Category 6. Various Issues

Fauci’s Follies

I’m sure that Dr. Fauci is a bright guy and that he means well. My guess is that, like a lot of other dedicated doctors (and nurses), he has been working pretty much around the clock for months to slow the pandemic and ameliorate its effects on the American public. In spite of those admirable characteristics and efforts, though, as to his role of guiding the nation’s response to Covid-19, he’s well past his sell-by date.  

Dr. Fauci has made at least three mistakes that collectively show him to be the wrong man for the job.

The first of these, early-on in the crisis, was telling the American public that masks were useless when he knew the opposite to be true...

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The Virus Wanes/Our Media Panic

It irritates me that our media are full of what has aptly been described as panic porn with respect to the so-called Covid-19 reopening spikes, particularly given that the virus’s spread has been slowing for months. If you follow along for a bit, it won’t be hard for me to show you that slowdown with readily available data, simple math and a pinch of deductive reasoning, the combination of which elements seems to be beyond the capabilities of the overwhelming majority of journalists and television personalities.

This https://www.worldometers.info/coronavirus/country/us/ website will provide many of the data points...

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Difficult Prospects

Without a vaccine for the CCP virus, or the imminent prospect of one, to many people, including yours truly, it increasingly seems that the present lockdowns are economically unsustainable and only slowing the inevitable progress of the pandemic. The virus is so easily transmissible, even by the asymptomatic, and already so widespread, that eradicating it without a vaccine (or herd immunity, which I’m guessing will take longer) is a pipe dream. Trying to do so via the blunt force instrument of government-enforced lockdowns will only continue to exacerbate the human misery represented by the latest unemployment figure – 36 million and counting.

These (https://www.thedailyfodder.com/2020/05/why-swedens-covid-19-strategy-is.html; https://pjmedia...

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Things I’ve Learned Recently

I have learned a lot since Donald J. Trump was elected president. Or perhaps it’s more appropriate to write that I have unlearned some things that turned out to be wrong.

Like most members of my social and economic class, I was a committed globalist on the basis of both a sense of idealism – if “All men are created equal” in the eyes of God and, ideally, the law, that surely includes people from other countries – and the economics I learned in school and business: comparative advantage rules! Sourcing products overseas not only made economic sense, it was the right thing to do because it undoubtedly helped improve the lots of otherwise-poor people in developing countries.

And, oh by the way, the flood of inexpensive, foreign-sourced goods lowered costs for everybody – esp...

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Trump’s Pandemic Performance

Over the last month, given that most of us have been focused primarily on the health risks to ourselves and our loved ones from the virus – and in innumerable cases, secondarily on the very considerable economic costs of the shutdown to the same people – I have tried to avoid the political partisanship that is frequently found in these posts. Some things are way more important than trying to score points for ideological positions. Doesn’t mean I haven’t been thinking about the political implications of what’s been going on; I have.

Now that, in my view, evidence is clear that we have begun to emerge from the immediate healthcare crisis I feel marginally more comfortable sharing my thoughts about how President Trump has been handling his responsibilities...

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Take Care

One of my oldest, closest friends wrote to me privately in response to my anti-Socialized-medicine comments in Contingency Planning. He critiqued some of my thinking with the following comment, which I promised to think over and then respond to:

“I think you are comfortable with risk pooling, since you presumably have used health and life insurance your whole life. So do you really feel that society cannot expand the risk pool to include everyone? We were already significantly there before Obamacare even.

“I think it’s politically inevitable that we have universal healthcare and we need people like you to figure out how to make it work from the right, in order to avoid the hacks on the left ruining it...

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Contingency Planning

Jarringly, both of the following statements may be correct: 1) the Coronavirus is dramatically less threatening to most people than it has been portrayed as being, with a Case Fatality Rate (CFR) that will ultimately be understood as having been lower than those of ordinary flus and 2) the pandemic is catastrophically overwhelming our medical system, which is widely understood to be the best in the world.  Thinking about the interplay between these seemingly conflicting propositions can begin to help us look for better ways to move forward after the immediate crisis passes.

The hypothesis that the virus has a low CFR, with its deaths concentrated almost exclusively among the very elderly and those with life-threatening pre-existing conditions, is being advanced with increasing frequen...

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Regulatory Relief

I had a lovely conversation with an old friend yesterday. Knowing that he’s running a business that will be hurt – perhaps devastatingly – by the present shutdown of large parts of the US economy, I had called to offer moral support. We spoke for quite a while about our families and the travails he’s facing in his business. In the course of our conversation, he reminded me that the business that I had helped run survived the 2007-2008 Great Recession relatively unscathed only because we had had the great good fortune of having gone into that storm with a so-called covenant-lite (i.e., no covenant) bank facility.

That absence of ratio-based financial covenants allowed our company to sail on – in spite of calamitous losses that could’ve triggered a forced sale of assets at fire ...

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Competing Considerations

It’s evident that at least some of the optimism I have expressed in recent posts was premature. The virus now looks likely to last longer and cause more pain – both directly via illnesses and deaths and indirectly through economic dislocations – than I had expected. I remain quite optimistic in some respects, but am distinctly more concerned in others. Separating out the reasons for optimism and worry is vital to weighing likely outcomes and preferred policy approaches.

How quickly is the virus spreading (and can it be effectively contained)? Most of our current efforts (the new social distancing and partial lockdowns in California and New York, in particular) are designed to slow its spread. Based on this article (https://www.bostonherald...

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Community and Family, Again

Even if I am right in my optimism that effective control of the coronavirus will come in a few weeks and that the virus’s actual death toll will be seen, in retrospect, to have been statistically insignificant (and I write that phrase mindful of the cruelty of Stalin’s observation that “The death of one man is a tragedy. The death of millions is a statistic”), it will have left deep scars, analogous to those left by a heart attack. Perhaps it will also have changed some attitudes for the better. 

Over the last week or so, most of the American public began to take the pandemic seriously. Individual behaviors changed abruptly...

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