Friday, March 27, 2020

AOC Reacts to COVID-19


(If video doesn't play,  try pressing the "YouTube" button.  Links are buggy these days.)

Thursday, March 26, 2020

Fact Check: Socialism Kills!

It's way too early to close the book on this, but there's already a strong correlation between economic freedom and COVID death rates.  Free markets save lives, and an unfree market (ie: socialism) kills.

To make this graph, I took the top 100 countries in the Heritage Foundation Index of Economic Freedom and calculated the Case Fatality Rate (CFR) as of 3/26/20 based on raw data from Worldometers.

I only included countries that had both significant COVID cases and could also be considered reasonably reliable data sources.  (China is not in the top 100, and I don't trust their numbers anyway.)

I'll update this periodically, and we'll see if it holds.  Below is the raw data.

(Note: The two outliers in the first quadrant are UK and Netherlands, which both have socialized medicine and relatively free economies.  Again, it's very early in the progression of this pandemic, and there's a lot of data uncertainty.)



Country
Economic Freedom
Cases Fatalities  Case Fatality Rate
Singapore
1
683 2 0.29%
Hong Kong
2
453 4 0.88%
Australia
4
2806 13 0.46%
Switzerland
5
11811 191 1.62%
Ireland
6
1564 9 0.58%
United Kingdom
7
11658 578 4.96%
Denmark
8
1877 41 2.18%
Canada
9
3897 37 0.95%
Estonia
10
538 1 0.19%
Iceland
13
802 2 0.25%
Netherlands
14
7431 434 5.84%
Chile
15
1306 4 0.31%
Lithuania
16
299 4 1.34%
United States
17
81864 1173 1.43%
Luxembourg
19
1453 9 0.62%
Finland
20
958 5 0.52%
Sweden
22
2840 71 2.50%
Czech Republic
23
1925 9 0.47%
Malaysia
24
2031 23 1.13%
Korea, South
25
9241 131 1.42%
Israel
26
2693 8 0.30%
Germany
27
43646 262 0.60%
Norway
28
3346 14 0.42%
Austria
29
6847 49 0.72%
Japan
30
1399 47 3.36%
Romania
38
1029 22 2.14%
Thailand
43
1045 4 0.38%
Poland
46
1221 16 1.31%
Belgium
48
6235 220 3.53%
Indonesia
54
893 78 8.73%
Portugal
56
3544 60 1.69%
Spain
58
56197 4145 7.38%
France
64
29155 1696 5.82%
Philippines
70
707 45 6.36%
Turkey
71
3629 75 2.07%
Greece
100
892 26 2.91%





Friday, March 20, 2020

The Coronavirus Economic Crisis - How to Fix It?


I believe we are doing this all wrong.  Not the medical part.  I think the world is getting that right as evidenced by the success of gene mapping, vaccines, chloroquine,  azithromycin, anti-virals, etc.  The medical crisis might be a supply chain problem at this point.  Still deadly serious, but there's a light at the end of the tunnel.  However, the economic crisis is an unfolding disaster.  

The current approach looks like the Dutch boy with his finger in the dyke.  Except he's trying to plug a million holes with ten fingers.  It's simply not possible and doomed to failure.

The government is talking about bailing out every individual industry involved, well, at least the big ones with lobbyists.  Airlines, cruise ships (yeah, there's an essential industry!) automobiles, chain restaurants, banks, planes, hotels, etc. will all get generous bailouts in the trillions.  And these industries were the ones who for years have been blowing trillions in stock buybacks to enrich their execs!  Why should they get a blank check?  What could possibly go wrong?  Answer: everything.

And to do this we would have to pass a 2000 page bill worth trillions that no one will ever read, except for the lobbyists who write it!   

Meanwhile, massage therapists, wait staff, carpenters, bartenders, yoga instructors, musicians, small businesses, restaurants, bars, and people like YOU are completely out of work and on their own.  

Believe it or not, this is NOT a MONEY problem.  It IS a TIME problem.  

We don't need a BAILOUT.  We need a TIMEOUT!

Going back to the dyke analogy, what if there was a way to freeze the ocean?   

The idea is similar to the sci -fi concept of suspended animation.  During long journeys through space, travellers are frozen to pause life, and  when they reach their destination they are thawed and re-animated.  That's what we need to do with the economy.    

The problem is that while suspending a huge chunk of economic activity, people and businesses still have major expenses.  We can just stop those expenses for a time.  

The expenses to put in timeout are all those not essential to support life.  These include debt, taxes, rents, leases, insurance, etc.  In other words, any recurring expense that was committed to in normal times, but which cannot be paid during a shutdown.      

Of course individuals still need to eat, drink, get medicine, and use energy.  These are the life sustaining expenses.      

To deal with these issues I propose two remedies:

Suspend all debt, taxes, rents, leases, insurance, etc. until this is over.  We simply go into timeout for the shutdown weeks or months and add that time to the end.  The timeout would freeze bank loans, the entire bond market, municipal market, mortgages, rents auto leases, loans, insurance, and all taxes.  Nobody would be obliged to pay anything, and nobody would be able to demand anything regarding these obligations.  Bankruptcies, evictions, lawsuits, etc would all be in timeout.  

To deal with the need to eat and live, everyone who needs money in the U.S. could go on the existing food stamp program (SNAP), which would be increased to encompass other essential expenses like energy, gas, and drugs.    

SNAP is an existing program so it wouldn't require much modification to scale up for the entire population.  (Alternatively, checks could be sent to everyone, but what could go wrong with that?)  

No company would need a giant bailout under this scenario because no company would have these non-essential expenses during a time of no revenue.  Any company that could continue operations would do so and would continue paying their debts, taxes, rents, and leases. Those that cannot though, would not go bankrupt simply because of a pandemic.

The timeout bill would be short and cheap.  The only money spent would be for citizens to sustain life.  No money would go to businesses and corporations. None.  

Let's freeze this ocean of economic woe until this nightmare clears up.  When it's over, we can thaw the economy and bring it back to life.  Everyone who had a job before would have one after.  Voila!

[Update: However, the government will never do this.  Why?  First, freezing the economy would be a huge statistical hit to GDP and the unemployment numbers.  Pumping trillions into a bailout will flow directly to GDP and paying employees who can't work will keep unemployment numbers low!  Trump can't have bad headlines!  Second, Democrats see this as an opportunity to blackmail Trump to sign their agenda.   That's why we will spend trillions of dollars we don't have for pork in a 2000 page bill that no one will read.  Sad!]  


Friday, March 13, 2020

DIY Virus Mask



(If video doesn't play, click on the YouTube button.  Links are not working well these days. )

The government says you don't need a mask unless you're sick.  Translation: YOU NEED A MASK, and everyone you know and love needs one too!   Why?  Because there is significant asymptomatic spread and minimal compliance by the symptomatic.  

Here's how you can make many very good masks for about $1 plus labor. 

See graph below.  What more do you need to know?  


When this is all over, the no-mask policy promoted by the U.S. CDC will be rightly seen as deadly and criminal.   Heads must roll.