The further to the left or the right you move, the more your lens on life distorts.

Monday, April 06, 2020

Murray's Model

As the COVID-19 crisis becomes increasingly politicized, the Democrats and their trained hamsters in the media continually tell us that anyone who argues that "the COVID-19 mitigation cure may become worse than the disease" doesn't care about "lives." On the other hand, it appears that the Dems and their media hamsters don't give a damn about tens of millions of workers (mostly blue collar) who are now out of work due to government stay-at-home edicts.

Mitigation efforts for COVID-19, including a shutdown of a significant percentage of the U.S. economy and an overwhelming percentage of some business segments (e.g. restaurants, retail stores) may create lasting and dangerous economic damage if they continue for additional months. The Dems, it appears, are perfectly willing to continue the shutdown and (gleefully) have already begun the drumbeat that Trump's "new" economy is a mess. Hmmm. You'd almost think that they want the economy in ruins in the third quarter. I wonder why?

Federal and state leadership tell us that they're listening to medical experts and will re-open the economy when the experts tell us it's okay. The experts rely on models that project COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations, and deaths. There's only one catch, the models are far from perfect and in some case, quite inaccurate.

Daniel Payne writes:
A Web site that tracks actual hospital beds in use suggests the model used by top White House health officials to project the trajectory of the coronavirus has so far overestimated the number of Americans hospitalized by the disease by tens of thousands.

Those projections, popularly known as the "Murray" model after the model's lead author, University of Washington professor Christopher Murray, were explicitly cited by Dr. Deborah Birx, the response coordinator for the White House's Coronavirus Task Force, at a press conference in the last week.

Birx told reporters that Murray's model, which predicts a shortage of tens of thousands of hospital beds throughout the country by the middle of April, underscored the task force's "concern that we had with the growing number of potential fatalities" based on the model's projections.

Yet a comparison of actual hospitalized patients by state and nationally suggests the model has so far overestimated the number of beds needed to treat pandemic patients.

The forecast predicted, for example, that the United States would need around 164,750 hospital beds for COVID-19 patients on Saturday. Yet the COVID Tracking Project, a team of journalists and data analysts who collect and tabulate coronavirus data from state tallies around the country, reported only around 22,158 currently hospitalized coronavirus patients nationwide on Saturday.

The discrepancies are also stark when looked at on a state-by-state basis. The model estimated that 65,434 patients would need hospital beds in New York State on Friday. In reality, there were 15,905 hospitalizations in that state by Sunday morning, according to the COVID Tracking Project.

Notably, the model touts its predictions as occurring under "full social distancing" through May of this year, meaning the projected hospitalizations are meant to occur even with significant quarantine measures.
When Gov. Cuomo of New York told us that his experts had models that predicted the need for 40,000 ventilators, I began to become suspicious. That number seemed inordinately large and conveniently impossible to accommodate. Was the need real or was it, how can I put this delicately, a number chosen to ensure that the current administration would "fail" to fulfill it? One can't be sure, but let's assume best intentions by Cuomo—maybe it was just a modeling error, much like the above referenced error associated with hospitalizations.

But if that's true, it's reasonable to assume that the need for ventilators is directly proportional to the number of hospitalizations. And if that's true, let's do a little math. Here's the ratio of actual hospitalizations to predicted hospitalizations in NY:

15,905 / 65,434 = 0.243

In essence the models were off by 75 percent. Stated another way, we needed about 1/4 of the hospital beds the models predicted through this past weekend. And if that's the case, it reasonable to assume we'd need about 1/4 of the ventilators predicted:

40000 * 1/4 = 10,000

Gosh, isn't that close to the number of ventilators that the feds actually supplied to NY?

The moral of this story is that models are only as accurate as the algorithms that they contain and the assumptions that constrain them. The experts who rely on them are not infallible. Donald Trump and the Governors of all 50 states should consider that carefully when they work to re-open our economy—sooner rather than later, if they really do care about lives—all lives.

UPDATE-1:
---------------

Victor Davis Hansen (read the whole thing) is harsh in his treatment of the Democrats and the media when he writes:
For now, the media, Pelosi, and Biden, along with the Left in general, wish to perpetuate a sense of viral Armageddon to make it politically impossible for Trump to initiate a graduated plan of returning America to work. Their hope is for a summer and fall of continued lockdown, a near depression rather than a mere recession, and enough public furor to end Trump in November—while hoping that a sudden post-election end to the lockdown will allow the natural recovery of Trump’s booming economy on their watch in 2021.

Missing in all these calculations is empathy for those who are ill and the losses that such macabre expectations certainly entail. Also absent is a sense of the irony that, by unfairly scapegoating Trump in hours of darkness, they are ensuring that in the upcoming dawn, he will be credited by their same logic with owning what will likely be an impressive U.S. response to suppressing the virus and reviving the economy.
The Dems and their trained hamsters in the media continue their 3+ year struggle that somehow refuses to accept their loss in 2016. It appears they care little for the tens of millions who are now out of work and even less for the additional millions who have been driven to near-hysteria by relentless attacks that shake their faith in an administration that is competently (if not perfectly) dealing with an unprecedented threat. Their collective behavior has been and continues to be reprehensible. They do not deserve to lead.

UPDATE-2
-----------------

As if to put an exclamation point of VDH's comments, a backbench Congresswoman from Ohio has suggested that Donald Trump has commited "crimes against humanity" for suggesting the hydroxychloroquine might be an affect treatment for COVID-19. The Hill reports:
Ohio state Rep. Tavia Galonski (D) said that she will make a “referral for crimes against humanity” over President Trump’s promotion of the antimalarial drug hydroxychloroquine as a treatment for the novel coronavirus, despite its unproven benefits and lack of long-term Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approval.

“I can’t take it anymore. I’ve been to The Hague. I’m making a referral for crimes against humanity tomorrow,” Galonski tweeted late Sunday.

“Today’s press conference was the last straw," Galonski added. "I know the need for a prosecution referral when I see one.”
You just can't make this stuff up.

I'll admit that Galonski, in the long tradition of Rep Maxine Waters (D-CA), is so consumed with hatred of an elected president that she is acting in a truly insane manner. What's really scary is that I'm certain there are plenty of Dems who are cheering her on.

Sunday, April 05, 2020

The Messenger

If there is one true villain in the continuing COVID-19 crisis, it's undoubtedly the mainstream media. Since the first reports of the virus came out of China (is it racist to state that?), the media has consistently presented facts and figures without context or moderation, catastrophizing the growing threat, and all the while politicizing the outbreak in a transparent effort to injure Donald Trump during an election year. George Neumayr discusses this:
The more propagandistic the media becomes, the more it insists that its coverage is “factual.” But no one takes that seriously. As Trump once told the media, “You guys have a real problem. No one believes you anymore.”

The media has become all opinion, all the time. All the journalistic rigors of yesteryear have disappeared. Most hosts don’t even bother to fake up a just-the-facts mien. They now act like what they are: anti-Trump pundits who look high and low for new angles from which to attack him ...

There was a time when the high priests of journalism would have condemned the idea of not covering a presidential briefing during a time of national crisis. They would have considered that a violation of the media’s vocation. But those days have ended. Now they applaud anchors for substituting their judgment for their audience’s.

Like the Democrats, for whom they serve as stenographers, the media sees itself as having a monopoly on “health and science.” This has resulted in an open dogmatism in which the media spends most of its time shutting down debates rather than holding them ...

The media will let us know what is and what is not permissibly debatable, who is and who is not wearing the white hats, etc. Is it any wonder why audiences have tuned the media out? It has become obvious that the media is not in the business of informing audiences but manipulating them.
Media bias and malpractice is serious, but the media's suggestion that it understands manufacturing, logistics, supply chain issues and related real-world commercial trade-offs is absolutely comical. Kurt Schlichter trashes these pretentious fools when he writes:
Another hitherto unknown skill that the media believes it possesses is logistics. “Why hasn’t Trump commanded a million ventilators to appear?!” the reporters demand. It’s pretty easy to see where they might have gotten the idea that the moment one articulates a desire to possess something that it magically appears. Capitalism has pretty much made that a reality. If you want something, you can go to a store and get it 24/7, or you can go on Amazon and it’ll be at your Manhattan apartment in 48 hours. Since they have never built anything or transported anything or distributed anything, only benefited from the labor of the unhip people who do those things, it’s only natural that the delayed adolescents who make up our media class imagine that material goods can be simply wished into being. After all, for all practical purposes during normal times, because of the efforts of Americans they look down upon, material goods pretty much can be simply wished into being. But prosperity takes work, not that the media would know ...

The same people who are always telling us how smart they are and how they are morally entitled to instruct us peasants have never designed anything, engineered anything, built anything, trucked anything or assembled anything, except maybe some crappy Ikea bookcase. But they are qualified to insist that – POOF! – a bunch of N95 masks should magically appear overnight. I guess everything is easy if you don’t have to do it yourself.

What’s even more amusing is their solution to the “problem” of stuff not magically appearing, which is socialist central planning. They lambasted Trump for not using the Defense Production Act to command companies to build stuff the government wanted. Yeah, nothing like commanding civilians to do things to make them do it at a faster rate than under the snail-like, plodding pace of modern business. Of course, Trump did use the DPA once when GM started dithering – and immediately got criticized for it. Remember, when journalisming, you start from the conclusion that “TRUMP IS TERRIBLE” and work backwards ...

The media types were delighted to find empty shelves in our supermarkets in the early part of the crisis, which many turned into an occasion for owning the cons over complaints about the scarcity of goods in socialist countries. Here’s the thing they missed, because they are stupid and unserious people: Those goods that are no longer on the Safeway shelves are on American families’ shelves at home. In socialist countries, there was never anything on the store shelves ...

The best part is when the media – the same media that was collectively soiling its Dockers because that mean old Trump was barring direct flights from China because of racism and stuff – demands to know why, back in December, Trump was not commanding a zillion Wuhan Flu tests, a zillion masks, and a zillion ventilators be created, while locking down all of America. Leaving aside the whole lack of an enumerated power to do that thing, in what world would have Trump have convinced anyone – least of all the media that was slobbering over his bogus impeachment at the time – that some bat soup-derived pathogen in BumFoo, China, was going to black swan all over America’s economy? The lack of seriousness by the people who presume to be reporting the news to us is more breathtaking than the damn ChiCom grippe.

Our media is garbage, full of clowns and dilettantes with no experience and less common sense. The media is now complaining that the pandemic is hurting its industry badly and that some of the media may go under because of the Woking Pneumonia. Well, I guess you can’t paint anything all black.
When Donald Trump suggested that some elements of the media were "the enemy of the America people," the media howled. He's an authoritarian who wants to liquidate us, a dictator who threatens us! they screamed, playing the victim. Funny how the media is perfectly willing to bully those it opposes, to denigrate their ideas and actions, and to outright lie when the need arises, but they don't like it one bit when the target of their bullying punches back—hard.

Some might argue that I'm killing the messenger, that all the media is doing is delivering terrible news that makes us all uncomfortable. But that's clearly not the case.

If the media were simply the messenger, it would present facts and context, it would do in-depth research before it asked questions, allowing the viewer to assess the seriousness and threat in a meaningful way. It would not use words and images that are intended to create panic and/or hysteria. It would allow different "expert" opinions to be voiced so that government actions could be properly assessed. It would check facts and claims dispassionately and not report them until they had been vetted. It would not become a biased advocate for one political ideology, but rather a neutral observer that allows the public to decide.

But the media is none of those things. The "messenger" has an agenda, and that agenda is not in the best interests of the American people.

Saturday, April 04, 2020

A Direct Quote

I ran across this comment at the blog, Ricochet. It is presented without further comment:
Now we have a situation where lots of people are dying, a war against an invisible enemy, and suddenly all the fake problems are not so important. The tough balancing act between keeping the nation running and keeping the infection rate under control is a real problem that needs to be dealt with, not virtue-signaled away. We need people to step up, deliver supplies, take action, make a real difference. There is no room for the fake crises of the Left.

This crisis will be resolved by truckers running the long haul on deserted highways, doctors and nurse working double shifts in scavenged PPE, grocery store and gas station employees keeping services and food available, utility and telecom workers keeping a strained system functioning, grad students and other researchers poring over data and running countless tests in hopes of giving us an advantage, and ordinary people trying to follow often-contradictory guidance and do the right thing while facing a locked-down economy. At the top, we have leaders whose every move is scrutinized and fraught with potential peril – there might not be any good choices, just bad and not so bad. There is no room for our useless media and most of the commentariat. Activists can either pitch in or get lost. We no longer have time for indulging the delusion that they matter.

Concerned

Those of us who have been concerned about the economic effects of the COVID-19 shutdown are being joined by others as state after state shuts down its economy entirely out of fear of the spread of COVID-19. To be clear ... yes, we understand that COVID-19 is dangerous to the elderly with complicating health conditions; yes, we're aware that it can and does spread quickly; yes, we know that cases grow geometrically, unless efforts are applied to "flatten the curve." All of those things are part of our reality, but so is this:
Americans have been understandably focused on the human toll of Covid-19, but the damage from the national economic shutdown that governments are imposing to combat the coronavirus will compound the agony. We don’t mean in stock-market points or profits. We mean in the human cost of lost jobs and paychecks, ruined businesses, and the psychological toll on Americans who can least afford it.

If that sounds melodramatic, take a spin through Friday’s March jobs report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. There’s no redeeming news as the economy shed 701,000 jobs. The biggest single-month decline during the Great Recession was 800,000 in March 2009 near the end of the downturn. This economic crash is only getting started ..

The tragedy is all the worse because the main layoff victims are the low-skilled and blue-collar workers who had been gaining the most in the last couple of years. February was a bang up month, with job gains of 275,000, rising wages, buoyant consumer and small-business confidence, and big companies poised to invest more with the end of U.S.-China trade tensions. The government policy response to the virus has reversed it all.
The irony is that the political and medical 'experts" who are making shut-down decisions will likely be the least affected economically:
Tens of millions of white-collar employees—including us [The Editors of the WSJ]—can work at home. That’s not true for most workers in construction (down 29,000 jobs for the month), retail (-46,000, before Macy’s furloughed 130,000), and education and health services (-61,000). The jobless rate for those without a high school degree climbed by 1.1 percentage points to 6.8%, and 1.6 percentage points to 6% for Hispanics. These are not people with homes in the Hamptons who appear on CNBC.
As an example of this, consider the following:
Philanthropist Bill Gates now says the entire country should close down for at least 10 weeks with little recognition of the tradeoffs and economic harm. The media elites all nod in agreement from their home offices. How much of an economy will we have left by then?
That's rich (no pun intended). Gates is worth billions and is completely immune to the effects of a 10-week shutdown. I suspect he'll be able to make his mortgage payments. And the virtue signaling media hamsters, each housed in their own sanitized video window and all continuing to get paychecks—they nod gravely in agreement with those who tell use that "lives" are the only thing that matters. Of course, it appears that some "lives" take precedence over (vastly more) other lives.

Leadership and their "experts" at local, state and federal levels tell the rest of us that they know what's best. If past history serves, I'm not sure they do.

Friday, April 03, 2020

Exit Strategy

This morning, a new narrative began to surface: In hushed tones of concern, the trained hamsters in the media—you know, the same crew that has worked tirelessly to spike fear, uncertainty and doubt among politicians and the public at large—have suddenly noticed that the government's stay-at-home policies have resulted in millions upon millions of unemployed workers. Images of tearful mothers who can't pay the rent, and concerned fathers who won't have grocery money have already begun to emerge.

The media's trained hamsters would argue, of course, that the growing shutdown of the American economy is a consequence of recommendations of medical experts (based by and large on worst case scenarios) and that the economic wreckage that will result is necessary to "save lives." They present the choices as binary—either shut down the economy OR encourage the spread of COVID-19 with consequent deaths among a small segment of the population who have contributing health conditions. The choices are NOT binary.

The same media who this morning lamented the collateral damage generated by stay-at-home policies has worked very hard to disregard information that indicates that the original projections by their chosen experts were less than accurate or useful and that early models and have been woefully incorrect. None of that says that the COVID-19 virus isn't serious or that some of the measures recommended are wholly appropriate, but it's instructive to note how the catastrophic narrative trumps all else.

The problem with all of this is that there is no easy exit strategy from it. Now that the economy is essentially shut down, what are the criteria we'll use to restart it? What politician will be the first to say it's okay to risk COVID-19 infection and go back to work? Do we wait until cases of COVIS-19 go to near zero? That could take many months. Do we wait until testing is available and conducted for every citizen in the USA? That's both impractical and enormously time consuming. Do we wait for a vaccine? That's at least nine months out.

And what if some brave politician says none of that is acceptable, and argues that we've got to do what we should have done from the start—protect the vulnerable, encourage broad based health measures, isolate hot zones, but encourage the majority of workers outside of hot zones to return to the workplace, if not their normal lives. Maybe every worker wears a mask and gloves, stays six feet apart, and gets a temperature check at the start of each day, but they go to work.

And what politician will risk the media storm that will result as the trained hamsters scurry to find a few anecdotal deaths that occur after the stay-at-home orders are lifted? How many opposition politicians will be tempted to accuse the brave of having "blood on their hands."?

And so we sit paralyzed by "an abundance of caution." No politician will make the first move. The medical experts they have chosen always think worst case. The media always catastrophizes. The administration's political opponents are already suggesting yet another witch hunt to pin the blame on Trump. I suspect that his advisors are loath to give the Democrats ammunition by "disregarding the advice" of the medical experts (note: NOT all experts, just the ones in the spotlight).

How do we stop the economic wreckage, and when do we stop it? At the moment, an exit strategy is a long, long way off.

UPDATE:
------------------

The editors of the Washington Examiner echo the sentiments expressed in my post writing:
It is true that a lockdown-based strategy is not sustainable for the country over the long haul. The nation’s leaders must lay the groundwork now for a gradual return to American life once the worst of the crisis is over. Such a strategy will likely involve more widespread wearing of masks and a better system for testing people, isolating those infected, and then notifying all of their contacts. Hopefully, at some point soon, there will be a medical breakthrough that could at least treat COVID-19, even if a vaccine is unlikely to be available before the second half of 2021.

But right now, cases are still rapidly increasing, and public health officials have not yet developed the tools needed to mitigate the spread of the virus outside of the current aggressive measures. Under the circumstances, it was prudent for President Trump to extend the current guidance on social distancing through April.

Critics of the current mitigation strategy have made some fair points. One of the most compelling is that any calculation about the possible negative effects of easing up on restrictions needs to be counterbalanced against the societal risks associated with a prolonged shutdown that devastates businesses, makes it impossible for millions to earn a living, and causes social isolation.
That's a real debate that is worth having. Too bad the trained hamsters in the media won't even allow opposing "expert" voices to be heard.

Thursday, April 02, 2020

Death's Doorstep

It's hardly surprising, and really sad, that the Democrats and their trained hamsters in the media, have decided to politicize the COVID-19 outbreak. The Dems have started doing what they've been doing for the past three years: blame Trump for just about everything including the COVID-19 outbreak. Their narrative began with testing, moved to ventilators, then moved to hospitals and now has become "blood on his hands." All of this by the same crowd that cried "racist" (their goto pejorative term) when Trump banned flights from China in January, thereby reducing the number of virus vectors and avoiding more rapid spread. I'm certain that Joe Biden, cognitively challenged though he may be, would have done things perfectly beginning in October (after all, the Dems are all-knowing) and the virus would have disappeared without any deaths or infections.

The trained hamsters in the media continue their despicable fear-uncertainty-and-doubt crusade, driving far too many Americans to near-hysteria. They update their death scoreboards hourly, avoid any context that might allow people to better understand what few statistics they present; cherry pick "experts" who are certain to drive hysteria to new heights, ban any dissenting expert voices (there are MANY), and generally use inflammatory language in almost every report. Their press conference questions for Trump are all about 'gotcha,' rarely about substantive issues.

That's not to say that Donald Trump's policies are perfect. James Freeman comments:
President Donald Trump unfortunately continues to present our anti-viral options as doing nothing or a massive government response which disrupts American society and sends federal debt surging. This is especially concerning because the infectious-disease experts on whom he is relying for advice cannot reasonably be expected to also forecast the economic results of their policies.

A poll out today from Grinnell College is consistent with other surveys of people and businesses. It finds both a major economic impact on people as a result of the virus battle and also significant voluntary changes in personal habits to prevent the spread of infection. Fighting the virus does not necessarily have to mean broad government prohibitions on vast categories of human activity. (As this column has noted previously, shutdowns are primarily the work of mayors and governors. But the President can either encourage or discourage the economic health that is necessary for public health.)

The Grinnell poll finds overwhelming majorities who have adopted frequent hand-washing and various distancing measures to help flatten the curve. It also finds, consistent with other data, that many already bear an acute financial burden.

A full 28% of respondents say that the virus has already caused them to lose wages or other personal income and another 16% expect this to happen soon. The survey also finds that 16% of respondents report being laid off or furloughed due to the virus and another 12% expect this to occur soon. Yes, the government is borrowing trillions of dollars to engineer stimulus measures and some of this money will make its way to people who need help. But there’s no guarantee their jobs will be restored.
I have expressed concern (e.g., here, here, and here) about a policy that is destined to wreck our economy, all in an effort to save thousands (mostly elderly and infirm) while allowing tens of millions to endure long term suffering. I have also noted that our decision-making need not be binary. The most vulnerable should shelter in place, middle-aged people should maintain social distancing but return to the workplace if they so desire, and the young can implement recommended health practices but otherwise move on with their lives. Most businesses should re-open in a sequenced fashion with COVID-19 hot-spots coming on-line last once the crisis passes. Very large sports and entertainment events can remain shut down for a time, but they must reopen sooner rather than later, with a stern warning that the vulnerable stay away. Treatment therapies are now in place, think Hydroxychloroquine (Trump was right and the media was wrong), albeit, not double-blind tested (as if we have the luxury). Other, including a vaccine are in the pipeline. These recommendations are hardly irresponsible, having been made by literally dozens of medical experts (who have been banned from network television and mainstream media in general).

And then, there's the numbers, used as a context-free bludgeon to foster hysteria. Here's a number worth pondering. According to the CDC, 160,201 people died of lower respiratory disease in 2017. Let's assume that number remains unchanged for 2020. It's highly likely that a significant percentage of the elderly and others who will die this year due to COVID-19 complications are among the 160,201 people who would have died this year anyway. The actual number of deaths due solely to COVID-19 should be reduced by the percentage of people whose death may have been accelerated by 3 or 6 or 9 months, but was destined in any event.

Sure, that calculus is unpleasant, but before you get all sanctimonious and begin talking about "saving lives at all cost," consider the ramifications of an indefinite economic shutdown, as blithely proposed by almost every Democrat and a preponderance of the media. Tens of millions—mostly lower and middle class people) will suffer, lose their homes, their jobs, and their dignity. Hundreds of thousands of small businesses will close, wiping out the hard work of many years. The country will go deeply into trillions of dollars of debt, but the suffering will not magically disappear.

For those who advocate an indefinite shutdown, spare me the virtue signaling. What your position tells me is that you care little for the suffering that your proposed policy will precipitate. You are justified in empathizing with the old and sick, but your empathy does not extend in an equal or greater amount to those who may suffer for years all because you want to extend the lives of those already on death's doorstep.

Monday, March 30, 2020

Big Pharma

After his primary losses before COVID-19 became big news, Bernie Sanders and his socialist rants have thankfully dropped from the news. But far in the background, Bernie's demonization of "Big Pharma," echoes as the COVID-19 virus spreads. This is typical Bernie on the subject:
“How come people can't afford to get the prescription drugs they need because we have a bunch of crooks who are running the pharmaceutical industry ripping us off every single day? And I'll tell you something right now: In the midst of this epidemic, you got people in the pharmaceutical industry are saying, ‘Wow, what an opportunity to make a fortune.”
Like all fervid socialists, Bernie and his Bros wrap themselves in their version of "social justice," suggesting that profit is evil and that corporations can somehow be separated from the millions of people who work for them. They argue that government assistance for corporations in a time of crisis is a "slush fund." Never mind that a corporation that fails would put thousands of middle class wage earners out of work with all the suffering that entails.

In their lunatic world view, socialists believe that government should run the means of production. That would be the very same government that socialists and many progressives criticize on an hourly basis for not doing enough to stop the spread of COVID-19. Somehow, they are incapable of seeing the irony in their position, but socialists are incapable of seeing a lot of important things.

But back to Big Pharma. The Editorial Board of the Wall Street Journal recounts the heroic efforts being made by Big Pharma—Abbott Laboratories, Johnson & Johnson, and dozens of others—to develop therapies and vaccines to combat COVID-19. I suspect that the average American would not begrudge any one (or more) of those companies from making a profit if they developed an effective therapy and/or vaccine that would reduce the effects of the virus and allow America to return to normal. In fact, with the exception of Bernie and a few SJWs, I suspect that they'd cheer for big Pharma if they succeed.

The editors write:
President Trump recently ordered the Food and Drug Administration to “slash red tape like nobody’s ever done before” to make medicines approved for other illnesses available for coronavirus patients. The FDA is famously cautious, and safety is important. But drug regulators need to be more nimble during a pandemic with millions of lives at risk.

The FDA was slow to approve tests by private and public health labs, though recently it has approved a point-of-care test by small diagnostic company Cepheid that can return results in 45 minutes. In the biggest breakthrough so far, Abbott Laboratories has received approval for a test that it says can show positive results in five minutes. The company hopes to start delivering kits this week, ramping up production to 50,000 tests a day.
Big Government is inherently slow and ponderous, bureaucratic and inefficient. And yet, Bernie and his Bros think that it should run healthcare. They believe, against all historical, factual, and anecdotal evidence to the contrary, that if they were in power, things would be different—that big government would be quick and agile, responsive and efficient. And if you are deluded enough to believe that, well ... you're a Bernie Bro.

Capitalism isn't perfect, but it's a hell of lot better, more quick and agile, more responsive and efficient than socialism would ever be. Why? Because capitalism is market driven, and responds to the wisdom of the market. If capitalism makes a mistake, the market punishes it immediately and corrections are made. Socialism, on the other hand, is driven by a central authority that is almost always wrong but doesn't have the humility to recognize and correct its many errors.

UPDATE:
----------------

On a tangentially related subject, there's this commentary (rant?) offered by Kyle Smith:
Far from being killed off by the Wuhan virus, the woke virus is spreading faster than ever. Fran Drescher said on Twitter, “The heart of the problem, all problems with the world at its core is power & greed fueled by Capitalism.” On the contrary, I’m hoping greedy industrial companies can make a couple million ventilators for profit, because otherwise these things aren’t going to get made.

“Imagine no possessions, I wonder if you can,” sang Gal Gadot and her Justice League of Idiots on that vomitatious “Imagine” video praising open borders, socialism and atheism in a country where people are praying to God because of a virus unleashed on the world by China’s socialist regime. I doubt Gal goes out for a meal without bringing along a very large man to keep fans at bay, so her personal borders likely begin at about a 3-foot radius around her. But while she sings to us from whatever $10 million palace she’s living in now, she should invite a hundred random citizens of Wuhan to move into her house, then continue to promote her “imagine there’s no countries” ideas.

Woke idiocy has attended every step of the coronavirus outbreak. On Jan. 30, just as it was starting to emerge as a serious worldwide issue, CNN published a huffy piece on President Trump’s health crisis managers that began, “It’s a statement that’s as predictable as it is infuriating: President Donald Trump’s administration lacks diversity.” Oh no, a lot of epidemiologists are white guys. Cancel them. Last week CNN invited notorious Hugo Chavez fanboy Sean Penn in as an expert on crisis management ...

Next year there will probably be a vaccine for coronavirus. But there will never be an inoculation for woke stupidity.

Sunday, March 29, 2020

Prisoners of Two Ideas

Now that hundreds of thousands of COVID-19 tests are being conducted with many more to be available this week; now that personal protective equipment is being produced by the millions (albeit with spot shortages in heavily hit hot zones (e.g., NYC)); now that ventilators sit idle in warehouses waiting for the call and tens of thousands more will be produced over coming months, it appear that the latest stop on the media road to encourage fear and hysteria appears to be an either-or question: Do we maintain social distancing (and, according to the left-leaning media, care only about "lives)," OR Do we selectively re-open portions of the country to economic activity (and, according to left-leaning media, care only about "money.")

Those who pose the choice as binary have become the prisoners of two ideas. They argue that we can do one or the other, but not both, at least not for some indefinite time that they argue may be months away. They argue that we have to wait for COVID-19 cases to drop before it is safe to re-open even portions of the economy. After all, that's what all the scientists and medical experts are telling us. Ummm. No. That's what the scientists and medical experts the media has chosen as spokespeople keep telling us. But there's a large number of smart (eminent, even) scientists and medical experts who are questioning the efficacy (in fact, even the sanity) of an indefinite shut-down of our economy.

John P.A. Ionnidis (Professor of medicine, of epidemiology and population health, of biomedical data science, and of statistics at Stanford University) has written a detailed paper on the importance of statistical analysis before potentially damaging economic and societal decisions are made by our current leadership at the local, state and federal levels. Robert Zimmerman contents that despite pressure points like NYC, COVID-19 will not overwhelm our healthcare system. Martin Meltzner et al discuss the use of ventilators in outbreaks like COVID_19. David Zaruk discusses the use and misuse of the precautionary principle. Aaron Ginn presented a lengthy analysis of the statistics of COVID-19 (subsequently pulled down by Medium for reasons that are unclear). To my knowledge, not one of these researchers or their counterparts) have been interviewed on network television—after all, their comments collide with the prevailing narrative. I posted on the ravages of H1N1 in 2009 when we didn't hear a peep from the media or the usual medical experts. In fact, H1N1 statistics and a discussion of why it was such a ho-hum story in 2009 seem to be verboten among the media's trained hamsters.

It seems to me that we should not be prisoners of two ideas. We can fight the COVID-19 virus and protect the most vulnerable among us, and at the same time, selectively re-open portions of the economy sooner rather than later. We should also be able to hear from scientific and medical voices who argue that re-opening the economy is not only smart, it's essential.

Viruses are all about suffering and COVID-19 has achieved its purpose regardless of the tack we take. The sickness and death associated with the virus has unquestionably increased human suffering. But here's the thing. Our collective response to COVID-19, if not modified fairly quickly, will induce still more human suffering that is not health-related. Tens of millions will go into debt, millions of businesses will fail, putting hundreds of thousands or millions more out of work. As things escalate, social unrest is a possible outcome—all in the name of reducing suffering.

Our goal should be to minimize suffering across the board. You can't do that if you're a prisoner of two ideas. You can do it if you have the courage to do two things at once.