Friday, November 20, 2020

Archfather: Hospital Shortages, Business Closures Due to Earlier Government Response



Confusio Mundi 

Encyclical from His Holy Eminence the Archfather Rutherford I on the ongoing humanitarian problems of the COVID-19 Pandemic 

THE confusion of the world continues during the declared global pandemic of COVID-19 as governments around the world impose a new series of lockdowns; forced business closures causing serious harm to families and individuals, including to the most basic right of being able to provide for one’s family; and restrictions on churches in violation of ecclesiastical sovereignty. Government continues to bear severe moral responsibility during a global humanitarian crisis that they themselves largely have spawned. 

One problem noted during the present period by the news media and governments is the potential strain on hospitals, due especially to staff shortages. We cannot help but observe that this is a problem created largely by the first government response in March in which many procedures, even non-elective ones, were prohibited, and indeed many people were too afraid to go to medical facilities even to obtain necessary treatment. With the drop in revenue stream, staff was furloughed or laid off, and hospital and medical facility finances were immensely strained. That is, the hospital staff shortage is largely due to the staff reductions in the early part of the pandemic, meaning that the response to the pandemic is now directly responsible for the reduced ability of hospitals to respond to the pandemic, not to mention to those who have other serious medical conditions or who need medical treatment in general. The government responses around the world were incredibly shortsighted, based on fear, and plagued with tunnel vision – and this current hospital situation is a prime example of that. Yet, the root cause of this receives very little, while government and media proclaim the shortage is a direct result of rising cases instead of mentioning that global hospital ability to engage in standard procedures for staff deployment and redeployment for increased influx of cases was the direct result of government pandemic response. That is the moral responsibility of government around the world. 

     Additionally, hospitals in countries such as the United States are essentially run as for-profit entities, even if they are non-profit. Hospitals and medical staff also contributed to the reduction in demand for medical services in some cases. Although we cannot promote or sustain a so-called socialised medicine system, a for-profit system has little incentive to prepare for pandemics. Pre-positioned stocks and distribution are inadequate around the world. To use an example in the United States, some administrations gutted military hospital systems due to costs to focus only on the dwindling number of military members, even reducing the number of medics, despite the military system being a tremendous source of medical experience, personnel, hospitals, logistics, supplies, and more during national emergencies.

Governments that claim that they are acting in the best interest of public health have a responsibility to consider all aspects of public health and the health system. They cannot claim to be acting in the interests of public health if they leave hospitals struggling and shorthanded. They cannot claim to be acting in the best interests of public health if they prohibit or place obstacles in the way of treatment for illnesses and issues other than the novel coronavirus, virtually acting as if other such diseases do not exist. Yet people are suffering who cannot get treatment or are too afraid to get treatment. If the reduction in treatment in any way was in fact really and truly a necessity in terms of public health, then, that cannot morally be justified unless the shortfall is made up out of the public treasury to ensure proper staffing. 

Similarly We have heard reports of shortages of vital hospital equipment. Likewise We cannot understand this, since efforts have apparently and allegedly been underway by government and companies to produce vital medical equipment since the beginning of the pandemic. There should, therefore, not be a crisis. Yet the severe financial position in which hospitals and medical facilities have found themselves due to the government response to the pandemic may very well be at the root cause of this. Therefore this is further a responsibility of government to ensure through funding out of the public treasury. 

Additionally, the government responses in the present period have placed even more financial and emotional burden on individuals and businesses. Many businesses, especially small businesses, are closing. The specific industries that are targeted in the new round of restrictions are, just as those of which We spoke earlier this year during the pandemic, defined by the government. The government is, therefore, picking winners and losers, which imposes an immense moral responsibility upon government. Simple financial compensation to pay for living expenses, for example, is not enough to compensate someone who lost a business or was attempting to start a business that incurred costs but never was able to gain traction due to being stopped by government mandates. Meanwhile, large corporations such as Walmart and Amazon have gained immense sums during the pandemic due to increased sales, including shifts away from struggling and/or closed businesses towards them. It is neither moral nor just, and also is not right under the laws of God that some businesses should profit by so much while others suffer by tremendous amounts due to government mandates. We therefore must say that the additional profits to large corporations such as Walmart and Amazon that have resulted from the government picking winners and losers must be sent to compensate completely and fully: 1) all business owners who have lost their business during the pandemic due in any way to government mandates; 2) all business owners who have suffered a loss of business volume and revenue during the pandemic due in any way to government mandates; and 3) all individuals who have lost their jobs or suffered a loss of income that is not otherwise been compensated doing any way to government mandates during the pandemic. Any additional loss must be made up out of the public treasury since the responsibility lies with the government. The public treasury comes in many societies from public taxation, and therefore this approach helps to spread the burden of paying for the pandemic as widely as possible and, especially through progressive taxation systems that are widely used, to place the majority of the burden on those who are most able to bear it and the least amount of the button on those who are least able to bear it. 

During any situation of danger in world history, wise approaches have always 1) understood the specific nature of danger and its actual risks in terms of probability; 2) understood the specific danger in context of all other dangers; and 3) sought solutions and risk mitigation approaches that minimise creating further dangers, risks, and problems, while maximising utility, minimising disutility, and minimising various forms of cost. It is Our sacred and moral duty and responsibility to promote such approaches, for such is also the responsibility of the civil state to the people in its care. In this present pandemic, We are greatly saddened that such approaches, though they have been employed in some areas, have widely been ignored in favour of approaches that do not use proportionate reason, logic, and calm, sober wisdom in determining responses. We must, therefore, further promote continued offerings of the Holy Mass and recitations of the Holy Rosary, which is indeed the very weapon that led to the Christian victory at the Battle of Lepanto, that the pandemic may end, government response until then may be appropriate and proportionate, bearing in mind all potential consequences of their actions beyond the novel coronavirus, and that all who have suffered at the hands of government around the world may be duly and rightly compensated completely.