CUB SCOUTS AND THE COST OF SAVING GRANDMA
When I was eight years old, my Cub Scout pack announced its big event of the year, The Pinewood Derby. The Derby was a wooden toy car race in which seven-inch long, gravity-powered cars rolled down a long wooden ramp with a lane for each of the eight cars in a given heat. A local store sold official DIY Pinewood Derby kits, which included only a block of wood, four hard plastic wheels and four nails to serve as axles.
I’ve never been a car lover, either with toys or in real life. But they were going to give a big trophy to the Derby winner, plus some other trophies to those who nearly won. At that age, I really wanted to win a trophy for its own sake. So I was in.
The Derby concept was that each boy would work with his father to create his car. But my father worked 12-hour shifts, seven nights/week, making real cars/trucks at a big assembly plant. Sometimes weeks would pass without me seeing him awake. He lacked the time to help me make my car, as Wally and Beaver’s dad might have done.
Growing up, I had to figure out a lot of things on my own. I didn’t always do a great job. Making my Pinewood Derby car was one example. I had very little mechanical know-how and there was no Internet to fall back on.
Nor, especially at 8, did I think ahead very well. The night before the race, I opened the kit for the first time and used a pocket-knife to crudely carve off the edges and corners of the wooden block. Then I spray-painted it a dull, dark green. I skewered the hard plastic wheels onto the nails and affixed the wheels to the car’s body. I stuck a numbered decal on the car’s side. I thought I had done a good enough job.
But the next night, when my Mom dropped me at the Elks Lodge where the pack met, I saw that other kids’ cars looked much better than mine did. They were aerodynamically shaped and had di- or tri-chromatic paint/shellac jobs with racing stripes and names like Greased Lightning. Some kids showed me that they had put a chunk of lead in the driver’s seat to make the car carry more speed to the bottom of the track. I had no idea that such refinements were even possible.
Despite the other cars’ superior design and the presence of about 60 boys in the pack, I still thought I might win, though I had no reason, other than raw optimism, to think so. I lined my car up at the top of the ramp alongside seven other entries hoping for the best in the first qualifying heat.
They opened the starting gate. The other cars rolled down the racetrack like, well, greased lightning. Not only did my car finish last; it didn’t even reach the finish line. Before it could, the wheels fell off and the car skidded along its underside to a halt on the flat, latter part of the racecourse.
While the winner/qualifiers exulted and looked forward to more racing rounds, I was surprised, sad and eliminated. I felt like a real-life Charlie Brown. Years later, when I heard people say “…and then the wheels fell off” it conjured to me a very clear mental image. Since then, I have often used that expression to visualize and describe failure.
In the years that followed the Pinewood Derby, I repeatedly saw what I learned from my car-racing flop, namely that we have to think ahead and that everything we do or pursue has a cost: in the time and effort we use to do the thing and/or to prepare to do it, as well as in emotion and/or dollars, and sometimes in unintended consequences.
I hadn’t thought ahead and prepared for the race as well as the other kids and their fathers did. I deserved to fail.
When Coronamania began, some people, including me, wrote about the costs, both immediate and long-term, of this overreaction. But most people weren’t thinking ahead. They never weighed the downside to naively pursuing Zero Covid.
They failed to consider the mental and physical health toll of isolating people from each other. They disregarded the losses of social development, learning and memories that schoolkids, youth sports players, and Cub Scouts and Brownies would experience by being kept home. They never considered the tens of billions of dollars wasted on, or the environmental damage caused by, the worthless masks and tests. They thought the government could give away trillions of dollars to people who stayed home and did no work, or to underused hospitals, without causing mass-impoverishing inflation and then, a recession. They never thought that hundreds of millions of people living on the economic edge in other nations would go hungry when the broadly influential US economy was put into an induced coma. They thought that some experimental shot would protect them against a virus that their immune systems would have easily vanquished. Instead, by injecting, they exposed themselves to injury and death and demanded that others emulate their foolishness. They didn’t think of the relationships they would lose by vilifying those who refused to stay home, mask up and inject.
Overall, per Jean Piaget, they thought like eight-year-olds. And as did Cub Scouts, they exhibited a pack mentality: the dysfunctional kind.
Then, predictably, the wheels fell off.
All of the Corona interventions were awful when they happened. But unlike my Pinewood Derby debacle, the Scamdemic overreaction also entailed very high, long-term stakes that will be impossible to shrug and laugh off. Those who cynically directed the various, futile “mitigation” measures must have foreseen these consequences. But they didn’t care; there was an election to win, power to flex and an economy to distort. The multitudes who naively went along with—or aggressively supported—these measures didn’t consider the costs of ostensibly, but not actually, saving Grandma—or statistically more likely, Grandpa—either of whom was likely to have been in a nursing home and not enjoying the stay.
The virtue-signaling Coronamaniacs were all about “saving just one life.” Somehow, like eight year olds, they failed to consider that single-mindedly and short-sightedly pursuing this objective would inevitably wreck and end way more lives than it saved.
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