The Corner

Politics & Policy

Americans Are Hard to Quarantine

Buses believed to carry the U.S. passengers of the cruise ship Diamond Princess, where dozens of passengers were tested positive for coronavirus, leave at Daikoku Pier Cruise Terminal in Yokohama, south of Tokyo, Japan, February 17, 2020. (Issei Kato/Reuters)

One of my regular themes is that Americans are disorderly and disobedient people — gloriously so and dangerously so. People who understand that roll their eyes when, e.g., one of our progressive friends points out how much more frequently Americans kill each other with firearms than do most Europeans or Japanese. Democrats think that means we need more gun control. (And they generally press for the dumbest possible model of gun control: new restrictions on licensed firearms dealers and the people who do business with them, the most law-abiding demographic in the country.) People who have a better handle on the facts of American life know that, yes, we shoot each other a lot more often than the Swiss, but we also stab each other a lot more often, beat each other to death with our bare hands or blunt objects more often, etc. We also have more automobile accidents and dangerous and deadly accidents of other kinds — our traffic-fatality rate is 50 percent higher than that of Western Europe or Canada. The same disobedient spirit that helped us to establish liberty here also makes us uncooperative, obstreperous, and, sometimes, dangerous. It’s a package deal.

And this, reported by NBC Boston, is part of the package:

New Hampshire’s first coronavirus patient, a hospital employee, went to an event tied to Dartmouth business school on Friday despite being told to stay isolated, officials say. 

That story has everything: Of course that plague carrier was a hospital worker, and of course the event was for the Dartmouth business school. Of course, of course, of course!

Americans are bananas, and American public policy has to take the whole banana bunch into account.

Every time I hear Senator Bernie Sanders talk about the wonders of Denmark, and every time I myself argue that Switzerland is probably the best-governed country in the world, I reiterate: “The difference is that Denmark is full of Danes, Switzerland is full of Swiss, and America is full of maniacs.” That’s the fact, Jack.

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