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

Tuesday, June 16, 2020

Open Up!

Those of us who have challenged Team Apocalypse from the very beginning were highly skeptical of public health models that have proven to be grossly inaccurate, even as they were used by political leaders (including Donald Trump) to make draconian shutdown decisions. It appears that Team Apocalypse was perfectly okay using estimates that were off by an order of magnitude or more to make public policy. I just learned that there are other members of the Team who were also hard at work influencing public policy in March, 2020. The Wall Street Journal reports:
Early in the Covid-19 pandemic, an influential economic analysis from the University of Chicago concluded that the likely benefits of moderate social distancing would greatly exceed the resultant costs. The New York Times and the Washington Post recently cited that study as evidence that the use of strict lockdowns to control the virus’s spread has been justified, and that current efforts to “open up” social and economic activity around the U.S. are dangerous and irresponsible. That is seriously misleading; the Chicago study is already out of date. More recent research supports the idea that the lockdowns should end.

The Chicago study came out in early March and was the first truly rigorous economic analysis of the pandemic. It estimated that a three- to-four-month regime of mitigation, “combining home isolation of suspect cases, home quarantine of those living in the same household as suspect cases, and social distancing of the elderly and others at most risk of severe disease,” would save 1.76 million lives between March 1 and Oct. 1, resulting in benefits of $7.9 trillion, a number that far exceeds any conceivable cost of the mitigation strategy.
These projections proved to be grossly inaccurate [defying both common sense and history], but were accepted with glee by the left-leaning catastrophists at NYT and WaPo, who needed an economic catastrophe to improve their chances of beating a sitting president they despised. 

Relying on these bad economic projections, decision-makers shrugged their shoulders and irresponsibly rushed to shut down. To this day, many Democrat governors and mayors continue to slow walk any attempt at re-opening. Just yesterday, NYC's hard left Mayor, Bill DeBlasio welded shut the gates to a playground to keep children out while praising the BLM protesters who gathered by the thousands the preceding week. Lunacy and hypocrisy at the same time, but then  again, that's not really surprising given the players and ideologies involved.

Using actual data, the WSJ reported on a study at UC-Berkeley concluding:
Social-distancing measures reduced person-to-person contact by about 50%, while harsher shelter-in-place rules reduced contact by only an additional 5%. Then, using data on Covid-19 infection and mortality, they estimated that these measures saved 74,000 lives. Finally, after using demographic data to adjust the VSL—which is lower for older people, who have fewer years to live—the study found that the gross benefit of social distancing has been a mere $250 billion.

That finding casts major doubt on the value of lockdowns and even social distancing as a method of reducing the spread of Covid-19. While we can’t yet estimate a specific figure, the economic cost of social distancing and lockdowns will likely be more than $1 trillion. And that’s an understatement of the costs when you consider increased suicides and other social losses not captured in gross domestic product. For example, parents of young children have widely noted their kids’ gloomy outlook when not allowed to be with friends.

An even more recent study from economists affiliated with Germany’s IZA Institute of Labor Economics suggests that the Berkeley estimate of 74,000 lives saved over the past four months is best understood as an upper bound. The reason is that shelter-at-home policies don’t so much reduce Covid-19 deaths as delay them. Delaying deaths will reduce them if a vaccine or cure is found in time. But we can’t be sure that an effective vaccine will be produced and available any time soon.

Rather than validating draconian lockdown orders, the latest economic research on Covid-19 suggests that social-distancing efforts in general, and shelter-in-place measures in particular, have done more harm than good. That doesn’t mean that all such measures should be abandoned. “To socially distance or not to socially distance” is not the question. The question should be, what policies actually make sense?
What a novel question! Certainly not a continuing lockdown. Certainly not crippling regulations that will put hundred of thousands of small businesses out-of-business. And certainly not the abject hysteria and fear that are encouraged by an irresponsible and dishonest main stream media every single day.

And finally this from a recent study at MIT:
... twice as many lives could [have been] saved if governments focused limited resources on protecting the most vulnerable people rather than squandering them on those who seem to face almost no risk, such as children.
Gosh, that's what those of us who have opposed Team Apocalypse have been saying since April 1st.