As I write this post, the world has been facing the COVID-19 epidemic for 6 months. I am on vacation looking at a white sand beach, listening to the ocean waves. The world has tried to “re-open”, but many are unsure if that’s the right thing to do and freedoms are starting to be limited again.
One of my favorite movies is called “Invasion of the Body Snatchers”. The fictional story-line oddly has a lot in common with COVID-19. The movie was first released in 1956. The basic story revolved around a virus that came from space, landed on earth, infected humans, and you had no idea who had it and didn’t have it (until it was too late — cue scary music).
“Invasion of the Body Snatchers” has been remade three other times… 1978 (my personal favorite), 1993 as “Body Snatchers”, and 2007 as “The Invasion”. I’ve seen and enjoyed all of them. The last one in 2007 was my least favorite. And I saw all of them out of order — I saw 1993 version first, then 1978 version , then 2007 version, and lastly the original 1956 version.
I mention this movie/story, because we now live in this world it seems. We have a virus (named COVID-19/Coronavirus) that you have no idea who has it, and everyone seems to live in fear over who has it and who doesn’t. We’ve learned at this point it’s not going to kill “everyone”, but we still treat it as if it will (more on that later).
Let’s talk about death statistics for a moment.
You may be surprised to know that humans die all of the time (sarcasm intended). I am going to show you some surprising stats just from the United States alone. The USA is considered a safe place to live, but there’s still a large number of people dying from a number of things all of the time. These are stats from 2019:
- Number of deaths: 2,813,503
- Death rate: 863.8 deaths per 100,000 population
- Life expectancy: 78.6 years
- Infant Mortality rate: 5.79 deaths per 1,000 live births
Leading causes of death:
- Heart disease: 647,457
- Cancer: 599,108
- Accidents (unintentional injuries): 169,936
- Chronic lower respiratory diseases: 160,201
- Stroke (cerebrovascular diseases): 146,383
- Alzheimer’s disease: 121,404
- Diabetes: 83,564
- Influenza and Pneumonia (the “flu”): 55,672
- Nephritis, nephrotic syndrome and nephrosis: 50,633
- Intentional self-harm (suicide): 47,173
Source: CDC (click here)
Almost 170,000 die from random accidents. Again this isn’t over 10 years… this is PER YEAR. It’s not listed above, but deaths from car accidents total 30,000+ per year. We could wipe that out completely if we would simply stop driving (just kidding, although I know one blogger who would be happy about it).
Even lightning strikes kill 50 people in the US per year. Death is unavoidable. It gets all of us at some point. I don’t believe in living in fear… unless it’s related to snakes… I’m scared to death of snakes.
The economy and freedom is more important than safety.
At this point in time with COVID-19, 125,000 people in the United States have died from the virus. And I would personally say ONLY 125,000 people have died. The US has roughly 330 million people. 330 million! That’s a lot of people. Statistically 125,000 people is nothing. All life matters, yes, but statistically, people die all the time from a number of things (noted above). That’s life (or that’s death).
I would not have considered taking steps to shut things down until at least 1% of the US population had died. 1% would be 3 million people or so. That’s a lot of people, but still a tiny number when compared to 330 million people.
When all is said and done, I imagine we will not even hit 300,000 people (1/10th of 1%). Shutting things down has affected 40 million people. 40 million people lost their jobs due to the shutdown. Not due to the virus… due to the shutdown. This is how all of this COVID-19 data applies to personal finance.
Yeah, but if we save only one person, it’s worth it.
No, it’s not. No one person is worth affecting millions of lives. Many of whom WILL die due to their lives being financially devastated due to shutting down the economy. There have been documented suicide deaths due to the shutdown. People who may still be alive had we kept the economy going.
Furthermore, “shutting down” does not prevent anything. It slows possible spread down, but it doesn’t prevent it. If we were on an island, prevented it, and were never going to allow another person on the island… yes, that would prevent it. But here in the US, as soon as travelling is allowed between all countries again, someone will restart the spread of the virus. It’s unrealistic to think we can prevent it.
I personally believe it would be better to simply let it do what it’s going to do and move on (and I understand the initial desire to prevent hospitals from being overwhelmed, but that’s not really an issue anymore). I’ve read about “herd immunity” which some consider a better model to live by. My point though, is even without herd immunity, as long as the human race wasn’t going to be wiped out, we should keep going. I can’t imagine any reason to shut down anything.
The world is not safe. It’s never been safe. It will never be safe. Take precautions.
100% safe is unattainable. It’s impossible. As long has people have choice and free will, the world will never be safe. People choose to do bad things to themselves and others. Financially, having a job, depending on another man/company to pay you, will never be safe. Depending on the government to make you safe, especially financially, will never be a good life plan. While employed, you must find a way to save money, invest it, and get it working for you. And even that is not “safe”, but it’s a “safer” way to live.
I believe in taking precautions in a number of areas of my life. Saving money, building wealth, achieving financial independence is a life long precaution. In fact, financially, I personally had zero concerns as to how the economy might affect me when COVID-19 hit. Whatever happened, I knew I would be better off than 90% of the rest of the world (but that doesn’t mean I didn’t take precautions). I feel awful for all the folks who were devastated by the shutdown of the economy. Can you imagine folks who were opening a restaurant for the first time? Especially those who put ALL of their money into it. Or the folks who have barely hung on for years that could hang on no longer. If this would have happened 10-12 years ago, it may have wiped me out.
My precaution? Past readers are aware that I have been invested in doing Airbnb’s in Arkansas. I had 3 rentals there and was looking to expand. As a precaution, when COVID-19 hit, and the world closed everything, I immediately sold the rental houses and got out of that business. Prior to COVID-19, the world had never had forced “shut downs”. It has now been proven that the world and our government leaders are open to forcing businesses to close. I don’t agree with this, but hey, I’m not in charge. And hospitality and restaurant businesses will always, from this time forward, be one of the first types of businesses to close. There’s no way I would stay invested in that type of business.
Freedom is priceless.
I encourage you to takes steps to make yourself personally safe without intruding on others freedoms. Forcing everyone to shut things down is not a good plan. It may sound like it’s “equal treatment” for everyone, but it’s not. For one, not ALL businesses had to shut down. The wealthiest man in the world got even wealthier because his business was allowed to stay open (not that’s there’s anything wrong with that). I did not have to shut down my software company (and we actually helped some of our customers with free licensing during the pandemic). Again, everyone was not affected equally. While some of us were allowed to keep making money, many others had their financial spigot turned off completely. Those who study economics are aware of the term “unintended consequences”. We will never know the people who were forced financially to give up on a dream. Maybe they were creating a trillion dollar product, but they’ve had to stop working on it because they lost their job. Or they had to stop working on an idea because a parent or loved one was affected by the shutdown. We will never know.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m not being flippant about anyone’s loss of life, but millions upon millions have been devastated by shutting down the world economy due to the coronavirus. These millions haven’t just been inconvenienced. They’ve been physically and financially affected, including dying due to the shut down.
We are not all affected the same by shutting down the economy, and the loss of freedom is the worst. Freedom is equally priceless for everyone.
In the end, everything will be OK…if it’s not OK…then it’s not the end.John Paul DeJoria
Don’t intrude on other’s freedoms to make your life safer.Mr. Hobo Millionaire
PS: Here’s my vacation view while writing this blog post (that’s Mrs. Hobo in front).