Many “conservative” politicians, academics, and journalists have built careers on the party trick of showing how every problem really reduces to economics: to GNP growth and how the market is doing. But not every problem reduces to economics. Some problems reduce to questions of loyalty, and to what you are willing to give up in order to be loyal—and I mean truly loyal—to people who were loyal to you a long time ago.

For this reason, we cannot take that final step of letting “Those of us who are 70-plus…take care of ourselves,” as Dan Patrick proposes that we do. That’s just not something our parents and grandparents have a right to ask of us. Because when we agree to let our parents and our aged die like beasts—it is we ourselves who are reduced to the level of animals.

Being a decent person means that there are lines you don’t cross. And one of those lines is crossed when the current, young, strong generation feels it has been freed from its obligations to the older, weaker, dying generation that brought them into the world.

That’s exactly what is implied in all these grotesque comments about how the coronavirus is killing people who probably would have died soon anyway. When you say they would have died soon anyway, what you’re really telling us is that we’ve been freed from our obligations to them.