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

Saturday, April 04, 2020


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.