Tragedy of the assholes: History showed up, and we're chained to these selfish jerks - 2020-05-26
For most of our lives, we Americans have had little to endure, by and large, in the way of collective sacrifice, save the stories of the great depression and World War II, told by our elders to remind us we've been spoiled rotten. As fate would have it, we suddenly find ourselves in our grandparents' shoes, no longer having to only imagine how we'd react if the world changed for the worse overnight. A lot is being asked of some, particularly healthcare workers, but most of us are merely being asked to take a number of polite, low-cost precautions intended to lower the risk we pose to each other.
By and large we're heeding those precautions. It's the exceptions to the rule — the assholes — who've been a problem. You've probably noticed them, given that being noticed is the core function of an asshole. And given the nature of this pandemic, the quiet and well-behaved among us have thus far declined to risk their health counter-protesting assholes. Assholes, on the other hand, have been happily obliging local news reporters with colorfully hyperbolic interviews. Consequently, they win news cycles by forfeit, resulting in the appearance of a hotly contested debate that's actually fairly settled.
For me it brings to mind the tragedy of the commons, an economics term to describe how shared, finite resources are easily depleted when everyone acts in their own self-interest, leading to ruin without intervention. The classic example usually offered is fishing: without size limits, licensing, seasonal prohibitions, certain species would simply disappear.