On Monday, Fox News host Tucker Carlson interviewed Texas Lt. Governor Dan Patrick about the state of the economy due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak. The controversial interview went viral on social media because Patrick seemed to suggest senior citizens should sacrifice their health for the good of the economy. According to the CDC, people over age 65 are at a higher risk for severe illness if infected by COVID-19.
“I am not living in fear of COVID-19. What I’m living in fear of is what’s happening to this country,” Patrick said, adding:
You know, Tucker, no one reached out to me and said, ‘As a senior citizen, are you willing to take a chance on your survival in exchange for keeping the America that all America loves for your children and grandchildren?’ And if that’s the exchange, I’m all in.
He went on to say that he’s not the only one, that countless grandparents in this country care about their grandchildren more than anything (implying these grandparents would risk exposure to COVID-19 if it would “save” America for their grandchildren).
“We are having an economic collapse. So, my message is that, let’s get back to work, let’s get back to living, let’s be smart about it,” Patrick said. “Those of us who are 70 plus, we will take care of ourselves, but don’t sacrifice the country. Don’t do that. Don’t ruin this great American dream.”
As you might expect, people were not happy with his comments.
I am fortunate, at 54, I still have both of my parents and both of their spouses. Every morning and every evening, my mother, who is 82 years old, sends me several videos on Snapchat. One day she might send me a picture of her with a mustache and beard, and another day she might use a filter that has her looking like a dog driving a car. I love these videos, and it may surprise people that my mother, who is inarguably a senior citizen, uses the kinds of social media that are mostly used by young adults, teens and children. The point here is my mom, although in her 80s, is far from done living. She still learns new technology to keep up with her adult children and adult grandchildren.
My dad, who is 84, doesn’t keep up with technology, but he has helped raise two of his grandchildren (on his wife’s side). He was home for them when they got out of school, fixed them snacks, taught them games and watched as they rode their bikes up and down his street.
Three years ago, a great-grandchild entered my dad’s life. Although he isn’t physically capable of taking care of this next generation, he loves to watch him grow, play and learn about the world around him, and my dad is an important figure in his great grandson’s life.
Neither one of my parents has given up living, and to suggest that they should give up their lives to save the economy is not a price they should pay. My parents have paid their dues. Between my mom and dad and both of their spouses, they have raised 10 children. They gave their time, they worked at sometimes pitifully low-paying jobs, and they helped educate each of their children who wanted to go to college.
All of my parents (biological and step) have sacrificed years for their country (serving in the military, raising kids that went into the military, paying taxes, doing manual labor that kept services running). They have owned small businesses, shopped for goods and services, owned homes and they all continue to help other people make money. They have helped other people make money for most of their long lives. My parents are not throwaway citizens. They are citizens that still support the economy and continue to help their children and grandchildren.
If we were to lose millions of seniors to COVID-19, it would take an emotional toll on generations of Americans from my age on down. It would wipe out industries that they pay for like retirement homes, physicians who specialize in geriatrics and all the other goods and services they support. I can’t even believe I have to point out that they are taxpayers, too, and deserve the protection of our government like every other citizen of the United States.
I want my parents around for as long as I can have them. I’ll take the chance that my 401K will turn around eventually. I won’t put profit ahead of their lives.
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