So we have this bad virus that is morbid for people with pre-existent conditions, foremost among which is being old. If you’re a healthy old person and you get it, you’re more likely to die than if you’ re a healthy young person. How much more likely? We don’t precisely know yet but approximately 20%. That’s if you’re a healthy old person without obesity, diabetes, respiratory symptoms or hypertension or a compromised-in-any-way auto-immune system. For starters. If you’re old and have any of those things or anything that might morph into any of those things then it’s recommended that you don’t get the virus because odds are pretty good it will kill you.
Basically, old people are vulnerable. Let’s say 40% are supervulnerable and the other 60% are more vulnerable to dying from the thing than are younger people. Now if you subtract the first 40% from the social mix, everything changes. And if you subtract the second 60% everything changes still more.
Do you see where I am going? If society is an organism with its survival at stake, what is best for the organism is to separate itself from anything that threatens the whole. Gnaw off the trapped limb and hobble to freedom, as it were. Old people are the limb in the trap. Limb obviated, society is allowed to go about its business. In time, a vaccine is created, the disease is understood and the surviving old are released, blinking, back into social discourse.
There are kinds of ancillary benefits to this approach, beyond the main ones that it restores the economy, enables social intercourse for 90% of the population, revives hope and professional sports.
A tightly quarantined population of grandmothers and grandfathers will be catnip to the Youth4Good instinctions of a generation of previously device-bound gen z’ers. A new generation of candystripers will zip around town with infinite varieties of care baskets, DVDs, sachets of bath oils and hard drugs for the shut-ins.
Confined, transformed in a coronabeat from Boomers to Doomers, the newly imprisoned react in different ways. Some, resigned, read Great Books and explore the Netflix Canon in the full variety of sort and displays. Others plot liberation, and revenge.
The phrase “ungrateful whelps” is used in infinite variations as the confined try every ploy. Guilt is wielded like a cudgel by grandmothers. Greybeards plead their indispensasbility to the institutions they had led. Rich old people do what comes naturally and try to buy their way back into the social whirl.
Here is where things get a little bit interesting. Schisms appear. Dispensations are made. Money whispers and then shrieks out loud. The resolute social consensus that had driven the draconian regulations begins to falter. And then comes the breach in the red states, strapping teenage Republican girls with their grandfathers on their backs, running for freedom. There is no stopping the Integration movement in Alabama, Georgia, Mississippi, Michigan.
Over time, more of the healthy over-seventies, the ‘golden oldies’ as they brand themselves, force themselves back into the mainstream, in many cases taking back the companies that their stripling underlings had thought to occupy permanently. Revenge is indeed best tasted cold.
But search for a vaccine lags. Cancer is all but eliminated, but, as Dr. Fauci quips, “There is no cure for the common cold, and none for the Corona either.” The hospitals are amped up and most sufferers pass through and are returned hale. Some of the golden oldies are returned in coffins, but society accepts this as acceptable collateral damage. They were old, after all. They coulda stayed home.
The “mouldy oldies”, as the vulnerable first forty percent is derogatorily called, is now heavily skewed toward those too sick or poor or ignorant or socially reclusive to have figured out how to game their way out. The candystripers have largely moved on to food drives for starving Africans. Social services agencies add a division, parallel to unemployment and AFDC, to service the querulous but largely irrelevant shut-ins.
And so the crisis passes! Humanity weathers the storm once again as is its wont. And what has happened after all? Really, just a gentle culling. Nature, red in tooth and claw, doing what it does best, thinning the first world herd of those past their use-by dates and the third world herd of its too tightly clustered.