He must lead and we must follow. Why not the president? He abdicated.

What about our liberty? We’ve all been conscripted into this new Army of the Republic in our fight against the virus. We fight so someday we again will be free.

And may God give our commander the wisdom to see us safely through.

Tom Crouser is a business consultant who lives in Mink Shoals. Reach him at and follow him

on Twitter @TomCrouser.

Also connect via Facebook and LinkedIn.

Funerals for Wednesday, May 27, 2020

Adams, Mary - 1 p.m., Ohio Valley Memorial Gardens.

Bibbee, Naomi - 1:15 p.m., procession to leave O'Dell Funeral Home, Montgomery.

Bordenet, Effie - 2 p.m., Sunset Memorial Park, South Charleston.

Dorsey, Charles - 11 a.m., Ravenswood Cemetery, Ravenswood; also streaming live, see obituary.

Evans Jr., Frank - 1 p.m., St. Timothy Lutheran Church.

Fleck, Rosia - 2 p.m., Britton Cemetery, Charleston.

Fox, Helen - 2:15 p.m., Beech Grove Cemetery, Eleanor.

Hedrick, William - 1 p.m., Wallace Memorial Cemetery, Clintonville.

Johnson, Barry - Noon, Mt. Moriah Cemetery.

Mathes, Helen - 1 p.m., Morris Funeral Home, Cowen.

McClure, Karen - 11 a.m., East Lawn Cemetery, Canvas.

Mikeal, Chelsea - 1 p.m., Hafer Funeral Home, Elkview.

Parog, Drema - Noon, Mt. Tabor Church of God, St. Albans.