Common Sense In Uncommon Times

A few months ago, I became interested in the work of economist Wilfried Pareto, who in 1896 introduced the world to what has become known as the Pareto principle or the 80/20 rule.  It began when Pareto discovered that 80% of Italy’s land was owned by only 20% of its population.  As he expanded his research of land ownership to include other countries, he found that the 80/20 rule was valid in all countries, no matter how much they differed culturally or socially.  As time went on, he and others found it to be proven accurate and insightful across nearly every facet of human existence.  The Pareto Principle or the 80/20 rule states that 20% of your activities will account for 80% of your results. 

·   20% of criminals commit 80% of crimes.

·    20% of drivers cause 80% of all traffic accidents.

·   20% of a company’s products represent 80% of sales.

·   20% of the input creates 80% of the result.

·   20% of the workers produce 80% of the outcome.

·   20% of the customers make 80% of the revenue. 

·   20% of the top earners make 80% of the world’s wealth.

·   20% of earners pay roughly 80-90% of all US taxes. 

·   20% of Americans pay for 80% of the healthcare.

·   20% of the population that is 65 years and older occur 80% of coronavirus deaths.

Seniors with chronic conditions are at a much higher risk of dying from Covid-19 than those who are young and healthy.  If 20% of the population has 80% of the confirmed deaths, would it not make sense to do everything we can to keep them safe, healthy, and alive?  And for those who represent 80% of the population but have only 20% of the confirmed hospitalizations and deaths, shouldn’t we keep them safe while opening the economy for them?  The thought that we could do this and still keep the 20% safe who are the most vulnerable is not a radical idea but a sensible one.  If we treat everyone the same, then we fail not only those who are more susceptible and at greater risk but also those who are less vulnerable.  In the end, we make victims of everyone, no matter which side of the equation they are on. 

Nursing homes make-up 25% of all Covid-19 deaths and account for less than 5% of the US population. Science, along with common sense, shows that we should test all occupants, limit visitation, provide PPE for all the staff, and give everyone immediate access to the vaccine to stop the spread.  Not to mention that we stop admitting people into nursing homes who test positive for Covid-19.  2 Timothy 3:1 says “But understand this, that in the last days there will come times of difficulty.” ESV

We need to open our businesses and our schools to those who fall into the 80% category.  Because of our love and compassion for our fellow men, we should honor those at high risk by voluntarily wearing a mask, washing our hands, and being conscious of social distancing.  Each of us should be aware of and be responsible for our actions so that one day we all can walk hand in hand and see the end of this pandemic.  If you are in a category that is at high risk, as I am, then do what you must do to keep yourself safe while making it possible for others to return to some sense of normalcy.  Sometimes showing your love for others is merely wearing a mask, not because it takes away your freedom of choice but because freedom without compassion is no freedom at all.

Unintended Consequences

Ecclesiastes 4:9 says, “Two are better than one; because they have a good reward for their labor.” When individuals work together, they can double their strength and get much more done as a team. They can also reap the value of having worked in unison, thus creating harmony instead of disorder. Heaven have mercy on us if this is nothing more than us against them.  It hurts when I hear those who are condescending towards those who are wearing or not wearing a mask. Likewise, when it comes to vaccines, you may choose not to get the vaccine.  And we feel that you should be allowed to make that decision, but it may come with unintended consequences.  In Israel, people must show they have received the vaccines to go to gyms, swimming pools, theaters, and hotels.  You have a choice not to get the vaccine, but with it comes some trade-offs.  Just as you cannot enter some African countries unless you show proof of having received a yellow fever vaccine you also may not be allowed to enter some countries without showing proof of your receiving a Covid-19 vaccination.  We need to learn to work together to overcome this disease.  We did not bring this on ourselves, but we can make life better for others by being understanding and kind. 

Helping one another is something we all should be doing.  The 20% who are susceptible and responsible for 80% of the deaths should stay at home and avoid going out until they can get vaccinated.  For the 80% that are less vulnerable, we should be encouraging them to re-open the economy while keeping in mind the importance of seeing a continual decline of covid-19 infections and deaths in their geographical area.  Philippians 2:3-4 says that we must “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility, value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.”

The more we shelter-in-place, the more we struggle with mental health issues, domestic violence, alcoholism, drug addiction, and depression.  Some people can experience symptoms of the illness weeks, if not months after having it.  According to one report, most people fall into one of two groups when it comes to the virus. Approximately 80% of those with COVID-19 end up having a mild reaction, and most of those cases resolve in about two weeks. However, it can take between three to six weeks for people who have a severe response.  One study shows that about 10% of people who have had COVID-19 will experience prolonged symptoms one to three months after being infected. One of the most frustrating parts? There seems to be no consistent reason for this to happen.  This group, which many refer to as “long-haulers,” is mixed with those who experienced both mild and severe cases.

In our estimation, applying the Pareto principle to our nation’s coronavirus response offers a much safer and a more useful set of solutions, maximizing the number of lives saved while ensuring the “cure” isn’t worse than the disease itself. “Therefore, encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.” 1 Thessalonians 5:11

As we recall a year ago just as this pandemic began, we were singing these lyrics.  ‘May His favor be upon you and a thousand generations. And our family and your children and their children and their children. May His favor be upon you.’      Yes Lord let it be so.

One comment

  1. Great perspective! I know we’ve not gone places we really wanted to go to thinking about others that would be affected if we got Covid. It’s not out of fear. It’s our of respect and love for family. I don’t like wearing masks in small gatherings but just last week learned two in our small gathering of 7 had immune issues. I may feel it’s overkill but if my actions would cause someone to get sick I’d feel pretty bad. So I do think the loving thing to do may feel like taking our freedom but doesn’t really because we lay it down willingly. It’s not some world order over throw . Instead it’s doing what Paul exhort us to do in Philippians 2- – to think not on our own interests but on the interests of others! So I’m learning to be quieter , complain less about restrictions out of love for those who feel the need for more protections. That’s not being weak I’m learning. It’s being maybe a little more like Jesus. He had all the freedom and power and authority but he humbled himself and placed himself like a slave servant of mankind.


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