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

Saturday, May 09, 2020

Bad Decisions

The "woke" encompasses all progressives who think they understand the world better than the rest of us.* They believe they have a corner on morality (their version of such, of courser); they think they understand the less fortunate and more vulnerable better than the rest of us; they police words to be sure they are "safe" and inoffensive, never recognizing that their policing edges closer and closer to Orwell's thought police; they virtue signal continuously and look askance on those who push back against their positions.

For two months, the woke insisted that those of us who contended that a complete economic shutdown would hurt poor and low-income people far more severely than others were nothing more than "murderers who put money ahead of lives." But after this month's depression-level jobs report, the woke have finally seen the light (sort of). The editors of the Wall Street Journal comment:
When we wrote on March 19 about “Rethinking the Coronavirus Shutdown,” the reaction in elite media quarters was horror and denunciation. Well, after Friday’s horrific jobs report, how do you like the shutdown now? The people who said we have to sacrifice the economy to crush the virus have succeeded in the former even as the virus will be with us for many more months or longer.

Unemployment in April soared to 14.7%—the highest rate since the government started keeping records in 1948—while employers shed 20.5 million more jobs after losing 870,000 in March. The labor-market bleeding is even worse than those numbers suggest since 6.4 million workers left the workforce.

Labor participation had been trending upward the past two years as faster job growth drew millions of low-income Americans from the sidelines. But the participation rate has now fallen 3.2 percentage points to 60.2% since a recent peak in February, the lowest since 1973 before large numbers of women started working.

Much of the media continue to treat the economic destruction as a sideshow and present a false choice between saving lives and jobs. But this is the fastest jobs collapse in modern history. The Great Depression drove millions of Americans into poverty and caused many suicides, and there’s a substantial risk this could happen again.
One day before the WSJ expressed its opinion, I expressed mine:
To date, we do not have statistical evidence on the virus that is trustworthy and accurate across all age groups and populations. Lacking that, we don't know whether morbidity is 5% as some claim or 0.5 percent as some data suggest. [Dr. John P.] Ioannidis uses an interesting metaphor:

That huge range markedly affects how severe the pandemic is and what should be done. A population-wide case fatality rate of 0.05% is lower than seasonal influenza. If that is the true rate, locking down the world with potentially tremendous social and financial consequences may be totally irrational. It’s like an elephant being attacked by a house cat. Frustrated and trying to avoid the cat, the elephant accidentally jumps off a cliff and dies.

We need statistically valid, time-sequenced random testing across the United States before still more draconian measures are put into place. Hard decisions may very well be necessary, but only after statistical evidence is compelling. If we choose to proceed driven by emotion rather than data, we may very well kill the elephant while the cat runs free.
Our elites, supported by the woke who insisted on immediate action backed by few hard facts, inaccurate models, and unbridled emotion, made a sequence of understandable but nonetheless bad decisions in March, 2020. The consequences, as many of us predicted, have been catastrophic. 

Everyone is entitled to make a bad decisions, including our leaders. It was a difficult time and hysteria fostered by the woke's trained hamsters in the media reigned supreme. The measure of leadership is to recognize when a decision goes awry, to adapt accordingly and change course. It looks like that's finally beginning to happen. I just hope the woke learns from all of this. Nah.

* Roger Simon refers to the woke as "moral narcissists" and defines the term this way:
What you [a moral narcissist] believe, or claim to believe or say you believe—not what you do or how you act or what the results of your actions may be—defines you as a person and makes you “good.” It is how your life will be judged by others and by yourself…

If your intentions are good, if they conform to the general received values of your friends, family, and co-workers, what a person of your class and social milieu is supposed to think, everything is fine. You are that “good” person. You are ratified. You can do anything you wish. It doesn’t matter in the slightest what the results of those ideas and beliefs are, or how society, the country, and in some cases, the world suffers from them. It doesn’t matter that they misfire completely, cause terror attacks, illness, death, riots in the inner city, or national bankruptcy. You will be applauded and approved of.
Although Team Apocalypse—the catastrophists who insisted that we shut down the country hard—is populated with people from a variety of political ideologies and mindsets, over the past two months, it has become dominated by the woke. As Simon notes, now that the poor and low wage workers have suffered catastrophic consequences as from result of their words and the subsequent actions of the political leaders who listened to them,  the woke trying desperately to tell use that they cared all along about those most affected by their demands for a complete shutdown. Now, it's all about "income inequality" and every other catchword that will deflect from the depraved experiment they endorsed—an experiment that screwed with people's lives and livelihood. Now they tell us they care. Chutzpa!