But he didn't do that, partly because he has an even stronger fetish for rejecting the advice of know-it-all "experts" and partly because every president knows there isn't a lot to gain by preventing a problem. Winning a war gets you a second term and a statue; maintaining peace means high school history classes will skip your administration entirely. Well, it's the same in everyday life. If you save a drowning child in a lake, you'll get your face on the local news. If you put up a sign and a fence that keeps all children out of the dangerous lake entirely, you're just the cranky jerk ruining everybody's fun. "Look, it's the mean 'no swimming' guy! Eat my dry ass, old man!"
"Handling This Is Surely Someone Else's Job!"
Another thing I've mentioned before is that our system depends on making everyone feel powerless, even though each day is a frantic stream of real, consequential choices. This drives some of us to the Lone Badass fantasy, but others are drawn to the opposite, equally untrue belief that the system is so corrupt that no individual's choices actually matter.
The people who buy into this aren't heading to the beach in defiance, they're doing it because, well, what difference does one more person make in such a big crowd? Likewise, why donate to a charity to support laid off workers? Surely the government will take care of them. Why cover your mouth when heading to the grocery store? The billionaire who owns the chain should supply the staff with gear.
It's just basic game theory: why should you make the sacrifice if there's a chance someone else can do it instead? If you don't buy up all of the toilet paper, some other hoarder probably will. Why should they be the one who gets to spend quarantine doing their wacky Mummy character on Tiktok?
In the end, our inability to prepare for the worst is really just A) an inability to grasp which hypothetical futures can actually occur and B) an unwillingness to see strangers as real humans whose needs overlap our own. I can tell you from experience that it's possible to live most of your life without these flaws ever getting exposed, in the same way that a flimsy chair can last forever as long as nobody sits on it.
But now the disaster has come to sit on us all, our legs are cracking and we've all got a certain amount of ass we'll soon have to eat. Those of us lucky enough to live through it will hopefully learn the right lessons. If we're really lucky, we'll have time to forget them all before the next time the shit hits the fan. Stay safe, everybody.
You can pre-order Jason "David Wong" Pargin's book right here, or follow him on Twitter, his Instagram, or Facebook, or Goodreads, or any of the many accounts he's forgotten about.