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Re; TN suicides - I've been saying that in nine months there will be a lot of babies and a lot of divorces. Also, I expect the domestic violence rate to go way up....think of all the couples that really can't stand each other, stuck in the same home, nowhere to go.

But yes, as people lose their jobs and small businesses go under, expect there to be psychiatric casualties.

At this moment I am so grateful to be a teacher. I am working from home with my students so I am still being paid. I am guaranteed to be paid over the summer. I signed my contract for next year so I should have a job to return to in August.

However I realize I am the exception in my experiences.

I suspect COVID 19 is going to up end much of our society. Simply put there is no going back.

People are going to demand more safety nets.

People who never realistically though they could be unemployed are now unemployed. People who realistically thought they could never be homeless are facing that prospect.

It is going to be very hard to argue against some form of universal insurance when it will be discovered some people early on refused to be tested because they did not want to pay for the test and because of this they spread the disease. We will also have cases of people refusing early treatment because of fears of bills becoming worse or dying. We will have survivors with tremendous medical bills. This will happen to both supporters of universal insurance and opponents of it but the opponents of universal insurance are about to be introduced to reality of their views.

Illegal immigrants are going to find people who were once sympathetic to them will be far less so when they are competing with illegals for valuable medical resources.

It will be very hard to argue for extremist gun control when the police admit they will not respond to certain types of crime. Basically you better be armed.

People are going to discover they prefer taking carry out from restaurants or that they like ordering their groceries and picking them up.  This will affect a lot of the middle man jobs such as waiters or cashiers.

People will discover online school and that it is a lot cheaper than traditional school.

Basically I see us becoming a lot more socially isolated as a society but with far more safety nets.

Eventually we will figure out how bad COVID 19 was and how accurate the predictions about it were. But it is going to change a lot of things.  I will let others determine if that is a good or bad thing.

Guys, it's not going to go down in history as a hoax or something nefarious. I'm sure there will be a debate for a long time whether the measures taken were appropriate, etc., and I'm sure there will be good arguments on both sides. We'll also have the benefit of hindsight. This is the first time we've ever collectively dealt with a pandemic as a planet. I actually think that, considering that, we're doing a pretty good job. It's probably an overreaction to *some extent*, but think of it this way: if it is, it's a good dress rehearsal for the real deal when it comes along.

I think we're also showing our ability to act collectively as a country and a global society, and we're showing ourselves that a lot of our rules and economic practices are arbitrary and capricious. (IOW, we could put this puzzle together a dozen different ways and have the ability to do so.)

Doesn't mean I'm on board with all of it either, however. I think Lee also as a point: there is a more than a whiff of secular religion in all of this (much like the approach to climate change, which I abhor, in which sinning against God is replaced with sinning against the planet). We need to keep in mind that the measures taken against the virus are *not* a penance or a ritual or an expiation or anything like that. They also need to be done away with ASAP.

As the regulars here know, I make my living doing Japanese translation and interpretation. Ken Shimura just died of the disease. He was a mega-star comedian in Japan and one of my favorite entertainers of all time. This is really big and sad news for Japan. He was just 70 years old and doing fine until he caught this deadly bug. I am crushed by this news. RIP.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ken_Shimura#SARS-CoV-2_infection

Eric Newhill said:

"This is going to be revealed as one of the biggest and costliest hoaxes ( or hysterias or info ops - depending on your level of distrust) in the history of the world. Right up there with Iraqi WMD."

I have no wish to argue the point, but I really don't get your thinking. Trump himself has just admitted that 100,000 people may die from this virus. So my question is: how many people would have to die before you would no long consider it one of the biggest hoaxes in history?

I certainly wouldn’t call it a hoax, but I do suspect we’re seeing an overreaction. The 1957 Asian Flu and the 1968 Hong Kong Flu each caused roughly 100,000 deaths in the US at a time when our population was about half what it is now. We did not shut down our national economy and condemn a generation to poverty in either case.

Personally I think this response is everything that’s wrong with boomers (my generation). We are so intent on looking out for #1 that we’re willing to sacrifice the aspirations of everyone aged 16-24, who are now faced with a new Great Depression just as they're ready to start their adult lives.

A more reasonable response be for us oldsters to isolate ourselves while the rest of the country goes on about its business.

"Personally I think this response is everything that’s wrong with boomers (my generation). We are so intent on looking out for #1 that we’re willing to sacrifice the aspirations of everyone aged 16-24"

Maybe, but remember, we boomers have not decided as individuals to shut down the economy. We're taking orders from our medical experts, governors, and even, now, our reluctant president. So I assume you're putting these various leaders and authorities into the boomer category and saying they're selfish and misguided?

Hi Michael,

A lot of young people are also dying from this Coronavirus. I do like the trends though in China and South Korea and Sweden now though a good sign their may be light at the end of the tunnel.

Michael.

We condemn a generation to poverty if we choose to keep on doing the same old same old. Or we could try doing things such as universal healthcare , stronger safety nets for everyone and making higher education far more affordable. Every other first world country has accomplished this. So can we.

Never let a crisis go to waste, eh, Kris? 😁😷

Bruce, yeah, most of our public officials are boomers, right? It’s not twenty-year-olds making these decisions. The outcome would be different if it were.

Leo, I don’t think "a lot" of young people are dying from COVID-19. Deaths are overwhelmingly among senior citizens. And even there, the death toll is not large compared to the Asian Flu and the Hong Kong Flu, although the final tally may be in the same range.

I still don’t understand why we didn’t shut down the world for those other pandemics, but we're shutting it down for this one. The only difference I can see is that nowadays we have 24-hour media on TV and online to relentlessly flog the story and whip up public hysteria. And maybe people in general have gotten addicted to safety, a luxury the WWII generation couldn’t afford.


I know it's not as high as for senior citizens. But there is a lot of new's articles of young people dying from this Coronavirus. Many in fact don't even have any pre-existing conditions either. I heard on the news a couple of nights ago of a infant dying from the Coronavirus. It also seems to be affecting more males than females I wonder why that is?. I am curious if this Coronavirus Pandemic will come in waves, may be it will be seasonal why Dr. Anthony Fauci suggest's it might be. Maybe this it one big wave and disappear completely

Here is some I have come across so far.

https://www.latimes.com/california/story/2020-03-30/25-year-old-dies-coronavirus-warning

https://nypost.com/2020/03/24/26-year-old-new-yorker-hospitalized-with-coronavirus-couldnt-speak-walk/?utm_source=facebook_sitebuttons&utm_medium=site+buttons&utm_campaign=site+buttons&fbclid=IwAR19VGLFIFnp88mLVn1izxmgrtrZHSu8VbgLXk9nRd_EMpl6K36ofASoNYE

https://news.sky.com/story/coronavirus-briton-21-with-no-existing-health-conditions-dies-after-contracting-covid-19-11963451?fbclid=IwAR2QItfcQWyK8eeyWwQSRQUzevzFwfthKBLpZ_ZIFEC25_6a9snQImZOkHM


https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/mar/20/coronavirus-australian-man-36-diagnosed-with-virus-dies-in-iceland

Bruce, "Trump himself has just admitted that 100,000 people may die from this virus. So my question is: how many people would have to die before you would no long consider it one of the biggest hoaxes in history?"

It's a self-reinforcing feedback loop (aka self licking ice cream cone).

Globalist/socialist org.s like The Who and CDC declare an emergency; running their models on full out max destruction mode. Trump does nothing. The media colludes with the WHO/CDC to shout that Trump is fiddling while Rome burns. Trump is forced then to do something. Trump's doing something reinforces the perception that something real is happening. The WHO and CDC smell blood in the water. They amp up their game. Opportunists jump in (there's a lot of political power and, especially, funding to be had). That amped up game forces Trump to more, which in turn further increases the perception that we are all in grave danger...and round and round it goes. It's a mania in full swing.

Yes. There is a corona virus out there and it is killing some people, but no more than any other of the flues we experience every year *because it is a flu*. Corona viruses are one of the pathogens that cause what is commonly called the flu. So far it has not reached the stats of the H1N1 virus in 2009. What did Obama close down? What did the media say about that? Hint; not much.

Every year new flues come on the scene and kill off the old and infirm. This year is no different and this year just one of the new viruses is what is being called Covid-19. It's that simple. The rest is media drama and political and fiscal opportunism playing on the ignorance and anxiety of the people.

It is that simple and the data support exactly what I am saying. There are many highly credentialed experts in the field that agree with me. Even the UK downgraded the seriousness of the outbreak last week.

Kris, "Or we could try doing things such as universal healthcare , stronger safety nets for everyone and making higher education far more affordable. "

Exactly how does that stop a virus outbreak or reduce the insane reaction to it?

Michael, "A more reasonable response be for us oldsters to isolate ourselves while the rest of the country goes on about its business."

Exactly right. If we want to be "science based" then act according to the data, which overwhelingly show that it is the elderly and infirm that are being culled by the virus (same group culled by any respiratory virus every year). Isolate these people in nursing homes or at home. test caregivers. Let the rest of us be productive and keep the economy afloat.

Matt, Ken Shimura was not doing "just fine" until hit by Covid-19. I'm reading that he was a heavy smoker and drinker and had probably experienced reduced lung capacity.

You don't know his health history. He probably had COPD. That is definitely a serious risk factor when facing *any* respiratory virus.

A crises does expose underlying problems and in this case COVID is exposing underlying problems in the US. Problems we knew about. Now these problems are brought to surface. Why not address them?

Our cobbled health care system failed to prevent the spread of COVID 19 at the early stage because testing was not free for the patient. Such problems would not have existed under a universal system. Look to NYC to see the result of that.

We have too many hard working people who at the end of the day are living from paycheck to paycheck who refused to take a sick day for fear of lost wages; thus spreading COVID. Now those hard workers have lost their jobs without a good enough safety net to address it.


We are shutting this country down because we figure that will make our death toll to be around 100K. Without shutting this country down we are looking at a lot more. But they are mainly old people so who cares right??

I am blaming conservative policies in the US for making this worse for the same reason people blame the lack of life boats on the Titanic for making that disaster worse.

I heard of an infant dying from the Coronavirus others dying as well a 19 year old girl from Britain who had no pre-existing health conditions. Then there is also this case.

https://www.latimes.com/california/story/2020-03-30/25-year-old-dies-coronavirus-warning

Michael,
I don’t know why next year we wouldn’t do the same shut-down for the regular influenza. Statistically many 1000s of people die each year from regular influenza in the United States of America. Actually I don’t think government and business shut downs would be a good idea but perhaps non-biologists have learned something about communicable disease from the Corona Virus that would make them wiser when responding to other communicable diseases like the annual influenza virus. Washing hands, keeping hands away from face, getting plenty of UV light from the sun, getting plenty of fresh air, staying out of large groups of people in enclosed places, covering one’s mouth and nose when sneezing or coughing and other routine and recommended actions to prevent spread of any infectious disease might be routinely followed. People used to know how to do these things before the lackadaisical permissive generations took change of the mass media. - AOD

Michael,
I wanted to comment about the current communicable disease epidemic.

Apparently one consequence of a Corona virus infection is pneumonia. Pneumonia was a common killer of generations past when antibiotics were not available. (Pearl Curran who channeled Patience Worth died of pneumonia at a relatively young age of 54 in 1937.) Antibiotics generally are effective against bacterial organisms causing pneumonia but not very effective for viruses. To add insult to injury people who have various underlying conditions are more vulnerable to serious consequences due to their weakened ability to resist the pneumonia whether or not it is caused by a bacterium or a virus. That is why statistically many more older people die of the respiratory virus infection than younger people because obviously they are more likely to have chronic diseases associated with advanced age, e.g. Congestive Heart Failure, Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease, Cancer and Diabetes. I think that is understood by almost everybody. Any respiratory virus, including the Corona Virus may present a serious challenge for anyone, young or old who has serious underlying health conditions.

I find it interesting that many of the younger people dying of Corona virus appear to be overweight, obese or grossly obese as seen in their photographs. (There are of course younger persons who have serious diseases, e.g. leukemia, HIV.) Often family members will say that the person was “perfectly healthy”. Anyone who is obese or grossly obese is rarely healthy and in fact the presence of excess weight only betrays that they most likely have high blood pressure and circulatory problems, are insulin resistant, have high blood glucose and/or have Type 2 Diabetes either diagnosed or undiagnosed.

I noticed in the family from New Jersey in which 4 or more members succumbed to the Corona virus, that in the picture of the family gathering in which many people posed as a group, all of the people were obese or grossly obese. I would conjecture that all of them had blood pressure issues, were insulin resistant and/or had type 2 diabetes either diagnosed or undiagnosed. I would consider none of them to be healthy although they might think themselves to be healthy.

Obesity is a serious killer of Americans and I think it confounds recovery from any communicable or non-communicable disease including COVID-19. - AOD.

Michael,

Nice points about those flu pandemics of the not-so-distant past. I had not heard of them. I've heard comparisons with 1918 but not those. What were the hospitals like when they happened? Would be nice to know.

You wrote,

||I still don’t understand why we didn’t shut down the world for those other pandemics, but we're shutting it down for this one. The only difference I can see is that nowadays we have 24-hour media on TV and online to relentlessly flog the story and whip up public hysteria.||

Because we know we can do something about it, and the media is one source of power to do so.

By way of analogy, my grandmother died the day after Christmas in 1977. She was in her early 60s--young by today's standard. She was staying with us and I was the one who found her. She'd had a heart attack recently, and they basically didn't do anything for her, maybe some blood pressure meds. She ended up dying a simple death with her family, which wasn't a bad way to go.

Fast-forward to 1984--just a blip into the future. My father is diagnosed with heart disease. He had an angioplasty and then open heart in 1986. He'd go on to have several other procedures and died a truly torturous, miserable death in 2001. Had he received the treatment my grandmother had, he probably would have died before age 45. Conversely, my grandmother could probably have lived another decade or so with the treatment my father received.

1968 was the no fuss, no muss method of dealing with the pandemic, anaologous to my grandmother's death. Tons of people died, but society wasn't upended. 2020 is analogous to my father's death: keep everyone alive, but the treatment itself is painful and it's costly as heck.

A lot of our economic pain these days I think can be understood when viewed through this lens: we can do more, so we do do more. In 2100, heart disease probably won't be a thing at all, so my father's painful, costly (to the system--he had excellent insurance) death wouldn't happen either. Viral pandemics may be gone as well--who knows? But right now we're trying to do a lot with fairly primitive medical technology.

Eric wrote,

||Ken Shimura was not doing "just fine" until hit by Covid-19. I'm reading that he was a heavy smoker and drinker and had probably experienced reduced lung capacity.||

Yes, I wrote sloppily. I meant that he was seen out and about doing fine as late as the 3/10. He was not sick and in the hospital.

||I don’t know why next year we wouldn’t do the same shut-down for the regular influenza.||

I think we will but in a different form: a thousand different measures, since everything we're doing now will stick, and we're going to take everything of this nature more seriously.

I mean, pretty much until yesterday people knew it wasn't a good thing to go to work sick, but they did it anyway because it wasn't that big a deal, right? But that flu could have spread to someone whose grandmother got it and then died. We're not going to pretend any more that it's OK to be cavalier about these disease.

I think it's like seat belts in the 70s: We didn't wear 'em. Our family started doing so after my dad was in a nearly fatal car crash in 1981 (he wasn't wearing his belt and someone had to pull his face out of a pool of water). Live and learn, as they say.

@Eric

One of the problems in the US was the fact many people were reluctant to take the COVID 19 test was they could not afford the test and they could not afford the outcome of a positive result be it medically expensive treatment and a loss of employment.

So they decided to risk it and they infected many others.

A universal system could have erased the fear of medical expenses and encouraged people to get treatment and the necessary quarantine.

More safety nets in regards to employment and finances would help people be less reluctant to quarantine.

All of this would have slowed the spread of the disease.

I can imagine a conservative in 1912 arguing against enough life boats for everyone ( a very expensive eyesore) after the Titanic disaster saying something like " well how would that have prevented the ship from hitting the iceberg" without realizing that it wouldn't have but you would had the ability to get everyone off the sinking ship.

In 2017 without social isolation and quarantines we had around 80,000 flu deaths https://www.statnews.com/2018/09/26/cdc-us-flu-deaths-winter/

With social isolation and quarantines according to the Trump Administration we are looking at 100,000 to 200,000 deaths from Covid 19. https://techcrunch.com/2020/03/29/fauci-how-many-coronavirus-deaths-in-us-estimate/

Imagine just how much worse this would be if we actually listened to Michael and Eric on this one.

We are looking at millions dead.

So decided which do you want.

Social isolation, quarantine, 100K dead, recession

or

No social isolation,no quarantines, millions dead, a depression and in my opinion a well deserved violent revolution against the powers that be which caused this disaster.

You might want to look up the French Revolution to see what happens to ruling powers when people finally get fed up.

Kris,

"Balderdash" - AOD

What a profound intelligent response Amos, it will give us all a lot to think about.

If you’re right about the virtues of socialized medicine, Kris, then countries with state-run healthcare systems should be doing much better at handling the coronavirus outbreak. Are they? The US has done more testing than any other country and so far has among the lowest death rates per capita.

You say that with a state-run system we wouldn’t have quarantines and lockdowns because everyone would have been tested sooner. This overlooks two details: everyone couldn’t get tested sooner because there was a shortage of test kits (it takes time to develop a reliable test for a new virus and to manufacture and distribute hundreds of thousands of kits), and countries with socialized healthcare systems are also doing quarantines and lockdowns — some more draconian than our own. In parts of the U.K., you are only permitted to leave your home once a day, and neighbors are encouraged to spy on you and report you if they see you leave twice.

But really I think it's a mistake to use the current panic as a vehicle for advancing a political agenda, or to argue about partisan political positions at all right now. So I’m going to drop it.

Michael wrote,

||If you’re right about the virtues of socialized medicine, Kris, then countries with state-run healthcare systems should be doing much better at handling the coronavirus outbreak. Are they? The US has done more testing than any other country and so far has among the lowest death rates per capita. ||


Well, that's every other country in the world besides the US. I think in that large number you're going to see some varying results.

However, the US *does have* a partially socialized healthcare system (this was true before Obamacare too, of course: Medicare, Medicaid, VA, etc.). I think it's funny when people say they don't want socialized medicine here...

||But really I think it's a mistake to use the current panic as a vehicle for advancing a political agenda, or to argue about partisan political positions at all right now.||

I mean, I don't think we need to have a brawl here about it, but the whole quarantine issue is fundamentally a political one. It comes down to values and how one acts on them in the political sphere.

Not necessarily Michael for reasons you already explained. People in Italy for example have multi generational homes and far more touch greetings. They also had far more Chinese visitors. Now imagine Italy having our system which discouraged early testing. It's one thing if you cannot take a test for disease because the test is not available, it is another thing indeed if you do not take the test for fear of the expense. ( maybe if the Trump administration hadn't cut CDC funding or took this seriously in January we would have had the test though) That paralysis cost lives and helped spread COVID 19.

It's more complicated than simply state run verse whatever the heck you want to call our clustered system but in the end it comes down to state run systems encourage testing and make quarantines not a disaster.

So the UK is being responsible is all I got out of that.

A crises is a great time to deal with problems. We used the crises of the Civil War to deal with slavery. We used the crises of the Depression to deal with many of the financial issues that caused it. I could go on and on but I have never once understood why conservatives almost always think do nothing is the responsible approach when crises appear.

After the Titanic sank they used that crises to deal with passenger safety and the necessity of communication between ships. See how this works.

I hope the Democrats remind people every day what group of people made this problem worse. You know in the same way that during the Civil War Republicans had no problem reminding the nation just what problems slave owners caused.

The standard conservative playbook is not going to work with 100,000 bodies.

Kris,
In addition to what Michael said, the US outcomes will be superior to the socialized systems because we have more ICU and intensive care beds per capita. We simply deliver superior - albeit more expensive because it is superior - healthcare to our citizens. The data show this already with covid-19 and have shown it in the past pandemics.

I am willing to bet that the death toll from all flues this season (including covid-19) will be with statistically normal bounds. There will be no significant flu deaths over prior years.

One of your mistakes is believe the media hype that covid-19 is not just another flu that hits the respiratory system (it is) and that kills just like any other similar flu. Every few years one of these comes along. There is nothing new here.

Another mistake is to believe that everyone who's death is being attributed to covid-19 was actually killed by covid-19 as the only pathogen present. I don't mean COPD, chronic cardiac issues, AIDS, etc - I mean other flu viruses. Covid-19 on its own, like many medical conditions, doesn't appear to be too bad.

No one dismissing the deaths of the elderly and infirm as a big nothing. We are just saying that the elderly and infirm die (in the US they die at a rate of between 7,000 to 8,000 every day). Many of those succumbing to pneumonia on top of other serious issues. The point being, there is nothing new happening here. It's just the cycle of life. You want big mommy government to protect you from life and your willing to destroy an economy and incur all of the human suffering associated with that to perpetuate the fantasy that govt can make you healthy, wealthy and happy for ever.

To illustrate my point about other pathogens being present, but downplayed by the media, there is the story of the choir in the Seattle area that got together to practice despite coronavirus warnings. The news says, "Since the rehearsal, 45 members have become ill and 28 have tested positive for coronavirus, Skagit County Public Health told Q13 FOX on Monday. Two members in their 80s died."

So 17 members became ill, but are not corona positive. What do they have? Was there food poisoning involved? What?

Of the 28 that tested positive, is it the corona that is making them ill, or whatever the other 17 have?

The two that died were quite elderly. What did they actually of? What does the autopsy reveal?

Note that the media presents the story as if these fools laughed at coronavirus or - even more stupidly - though God would protect them, but they were savagely mowed down by the virus that will get us all if we aren't on house arrest.

IMO, it will turn out that we have all been exposed to the virus. Many of us already.

The World and the United States will never be the same. Whenever there are major events in history what comes out of it will be major changes from what it was before. This time and what we are going through right now is a line, a demarcation, and what we see afterwards will look very different from the way it was before.

Dr. Emory Thomas, a history professor at the University of Georgia, wrote a book about how the South was a very different place after the Civil War from what it was before. He said the South fought the Civil war to preserve their way of life but starting the war and fighting it caused it to change and evolve into something very different from what it was before. By the way Dr. Thomas was my history professor at the Uni. of Georgia when I was an undergraduate.

What I have noticed is that after major things like this happen what comes out of it is a major change, a "separation", demarcating one time from another. In periods of history when something major happens the "after" is quite different from the "former" time. Just like after WWII the United States was a very different place from what it was before the war. And then the Vietnam War and the 1960s saw the United States evolving again into something new and different from what it was in the 1950s.

"I don't think we need to have a brawl here about it, but the whole quarantine issue is fundamentally a political one."

Political, but not especially partisan, since both Democrats and Republicans have lined up in favor of lockdowns. The contrarian view that we should follow the South Korea model isn’t being articulated by any major figure in either party, as far as I can see.

I agree with Kris that crises prompt societies to address previously ignored problems, but the time to engage in such efforts is after the crisis is over, not while it is ongoing. You can mandate more lifeboats, but first you should fish the Titanic's passengers out of the water. Priorities ...

Incidentally, Trump did call for cuts in the CDC (as in many other areas), but those cuts were not approved by Congress or implemented, so they had no effect on the current situation. Whether or not the CDC should be cut, I have no idea. I would assume that, as in any bureaucracy, there is a good deal of waste and red tape; perhaps streamlining would make it more efficient.

https://www.snopes.com/fact-check/trump-cut-cdc-budget/

No doubt this whole crisis will become highly partisan in its aftermath, especially when people grasp the staggering extent of the economic damage. I’ve seen two estimates of the expected unemployment rate; the low estimate is 15%, while the high estimate is 32% — higher than the peak of the Great Depression, which topped out at around 25%.

https://www.cnbc.com/2020/03/31/coronavirus-update-goldman-sees-15percent-jobless-rate-followed-by-record-rebound.html

https://www.cnbc.com/2020/03/30/coronavirus-job-losses-could-total-47-million-unemployment-rate-of-32percent-fed-says.html

The finance minister of a German state committed suicide, reportedly over worries about the economic damage being done by the quarantine, which has been less draconian in Germany than in our own country. It is said that he was distraught because he could see no way to recover.

https://www.scmp.com/news/world/europe/article/3077507/german-ministers-suicide-linked-coronavirus-crisis

There were so many suicides in one Tennessee county that the congressman from that district gave out his cell phone number so people could call him and talk.

https://thehill.com/homenews/house/490234-tennessee-lawmaker-cellphone-number-overwhelmed-coronavirus

A Los Angeles suicide hotline reports that call volume is 75 times higher than normal.

https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-8169429/Los-Angeles-suicide-hotline-received-upwards-1-500-calls-coronavirus-fears.html

The economic, social, and psychological toll is already large, and the lockdown has at least a month to go, maybe longer.

There ought to be some debate about the wisdom of this course, but if there is, it’s not being reported by the media or acknowledged by the political class. The only debate is over making the lockdown even more severe and extending it even longer.

If you call attention to these facts, you are called a doomsayer, a panic-monger, a monster who wants to kill grandma by coughing on her, or just a kook. And yet we will have to address the economic and social side of the equation eventually. The longer we wait, the more serious the consequences if we have misjudged the situation.

Matt,
My ears seem to perk up when someone announces Medicare as a U.S. example of socialized medicine or "partially socialized medicine". I guess I haven't thought very deeply about Medicare as socialized medicine since I always thought it was a health insurance program that I paid a monthly premium amount for out of money I earned during my working lifetime. In addition, even after I am eligible for Medicare at age 65, I pay a "Part B" premium every month which is taken out of my Social Security check or which in my wife's case, she is required to pay directly from her checking account since she doesn't receive Social Security payments. I pay an annual deductible and a co-insurance amount for charges for health services.. I also pay a private insurance premium for charges that Medicare doesn't pay for. If socialized medicine works like that then I suppose I am for it, with a few reservations perhaps. If everyone were required to pay a monthly premium, in my case for 45 years before they were eligible to receive reimbursements and thereafter paid monthly premiums for Part B health services, yearly deductibles and co-insurance for every health service encounter, then it seems that "Medicare For All" might be a good program.

But you and I might agree that it would never work that way. For some people it would just be free health care since many people would never pay premiums, deductibles or co-payments. The taxpayers would pay their bills. How is that going to be fair to all of those people who dutifully pay into the program on a regular basis year after year after year?

Those who support socialized medicine should stop calling it "Medicare For All". It would be noting at all like the current Medicare program. - AOD

Actually I just want sensible solutions.You know solutions where people get tested without fear of an enormous bill and people get treated without an enormous bill or facing a financial catastrophe for missing work. You know like the rest of the first world.

So far no one has attempted to address the simple fact our system discouraged testing and early treatment when COVID 19 was far more containable then it is now. If a universal system lacks beds etc it can buy them, now how do you address this flaw with our system?

I suspect letting COVID run rampant would destroy the economy far more now than our efforts to contain it are. Eric and Michael seem not to comprehend that the death toll estimate for the US from it is around 100,000 assuming we do quarantine.

I think I will go with the "opinions" of the scientific community on this issue who think COVID has not yet begun to spread as they are probably better informed on how diseases operate and spread then some random contrarian from Arizona.

Using the Titanic analogy why can't we both pull the passengers from the Atlantic and discuss solutions to prevent the next one wreck. Seriously we cannot multi task now?? On the other hand we have known for years what we need to do to fix our medical systems; but people of a certainly political persuasion constantly prevent that from happening because they like to put profits before human life.

However if conservatives treated the Titanic disaster like they do COVID we would hear the following responses from them"

" People die,big deal"

"Mandated life boats are socialism!!"

" Life boats are crowded"

" Most of the people who died were elderly!"

" Jesus sent the iceberg to punish sinners"

" Requiring ships to keep their radios on is an infringement on the freedom of ship captains to turn off their radios"

" A lot of the passengers had pre existing conditions which made them more susceptible to the freezing waters so it is there fault"

" The passengers failed to properly train themselves on how stay in frozen water. That was very irresponsible"

" true Christians will not freeze to death"

" the scientific community doesn't know what it is talking about when it comes to exposure to freezing temperatures"

" The media is lying, it is all a hoax meant to discredit President Taft"

" you just want the government to protect you"

" keeping the ships in harbor until it is safe will hurt the travel industry"

And nothing would get done.

Unfortunately we live in a country where the modern American conservative would rather steer the US into an iceberg instead of admitting that changes need to happen.

America meet the 5th century Roman Empire as we are going down that path. Death via suicide.

Michael wrote,

||And yet we will have to address the economic and social side of the equation eventually. The longer we wait, the more serious the consequences if we have misjudged the situation. ||

Eric wrote,

||I am willing to bet that the death toll from all flues this season (including covid-19) will be with statistically normal bounds. There will be no significant flu deaths over prior years. ||

And awhile back I wrote:

https://michaelprescott.typepad.com/michael_prescotts_blog/2017/06/guest-post-why-skeptics-will-never-accept-the-existence-of-psi.html

Once we are in the weeds of arguing over statistics, no one will ever be proven right or wrong. And that's where we will be, unfortunately.

It would seem to me that there are two conditions necessary for justifying the current response to the virus:

1. The virus must be bad enough (by some definition) to deserve a special response. Eric is saying it is not, and he may be correct, and the statistical argument to prove that it is bad enough is going to be difficult.

2. The response actually has to work and be proportionate in its cost. Proving that it has or hasn't will be a very difficult argument in its own right.

Then again, Lee said on page 1 of the comments:

||Even if our current medical and political authorities turn out to be completely wrong, and COVID-19 takes nowhere near enough lives to justify the draconian measures currently being taken, most of them will still not change their views. Most of them will justify their actions, and will believe that if they hadn't acted the way they did, things would have been much worse, and their would have been the millions of deaths that the most extreme models predicted.||

And this is absolutely correct as well. This is the money quote (thanks, Lee!).

But I am going to go contrarian on the contrarians here (despite understanding and appreciating your arguments) and say that the response will end up being seen as justified in the grand historical narrative for the following reasons:

1. COVID-19 will be seen as being bad enough.

A. It will reasonably be demonstrated that is worse than other killer viruses. Not mega-worse, but worse.

B. The argument will also be made that other viruses should have been treated more seriously and measures taken to prevent deaths. I.e., the CW of just letting a virus run through the population and kill will be reasonably challenged.

C. The "flatten the curve" argument will also be repeated, of course, and I think it is reasonable enough.

2. The responses will be seen having worked and proportionate in their cost.

A. They are already seen as working. My gut says they are as well. But we won't have to use our guts, since different countries are doing vastly different things in response, and I think the relative effectiveness of these will be fairly clear in the future. If Eric is right, then we won't see much difference. That may be the case. If so, Lee's point will apply: "We had to do something, and we did our best."

B. I've seen back-of-envelop calculations of several million dollars per life saved. Oh well. We ultimately run the economy and the government to keep people alive. We are trying to prevent suicides and economic damage by giving people money as well. If it is clear that what the US did is better, say, than what Japan is doing (apparently very little), then it will be hard to argue that these lives were not "worth it."

I'm also going to be an Eric-style contrarian and say that I don't think the economic damage will be all that bad. Just as the virus is going to wipe out people that would have been wiped out anyway (by other viruses or underlying conditions), so too are a lot of businesses at death's door that are going to succumb regardless. Meanwhile, businesses and sectors that are on the rise will be given a boost by the attrition of the weak. I think a heartening aspect of this crisis is the cleverness with which many people and businesses are responding.

Another reason why the damage won't be so bad is that, since it is time-based, everyone will owe everyone else for the same three-month period (assuming it will be three months). This is in contrast to 2008, when the financial sector was crashing under its own weight and bad fundamentals. I think we can, through some trick or another, do an "Oops that was weird" for the period March to June and collectively write it off. (I don't mean to make it sound easy--it's a huge mess. It's just that it really comes down to everyone taking a big vacation they couldn't afford and working out the accounting.)

So that's my take on all that. :)

Kris,
Get a grip man. Your attempted withering barrage of political slogans is having no effect.

There is lots of free testing. Even private insurance insurance companies are waving fees for it.

Matt,
The typical psi study that shows an effect is not very convincing. The effect is always small. I'm more impressed with individuals within the studies that show abilities out past 3 standard deviations. IMO, if you want to prove psi you should use exceptional people as subjects. I once mentioned that to Dean Radin and he agreed, but then said that he was convinced of psi and was more interested in studying the avg person.

So I'm being consistent.

You're misunderstanding me a little. I'm not saying that the virus isn't deadly for some people. It is. It's even probably more deadly than the typical flu for some susceptible people. I even agree that for many people it can be a very bad experience to have this virus.

I'm saying - like Michael - that we have been through outbreaks like this before and we didn't have a national panic. H1N1 is recent example in addition to those that Michael mentioned. Furthermore, the apocalypse models didn't play out; except for 1918, but we're still after that one too.

I'm reacting to the extreme panic that this new virus has given rise to in the civilized world. I'm reacting to the ubiquitous bad logic, bad statistics and bad analysis that have permitted a suspension of some Constitutional rights and of the economy.

Everything has a cost and a benefit. When you only look at worse case scenario costs and the benefits of your plan to ameliorate those costs, you are engaged in flawed analysis. That is the way the media and our government are viewing this. They have tunnel vision. No one is considering the toll on the economy and on the health of people who are not sick with the virus (or only mildly so), which I say will be considerable.

In a country of 330 million we have 3,000 dead from the virus (assuming we just go along with the idea that they would have lived otherwise). That, after more than two months of the virus being here. Do you not understand that 3,000 is nothing in a country of 330 million where 7K to 8K die *every day*.

And I'm sorry, but most of those who have died were old and in ill health and were going to die before long anyhow. Their productive years were over for the most part. We are going to ruin people just starting out in life with small businesses or working for them, for people at the end of their lives. That is worthy of being discussed. It's not being discussed.

My mother was killed in a commercial airline crash and there were lawsuits from the family of the 156 victims, myself included. The pilot was screwing around before take-off with a stewardess and didn't prep the plane properly for take-off. The suit was legit and airlines sought to settle with the plaintiffs. I was a young man at the time and was totally new to the ways of the world. I didn't want to make money of the tragedy, but I have a mentally handicapped younger brother that my mother looked after and I knew he would need the money. I could help him with my portion in addition to his. I imagined millions. Nope. I found that society puts a value on human life. In my case, I was grown, had left home and didn't need a mother anymore according to the defense; which was actually correct in important ways. Also, at my mother's age, there was an actuarial value that was less than a younger woman's (got me interested in a career later in life). I didn't gripe. I bargained a little, but accepted the truth of what they were arguing. I still do. Liberals put a woman's rights over a baby's life. None of this should be strange to you.

You're hanging your hat on the idea that the economy won't suffer. the gov of VA just announced closures of businesses until June. It's going to six weeks total where I live (already at two). People are starting to hurt. They are starting to wonder how they can pay for the car, the credit card, the rent, the insurances and so on. That's reality. When they default, all the people they owe start to default to the people they owe. The bank that most people use around here is a small regional operation. What happens to all of the loans they made? I just took $50K out of that bank. I will be pulling all of money out because I think it's at risk. What if it is? What if others start thinking like me? The ripple effects of the economy being shut down are real and potentially massive. Why are models run on that scenario less trusted the models of virus apocalypse?

I won't even get into the Constitutional issues at stake at the moment

||Even if our current medical and political authorities turn out to be completely wrong, and COVID-19 takes nowhere near enough lives to justify the draconian measures currently being taken, most of them will still not change their views. Most of them will justify their actions, and will believe that if they hadn't acted the way they did, things would have been much worse, and their would have been the millions of deaths that the most extreme models predicted.||

Who cares? Politicians are snakes.Who doesn't know that? What is important is that people know the truth so they can pressure the politicians.

This isn't about winning isn't about argument

AOD wrote,

||But you and I might agree that it would never work that way. For some people it would just be free health care since many people would never pay premiums, deductibles or co-payments.||

Well, I lived in Japan 8 years, and there they certainly have premiums, deductibles, and a variety of specialized supplementary insurance you can buy from private companies.

Every country's system works a little differently.

||I guess I haven't thought very deeply about Medicare as socialized medicine since I always thought it was a health insurance program that I paid a monthly premium amount for out of money I earned during my working lifetime.||

The fact that Americans pay into FICA until they are 65 or so doesn't really matter. The government cannot save or invest the money it receives. FICA is ultimately just a tax like any other.

That's how any socialized medicine program works: people pay taxes, and the government to some extent pays for the care (minus deductibles, etc.).

Re; Medicare - members (covered lives) pay a premium. So in addition to paying into the medicate during one's working life via payroll taxes, once one hits 65, one has to apply for Medicare, select a plan and then pay a monthly premium. 33% of Medicare is sold and administered by private insurance companies. That particular model is called "Medicare Advantage" (look it up). The government realized that private insurance could manage Medicare members and costs better than CMS (the govt). So Medicare Advantage was created and the program has been working very well for many years. The government seeks to pass even more of Medicare management to the private sector.

Those are the facts. Medicare is in no way socialized coverage beyond being a law that ensures that high cost citizens - most with pre-existing conditions - can get insurance; something that they would not ordinarily be able to do in the purely free market.

Medicare also rations care, which is why you see Medicare Supplemental plans for sale. Those plans expand one's benefits to cover a wider range of services and basically make Medicare coverage more similar to regular employer group/commercial insurance.

I have no problem, Matt with socialism requiring people to pay taxes providing of course that EVERYONE pays them. If the current government "cannot save or invest the money it receives" from FICA then I have no confidence that a Socialistic government would dutifully save or invest the money either.

I think that the problem with Socialism or Communism is that human nature is not taken into account. Some people will play by the rules and many will not, not too different from the system we have now. Rather, Socialism will simply keep increasing the taxes on the working people to cover expenses for everyone including those who do not contribute to the system. .

I think it is rather flippant to say that "The fact that Americans pay into FICA until they are 65 or so doesn't really matter." It does matter of course as that money taken from each working person's wages (call it a tax if you will) eventually, if they live long enough, is returned to the employee as monthly Social Security checks and reimbursements for medical expenses as well as for people who cannot work because of a disability. - AOD

@Eric

Testing was not free early on and that caused the disease to spread when it easily could have been slowed. We also had the problem of people could not afford to take time off from work even if they had the disease so they kept working. None of that would have happened with a universal system with adequate social safety nets. You cannot get around that.

Eric I know you tend to reject science because it disagrees with your political views but I for one do not. I let a scientific view of the world instead shape my political views. Currently the consensus of scientist is with social isolation and quarantining will still result in at a minimum of 100K deaths. Without doing this the consensus is the death toll is over 2 million.

Conservative irresponsibility, denialism, excuse making and obstructionism are not going to cut it this time.

I'm entering the discussion to ask Eric Newhill : We've all heard that a dangerous pandemic that can have consequences comparable to the "Spanish flu" from 1918 is inevitable, and that it is a threat for which the world is more or less unprepared. Are you able to give a professional assessment of the level of risk from such a pandemic? If you are, what would the assessment be?

To be clear, regarding the claim that this current pandemic crisis is a hoax... I have concluded the same. If anyone cares, some of the giveaways included the shenanigans in Italy : http://archive.is/LTKCV#selection-2371.160-2371.366 , and the evidence that an ignition of an international overreaction has been tried before: https://www.forbes.com/2010/02/05/world-health-organization-swine-flu-pandemic-opinions-contributors-michael-fumento.html )

As for the economic consequences, for anyone curious, here is a perspective from a Eastern European economist living in London:
https://nkatic.wordpress.com/2020/03/31/what-happens-after-the-pandemic-published-in-serbian-daily-politika-on-25-3-2020

Here's a thought. Rather than argue about which model - US or Canadian-European - will do a better job of containing the virus, why don't we wait and see?

At some point the outbreak will have run its course and we'll have cumulative totals. It will then be possible to calculate the COVID death rate (fatalities per capita) in any given country. We can compare the US death rate with the death rates in Canada and Europe, and come to rational conclusions.

Admittedly we may have to adjust for age-related demographics, population density, and other factors. Still, a meaningful comparison should be possible.

There are essentially three possible outcomes:

1. The US rate is higher. This would indicate that the US system was less effective at containing the outbreak.

2. The US rate is lower. This would indicate that the US system was more effective at containing the outbreak.

3. The rates are pretty much the same across the board. This would indicate that both approaches are roughly comparable, and choosing between them involves a tradeoff.

Personally I suspect #3 will be the result. Among First World countries today, health outcomes tend to be pretty similar. Technology is the critical factor, and affluent countries have good technology.

At any rate, I can't see the point in trying to figure it all out before the data are in. It's not like we're going to overhaul the US healthcare system in the middle of an epidemic. That would be like rebuilding a car's engine while driving 90 mph.

Thanks JR for the link. I hope a couple of other commenters on this blog take a look at it. I found it to be very informative. - AOD

https://archive.fo/LTKCV#selection-2371.160-2371.366

"I'm entering the discussion to ask Eric Newhill : We've all heard that a dangerous pandemic that can have consequences comparable to the "Spanish flu" from 1918 is inevitable, and that it is a threat for which the world is more or less unprepared. Are you able to give a professional assessment of the level of risk from such a pandemic?" - JR

First, I am not an epidemiologist, nor a physician. I have worked for - and currently do - large healthcare insurance companies in an actuarial/medical economics capacity for about 20 years after having earned a masters degree studying healthcare economics and taken some exams. In order to understand the drivers of cost, I am in the data at the care provider, diagnosis, procedure, etc. level. I have participated in conducting some important studies on clinical conditions and the cost/benefit of treatment options for company Medical Directors. I was in that specific role for about 5 years. I have been involved in delivering analysis necessary for contracting with care providers (involves demographics, conditions, regional practice patterns and more). I have been involved pricing (setting premium amounts) - and much more. I manage a team that queries the "big Data" that major insurance companies have available to them as a starting point for the analyses. I have a very good feel health conditions, costs, trends, diagnoses, etc. I'm also 56 years old and have seen news cycles come and go.

With regards to the Spanish Flu, something that must be taken into account is that in 1918 public health was nowhere near as developed as it is today. The improvements in public health alone have contributed massively to the enhanced quality and length of life that we enjoy today v 100 hundred years ago.

Another important difference between now and 1918 is the vast advancement in medical tech, like readily available antibiotics that can knock out pneumonia caused by the virus. Also, respirators and ventilators and a myriad of other procedures and tech that can prevent a case from becoming dire and that can save lives when a case does become dire.

Also, people are just a lot healthier today due to indoor plumbing (not ubiquitous even in 1918), climate controlled homes, improved diet, etc. So they are less susceptible to serious infections than 100 years ago.

For the above reasons, I do not think a second coming of a Spanish Flu are very likely.

On the other side of the coin, all the improvements I mentioned have allowed people to live longer and live longer with conditions that would have killed them earlier 100 years ago. There are many people in this frail group that are vulnerable to viruses and bacterial infections. Indeed, it this demographic that is most at risk with COVID-19. These are the by far and away who are dying.

The Spanish Flu killed young men and women and children. COVID-19 only rarely kills this demographic and, when it does, the victims usually have a serious underlying condition (or conditions) that would have killed them already in 1918. That is what the data shows.

There have been 4,000 deaths attributed to COVID-19 in the US today. That level of mortality is expected for the impacted (frail)demographic during a bad flu season. We are all going to die of something.

Why not start the overhaul now?

We know the failures.

We can continue using the system that we have to treat COVID but we can immediately pass laws that address the issues that exist because we use a cobbled for profit system.

Our system is simply inefficient. It charges a lot more to cover a lot less. I get why ticks like the system that allows them to blood suck animals, but no else likes the tick and the diseases it spreads. I can understand why profiteers like the system we have and it's manifest failures but for the life of me I fail to see why anyone else is so enamored of those ticks and the expensive failures they produce.

So let's say Canada and the US have the same death rate from COVID when all is said and done.

Canada managed to do that with a system which spends $7068 per person while we had to $11,172 per person.

Why support a wasteful system which could at best tie a system which spent 34% less than it?

Eric wrote,

||The typical psi study that shows an effect is not very convincing. The effect is always small.||

I agree with your take on studying exceptional individuals. But arguing with skeptics will always involve arguing about either what they call "anecdotes" and gratuitously dismiss or, more relevant to the topic at hand, about statistics. Once we are arguing about statistics, it's very hard for one side to "win" because one side's experts will confidently deny the reasoning of the other's (e.g., skeptics can always find a statistician to call *any* meta-analysis "bunk").

So will it be with this situation.

||I'm saying - like Michael - that we have been through outbreaks like this before and we didn't have a national panic.||

Well, it's a "panic" if the wrong moves are being made. I think Michael is right that we'll eventually be able to compare how different countries did and get an idea of what would have happened had we not implemented the current measures.

Further, perhaps we should have handled those outbreaks differently. Perhaps we have technology now (even if it's just social technology) that we can use to get a better result.

||I'm reacting to the extreme panic that this new virus has given rise to in the civilized world. I'm reacting to the ubiquitous bad logic, bad statistics and bad analysis that have permitted a suspension of some Constitutional rights and of the economy.||

Or it could be good logic and statistics. In order to judge myself, I would need to see their argument laid out in, say, a short document and your response to the specifics.

My BS detector, however, has not gone off yet. Everywhere I see the number of cases in, say, a city or state and a fatality rate of about 1%. If we're lucky, that number will end up lower. At least, however, if a lot of old and vulnerable people are staying in right now, then they are not getting killed at that 1% rate. Perhaps we could have done this with only them staying in. Hindsight will provide some clues on that, I'm sure. However, even if the fatality rate is only 0.5%, having everyone get the disease quickly means 1.5 million hurling themselves at the medical infrastructure in a very narrow time window and dying--and many, many more hurling themselves and not dying. Does that sound "doable" to you?

||Everything has a cost and a benefit. When you only look at worse case scenario costs and the benefits of your plan to ameliorate those costs, you are engaged in flawed analysis.||

I'm sure an intelligent someone somewhere has a spreadsheet with various possible fatality and contagion rates and the expected result (in terms of the aforementioned strain on the medical system) for each of those scenarios. My right brain says that those results are really, really bad until we get down to a fairly low fatality rate (there seems little doubt that this thing spreads like wildfire, so let's take that variable out of it). We would have economic and social chaos just from people getting really sick, fearing they would get sick, and overloading the medical system. Currently, we have social order and, even with the measures in place, the medical system is overloaded in some places. My right brain says we're getting a pretty good deal for the economic strain that might have happened anyway.


||That is the way the media and our government are viewing this. They have tunnel vision. No one is considering the toll on the economy and on the health of people who are not sick with the virus (or only mildly so), which I say will be considerable.||

I don't agree. Liberal Slate.com had this article, "Are We Doing the Right Thing?" (https://slate.com/technology/2020/03/coronavirus-pandemic-avoiding-worst.html). I think people know that the cost is significant, as every individual is bearing part of it.

||In a country of 330 million we have 3,000 dead from the virus (assuming we just go along with the idea that they would have lived otherwise). That, after more than two months of the virus being here. Do you not understand that 3,000 is nothing in a country of 330 million where 7K to 8K die *every day*.||

Here's a helpful tracker I just found:

https://www.worldometers.info/coronavirus/#countries

Deaths in the US are now at 4,609. We'll see what happens. I certainly hope you are right and this thing burns out quickly and we can analyze our overreaction so as to do better in the future.

||And I'm sorry, but most of those who have died were old and in ill health and were going to die before long anyhow. Their productive years were over for the most part.||

That's a judgment call. A lot of the people who have died could have lived a lot longer: 10, 20 years. It clearly is taking out people as well who didn't have a *lot* of health problems, as well as some who had none apparent.

||We are going to ruin people just starting out in life with small businesses or working for them, for people at the end of their lives. That is worthy of being discussed. It's not being discussed.||

It *is* being discussed. Trump said, "The cure can't be worse than the disease," and this went through the national media. I think people are away of your side of the argument. Very few are opposing the current measures, including those on the right.

Sorry to hear about your mother. My family also sued the automaker of the car in which my father was almost killed. Not fun stuff.

||You're hanging your hat on the idea that the economy won't suffer.||

It will. De facto, it will be a recession because we didn't grow, grow, grow. We hit the pause button. But the fundamentals will not be different. My view is that, if we can't handle a crisis by hitting the pause button on the economy, then we need better economic technology.

Eric,

Also, I think it's fine to argue that the US Medicare system is not "socialized medicine" due to XYZ reasons. But then you also need to look at foreign systems in detail and assess one by one why each is or isn't "socialized medicine" under the same reasoning.

People on your side of the debate (not necessarily you) do such lumping together and castigate, in essence, what the rest of the world is doing without recognizing the best practices that aren't being implemented in the US. That's not good reasoning.

I know for a fact that the Japanese system has plenty of flaws, but at the end of the day it's not all that different from Medicare in what people experience. You can go to any doctor or hospital you want, and medical facilities are run privately, not by the government.

AOD wrote,

||If the current government "cannot save or invest the money it receives" from FICA then I have no confidence that a Socialistic government would dutifully save or invest the money either.||

It is economically impossible for *any* government the size of the US to save or invest money. In fact, instead of investing money, the government is invested *in* in the form of its debt (treasure bills and notes, etc.). Any "lockboxes" or similar savings accounts are just an accounting method/fiction, nothing more.

That doesn't mean such methods are "bad," but governments above a certain size in any given year take in taxes and make payments from either those taxes or those taxes plus debt (i.e., deficit spending). One major goal is always to avoid inflation above a certain level. Thus, even if the government had an account it labeled "savings" that contained $2 trillion, it couldn't just arbitrarily dump it on the economy and say, "Well, it was just 'savings' so there won't be an inflationary effect."

Note that inflation is mitigated during any "stimulus" by selling the required funds as debt. That means that some people are giving up their money and putting it into t-bills and notes instead of just spending it. If the government were simply to print the money and dump it, the effect would be different. (That's a very simplified version of how it works. The government also "creates" a lot of money by lending to banks through the Federal Reserve, and the interest charged is the famous "Federal Reserve Rate.")

||I think that the problem with Socialism or Communism is that human nature is not taken into account.||

You're preaching to the choir, my friend. I certainly do not support Communism at all, and I think socialism is more a method to be applied selectively (as we and all governments currently do) than an out-of-the-box solution for the economy and government.

We currently, again as all governments do, have a hybrid method of running the economy that includes both socialistic and free market pieces. I think we need to tweak these to get better results for people while retaining as much freedom as possible. This isn't easy, to be sure. As you aptly point out, people are always gaming whatever system is in place.

||I think it is rather flippant to say that "The fact that Americans pay into FICA until they are 65 or so doesn't really matter." It does matter of course as that money taken from each working person's wages (call it a tax if you will)||

I wrote sloppily. The level at which we are taxed certainly matters to those who are taxed. What doesn't matter is the accounting fiction of portraying it as some type of savings. It's just a tax, ultimately. It's income redistribution: younger people pay more in tax, and older people receive proportionately more while continuing to pay proportionately lower taxes.

addendum to the reply to JR (I was cut off by a meeting).

You must keep in mind that The WHO and, to an only slightly lesser extent, the CDC, are globalist organizations (even though the CDC technically works for the US govt). I don't mean "globalist" in the pejorative sense that, as an American Firster, I sometimes use it. I'm just being factual about the ideology of these organizations.

So when they talk about a Spanish flu scale pandemic, they are not necessarily referring to the impact on the US - or even Western civilization.

You must realize that in the non-Western world, people die by the thousands, literally, every day due to diseases that are rarely seen anymore in the US - diseases like TB, Polio, Malaria, Rabies and yes, common flues that we do see in the US, but that cause relatively few deaths.

You have to parse dire predictions by impact on Western civ versus he third world because the WHO and CDC tend to not do so.

Also, Michael is right. The data are not all in. I could be very wrong at the end of the day. I'm really not seeing it and my well developed "sense" of things tells me that we are not going to see it, but who knows? We will know in a month whether the panic and economic destruction was justified.However, you won't hear it from all of the people who invested in the panic - the politicians and media - if the worst case scenario was hot air. The y will simply say that they saved everyone's lives through draconian measures. That said, today they are predicting 100K + dead in the US. So there's a metric that can be assessed against data in a month.

They will never tease out those who were going to die within the next six months or so anyhow. I will be looking at that - right now, I am thinking that a substantial proportion of the dead will be in that category based on the Italian experience and a little leaked out from the US experience.

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