Seatbelts, Smoking, and Facemasks.
My late teen utopism didn’t lead me to Marx. I read Rand. Atlas Shrugged, The Fountainhead, and other libertarian manifestos that fed my belief that rugged individualism made the world a better place.
How does this relate to COVID-19? While I graduated from my youthful idealism long ago, I have a few friends who still think Ayn Rand walks on water. One of those friends argued with me yesterday that the mandatory facemask requirements in some municipalities is as stupid as seatbelt laws, “Let people decide for themselves. Treat us like adults.”
There’s a big difference between seatbelt and smoking laws. You get in an accident without a seatbelt and the only one you may hurt is yourself (not true if there are multiple passengers in your car and doesn’t account for the societal cost of your health recovery assuming you live). You smoke in an indoor (or outdoor) public place and you are subjecting others to health risks.
Second-hand smoke wasn’t well-known during Ayn Rand’s time as smoking was a common, unquestioned practice. But, she contracted lung cancer in 1974 and never publicly acknowledged the risks of smoking to herself and those around her. Of course, health care knowledge is far superior today.
Wearing a mask is our modern day (maybe short-term) revelation that our behaviors affect each other. We have an urgent need for “social wisdom” today. So, please practice WTF in public places: Wear The Facemask!