The wusselblower

I was surfing through various news channels late last night when I stumbled upon a replay of Rick Bright’s testimony to a House committee. Bright is the guy who was removed from his job as director of the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA), allegedly for being a whistleblower.

The few minutes of Bright’s testimony I saw concerned his current employment status. Under questioning from Markwayne Mullin, an Oklahoma Republican, Bright said he’s been moved to a job at NIH that pays the same amount as his position at BARDA — $265,000 per year, I think.

Bright is being paid at that level even though he’s not reporting for work. Bright testified that he’s not working because he’s been on sick leave (though he recently transitioned to annual leave). His ailment? High blood pressure. The cause? He said it’s stress from losing his job at BARDA.

I take Bright at his word. The title of this post notwithstanding, I’m sympathetic to anyone who can’t work for medical reasons. I don’t minimize the seriousness of high blood pressure (hypertension). Nor do I doubt that it’s stressful to be moved from a prestigious job to a less prestigious and/or less interesting one, even at the same rate of pay — especially if one believes the “demotion” was unjust. I wouldn’t have wanted it to happen to me.

But what about people who have lost their employment altogether due to lockdowns? What about people who have lost their business? What level of stress and anguish do they experience? More, you would think, than a bureaucrat who moves from one $250,000-plus paying job to another.

Without intending to, Rick Bright provided powerful testimony about the devastating impact of the lockdowns on American health.