Tag Archives: COVID 19

No one is thinking

So I found this image the other day. I shared it. A lot of people liked and shared it, but I have come to realize that very few actually believe it.

The problem seems to be that as with most things people have divided into three camps.

Most, but not all, liberals are worried only about the number of deaths from COVID 19

Most, but not all, conservatives are only worried about the economy.

And libertarians are at least consistent in only being worried about everything is going lead to a government takeover of everything.

Granted these terms are always hard to define, especially as conservative nowadays doesn’t remotely mean most of us thought it meant 20 years ago.

Now the COVID death group has, for the most part, never cared about expanding government power (which has always been a problem), but a lot, but again not all, of the remaining NeverTrumpers are falling into this group, and while vocalizing some concern over Trump’s expanding power the=yore not make it a driving force. Further, this group seems to be absolutely idiotic in not realizing that a good economy keeps people alive. Neoliberal economists (and I mean that covering everyone from Friedman and Hayek to the modern Neoliberals which seems to the be the new term for the New Left from the early 1990’s and early 2000’s*) care so much GDP is because there is a beyond heavy correlation between GDP and longer lives, better medical care, higher quality of life, more innovation, more choice, more happiness. It’s not a perfect indicator, but no one has come up with a better one. Economists don’t care about money because they’re Scrooge, they care about it because it buys better lives. And if the economy tanks PEOPLE WILL DIE. More stress causing heart attacks and strokes, more malnutrition, more suicide, more accidents at home, more domestic abuse, more alcoholism, and drug abuse. The longer this goes on the more people will start dying from other things that are not this virus. And to act as if the virus is the only thing to worry about if just preposterous.

But you know what the care only about the economy crowd is equally dumb. Be it the buffoons who are trying to make this out to be nothing—-this is a big thing.

There were 2.8 million deaths in the US in 2019.  We will have more. A lot more this year. Now, I’ll grant that we were always going to have more because it was projected that the Baby Boomers and Gen X were going to be dying in such large numbers that the number of deaths per year wasn’t expected to ever stop increasing until the mid-2050s—but this is going to push those number up more.  But right now you have people arguing that the death rate isn’t that much higher right now…yeah because COVID is mainly confined to New York. It won’t be forever. Flattening the curve may slow the spread of disease but it is unlikely to halt it. NYC deaths are over double what they usually are for this time of year.  When it hits all those communities where we’ve heard about for the last 10 years that are suffering from high opioid use, high unemployment, high-diabetes and in general shitty life…well, let’s just say that if the South had to choose, they would likely be better off picking a second Sherman’s March to the Sea than what is coming for them. Very ignorant people are thinking that because it hasn’t hit their hospital or their community that this is just not going to ever come to them. History tells me that communities during every plague and pandemic throughout history from the plague that caused Athens to the lose the Peloponnesian War, to the Black Death, to the Spanish Flu have had communities that thought they wouldn’t be affect…and then those communities were all but destroyed. Let me make this very clear: UNTIL THERE IS A VACCINE THERE IS NO WAY OF STOPPING THE PROGRESS OF THIS THING. And at best that probably 12 months away. Yeah, sure, maybe if the whole world wanted to shut down for three weeks and we all sheltered in place and had an obscenely limited list of essential employees we could stop the spread of this thing…but only a damn fool could think we could get that done. A lot of people are going to die, and more importantly, a lot of people are going to get sick and that will also have influence on the economy. Further, just putting this out there, worst case is that like HIV we may not develop a vaccine…or just short of that keep in mind we didn’t have a chickenpox vaccine until the late 80s.

And then, of course, there is the consistency of the libertarians in hating government expansions of power and loving the fact that there are many regulations being rolled back to expedite care for people. All well and good. And I don’t mean to let them off easy, I know there are quarters of the libertarians sphere out there that are as always calling for full-on anarchy at this point and ignoring that public health has at least since the Roman Empire been a power of government…but as it’s hard enough to find libertarian voices out there I don’t think many of us are running into that insanity so insulting it wouldn’t do much good. But I will say that fringe does once again miss one of the points of government that some of the other two groups are ignoring: the government is there to help keep people calm and ensure stability in society. Yeah socialism might work on an Israeli Kibbutz, and the world Trumpkins works well in the backwoods of Pennsylvania were those vile inventions of the modern civilization are not embraced, and absolute libertarianism works in an Ayn Rand novel…but the thing is these extreme only work when you have a small group that all agrees to abide by the same rules—here in society you have people too stupid for any extreme, or frankly any sense of moderation. They panic a lot. And idiots cause problems. And you need to keep them in line so they don’t ruin it for the rest of who do have some purpose in life, true on in every nation, on every continent, in every period of time. People are stupid. They ran for toilet paper as if they thought they were going to die on the Oregon Trail. But, at the moment, Trump is making the best case against the expansion of government power that one could ever possibly hope for, so only the most hopelessly mentally damaged (i.e. his supporters…and Bernie’s) are unaware of how terrible government is right now.

Now if you want to talk about what should we be doing that we’re not, that would be great. Because personally, I think we should be plotting for that scenario where vaccines are far off. How? How about starting with the military and medical forces that are not in areas being hit hard right now we start putting people in their 20s into quarantine and then infecting them. Like a good old fashioned chickenpox party that anyone older than a Millenial who got a chick pox vaccine remembers. Give the people the least likely to be harmed the virus, give them immunity to it, hell try some of the safer drugs on them in scientific trials. A very few will die. But what this will do is ensure that these people are now no longer vectors for the disease. Then go through people in their 30s and 40s who have no other conditions that might make them vulnerable. Then move through the ranks of the rest of the government, and maybe then start finding a way for companies that can pay their people to be out for three weeks to do so they aren’t a problem any longer (I’m not a fan of tax breaks in most cases but this could be one of those exceptions). That’s what would protect the elderly and those who have conditions that make them vulnerable—herd immunity. The fast we establish herd immunity the better. Because that is what is going to cut the problems of death and economic at the same time.

Of course, someone might have a better plan, but I haven’t heard of one yet.

Death, the economy, and government overreach are problems. But just yelling that your concern is the big one is not helping anyone.

In the meantime, we need to start dealing with this in a clear risk versus reward way of thinking. Are homemade masks going to stop the spread? Nope. Will they only have be 5% effective? Probably. And 5% is not nothing. And what’s the cost for that 5%, fairly low. If you’ve ever bought a lottery ticket you’ve said you believe in long shots far worse than that 5%. Further, again to the libertarians, we’re trying to prevent panic.

Meanwhile, the panic you could cause by proposing a particular medicine as a cure, which will probably prove to be nothing but a statistical blip could be devastating. Why? Because drugs seldom work on viruses beyond slowing their progress. It’s why we have vaccines because anti-viral drugs are little more than Hail-Mary passes. And really disturbing, we can’t always find a vaccine for viruses…if it were easy then we wouldn’t have been dealing with 40 years of AIDS.

*Side rant here. I know that political terminology is always a shifting set of meanings throughout history, but does it seem that everything has been thrown out and nobody has any consistent set of words we can use that can give us any damn sense of whom we’re talking about. I believe in absolute free markets, personal choice in social concerns, and a strong interventionist foreign policy…Reagan and I would have agreed on 70%+ of things, but I hardly meet any criteria for “conservative” in 2020…WTF?

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Questions that need to be asked about COVID 19

Is it just me, or are we handling this entirely the wrong way?

Let’s state up front that I’m not saying stop social distancing, we’re on this path and it would be idiotic to stop once on it, but let’s start looking at what we did right and wrong here because the is a chance this is going to go in wave and maybe we should think before engaging in this silly policy for a second round.

Probably, the best course would have been for China to be more honest and shut down everything more quickly, but it would have been intelligent if every nation now run by brain dead populists had shut China off when they knew this was going to be a problem and quarantining those who might have been to China early on (we knew it early enough for members of Congress getting intel briefings to know to dump all their stocks, we should have known then to start taking action then).

 

But once it’s out there there are really only two courses of action. Either shut things down to keep “flattening the curve” or to just let the dice fall where they may—the first comes with lower death tolls but large economic problems, the latter with huge death tolls but less economic problems. Every country seems to have decided on taking an idiotic middle path so we can get the death toll of letting the cards fall where they may PLUS an even bigger death toll.
And the real problem here is that no one is thinking. In every discussion of “flattening the curve,” I haven’t heard any discussion of the long term.
What do I mean by the long term? Well, as was so succinctly put in the film the Big Short in quoting research on unemployment “Every one percent unemployment goes up, 40,000 people die.” Now with the unemployment rate going up, with a reasonable expectation being 20%+ starting at our current 4% that’s a 16% increase. That’s 640,000+ people dead from unemployment. And that’s before counting in the fact that we all now the suicide rate is going to spike as cabin fever starts to set in.
So the question is how many people are flattening the curve going to save? The way most articles put it, flattening the curve will prevent there from being a shortage of treatment, ventilators, beds, and the grim kind of rationing that we’re seeing in Italy. But I hate to ask because I understand how callous it sounds, but someone needs to ask the question: Is this preventing people from dying or just preventing doctors from having to make the hard call about who can and cannot be saved. Every discussion of flattening the curve seems to suggest that the majority of people will eventually get sick, and there doesn’t seem to be any discussion on how this will lower the death toll, only how it will lower hospital strain. Honestly how many people who get put on a ventilator are going to survive this? Are we letting nearly two-thirds of a million people die in silence so that a half million people who were going to die anyway have a last few days with a modicum of false hope and doctors able to soothe their consciences by saying they did everything they could?

I don’t have an answer to that. Mainly because no one does real reporting and asks these difficult questions.

But it’s a simple question is it going to save more than 640,000 people?

Is it?  I’ve done some rough estimates that say if ventilators will save 10% of the people who are put on them then fewer will die by flattening the curve…but that is made based on so many assumptions due to lack of information I will never have.  But just because I don’t have that information doesn’t mean that someone doesn’t have or couldn’t get it, but I know from many years of experience government never asks the right questions.

Because if it isn’t then we picked a policy that will actually kill MORE people.
And worse if reporters aren’t asking this question, then you know for sure none of the sycophantic populist buffoons in the White House, 10 Downing, or any of the halls of power are asking it.
Yeah, seeing elderly people dying in the halls of hospitals in Italy is tragic. But what about all the heart attacks, suicides, strokes and other various ways people die due to the stress of unemployment?
It should be a simple question. Which path kills more people. And right now I’m feeling that the tragedy of the elderly dying in hospital halls is actually a smaller tragedy than the nearly two-thirds of a million deaths.
Granted I don’t have numbers or resources to model which path will have the least death. But I do know that doctors can be very short-sighted and have little understanding of practical costs, so while we may be listening to doctors in their own field, it might help to listen to economists as well and ask which path actually does the most harm.
Now, I certainly might be wrong and this is the best path. But what I am sure of is that no one is asking the right questions

Now granted Trump and his idiot followers who think that the stock market is the economy are just willing to throw people off to die because they don’t like how their quarterly profits are looking. But this is not an argument for that. Trump’s a moron and clearly not acting on anything other than his first grade understanding of how the economy works. But the fact that he’s a blithering idiot whom we all wish will get COVID-19 and spare us having to hear his fascist blather ever again, doesn’t negate the fact that the other side of this is not asking the right questions. Just as when the media ignored Obama’s human rights abuses on the border but only cared when Trump did it. They don’t ask the right questions ever, and so we need to demand that these questions be asked.

How many people will die from all causes if we do not flatten the curve?
How many people will die from all causes if we do flatten the curve?
No one seems to be asking these questions. And we need to. We need to find out which version has the least suffering. And then go with that option.

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