All but buried in a New York Times article about the impossibility of rapidly ramping up ventilator manufacturing during the COVID-19 pandemic is this line, noting that hospitals aren't the only ones scrambling for those lifesaving machines:
"[Ventec CEO Chris Kiple] even received inquiries from a number of wealthy individuals hoping to buy their own personal ventilators, a fallback plan in case the American hospital system buckles."
Ventilators. Rich people are now attempting to cut in line for ventilators. And why the hell wouldn't they? They have their own legal system. They have their own transportation networks. And, as has become painfully clear in these recent days, "important" groups like politicians, celebrities, and sports teams seem to be having little problem obtaining coronavirus testing kits that have been so sharply rationed for the rest of the nation, that even exposed healthcare workers showing COVID-19 symptoms have been denied.
This raises so many questions. As medical equipment, can ventilators even be sold to non-licensed personnel? How dire do these individual wealthy snots think the situation is about to get, if they no longer trust that being wealthy will get them the top-tier hospital care that being wealthy has always, always, always provided in a healthcare system that is premised on the notion that health care should be dispensed only in proportion to each patient's ability to pay?
And is it just me, or have the wealthy have been trying for 20 years now to goad the world into a new French Revolution, one six-figure wristwatch and private ventilator at a time?
It is not clear how the dynamics of any of this would really work out in practice, because Americans of various ideologies all have disparate notions of how they and their kin will vanquish their enemies, aka their communities and neighbors, to get the care they need even if others can't. The wealthy apparently believe they can reserve their own ventilators. Gun nuts with a closet full of weapons and ammunitions preen that if push comes to shove, they will be able to "secure" whatever their communities have that they might need. Petty opportunists believe that their several dozen rolls of toilet paper will function as bargaining chip and currency.
All of them are likely to be surprised when they find this is not the case. The current local shortages of essentials are likely to ease once panic buying has subsided. The wealthy might learn that BYOV plans are, when introduced to a hospital overflowing with families of the dying, more complex than they planned. The gun nuts will never get the collapse of society required to realize their Warlord of Pine Avenue fantasias—and if they did, it would be because there is no United States left and all else is moot.
Maybe we need to have a list? Maybe this is an actual good reason for one of those nationwide databases we are always threatening to make, or making “accidentally.” All the people who are acting like monsters, worsening local crises, ordering their personal staff to pull a ventilator from the supply lines just in case they, personally, might at some point need one—these are all people who should not be let back into society so easily when the shelter-in-place warnings subside, the vaccines appear, and the idiot man-child who ignored us into this crisis retires to his seaside carrion pile.
It's been a while since this nation or others had the sort of good public shamings that could drive the worst of society off for a while. It probably won't work, but what the hell. Nothing else has. I’m not saying we need to ship them to New Australia, but … wait, actually that is exactly what I am saying. Does any nation have a spare continent or peninsula they could part with? The taxpayers will pay top dollar, if you don’t ask any further questions.