Sunday, May 24, 2020

WHO PAYS THE PRICE?

What a year and what an example of the absolute wreckage that central planners leave in their wake.

"Flatten the curve" they said, "we must lock everything down." Was this all to save lives or destroy lives?

Mao Zedong, the communist leader of the Chinese Cultural Revolution, once thought it would be a great idea to eliminate sparrows. After-all, the sparrows ate the grain, if the sparrows were eliminated then there would be a more abundance of grain available. Therefore sparrows were listed as one of the four great pests to be eliminated in one of his 5-Year-Plans. After a time the sparrows were almost completely eliminated and what was the result? Well, it happened  that sparrows also ate locusts and without the sparrows the locusts multiplied into plague proportions and then it was the locusts that ate all the grain. Millions of people starved to death as a result, thanks to the 5-Year-Plan.

So how about "flatten the curve" and "we must lock everything down"? Well, the sparrows are dead, so what is the result?

We locked down and have watched the utter destruction of many businesses and livelihoods in the private sector. Take note that we didn't see the same destruction of the jobs and livelihoods of those pushing the lockdowns, no, those people are insulated from the direct consequences of their decisions just as Mao Zedong still had grain to eat even in the midst of famine.

There is a principle at work here. Milton Friedman understood it. Milton Friedman wrote in his book "Free to Choose" and stated in an interview...

1. You can spend your own money on yourself. When you do that, why then you really watch what you’re doing, and you try to get the most for your money.
2. You can spend your own money on somebody else. For example, I buy a birthday present for someone. Well, then I’m not so careful about the content of the present, but I’m very careful about the cost.

3. I can spend somebody else’s money on myself. And if I spend somebody else’s money on myself, then I’m sure going to have a good lunch!

4. I can spend somebody else’s money on somebody else. And if I spend somebody else’s money on somebody else, I’m not concerned about how much it is, and I’m not concerned about what I get.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5RDMdc5r5z8
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Free_to_Choose

The principle Milton Friedman understood is that it is much easier to take an action which may have negative consequences when you are not the one whom directly pays for it.

Thomas Sowell understood the same principle and worded it in the following manner...

<<<Why anyone would expect better decisions to be made by third parties who pay no price for being wrong is one of the mysteries of our time.>>> Ever Wonder Why? And Other Controversial Essays, Thomas Sowell, 1987 [1]

<<<It is hard to imagine a more stupid or more dangerous way of making decisions than by putting those decisions in the hands of people who pay no price for being wrong.>>> Wake Up Parents!, Thomas Sowell, Jewish World Review, August 18, 2000, [2]

This is the fundamental reason as to why there is so much waste and inefficiency in government, In government the consequences of waste and inefficiency are not directly paid for by the inefficient and wasteful. It is very different in the private sector where waste and inefficiency leads to bankruptcy due to losses. In the private sector competitors whom are less wasteful and more efficient can offer their goods and services at a lower price than their more wasteful and inefficient competitors and thus draw away market share.

So how does this relate to "flatten the curve" and the "mandated shutdowns"? Well, it is the same principle at work. Those in government have taken actions which have resulted in consequences which they are insulated from. Without directly being affected by the consequences of one's actions, there is little incentive to change or even admit error.

Back in early March, Professor Ferguson of the Imperial College said: "We're now moving towards trying to slow the spread to allow the health systems to cope and try to mitigate the impact of the epidemic." He stated that the UK was in the 'early stage' of an epidemic and said time is running out to contain the crisis by reducing the spread with drastic measures. He added that the UK was in the 'early stage' of an epidemic and said time was running out to contain the crisis by reducing the spread with drastic measures. [3]

This was followed by the March 16 report number 9 of the Covid-19 Response Team, "Impact of non-pharmaceutical interventions (NPIs) to reduce COVID-19 mortality and healthcare demand." This was the report that many nations, including the United States, UK, and Australia among others, would use as their basis for implementing draconian lockdowns in order to "flatten the curve."

The Imperial College report predicted that if action were not taken then the United States faced 2.2 million deaths and Great Britain faced 510,000 by June due to medical care resources being overwhelmed. The report concluded that, "epidemic suppression is the only viable strategy at the current time. The social and economic effects of the measures which are needed to achieve this policy goal will be profound." [4]

We then had government officials turning to their new "task forces" telling us that we must "follow the science" as the mandated lockdowns began. "we all need to endure this together" and "this is a war" was some of the rhetoric heard from various podiums around the world.

There was also talk of fast-tracked vaccine development, talk of social distancing and that the world would never be the same again. A new buzzword began to come into vogue, "New Normal." We were told that things were going to be very different from now on.

The authorities were going to "save us" so long as we just trusted them and "did what we were told." Eliminate the sparrows. We obeyed.

Now here is something to consider. What has been notably absent was any talk by the experts is any emphasis whatsoever on how to strengthen our immune systems.

There has been no real emphasis on a healthy diet of raw fruits and vegetables, going out in the sunshine, or getting regular exercise. There has been no emphasis on the importance of Vitamins C, D or Zinc, all of which strengthen the immune system.

Why?

I mean, think about it. Which president, prime minister, governor or mayor has said anything about the individual being responsible for their own health? It's as if this simple concept doesn't exist in their minds. Instead the attitude is "we'll save you" so long as "you do what we say." Authoritarianism will save the day.

I suspect it is like this because of the way authoritarians think. Intellectual elites tend to think they grasp the complexities of the world better than the people they govern and thus see themselves as the saviours of society. Thus the solution to the problems of the world is in the managing and directing of others. The solution is never really seen in people managing and directing themselves (ie. freedom and liberty). The people are sheep or cattle that need to be herded and penned for their own good.

Intellectual elites mix with other intellectual elites whereupon they are constantly praising one another and therefore stroking each other's egos. They love to come up with "plans" for society and then desire to "force" these plans upon everyone else for their own good. It's a vicious circle of arrogance and conceit especially when they are insulated from the consequences of their enforced plans, which is why, in order to address the unintended consequences of their plans, they come up with new and further "plans" to be enforced.

So back to these "expert" public health task forces. None of these task-forces on health are economists, philosophers, lawyers, business people or historians, they are exclusively and narrowly focused on public health. What we have seen is the political representatives of the people hand over policy decisions to a very narrow and UN-ELECTED field and damned be everything else.

So what are the results? What have been the consequences?

Well, every day I am confronted with MANY people whom are now unemployed in the Nashville area. All these people work in the small businesses which has been absolutely decimated here.

Official statistics state in the United States that the "national unemployment rate rose by 10.3 percentage points over the month to 14.7 percent and was 11.1 points higher than in April 2019." [5]

I'm sure those figures are not accurate due some of the government loan programs which have kept unproductive businesses paying the wages of their idle workers. Basically many businesses became defacto unemployment dispensaries and a means to offset official unemployment rates.

Then there are many other businesses which didn't qualify for the loans and so their staff have filed for unemployment and many have actually been receiving MORE MONEY than they would otherwise make working their normal jobs. Many people have told me directly that they are collecting more not working than they were actually making when working. This again brings us back to the waste and inefficiency of government spending other people's money.

The Federal Reserve Balance Sheet beginning on March 2 has ballooned from 4.2 trillion dollars to over 7 trillion dollars as of May 20. [6] Neel Kashkari, president of the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis, stated back in March that “there is an infinite amount of cash in the Federal Reserve. We will do whatever we need to do to make sure there’s enough cash in the banking system.” [7] He wasn't joking. In May the Federal Reserve announced it would even begin buying Exchange Traded Funds (ETFs) that own corporate bonds [8], in effect indirectly bailing out failing companies that would default otherwise. The economics of all this madness is only beginning to unwind and we have certainly seen nothing yet.

Debasing the currency by creating dollars whilst at the same time cutting production only serves to mean that there is more dollars chasing fewer goods and services. The U.S. dollar is somewhat insulated from the inflationary effect on prices due to being the defacto world currency which is in demand world-wide for liquidity, on other words, the U.S. is in the unique position of being able to export inflation. The debasement of currencies by other governments will certainly have a more drastic and direct effect on their people than the U.S. government will have on theirs. Yet make no mistake, debasing a currency has terrible consequences for all because printing money as a means to forestall the consequences of a loss of production does not increase the wealth of a nation which is in real goods and services, it is rather a magicians trick to psychologically fool the people into thinking all is well and thus bring confidence. It just delays the inevitable realisation of the truth.

Moving along, the United Nations has warned that the number of people starving could double due the results of the lockdowns, that those dying from hunger and hunger related diseases could likely double from 9 million to 18 million people [9]. The United Nations has also stated that an estimated 42 million to 66 million children could fall into extreme poverty as a result of coronavirus. [10]. Food banks and food organisations have been giving similar warnings. [11]

More than 600 doctors have signed a letter to President Donald Trump stating that the lockdowns must end immediately due what they call a "mass casualty event." They have stated, "We are alarmed at what appears to be the lack of consideration for the future health of our patients...the downstream health effects ... are being massively under-estimated and under-reported. This is an order of magnitude error." [12] These doctors claim that many have died and will die due to an increase in undetected illnesses, delayed medical care, increased alcoholism and drug use, increased depression resulting in suicide and the family destruction that results. They state that "poverty and uncertainty" leads to death.

In Ontario, Canada, it was reported on April 19th that 35 Ontarians had died as a result of delayed treatment due the enforced shutdowns and prioritisation of all healthcare towards Covid-19 only. [13) Extrapolate that number all across the world.

We have also seen the ridiculous situations of the police arresting surfers and paddle borders in California, people sitting on the beach being arrested in Florida, bans on playing tennis here in Nashville and even a padlocked playground (still padlocked as of today) in the subdivision in which I live. People have been ticketed or arrested for assembling together to worship. We see growing civil disobedience as people see how destructive, partial and absurd many of the lockdown measures have been. Gyms and hair salons re-opening in rebellion to various Executive Orders around the nations, district attorney's and sheriffs refusing to enforce "unconstitutional executive orders," judges ruling against authoritarian overreach. None of this division and conflict is good for a cohesive society. It's the beginnings of civil war without the shooting. God forbid we see violence in the future.

We see a growing division among people with public shaming for those wearing masks or not social distancing. Basically those whom support a "new normal" opposing those whom do not. When I have been out walking I have seen people step off the path to avoid me because they think they might catch the virus. The fear and panic being manifested by people is quite disturbing.

During the first week of re-opening here in Nashville, there were 400 violations reported by the public, neighbour reporting on neighbour. [14] I have read of similar reports from all around the world.

I read the new CDC guidelines for re-opening schools. [15] It is being recommended children wear masks all day for a virus which has basically a zero percent chance of killing or causing serious illness in children. Children are no longer to touch each other or share objects? Children are to be closely monitored whilst washing their hands? Children are to be kept 6 feet apart via the use of signs on walkways and partitions and playgrounds and communal areas are to be closed? These are the "recommendations" of the "experts"?

What kind of psychological damage will this kind of thing do to children? Is anyone even thinking of that? These children are in their formative years and yet we want to keep them apart, strictly regimented in everything they do, teach them to be germophobes and constantly be in fear?

Will school systems actually follow this nonsense? It wouldn't surprise me having seen people abide by bans on tennis, jogging and hiking with masks on, and things like plastic utensils replacing steel cutlery in restaurants.

Who is paying the price for all of this? We all are. The destruction of life, liberty, property, of plain common sense and personal responsibility, the institutimg of a new normal which is more and more moving towards a dystopian surveillance oriented authoriarian state.

Is this what we really want? Is this the price we want to truly pay? Will we actually be any safer and healthier?

All for a virus in which the vast majority of deaths are of people 75 and older who have other illnesses. [16] [17] [18] Clearly many of these people were dying already and their deaths certainly inflate the fatality rate of Sars-cov-2, and that doesn't even account for the distinction between a fatality "with" Sars-cov-2 and a fatality "because" of Sars-cov-2.

Another consequence is that lockdowns, social distancing and mask wearing all serve to prevent the spread and therefore obviously work against herd immunity thus insuring a second wave as the lockdowns are lifted. A second wave which will surely be addressed by "experts" with "new plans" which result in "new consequences," the cycle just continues.

None of this makes any sense if the objective is to serve the best interests of the people. If the objective is to further foster a societal dependence on government central planning, increased welfare dependence, increased surveillance, increased authoritarianism at the expense of the principles of limited government then it all makes perfect sense.

Either way we will all still pay the price. Sars-cov-2 may be a very serious illness for the elderly and those with already deficient immune systems but the more dangerous virus is the "social virus" that is infecting the minds of many in society. A "social virus" that results in irrational fears and submission to lunacy and distrust of one's neigbour.

If people want to mitigate the damage of this new "social virus" that is spreading throughout society, then they had better stop being passive and stand in the gap and take action, stop being fearful of what others think, pressure their representatives, team up with others of like-mind. If they don't then true representative government and limitations upon power will be but a blink in the tides of history.

So what are we going to do? Are we all going to continue to eliminate all the sparrows?Note: It wasn't Mao Zedong that eliminated the sparrows, it was the body of people actually following his instructions.

Be well. :)

[1] https://www.amazon.com/Ever-Wonder-Other-Controversial-Essays/dp/0817947523

[2] http://www.jewishworldreview.com/cols/sowell081800.asp

[3] https://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-8074613/Coronavirus-fight-LOST-Leading-scientist-admits-world-tried-hard-failed-stop-it.html

[4] Report Number 9, Impact of non-pharmaceutical interventions (NPIs) to reduce COVID-19 mortality and healthcare demand, Imperial College Covid-19 Response Team
https://www.imperial.ac.uk/media/imperial-college/medicine/sph/ide/gida-fellowships/Imperial-College-COVID19-NPI-modelling-16-03-2020.pdf

[5] Economic News Release, Friday, May 22, 2020, State Employment and Unemployment Summary, U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

[6] https://www.federalreserve.gov/monetarypolicy/bst_recenttrends.htm

[7] https://www.bloomberg.com/opinion/articles/2020-03-23/coronavirus-fed-s-infinite-cash-tested-in-world-of-leverage

[8] https://www.fxstreet.com/analysis/infinite-money-printing-fed-now-buying-etfs-202005130820

[9] https://www.npr.org/sections/coronavirus-live-updates/2020/05/05/850470436/u-n-warns-number-of-people-starving-to-death-could-double-amid-pandemic

[10] https://www.reuters.com/article/us-health-coronavirus-children-un/u-n-warns-economic-downturn-could-kill-hundreds-of-thousands-of-children-in-2020-idUSKBN21Y2X7

[11] https://hungerandhealth.feedingamerica.org/2020/03/impact-coronavirus-food-insecurity/
https://foodfoundation.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2020/04/Report_COVID19FoodInsecurity-final.pdf

[12] https://www.foxnews.com/politics/doctors-raise-alarm-about-health-effects-of-continued-coronavirus-shutdown

[13] https://www.thestar.com/politics/provincial/2020/04/28/ontario-has-recorded-1012-deaths-from-covid-19.html

[14] https://fox17.com/news/local/nashville-receives-400-complaints-over-businesses-during-first-week-of-reopening

[15] https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/community/schools-childcare/schools.html

[16] https://www.statista.com/statistics/1109867/coronavirus-death-rates-by-age-new-york-city/

[17] https://www.epicentro.iss.it/coronavirus/bollettino/Infografica_16marzo%20ITA.pdf

[18] https://www.epicentro.iss.it/coronavirus/sars-cov-2-decessi-italia#3

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